Kassams remind Holocaust survivors in South of World War II experiences

Many Holocaust survivors living in Sderot and other places being attacked by daily rocket fire from Gaza are reminded of their suffering under the Nazis when the firing occurs, according to a preliminary study carried out at the University of Haifa. Prof. Ariela Lowenstein of the university's gerontology department said on Tuesday that numerous survivors in this situation feel lonely, irritable, fearful and tense, and that the rocket attacks bring back memories from World War II. She added that many of them feel the need for personal contact and attention to relieve these painful emotions. She and colleagues Dr. Dana Prilotzky, Batya Rappaport and Dafna Halperin aimed to interview 250 Holocaust survivors living within range of Palestinian rockets; so far, they have spoken to 35. The University of Haifa researchers will also interview a control group of elderly people living in Sderot and its environs who did not go through the Holocaust. A previous study on Holocaust survivors living in the North during the Second Lebanon War showed similar symptoms and feelings. So far, survivors exposed to Kassam attacks have complained that they don't have enough money to order ambulances to reach the hospital and that they lack emergency beepers, which could make them feel less abandoned. Many of them also cannot afford medications for their chronic illnesses and can't run to bomb shelters after the Color Red alarm is sounded, Lowenstein said. Despite all their problems, the researchers reported that the survivors still feel optimistic and that their neighbors are supportive. Apparently, she concluded, "while their past traumas are reawakened by the rocket attacks, their difficult life experiences strengthen their optimism."