Mental health professionals in Israel have issued an urgent plea to the government to reconsider Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reported plan to publicly show a film depicting the murderous atrocities committed by Hamas against Israelis on October 7. The group, known as “No Mental Health Without Democracy,” is comprised of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and arts therapists, who argue that such a move could exacerbate trauma within Israel and world Jewry.
Proposed Film Release
Reports from Hebrew media suggest that Netanyahu aims to widely release a 47-minute film compiled by the IDF Spokesperson’s Office. The footage, retrieved from cameras worn by “terrorists” during the Hamas assault on October 7, captures attacks on over 20 Israeli towns, kibbutzim, and IDF bases. Hamas, numbering in the thousands, murdered 1,400 Israelis, including 260 young people at an open-air music festival. Dozens are still missing, and over 240 Israelis and foreign nationals were taken captive to Gaza.
In the midst of this proposed film release, mental health professionals urgently stress the potential harm it could inflict on the already traumatized Israeli public. Opposition arises not only from ethical concerns about the graphic nature of the footage but also from survivors of the Hamas attacks and families of hostages who oppose the wide release due to the potential public exposure of horrific images of their loved ones. Despite assurances from the IDF and Foreign Ministry about responsible handling, concerns persist about the emotional toll on those who view it.
Government Response and Mental Health Strain
While the film has been screened for select members of the press and foreign officials, the mental health professionals stress that their focus has shifted from fighting the government’s judicial overhaul to treating the traumatized Israeli public. They report a surge in requests for help, with hundreds of thousands of Israelis exhibiting symptoms of acute trauma, including physical manifestations such as chest pains and breathing difficulties.
Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana organized a screening for members of Knesset, during which some members had to take sedatives to cope with the film’s impact. Opposition to the film’s release extends beyond emotional distress, as it is argued that the mental health system is already overwhelmed and lacks the necessary resources to meet the demand for appropriate treatment.
Tragic Chapter Resurfaces
In a disconcerting revelation, the suicide of the Prime Minister’s personal psychiatrist in 2010 has resurfaced, drawing renewed attention amidst the current crisis. The psychiatrist’s tragic end unveils a troubling insight into the Prime Minister’s mindset, showcasing the intricate web of deceit. This historical incident serves as a reminder of the potential disruptions caused by such pressures on the mental health landscape, especially within the corridors of political power.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Yarden Mendelson and her colleagues firmly oppose the widespread release of the film, adhering to the principle of not reintroducing trauma in psychological treatment. They question the necessity of risking the mental and physical health of the citizens, asserting that almost everyone has seen some scenes from October 7, and that should suffice.