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Statement of the Connecticut Psychological Association on The Terrorist Attacks in Israel and Subsequent Violence in the Region
October 12, 2023
The Connecticut Psychological Association (CPA) is committed to protecting and advancing the field and profession of psychology, as well as championing human welfare and social justice. In alignment with these values, CPA issues this official statement to vehemently condemn the acts of terrorism that have recently occurred in Israel and express our support for its people.
The territorial conflicts in the region have deep historical roots and are marked by complexity. However, it is imperative to underscore that the terrorist acts we have witnessed constitute an egregious and deplorable attempt to exterminate Jewish people. The attacks perpetrated by Hamas cannot be rationalized or justified under any circumstances. CPA asserts unequivocally that Hamas is a terrorist organization that thrives on violence and oppression. We resolutely reject the use of violence as a political or religious tool.
The Jewish people have endured a long history of persecution and discrimination, culminating in the horrific attempted extermination during the Holocaust. Over the centuries, Jewish communities have been subjected to pogroms, expulsions, discrimination, and violence. The Holocaust stands as a somber reminder of the depths of human cruelty, with six million Jewish lives extinguished in the most heinous manner. We also cannot ignore the global surge in anti-Semitism and hate crimes against Jews worldwide over the last five years. These historical and present-day injustices serve as a testament to the urgent need to stand against anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination and hatred, reaffirming our commitment to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and preventing its recurrence.
CPA stands in solidarity with Jewish people both domestically and abroad. We extend our sympathy and support to those living in Israel and to those of Jewish descent here at home, including our colleagues and the communities we serve. We want to reassure you that we see you, and we are here to support you. We are committed to using our platform to address the rising anti-Semitism and leverage psychological science to combat it.
It is essential to differentiate between the actions of an extremist group and the broader Palestinian population. We acknowledge the innocent Palestinian people who are experiencing the profound trauma and devastation of war, particularly in the wake of new violence resulting from recent Hamas attacks. We offer our support to our Palestinian colleagues and communities. The Palestinian people have a long and complex history marked by displacement and dispossession, dating back to the mid-20th century. The ongoing conflict has resulted in generations of Palestinians living in poor conditions, characterized by restrictions on movement, limited access to essential services, poverty, and repeated exposure to violence and loss. For many, the trauma of living through conflict has left indelible scars, affecting their psychological well-being and overall quality of life.1The recent Hamas attacks have intensified the cycle of violence, leading to a resurgence of hostilities and renewed devastation, further exacerbating the psychological distress and suffering experienced by both Israelis and Palestinians.
CPA acknowledges that the majority of Palestinians had no involvement in the current terrorist acts but are nevertheless bearing the burden of perceived responsibility and associated discrimination or aggression. Cognitive biases, such as over-generalization and misattribution, need to be understood and avoided, as they are especially harmful interpretive frameworks in situations like this.5,6 It’s a pivotal moment for us as psychologists to unlock our fullest potential and advocate for the well-being of Jewish and Arab communities, especially when they are our clients. By remaining vigilant about the impact of in-group-out group bias on harmful rhetoric and actions directed toward Jewish and Arab people, and by assisting our clients in recognizing when these biases might be at play, we can empower our clients and community to navigate past these biases and make well-informed decisions. This endeavor is of utmost importance in a context where principles of fairness and inclusivity hold the greatest significance. Acts of aggression against Palestinian individuals and communities with no responsibility for the ongoing conflict cannot be tolerated. CPA emphatically condemns anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, and Islamophobic rhetoric and acts of aggression, as these actions only exacerbate tensions and hinder the pursuit of a just and lasting peace in the region.
Acts of war, like all threats to physical and psychological safety, have both immediate and long-term negative impacts on individuals and communities. These impacts include fear, anxiety, depression, acute stress disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder.2 Trauma often manifests itself in various negative consequences, both internally and interpersonally, which can have a broad impact beyond those directly affected.3,4It is crucial that we come together during this period of regional traumatization and utilize our psychological expertise to aid in healing and processing the difficult experiences many are facing.
As an organization dedicated to human welfare and social justice, we join the global community in condemning terrorist attacks and the associated threat to the lives of all affected individuals. War is the most profound and destructive manifestation of human aggression, and we must never allow the violation of human rights in any circumstances. We stand collectively for the dignity, rights, and freedom of all. We also recognize the limitations of our expertise and reach of our influence. We remain committed to supporting our colleagues and the broader psychological community here in the region we serve, furthering our collective understanding of the human mind and behavior. Additionally, we will actively strive to increase access to psychological science, ensuring that our knowledge and expertise reach those who need it most. As advocates for justice and peace, we recognize the power of our platform and pledge to utilize it effectively, working towards a world where these principles prevail.
In the face of the ongoing challenges in the Middle East, CPA urges the psychological community to stand together in unity and embrace communication that cherishes active listening, sharing, and profound inclusion. Let us harness our unique skills to engage in difficult dialogues, fostering understanding and healing in the wake of such violence. Together, we can address these challenges, support those affected, and contribute to the promotion of tolerance, understanding, and peace in our society.
In Solidarity, CPA Board of Directors
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