“Israel is not Switzerland”: The Impact of Political Violence in Israel on Historically Traumatized Argentinian Immigrants

Sigalit Gal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explores the long-term impact of childhood political trauma on the lives of adult Jewish-Argentinian immigrants who experienced trauma during the military dictatorship in Argentina (1976–1983), and who subsequently immigrated to Israel. Given the ongoing political instability in Israel, one of the purposes of this study was to determine whether prior political trauma made subjects more vulnerable to negative emotional and behavioral manifestations when living in a similarly violent situation, or whether it instead gave them tools to navigate that situation. The theoretical framework draws from Simich and Beiser’s (2011) paradigm, which includes factors for immigrant mental health across pre- and post-migration phases, which results in an assumed range of possible long-term negative and/or positive outcomes for mental health in adulthood. A narrative approach method was applied when interviewing 15 participants, and thematic textual analysis centered on the behavioral and emotional manifestations of these immigrants’ experiences in their current lives as adults. Findings revealed that participants’ present-day experiences included a variety of both negative and positive long-term emotional and behavioral reactions to ongoing political violence in Israel. These are located between two extremes: at the negative end of the scale, severe emotional and behavioral manifestations, while at the positive end, positive emotional and behavioral manifestations. This study concludes with recommendations for future research on the intersection between prior political trauma and exposure to political violence in the host country, as well as on the experience of this under-researched population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1009-1030
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of International Migration and Integration
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood Trauma
  • Immigrants
  • Political violence
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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