The session was part of the ICT's 16th World Summit on Counter-Terrorism: "Unpuzzling Terrorism". Resilience is a crucial aspect to consider before a crisis or terrorist event occurs. Resilience can be viewed from a community or individual perspective, but both are equally important to ensure a terrorist attack does not succeed in achieving maximum negative impact. Within a community, preparedness and leadership are paramount to ensure that a population is in the best possible situation to respond and rebound from tragedy. Crises in recent years demonstrate that a community who possesses an engaged leader who is in touch with the needs of the population is far more resilient than those who have a leader who is behind the scenes. This is true both psychologically and economically. Individual resilience is an attribute that must be cultivated starting at a young age. The benefits of a resilient person and community cannot be overstated and a proactive approach before a crisis is far more efficient and effective.
Chair: Dr. Gil-ad Ariely, Chief Knowledge Officer, ICT, IDC Herzliya, Israel
Commissioner (Ret.) Shachar Ayalon, Former Commander, Fire and Rescue Service, Israel
Mr. Yotam Dagan, Director, Community Programming & Outreach, NATAL, Israel,
The Honorable Roni Milo, Former Minister of Public Security; Former Mayor of Tel-Aviv-Jaffa & Member of the Professional Advisory Board, ICT, IDC Herzliya, Israel
Col. (Res.) Gilead (Gili) Shenhar, Former Head, Doctrine and Development, IDF Home Front Command & Associate, ICT, IDC Herziya, Israel
Dr. Boaz Tadmor, Director, Research & Development, Rabin Medical Center, Beilinson and Hasharon Hospitals, Israel
Dr. Leo Wolmer, Research Unit Director, Cohen-Harris Center for Trauma and Disaster Intervention, Israel
The workshop dealt with building public resilience and dealing with crisis management and recovery in the aftermath of events, mainly terror-related events, especially based on lessons learned from the Israeli experience. The panel was made up of national and municipal leadership, representatives of national operational organizations and cutting-edge academics.
Dr. Ariely claimed that lessons learned are the “tools to share knowledge, which is so critical in confronting terrorists who share their knowledge, as well.” He reminds us that it takes a network to beat a network. Israeli knowledge and lessons learned on resilience and recovery have been accumulated through real-life experience and are crucial to confronting terrorism.
Mr. Milo presentation focused on the importance of leadership and communication in dealing with resilience after terrorist attacks. He mentioned that after the bombings of the first intifada in the mid-90s, tensions rose with the Arab population living in Jaffa and his actions to promote the idea that the best way to handle the situation is to bond together and act together. Milo noted a study that has shown that being exposed to terror, and that the mere threat of terror, raises civilians’ tendency to vote for right-wing parties. He argued that if one looks at the future of both Israel and the city of Tel-Aviv-Jaffa, the population must learn to live together in cohesion with the Arab minority. He highlights that the leadership must find a way to reach the population and to reduce the tension between the Jewish majority and the Arab minority. He mentions that not all political leaders wish to ease these tensions (due to political pressure), but emphasizes that municipal leaders (such as Mayors) are much less pressured by the right-left divide and can act in ways that the country’s leadership cannot.
Ayalon spoke on the importance of preparedness, as the question regarding emergencies is when (not if) they will happen. The importance of communities, of preparation and resilience, was highlighted. Ayalon claimed preparedness can help on the scene of an emergency, and notes the importance of being prepared on a personal and a community level. Ayalon argued that part of these preparations is psychological; people must understand it can happen so they are not surprised when it does. Such preparations include training, running drills, ensuring you have enough and adequate equipment, as well as knowing and understanding capabilities. Ayalon gives the example of a wildfire to explain that not being prepared, not having enough materials and equipment on hand, not only wastes valuable time during an emergency but also raises the number of casualties. Ayalon notes that the success of recovery is bouncing back from an event, recovering not only psychologically but also physically and economically, returning life to normalcy as quickly as possible.
Dr. Tadmor argued that aim of recovery and resilience is to gain safety and security, to lower uncertainty, to build communication. From the point of view of the physician, it is to give attention to peoples’ questions and worries. Tadmor highlighted the importance of trust and compassion, claiming that the lack of these elements will prevent recovery. He explains that every part of the ecosystem has its own resilience and own recovery, but they are mutually dependent on the other elements in the system. Tadmor defines resilience as “no organizational PTSD”- that the event acts as a starter for a new horizon. As a leader, you should look over the horizon, to bring the unthinkable into mind and motion. Tadmor also listed the responsibilities of the citizens, and noted the importance of the leadership delivering the proper message to the citizens in order to prevent chaos.
Col. Shenhar identified various challenges that arise for individuals and systems in the case of an emergency. Shenhar noted the importance of utilizing real-life emergencies in other countries in order to educate and prepare the citizens in your country. He also explains the usefulness of national drills in preparing the public. He identified best practice tools during an emergency; highlighting the importance of having a comprehensive communication plan, as well as the importance of delivering reliable information to the public quickly, including by using new technologies and official spokesmen. Shenhar addressed the question of how to create preparedness amongst the public and notes that such education begins early in life, and includes all systems in one’s life (family, school, etc.).
Mr. Dagan discussed the importance of working in regards to PTSD before, during and after an emergency; of raising awareness and of providing help. He explains that in Israel there is a cycle of routine and emergency; resilience is built during times of relative calm, help is provided during emergencies and assistance is offered in returning to the routine. Dagan presented a model for developing effective leadership in crisis situations, which contains 3 elements: context, three main tensions between modes of operations and six leadership abilities. Context refers to the switch between crisis and normality (with the switch between them not always being clear). As part of the model, Dagan pointed out three main tensions between modes of operations: innovation vs following procedures, emotional-focused coping vs problem-focused coping and the tension between the public and private. Lastly, Dagan notes six abilities necessary for effective leadership.
Dr. Wolmer presented a three year project which addressed four resilience programs (education, population, health and information). The project found that all domains reached the expected level of preparedness, after going through the program. He argued that the systems adapted in the face of missile crisis much faster and more effectively than before going through the programs. As a program which is to function during times of normalcy (routine times), it must also have an impact when a war is distant. It had effects beyond the resilience of the students in the face of emergencies, including positive effects on academic performances. Wolmer claims that the study shows that urban preparedness can be achieved within a three-year period. He argues that the Education Resilience Program is a cost-effective approach to mitigate suffering and enhance resilience and preparedness amongst children.
During the open discussion, the importance of belonging, of being part of a team, was mentioned in regards to resilience among soldiers, veterans and first-responders. It was noted that all the panelists mentioned communities, and their relevance to resilience. A question was posed regarding the right level (national, municipal, organizational) for which type of resilience building. Milo claimed that even when one looks at municipalities, the cooperation between various elements (police, social services, military) must be taken into account and improved. Tadmor notes the importance of familiarity with the people and organizations that can offer help (neighbors, teachers, youth organizations, mental health professionals). In regards to recent attacks in the United States, it was noted that while law enforcement reacted properly, prevention is also an aspect that must be implemented. It was noted that the preparation for different situations, such as the 3rd Lebanon War, must be different. We cannot prepare for the next war the way we prepared for the last one.