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Tel Aviv University
The Company We Keep: TAU Walter Lebach Institute "Peace" Scholar Daniel Bar-Tal and the Antisemitic Johan Galtung

Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal 
School of Education
Tel Aviv University
E-mail: daniel@post.tau.ac.il

Editorial Note:


The anti-Semitic remarks made by Professor Johan Galtung, a leader in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution have hit academic websites and made it to HaaretzGaltung, who also heads the Peace Institute in Oslo, implicated the Mossad in the massacre perpetuated by Andreas Breivik, defended the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and suggested that Jewish control was one of the factors leading to Auschwitz. In addition, he holds that Jews control the American media and otherwise manipulate the West.

One professor expressed astonishment that “Professor Galtung was a valued and deserving member of any public or academic discussion, until now. If a trustworthy peace-broker was ever needed anywhere in the world, that was Norwegian professor Johan Galtung,"

But under the guise of a benevolent peace researcher, Galtung had conducted a ferocious campaign of delegitimizing Israel. Galtung, a neo-Marxist scholar, is the “father” of the theory that Israel is a colonial state; known as post-colonialism, it was subsequently adopted and popularized by Edward Said. In a 1971 article “The Middle East and Theory of Conflict, published in his flagship  Journal of Peace Research, Galtung stated that “Israel was conceived in sin, born in sin and grew up in sin.”  He described the Balfour Declaration (and the UN Partition Proposal) as one of “the most tragic mistakes of recent history,” and blamed Israel for starting and perpetuating the conflict. In his view, Israel is an expansionist state that has moved along a territorial axis with six values: nothingness, statelet, 1947, pre-June 1967, Suez-Jordan, Nile –Euphrates. In the more than four decades since this publication, Galtung’s views on Israel- offered in numerous writings and lectures - have become even darker.

The Israeli peace scholar Daniel Bar-Tal - for whom Galtung was a role-model - should have known that. Bar Tal, who was hired to teach and research child development in the School of Education at Tel Aviv University, quickly switched to peace research.  In his new line of work, he has found that Israeli refusal to solve the conflict with the Palestinians stems from anxiety associated with the “Holocaust trauma” and/or “Masada syndrome.” As IAM reported, Bar-Tal’s focus on the alleged pathologies of the Israelis is convenient because it absolves him and other peace scholars from dealing with the phenomenon of Islamist violence.

Indeed, during the 2008 IDF operation in Gaza, Bar-Tal blasted the Israelis in an open letter: “my trust in humanity has been weakened, seeing the ease in which human beings rally for war, exercise blind patriotism, express desire for vengeance…and develop insensitivity for human life.” Interesting enough, Bar-Tal never lost trust in humanity when Israeli civilians were targeted by suicide bombers, when “ordinary Palestinians” lynched two Israeli soldiers and raised their bloody hands in a sign of triumph, or when women and children in Gaza celebrated a successful suicide attack (i.e. one that killed a lot of Israelis) by offering sweets in the streets.

Bar-Tal fealty to Galtung had continued despite the latter's strident attacks on Israel.  As a leading peace activist (which included a stint as co-editor of the Palestine-Israel Journal- PIJ) and Director of the Walter Lebech Institute for Jewish-Arab Coexistence at Tel Aviv University, Bar-Tal, who became the chair of the Academic Committee, helped organize a 2006 conference where Galtung served as a keynote speaker.  Bar-Tal set on the podium next to Galtung who launched into his standard Israel bashing routine.  Reprinted in the PIJ, it accused Israel that during the war in Lebanon, "much bigger parts were the victims of collective punishment than Lidice in Czechoslovakia, Oradour-sur-Glane in France and Kortelisy in the Ukrain" (a reference to three notorious cases where the SS murdered the inhabitants and razed the villages in punitive raids).   Surely, Bar-Tal was aware of Galtung’s mendacity, but the comparison was left unchallenged.

Possibly, he did not want to alienate Galtung, an iconic figure in the peace research community, which has showered Bar-Tal with accolades and prizes.  In the path that Galtung pioneered, Bar Tal's research was highly esteemed as it fit the necessary requirement of finding fault with Israel only.

 Bar-Tal should now rectify his past moral cowardice by denouncing Johan Galtung and his anti-Semitics rants.  Bar-Tal credibility as a human being and scholar is at stake.

Is Israeli-Palestinian Peace Possible? A Proposal for Moving Forward
Keynote Speaker:
Prof. Johan Galtung
, Transcend, a Peace Development Network; founder of the Peace Research Institute, Oslo; recipient of the 1987 Right Livelihood Award 

Dr. Walid Salem
, Panorama Center for the Dissemination of Democracy and Community Development, Jerusalem
Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal, School of Education, Tel Aviv University; former PIJ co-editor
Dr.Amal Jamal, Walter-Lebach Institute

Tel Aviv Event
The panelists at the Tel Aviv event on December 5, 2006 were, from right: Dr. Amal Jamal, keynote speaker Dr. Johan Galtung, Dr. Walid Salem and Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal.

Tel Aviv Event
Dr. Johan Galtung addressed an audience of over 100 students, academics and members of the general public at the Walter-Lebach Institute.

A parallel event took place at the Panorama Center in Ramallah on December 6, 2006.
Excerpts from Dr. Johan Galtung's speech at the event in Ramallah

Is Israeli-Palestinian Peace Possible? A Proposal for Moving Forward1
Keynote Speaker:
Prof. Johan Galtung
, Transcend, a Peace Development Network; founder of the Peace Research Institute, Oslo; recipient of the 1987 Right Livelihood Award

Zahra Khalidi
, PIJ Editorial Board member and fundraiser

“There is only one road to security, and that’s peace with your neighbors, and not peace by pieces.”

[T]here is a theorem under triple-C conditions that “deep culture” will take over. … The three C conditions are crisis, complexity and striving for consensus. … I recognize three deep cultures in Israel and in Palestine, and I will try to describe them for you. And although I shall appoint some catalysts for the deep culture in Israel, I see deep culture as something more permanent, because it is usually not confronted, exactly because it is unconscious. So let us call them “hard Zionism,” “soft-Zionism” and standard political state system. … If this state system leads to negotiations, it will try to get the best deal possible. Exactly the nature of this deal will be a left-right wing spectrum.

And let me now try the Palestinian side. I recognize three different ones: Islamic, I might add the word fundamentalist; Ottoman-British and state system. By “Islamic,” I mean the Ummah … and that community is not a state system.

… Do these deep cultures exclude each other? No, you can have all three in one people, but they can vary in significance. Is there a relationship between the Israeli deep culture and the Palestinian deep culture? Obviously, one may engender the other. But not in the sense that it’s imitated but in the sense, particularly, that the Israelis sense a danger of peace, they will find refuge in hard Zionism, and you can turn that argument around. If you now combine three [and] three, you get nine combinations … and I will conclude that eight of them are non-starters, and number nine, that is not a non-starter; state system combined with state system is problematic. It’s also problematic because the other eight are in the background, and because the other eight represent views that have to be taken into consideration. Every peace deal will have to deal with all of this. 
There is no way in which one can wish away hard Zionism and let us call it Islamic fundamentalism. If you try to organize something called an Oslo process, by inviting only Labor from Israel and only the PLO fro the Palestinian side, you are doomed to fail from day one, because the parties you don’t invite will say, “Aha, we are not invited, you will be hearing form us.” 

… So I am saying that the logical meeting point is the two-state solution. And you all celebrate it. I am only pointing to the shortcomings. So the question is what the way out of the shortcomings is. Having concluded that all the other possibilities are non-starters, they being non-starters, there is all reason to go ahead with maximum diligence in corner number nine. And in connection to the Geneva initiative, a treaty-level articulation of this down to the nitty-gritty, I myself again concluded the moment I head about it: No chance. The state they are talking about is not a normal state. The right of return sounds flimsy. Arafat’s general formula about numbers we can discuss is very helpful, but the right appears to me non-negotiable. But let’s nevertheless imagine that those objections have been met. So what do we add to that?

… [In South Africa] in the 1980s it looked impossible. … Well, a couple of things happened, but let me point to one thing, that threw a head in one side and a head on the other side with compatible deep cultures. The condition is heads, proper leaders with compatible deep cultures. You have hard Zionism on top of Israel today. What you have on top of Palestine we can discuss. The probability that that should happen, the compatibility is not very high.

… Let me now preface the Middle Eastern Community with two things: I do not see a Middle East Community as standing in the way of an Ummah. I can see the five Arab countries wholeheartedly joining the Ummah and at the same time finding a Middle Eastern Community a practical arrangement. One does not stand in the way of the other. I can also, with little bit of hesitation, find the possibility of Israel being a member of the EU and at the same time being a member of the Middle Eastern Community.

… So we have a vision of open borders for persons, goods and ideas. I would not include the right of settlement, and I would not include the right of investment, and I would be very sensitive to tricky Israeli ways of using Middle East economic cooperation, be very sensitive to that. There were these considerations and there still are in the European Community, and there should be. There is also the fact of social dumping. 

… There is only one road to security, and that’s peace with your neighbors, and not peace by pieces


The Palestine-Israel Journal is a quarterly of MIDDLE EAST PUBLICATIONS,
a registered non-profit organization (No. 58-023862-4).
Vol.18 No.1 2012
Current issue

The Arab Revolt — What Next?

Arabs want a better life, unattainable under elites more sensitive to U.S.-Israeli interests than to their own people.

     by Johan Galtung

It changes character, like in quantum mechanics, even as we watch. The French revolution did that in the late 1780s and early 1790s. But spring is gone, and revolt is in, so far not revolution. There are layers of rulers and layers of opposition. The unveiling has started.

If winter seeds from a suicide in Tunisia made buds sprout in early spring, then they must have fallen on fertile soil. Events make processes when “stability” is unstable, like the huge power and wealth gaps. The U.S. trick is to make people believe in individual mobility: “If you don’t make it, it is your fault.” Others see it as a relation: By taking power-wealth from us they got powerful-rich and wepowerless and poor. The former is individualist and person-oriented; the latter collectivist and system-oriented. See it that way and revolts follow, like Tahrir Square, like Wall Street. But some resources are needed.

Three Arab Revolts in One Century

The Arab Spring is the third Arab revolt in less than a century.

The first, in 1916-18, was against the Ottoman Empire. The resource was England-France-Russia against Prussia-Hapsburg-Turkey, with Arab freedom in exchange for revolt. In came the Sykes-Picot treason, four colonies, Palestine and Iraq, Syria-Lebanon, and a Jewish “homeland.”

The Ottoman Empire was Muslim, the Western empires (including Italy in Libya from 1911), were secular, open to missionaries. The Ottoman Empire was based on provinces, wilayat; the West constructed countries ridden by strong built-in fault lines, very visible today, only somewhat viable under Western imperialism or Arab dictatorship.

The second, in 1952 -69, from Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt to Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, was against Western imperialism. The resource was their military. U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles condemned the English-French-Israeli attack on Egypt, and in came the U.S.-Israeli empire. The attack on Libya came in 2011.

The third revolt, in 2011-? is against the U.S.-Israeli empire. The resource: unemployed students and suppressed Muslim groups, huge and new.

Unlike the Ottomans and Western colonialists, the United States. and Israel control Arab countries indirectly, via autocratic and kleptocratic elites, based on military force and bribery, not condemned as long as they serve U.S.-Israel. Algeria — the worst in the Arab world, with a quarter million killed since the elections with Front Islamique de Salvation headed for victory were canceled — has the European Union turning a blind eye to atrocities. The best in the Arab world is Algeria’s neighbor, Morocco, with a wise King Mohammed VI sensing that the time has come for basic change with constitution, referendum, elections. He might inspire Saudi Arabia to act on the demands of their intellectuals.

The revolts have denounced dictatorship and bribery, knowing well the role of U.S.-Israel in bribing top Egyptian military officials, fighting for their privileges. From Israel, deeply worried about the future of the Camp David deal with Egypt, no concern for democracy has been heard.

The American Game

But the U.S., champion of democracy, plays another game. They are behind some of the training in nonviolence, originally adopted as a foreign policy tool (in Ukraine, Georgia, the colored revolutions) from the Otpor student uprising against Milosevic. They admonish all autocrats to step down and leave. Why? No doubt, there is somewhere a belief in democracy, that people everywhere when given freedom will recognize the U.S. as their stronghold, and become supportive.

But there is another dimension. Autocracy rests on the military, hence on the state, and gets “commissions” from state monopolies. The U.S. prefers privatization. Democracy can be manipulated through media, and private enterprises through investment. Very important is the privatization of central banks for Western globalization of the financial markets (via Basel multilateral clearing). This applies to Iraq-Iran, Lebanon-Libya, Syria-Somalia-Sudan — seven major U.S. targets. Benghazi’s Transitional National Assembly (TNA) privatized the central bank immediately. Democrats may be more amenable than even U.S.-sympathetic autocrats, Washington feels.

But this is further complicated by the fault lines in Arab countries. Democracy works fine for homogeneous Nordic countries with “I-cultures” but is very problematic for heterogeneous “we-culture” states with race, ethnicity, religion, modern-traditional-primitive divides (tribes) and geographical rivalries — in short, Libya, no democratic, unitary state; nor are the rest of the seven above, nor others like Israel, with democracy for Jews and an iron fist for Palestinians.

But combining three solutions — federation within, confederation without with open borders, local democracy — may work, say, for Iraq. And that is what the Ottoman Empire was all about, so Turkey may feel called upon to, and no doubt will, play a major role, with the Justice and Development Party (AKP), as a model of Islam with democracy. But apart from the Kurds, Turkey is homogenous relative to the others.

Liberating both the oppressors and the oppressed

Islam is the West’s obsession. The West might ask how Christians would react had they been overshadowed by modernizers, Muslim or not, military or not. A Christian brotherhood perhaps? Coming out in the open when a revolt is on, fueling it? And then adapting to others, maybe into some kind of enlightened, sensitive semi-democracy?

A U.S.-Israel switch from obsession to sensitivity would help greatly. Arabs want a better life, unattainable under elites more sensitive to U.S.- Israeli interests than to their own people. Revolts will continue until U.S.-Israel also accept a federationconfederation formula: an Israeli- Palestinian federation (between a twostate and a one-state solution!), within a confederation of Israel, with the five Arab neighbors from Lebanon to Egypt — a Middle East Community. Within that formula the 2011 Arab Spring-inspired protests in Tel Aviv could extend the concern for equality from themselves to their Arab neighbors. And the region could wake up to a new set of rules, more Ottoman, less Western-U.S.-Israeli, but with capitals everywhere, not only Istanbul.

A revolution, liberating both the oppressors and the oppressed.

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