Unreasonable to Speculate

Yesterday was a sad, informative, and interesting day. At roughly the same time several thousand miles apart two attacks against innocent civilians took place. At the rail station at Ammunition Hill and in the Canadian Parliament building people lost their lives. I was at my desk when my phone buzzed two times just minutes apart signaling the terrible news of the two events. I was too busy to read the details and had to wait until later in the day to listen to the news. On the news reports I heard some very disturbing passivity sprinkled with a layer of hysteria. The hysteria was from speculators and reporters on the scene in Canada during the shooting and was understandable. The hysteria from the reporters was contained but used to build drama and attract the listening audience, the passivity just a bit more complex. From too many officials came the comment, “It is too soon to speculate if it was an act of terror” referring to the terror attack in Israel. The same reporters, however, continued to refer to the attack in Canada as a “lone wolf” act implying that it was a clear act of terror. Recall that within the last month ISIS has called for lone wolf attacks in Canada against any and all available targets. The video instructed ISIS sympathizers to use guns, rocks and fists to accomplish their goals of sowing fear. It would be foolish not to call the Canadian incident terror but it is foolish to pretend that what occurred in Israel was not.

Many of the reports I have seen indicate that the homicidal suicidal driver in Israel was a member of Hamas from Jerusalem and still reporters in the US, Canada and elsewhere say it is “unreasonable to speculate” if it was a terror attack. To be sure, there were some who clearly reported it as a terror attack. Wolf Blitzer of CNN who unmistakably stated that the driver committed an act of terror impressed me. He, however, at least in the reports I saw, was in the minority. To be fair, most reporters outside of the Middle East do not know how to define terror. Even those with the experience of 9/11 are reluctant to use the word terror, for fear of what it might imply and the hysteria it might create, and in some cases out of a misplaced agenda. I believe that the social psychology of people, especially those not exposed to terror situations, can cause many to become hysterical. Clear evidence for this can be seen in the public’s excessive reaction to the fear of Ebola, but the reality is that terror must be labeled for what it is. If it is not properly labeled it will not be properly addressed. If not labeling terror attacks in Israel is due to an agenda than we are dealing with a more sinister motive.  If the motive is meant to demean Israelis and Jews, it is sinister and even possibly anti-Semitic. 

Terror is originally a French word translated as a great fear or a frightening act. Make no mistake, both of yesterdays acts were done by terrorists and meant to cause fear and thus terror. Israelis and Jews seem to have a stronger history of accepting the reality of terror. Others are reluctant to accept the reality, unless of course it effects them. Too bad, there is a great deal that can be done to thwart and cope with terror and Israelis know just what it is. 

About the Author
Dr Michael Salamon ,a fellow of the American Psychological Association, is a 2018 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 the author of numerous articles, several psychological tests and books including "The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures" (Urim Publications) and "Every Pot Has a Cover" (University Press of America). His newest book is called "Abuse in the Jewish Community: Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims."