Under the Shadow of an Iranian Nuclear Threat: Reactions of Holocaust Survivors Versus Non-Holocaust Survivors

Dalya Weisbrod, Rachel Lev-Wiesel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Israeli society is currently under threat from a nuclear attack from Iran. Based on Jewish history, this threat is likely to be associated with similar threats, such as the Holocaust. The purpose of this study was to examine the reactions of Holocaust survivors to the nuclear Iranian threat and assess if and to what extent they differ from non-Holocaust survivors. A convenience sample of 60 Israeli senior citizens was recruited for this comparative study. Participants completed self-report questionnaires using the Traumatic Events Questionnaire, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and an Israeli-adapted Threat and National Security Survey. Projective drawings and narratives were used to evaluate the associations between symbols of the Holocaust that appeared in drawings and the themes that emerged in the narratives of the study group. The findings revealed that there was no difference between the groups in levels of anxiety and threat perception, but qualitative analyses revealed that the groups understood the threat differently. Holocaust survivors indicated a shared sense of group identity regarding the emotional and environmental impact of a nuclear attack. Findings may indicate that the qualitative tools offered additional insight regarding the perceptions and unique understanding of the threat by the Israeli elderly population. Suggestions for further research are offered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-515
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Loss and Trauma
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Holocaust survivors
  • Iran
  • anxiety
  • nuclear
  • threat
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatric Mental Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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