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Through a Psychologist’s Lens

I am a Jew. I am a Zionist. I am an American. I am a husband. I am a father. I am a psychologist. I am very proud of my various identities. I am also deeply disappointed by the different American psychological organizations responses regarding Hamas’ recent terrorist attacks.

Jews, like myself, were horrified by the attacks on our Israeli brethren by Hamas terrorists on October 7th. Hamas, the governing body of Gaza, gave the green light to Palestinian terrorists to cross into Israel and proceed to engage in the most barbaric attack on Jews since the Holocaust. Babies were decapitated. Elderly were murdered. Families were burned alive.  Hundreds were killed at a peace loving concert. Kibbutzim and homes were destroyed. Over 200 innocent Jews were kidnapped, including: men, women, children, Holocaust survivors, and babies.

The hatred and murderous attacks toward Jews from this Hamas pogrom did not stop there.  Hamas terrorists videotaped their murders and uploaded it on their victims personal social media accounts. Israeli family members of the victims watched livestreams of their loved ones being killed and tortured. One Hamas terrorist stole a murdered Israeli’s phone and proceeded to call his parents in Gaza and boast of his murdering rampage. “Dad, I am speaking to you from a Jew’s phone, I killed her and her husband, I killed ten with my own hands.” His father’s response epitomized the hatred reinforced in his family when he said, “May God protect you, my son…I wish I was there with you.”

Could this despicable and heinous actions be more straightforward? Hamas = ISIS. Hamas, including its political and military leadership must be destroyed.

Hamas is a terrorist organization that hides behind Palestinian civilians. They have been known to hide weapons depots and tunnels near schools, inside homes, and in densely populated areas, including hospitals.  They know that when they launch missiles at Israel that there is an increased likelihood that these actions will lead to their own civilians being killed.  Israel in its attempt to minimize civilian Gazan casualties will drop leaflets warning residents when they are going to respond with an attack. Giving advanced notice of a military response is counterproductive toward a truly effective strategy, however it shows the premium Israel places in minimizing civilian casualties. Hamas’ response? It has closed the borders and minimized Palestinian civilians ability to leave.

Again, this could not be more clear. Israel should do everything it can to protect its own civilians, rescue its kidnapped civilians, and safeguard the Jewish state. Hamas must be eliminated. This is the only possibility for there to be a better future for both innocent Israelis and Palestinians.

In this vein, I have found myself extremely shocked by the various American psychological organizations responses toward Hamas’ attacks. These organizations either remained silent, offered vague responses, or attempted to provide some inaccurate moral equivalency on both sides.

Take for example the statement the American Psychological Association (APA) made on October 11th following the attack. In its statement, the APA states: “We recognize that the situation is complicated, but there can be no justification for acts of indiscriminate violence.  There can be no justification for holding people hostage. There can be no justification for cutting off access to basic necessities, such as electricity, food, and medicine.” They continue in saying: “We call for peace, dialogue and conflict resolution as a pathway to ending the conflict.”

The APA, like many other psychological organizations, has provided a response that is morally bankrupt and does not acknowledge the impact its statement has on Jews.

The APA is essentially telling Jews that they have no right to defend themselves against rapes, murders, and kidnappings of men, women, and children. In stating that “it’s complicated,” the APA is reinforcing the belief that Jews deserve the suffering that they received.

The APA is also reinforcing a double standard when it comes toward Jewish sovereignty and our right to self-defense.  Consider the contrast that the APA had in response to the attacks on Israel with its response on the Ukraine conflict. Following the Russian military attack, the APA very clearly stood in solidarity with the Ukrainian people when it said: “The American Psychological Association stands in solidarity with the National Psychological Association of Ukraine, the Ukrainian people, and colleagues in the Eastern European region, as the Ukrainian nation defends itself against military invasion.”

The APA’s inability to fully support the Jewish state’s ability to defend its citizens can be seen as tacit support to anti-semitism. Other nations can protect its citizens, but Jews do not have that same right.

About the Author
Dr. Jesse Spiegel is a licensed clinical psychologist in Los Angeles, CA. He specializes in the treatment of children, adolescents, and adults struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and related disorders, as well as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other behavioral challenges. Dr. Spiegel is licensed in both California and New York.
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