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remi-walle-UOwvwZ9Dy6w-unsplash.jpgThese past few weeks have been incredibly difficult for so many in the wake of the Hamas terrorist attack. Since October 7th, thousands of Israeli and Palestinian civilians have been devastated by the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas (Zanotti et al., 2023). This devastation also extends to Israeli, Palestinian, Jewish and Muslim identifying individuals living in the US and abroad who are also experiencing insurmountable losses.
This devastation has motivated global activism for the innocent civilians who have been murdered, kidnapped, and harmed in some way. Although important to advocate for social justice to inspire social change, there are also ramifications to rhetoric used in light of recent events which have incited discrimination, prejudice, and physical violence against the Jewish people and Muslim communities. According to the Anti-Defamation League [ADL] (2023), antisemitic hate crimes have risen above 300% since October 7th. This form of identity-based violence has increased internationally with antisemitic hate crimes reported in Australia, Russia, France, Britain, the Netherlands, Canada, and the United States (MacAskill et al., 2023; Frost 2023). Islamophobia is on the rise as well, including a ten-fold increase in Islamophobia hate crimes in Australia since the start of the war (Islamophobia Register Australia, 2023).
Identity based violence, violence inflicted on an individual or group of people due to belonging to a particular identity/identities (e.g., race, religion, gender) can be traumatic such that the victim is targeted, degraded, and labeled as an “other” (Mills et al., 2017). The mental health impacts of such violence can facilitate a lack of belongingness, fear, and a diminished sense of self-worth (Allwood et al., 2021).
Individuals sharing religious and cultural identities with Israel and Palestine have been experiencing this identity-based violence which has further stoked hate, hostility, discrimination and at extreme times, loss of life. For example, in California, USA, a Jewish man was killed due to a physical altercation occurring during pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian rallies in which he was pushed to the ground and sustained fatal head injuries (Public Broadcasting Service [PBS], 2023). Furthermore, in a separate incident, a 6-year-old Palestinian Muslim boy residing in Illinois, USA was stabbed to death by his landlord who is now being prosecuted for murder and hate crimes (Cable News Network [CNN], 2023).
Similar crimes have been reported internationally. A Russian airport was stormed by a mob seeking out Israeli passengers aboard a flight arriving to Dagestan from Israel (The New York Times, 2023). Additionally, the Council on American-Islamic Relations reported 774 incidents of Islamophobia against Palestinians and Arabs since October 7th; the highest increase since 2015 (CAIR, 2023). Relatedly, Synagogues, Mosques, and other Jewish and Muslim institutions around the globe are being threatened with violence.
As we strive to serve, support, and advocate for individuals who are affected by this war, we must also consider ways in which our rhetoric and actions may be helpful or further stoking the flames of animosity and hatred. While divisiveness is rampant, the Vice President of the ADL, Oren Segal, suggests, “...our fight is often one that is together, even though much of the public discussion tries to divide us.”
Individuals who are impacted by the war and seek out mental health support should receive culturally informed clinical care. Furthermore, it is imperative for clinicians to recognize their own positionalities (e.g., intersectional identities, privilege, and lack of knowledge regarding the war) to maximize their effectiveness in cultivating a safe, supportive, and empathetic environment for clients who are currently experiencing, or historically have experienced, identity-based discrimination or violence. Clinicians are encouraged to utilize resources that offer  a trauma-informed lens. One such resource is the Treatment Improvement Protocols (TIP 57) developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which aims to further foster an environment in which safety, empathy, and mutual respect is established to avoid further possible retraumatization in therapy.
Such strategies are outlined below:
#1: “Be sensitive to the needs of clients who have experienced trauma regarding behavior in the treatment setting that might trigger memories of the trauma” (p. 114).
#2: “Do not ignore clients’ symptoms and demands when clients with trauma histories act out in response to triggered trauma memories; doing so may replicate the original traumatic experience” (p. 114).
#3: Be mindful that efforts to control and contain a client’s behaviors in treatment can produce an abnormal reaction, particularly for trauma survivors for whom being trapped was part of the trauma experiences” (p. 114).
#4: “Listen for specific triggers that seem to be driving the client’s reaction. An important step in recovery is helping the client identify these cues and thereby reach a better understanding of reactions and behaviors” (p. 114).
We are all experiencing heartache, outrage, and fear. However, reminders of our shared humanity may provide solace in these painful and isolating times. It is especially important to remember the impact that supporting each other and committing to shared empathy, regardless of cultural and religious backgrounds, can have.
For more information on hate-based violence, please review: Global Perspective on the Trauma of Hate-Based Violence, an International Society for Traumatic Stress Briefing Paper.

About the authors

Paige Klein, BA is a second-year Clinical Psychology masters student with a trauma concentration at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Paige’s research interests include researching protective factors in reducing PTSD and Moral Injury in Intimate Partner Violence populations. More specifically, she is interested in social connectedness, self-compassion, and mindfulness practices as strategies to mitigate sequela. Paige’s clinical interests include being part of community-based organizations to enhance community psychoeducation and overall wellness.
Emmeline N. Taylor, MA is a clinical psychology PhD candidate with an emphasis in trauma at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. She works in collaboration with the Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience as a graduate research assistant and student clinician in a Level 1 Trauma Center and outpatient PTSD clinic. Emmeline’s research interests include intervention implementation, the role of emotion regulation in trauma recovery, and how complex systems strategies can help the field better understand the phenomena of resilience, co-occurring conditions, and trauma recovery. She also works part-time as a remote research assistant for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Palo Alto’s Center for Innovation to Implementation. Please note that the opinions expressed in this piece are my own and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs nor the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.


Allwood, M., Ghafoori, B., Salgado, C., Slobodin, O., Kreither, J., Waelde, L. C., Larrondo, P., & Ramos, N. (2021). Identity-based hate and violence as trauma: Current research, clinical implications, and advocacy in a globally connected world. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 1–13.https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22748

Anti-Defamation League [ADL]. (2023). ADL records dramatic increase in the U.S. antisemitic incidents following Oct. 7 Hamas massacre. Anti-Defamation League. https://www.adl.org/resources/press-release/adl-records-dramatic-increase-us-antisemitic-incidents-following-oct-7

Frost, N. (2023). Antisemitic and islamophobic incidents surge in Australia. The New York Times.https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/06/world/middleeast/antisemitic-islamophobic-incidents-australia-israel-war.html

Islamophobia Register - Australia. (2023). Press release: Reports of islamophobia continuing to increase at staggering rate - now ten-fold post Israel-Palestine escalations. Islamophobia Register Australia. https://islamophobia.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Islamophobia-Register_23-OCT-Press-Release.docx-1.pdf

MacAskill, A., Foroudi, L., Harte, J., Raszewski, E., Angel, M., Osborn, A., du Plessis, C., Grattan, S., Lone, W., Escritt, T., & Van Den Berg, S. (2023). How the surge in antisemitism is affecting countries around the world. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/world/how-surge-antisemitism-is-affecting-countries-around-world-2023-10-31/

​​Mills, C. E., Freilich, J. D., & Chermak, S. M. (2017). Extreme Hatred: Revisiting the Hate Crime and Terrorism Relationship to Determine Whether They Are “Close Cousins” or “Distant Relatives”. Crime & Delinquency, 63(10), 1191-1223. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011128715620626

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Trauma-informed care in behavioral health services. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) series 57 (2014).  HHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Publication No. (SMA) 13-4801. https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma14-4816.pdf

 Zanotti, J., Sharp, J.M., & Blanchard, C.M.  (2023). Israel and Hamas October 2023 conflict: Frequently asked questions (FAQs). Congressional Research Service. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R47754