Michael J. Salamon

The Greater Trauma of the Three Teens

I am completely distraught, painfully so. My heart goes out to the parents, the families the teachers and friends of the three abducted teens. The critics who point to the mindset that allows for “tremping” or hitchhiking as a cause, or even a small factor, for this kidnapping, are simply seeking an unreal parsimony to explain the unexplainable. These three boys, and all the others like them, were raised on tremping as a legitimate manner of transport. Such was the way we got around when we were younger. Buses, overcrowded, infrequent, and slow combined with the feeling that as a small country we are responsible for each other made tremping a common way to travel. If blame is to be placed, it should be on the kidnappers who clearly planned to do this awful deed and knew precisely when and just where to abduct their victims.

For those commentators who are quick to point to the “strong arm tactics” of the IDF in trying to find the three and go on to complain that the city of Hebron is shut down during the operation I ask why did they not complain when, for example, the police of Boston and surrounding towns were virtually closed as police hunted for the Boston Marathon bombers for several days too. Unfortunately, there is no reasonable equivalence when it comes to Israelis or Jews. We are always held to a standard no one else is.

To those who suggest that the army’s activities needed to try to get the innocent boys back is a sign of apartheid I have little to say. In simple terms it is clear that the perspective of these pundits is based on an erroneous agenda not on the reality of life as it presently and unfortunately is in that part of the world. Shiias and Sunnis can slaughter one another, Syria’s President can bomb and execute at will, and there is little comment beyond generalities and certainly no mention of apartheid or genocide. I do not wish to enter into discussions with people whose cognitive dissonance dictates their every move.

Trauma changes people in both overt and subtle ways and I worry about the consequences of this trauma for everyone, not just the three missing teenagers, and their families. For a small group of people one trauma can have a major impact on brain function and impact victims for many years, unfortunately we cannot predict who will be so affected. Perhaps that will be the greatest after-effect of the kidnapping.

By not thinking of the long term results, these kidnappers have begun a process that can go on for another generation. Too much trauma, both individual and communal, can cause a select few to forget their own humanity and feel that it is reasonable to teach their children to hate. The hatred can rise to the point that they would instruct their own children to become suicide bombers or tell shopkeepers to delete closed circuit videos that might have information about the abductions; All the while, expecting that there will be no response from the Israeli authorities? Seriously? Or, perhaps they are doing precisely that – hoping for a response to create more strife! We know that the best treatments for trauma include having a safe environment and a supportive community with healthy future life goals. Unfortunately, there are terrorists whose only objectives are to strip their world of those comforts.

In any war, there are innocents. For the last few years, most of our wars have been small acts of terrorists, and just below the explosive flashpoint. These types of conflicts are designed to lead to reactions that are more extensive. In his book The Better Angels of Our Nature, the psychologist Steven Pinker notes that for most of the world, armed conflict has diminished as our values and ethics have become more liberalized. The same people who trained the abductors of the three boys are almost certainly training other Jihadi warriors. They are being fed a gruel of martyrdom not just in the mid-East but designed to be spread around the world. Those with better angels are forced to take a stand to respond to trauma and stop the progression of terror that perpetuates the trauma.

May the three return soon in good health and may terror be erased!

About the Author
Dr. Michael Salamon ,a fellow of the American Psychological Association, is an APA Presidential Citation Awardee for his 'transformative work in raising awareness of the prevention and treatment of childhood sexual abuse". He is the founder and director of ADC Psychological Services in New York and Netanya, the author of numerous articles, several psychological tests and books including "The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures" (Urim Publications), "Every Pot Has a Cover" (University Press of America) and "Abuse in the Jewish Community: Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims."
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