Erin Martz

Cognitive Dissonance in Responding to Terror

I sit here in my home in the United States, 7,000 miles away from Israel, watching the horrible news about the October 7, 2023 events and subsequent events. I am still feeling great sorrow for Israelis’ losses of the children, family members, and friends, while knowing that many Israelis are experiencing a profound grief of losing someone they loved dearly and the extreme stress of living through those traumatic events and sustained attacks.

As an American Christian who has stayed in Israel several times, I knew that the narrative of the international news would quickly shift towards providing as many news stories about Israel as they would about the ramifications in Gaza of Hamas’ terror attack, possibly in the name of providing balanced news coverage. But in terror, there is no balanced coverage. There are the attackers and there are the slain. I also knew that there would be protests worldwide sparked by any action that Israel took in response to Hamas’ bloodthirsty attacks. I dislike military conflicts, but I believe that Israel must respond with military force to these unprovoked attacks, as America has done in the past. Sometimes I shudder to think what Tel Aviv would look like nowadays without the Iron Dome.

I think the average American, who has not spent time in Israel, has difficulty imagining why there is such a battle over land. We Americans are spoiled by the overabundance of land, open skies, seemingly endless horizons, and areas of sparsely populated territory. We Americans are spoiled by having peaceful neighbors of Canada and Mexico. Just like many Americans could not comprehend the reasons for the attacks on 9/11, we cannot easily grasp the situation in Israel and how Israel was attacked so viciously and shockingly. I think it is also hard for many Americans to understand the precarious balance of responding to the terror attacks to defend one’s country from future attacks while following international law and rules of war, and the dissonance of needing to shoot to kill while wanting to live in peace and security.

Many people, who have never been to Israel, see news of the suffering of people in Gaza and get distracted by a gut reaction to suffering and to death. Many people also cannot comprehend the manipulation done by Hamas, so that they believe the numbers of dead and the videos of suffering that are released from Gaza, not realizing that Hamas might be psychologically manipulating their humane responses. I hope Israel keeps reminding the world to not believe in the public relations narratives of Hamas, but instead reminding the world that Hamas aspires to kill 9 million people, as stated in their charter, by annihilating the state of Israel. These are very dangerous people and we Americans should thank Israel for their bravery and strength in facing their enemies…because America could be next in line.

About the Author
Dr. Martz has a Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Education and Research and a M.A. in Rehabilitation Counseling. She currently provides vocational rehabilitation counseling to individuals with a range of chronic conditions and disabilities and serves as a vocational expert in the United States. Dr. Martz was awarded a 2017 U.S. Department of State Fulbright research fellowship in Israel and worked with Israeli researchers on a coping with tinnitus study. She has published 3 edited books on the topic of coping with disabilities, self-management of chronic health conditions, and trauma rehabilitation.
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