Experiencing violent trauma would have been enough.
Now imagine experiencing violent trauma, the rape of your loved ones, their murder in ways so brutal as to be almost unimaginable, and then their dismemberment and the defilement of their bodies. Add to this unfathomable loss, the constant fear of attack as you attempt to grieve, the inability to give your surviving family a sense of security and the consistent dripfeed of new, gruesome testimony – and indeed video as the perpetrators filmed it all – on a daily basis. And as each shiva in each mourning-house takes place, the shadow of anxiety about the wellbeing of the mass-kidnappees is ever-present.
I studied the psychology of resilience in the face of terrible ordeals and wrote a book about it, but there is no psychologist on this earth that is fully equipped to counsel the victims of the Hamas massacre of October 7th. Help is certainly at hand – but there will never be a coming to terms with what happened that grisly Sabbath morning in southern Israel.
Your Jewish friends are suffering. Days, weeks have passed since the news started to seep out and the revelations began to be heard, but it is as if the clocks stopped on that unbearable day and time has yet to move on.
The deadliest day for the Jewish People since the Holocaust, a shadow that looms large in the mind of every Jew. The parallels abound. Yet – with the exception of a decreasing amount of people – we didn’t live through the Holocaust. We did live through October 7th. (One awful thought I had following the massacre: for the first time, I am pleased that most Holocaust survivors are no longer with us so they were spared having to see this atrocity take place again in their lifetime.)
It is as the terrorists intended. The Nazis carried out systemic murder, and cruelty and took pride in it. But they didn’t have social media. The Hamas jihadists tortured and massacred families – and uploaded it to Facebook in real-time so their extended family and friends would have to watch. The psychological damage alone to so many – including children – is gargantuan.
Trawl through your favorite digital platform of choice and see denial, minimization and justification – not just from Hamas – but from people who live near you. Antisemitic attacks and threats peak. Never again is ever again.
It took time for modern-day racists to begin to deny the Holocaust. Today’s massacre-deniers did not pause for breath. Trawl through your favorite digital platform of choice and see denial, minimization and justification – not just from Hamas – but from people who live near you. Antisemitic attacks and threats peak. Never again is ever again.
Jews are the eternal survivors. From Greek and Roman attempts to snuff out our nationhood and appropriate our symbols, to the bloodletting of the Crusades, the pogroms of Eastern Europe, the Arab Farhud attacks of Middle Eastern Jews and beyond, we are still here. We are also no strangers to terrorism. Hamas and their allies have murdered civilians riding buses, eating out, dancing at clubs and at prayer. We are still here.
And we will be here forevermore. Hamas will be relegated, much like the aforementioned Jew-oppressors, to the recesses of history. Jews will continue, never the same, but as committed to life and their peoplehood as ever. Meanwhile, we grieve and we would appreciate your solidarity.
For now, every day is October 7th. It will be October 7th for some time.