Terror 'not depressing' for Israelis

By Nathan Jeffay, February 9, 2012

It may be intended as psychological warfare, but terrorism does not demoralise Israelis, researchers have found.

People were no less satisfied with life when terror attacks were at a high during the Second Intifada than when they reduced, according to academics who have written a report on the subject.

"The happiness of people is simply less impacted by low-intensity terrorism than people think," said Hebrew University economist Asaf Zussman, one of the authors.

Dr Zussman and his colleagues computed data from Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). They found that in 2002, the most violent year of the Second Intifada, 82.9 per cent of people questioned said they were satisfied with their lives. In 2003, when the country was far calmer, 81.7 per cent of people were satisfied, and the next year which was calmer still, the figure was 82.4 per cent.

They worked from data that the CBS compiled all year round, which allowed them to identify when people's sense of satisfaction was taking a dip, and their conclusion was surprising - the dips tended to be when the weather was bad, not when terrorism was high.

The only impact that terrorism did have on people's sense of satisfaction was when there was a terrorist attack in their city - but the effect was small and passed quickly.

Dr Zussman believes this indicates that many Israelis feel disconnected from citizens in other cities.

He thinks that the overall results suggest that Israelis are confident that their country has a strategy to defeat terrorism. "People say there are terrorists but the government knows how to deal with them so we shouldn't get too worried," he commented.

Last updated: 12:47pm, February 9 2012