Fighting Anti-Semitism–Constructively!

EDITORIAL, 10 Dec 2012

#249 | Johan Galtung - TRANSCEND Media Service

From Grenzach-Wyhlen, Germany

Anti-Semitism, AS, is to be against Jews as such; pre-judging all based on some, pars pro toto. Being anti any category humans are born into–woman-man, black-white–is a fatal disease, with prejudice escalating to hatred, leading to discrimination, escalating to war, even genocide. There is linearity; perpetrators to victims.

To prevent and cure this disease we must understand its causes, roots, and learn what, and what not, to do.  To be against disease is not good enough.  With the open mind provided by academic freedom, and freedom of speech as a basic human right, we have explored diseases like cancer to identify the roots, the carcinogens.  Smoking, active and passive, is among them; saying so is not “blaming the victim”.  Diseases are systems with feedbacks, as is prejudice-discrimination. Rooted in relations between Jews and others, in traumas of the past, conflicts in the present, and the victim feedback.  There are loops.

50+ years ago this author researched the black-white conflict over desegregation of schools in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA[i].  To know the roots, hard segregationists were interviewed about blacks.  Responses: “they are black because of black syphilis microbes in the blood”; “they hate us and have daggers hidden behind their backs”, “they are communists against our free American society”.  We sense racism, trauma, fear, conflict over political and economic power.

What to do?  The first was easy even if scientific evidence failed to reach the die-hards.  The second was partly a matter of black society controlling their extremists.  The third was to show, with surveys, that blacks also wanted the American Dream, convinced that the road passed through integrated education, like for girls. And US society has space enough for equal opportunity. In short, solving underlying conflicts, in various ways.  It took decades, but worked.

Morale: Never confirm negative prejudices; deny, disconfirm them.

To understand, prevent, cure and learn for the future we must know how AS extremists think: “the Jews get others in debt bondage”, “control media and politicians”, “exercise disproportionate power”.

What to do?  Some advice from psychology, sociology, politology.

Psychology: Prejudices predict behavior; confirming predictions strengthens, and denying them weakens, prejudices.  Goldman Sachs, identified as Jewish through its leadership, with millions in debt bondage, could counteract constructively by being up front and rejecting “casino capitalism”, as should everybody. AIPAC-American Israel Public Affairs Committee could stop steering media and intimidating politicians by slander and pressure, favoring dialogue, not stifling it by labeling critics “anti-Semitic”.

Sociology: When a minority is high on economic-cultural and the majority on political-military power–Armenians/Turks, Jews/Germans, Chinese/Indonesians, Tutsis/Hutus–a constructive approach lifts the majority up economically and culturally, like Mahathir in Malaysia.

Politology: Forbidding Mein Kampf and that nefarious forgery to incite hatred of Jews, the Protocols is counter-productive.  Better contradict in dialogues, and counteract with constructive action.

We need both primary and secondary prophylaxis. The remedy for traumas is not denial but reconciliation; for conflicts not violence but resolution; for prejudice empathy; for discrimination equity. The secondary prophylaxis is to strengthen the victims by counteracting the prejudices; denying anti-Semitism anything to hitch on to.

After shoa Germany fought nazism with rule of law, human rights and democracy. But Germany today has the EU periphery in debt bondage.  Better learn from the past, be constructive, encourage self-reliance, negotiate debt forgiveness to avert hatred and violence tearing at EU.

Jews have been used as scapegoats during economic crisis, like Weimar Germany. The USA is heading in that direction; massive anti-semitism might ensue. Learn, nip it in the bud, counteract, now.[ii]

Enter the anti-anti-Semites, anti-AS.  They are against anti-Semitism, as anybody should be.  But they may also have other motives: micro-level repression-projection, meso level struggle for power, macro level protection of guilt-ridden countries against accusations of new anti-semitism, mega level clash of civilizations.  Protestants-Evangelicals may want Jews settled in Palestine not for their sake but for an Armageddon that will accelerate the Second Coming of Christ[iii].

To label public intellectuals like Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Richard Falk, Günter Grass, Judith Butler, Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, Richard Dawkins, Mairead McGuire, Noam Chomsky and others[iv] “anti-Semitic” is false libel of persons in no way anti-Semitic, with important perspectives.

The “correct” speech carries us nowhere:

[1] Israel is always right; [2] Israel’s critics are always wrong.

Democracy is based on transparency and dialogue.  The label-libel as anti-Semitic is prohibitive-punitive, with economic pressure, threats, and refusal of dialogue[v]; not explanatory-preventive-curative-constructive.  Some anti-anti-Semites do great disservice to Jews and Israel, to democracy, freedom of expression and academic institutions as sites of academic freedom.

Israeli politics today is the result of lack of dialogue, of being protected by mainstream media more concerned with denouncing, ostracizing and silencing critics than with constructive alternatives, like a 2-State solution within a 6-State Middle East Community, as the EC, within a 20+State security setting, as the OSCE-Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.[vi]

The same applies to shoa.  It might have been prevented had the Allies revised the Versailles Treaty, had Weimar lifted bottom Germans up; by boycotting Hitler financially rather than negotiating transfer to Palestine of 60,000 German Jews[vii], by more nonviolent action like Rosenstrasse Berlin February 1943, and less Jewish-nazi cooperation.[viii]

Morale: Know the past to learn to prevent genocide in the future.


[i]. Supported by the Anti-Defamation League, New York, also supporting a study of anti-Semitism (Essays in Peace Research, Vol. III, Ch. 13); presented for Theodore Adorno in Frankfurt.  Deep gratitude to the then ADL director, Mr. Oscar Cohen.

[ii].  The totally false label-libel of this author as “anti-Semite” came right after meetings in the USA with American Jews on exactly this; and efforts to understand the monstrous terrorism in Norway 22 July 2011 by Anders Behring Breivik.  The accusation was based on twisted quotes out of context; for an analysis see

[iii].  Yakov Rabkin, “Religious Roots of a Political Ideology, Judaism and Christianity at the Cradle of Zionism”, Mediterranean Review, Vol. 5, June 2012, pp. 75-100.  Rabkin is professor of history at the University of Montreal.

[iv].  For a list of persons accused of “anti-Semitism”, with what they are accused of and who are the accusers, see

[v].  An example is my chief accuser, Professor (New Testament Theology, University of Basel), Dr Ekkehard Stegemann, whose refusal to discuss led to the cancellation of an open dialogue at that university.  He has one position, I have another; by refusing a public discussion he betrays the academic and democratic tradition of transparency and dialogue.  However, whenever he is ready so am I.

[vi].  See

[vii].  See Edwin Black, The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine, New York: Macmillan, 1984, and later editions.

[viii].  For a very balanced overview see C. R. Browning, “After the Cauldron”, The New York Review of Books, 16 August 2012.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He is author of over 150 books on peace and related issues, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

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5 Responses to “Fighting Anti-Semitism–Constructively!”

  1. […] researched the black-white conflict over desegregation of schools in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA[i].  To know the roots, hard segregationists were interviewed about […]

  2. Bishnu Pathak says:

    […] blacks also wanted the American Dream, convinced that the road passed through integrated education, like for girls.

  3. satoshi says:

    The editorial above includes lots of deep insights and wisdom. It might be very difficult for those people, who label someone as anti-something such as “anti-Semitism” without considering the real meaning of it, to prepare a counter argument to the argument in the above editorial. Let me comment on that subject from some different angles. There are three points for that as follows:

    Point One:
    The usage that some people use the term “anti-Semitism” is wrong. Why? It is because “anti-Semitism” literally means to discriminate and/or to persecute “Semitic peoples”. Semitic peoples are varied, not only Jews in Israel. For more about information about Semitic peoples, visit: and/or Needless to say, therefore, various Arabic peoples are also “Semitic peoples”. Accordingly, Palestinians are also a Semitic people (or some of Semitic peoples)! So, the term, “anti-Semitism” does not necessarily mean that to be against the policy of the current Israeli government. As such, if you are against, for instance, the policy of the current British government, it does not necessarily mean that your view constitutes “anti-Anglo-Saxon-ism”. If you are against, for instance, the current Irish government, it does not necessarily mean that your view constitutes “anti-Celt-ism.” If you are against, for instance, the policy of the current French government, it does not necessarily mean that your view constitutes “anti-Franco-ism.” If you are against, for instance, the policy of the current German government, it does not necessarily mean that your view constitutes “anti-German-ism.” And so on and so forth. By now, you understand what I mean.

    Do not use the term “anti-Semitism” unless you really mean to refer to various Semitic peoples (not only Israeli Jews) as mentioned above. If you want to refer to the view which is against what the Israeli government is doing over Palestinians, use the term such as “anti-illegal occupation-ism,” “anti-violence-ism,” “anti-apartheid-ism,” “anti-long term slow genocide-ism” or the like. (But I am reluctant to use the prefix “anti”. Let me explain why in the Point Three below.) Note that all those “antis” are the reflection, derived from what the Israeli government has been doing against Palestinians over the decades, not because the Israeli citizens are Semitic. Remember that the reason why Jews still hate Nazi is not because Nazi were Germans but because of what Nazi did against Jews. Anyway, it is highly likely that what the Israeli government has been doing against civilian Palestinians over the decades is literally “anti-Semitic”. In that regard, recall the fact that Palestinians are also a Semitic people or some of Semitic peoples, as mentioned above. Who are really “anti-Semitic”? The answer is clear. Furthermore, for instance, the Iranian government might tell that what the Israeli government is preparing against Iran might be “anti-Semitic” (because that Iranians seem to be a Semitic people or some of Semitic peoples, according to recent DNA studies). Once again ask: Who are really “anti-Semitic”?

    Learn a lesson: If you label someone as something, you will also be labeled as the same. What you give, what you will receive. What you saw, what you will cultivate. Do what to others what you would like them to do to you. A wise Jew taught so some 2,000 years ago. He was persecuted by his fellow Jews, his Semitic people. “Anti-Semitism” by his Semitic people?

    Point Two:
    This is a question to you: Which is more constructive for the future of “Semitic peoples” in the Middle East? –- to “construct” a Greater Israel according to Genesis 15: 18-21? or to “construct” a permanent peace (both negative peace and positive peace) for both “Semitic peoples” — Israelis and Palestinians? Your answer to that question may reveal “your” own attitude toward the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians — the “conflict between two Semitic peoples”.

    Point Three:
    “X vs. anti-X” or “the thesis vs. the anti-thesis” is a form of the conflict. It is also the attitude of the conflict. This attitude is still in the form of dualism. It is not yet a transcended attitude. Peace-loving people need to overcome that attitude. They need to transcend it. Go beyond the form of the conflict. When Mother Teresa was invited to join an anti-war rally, she responded, “I do not join the anti-war rally. But I will join a pro-peace rally, instead. If you will organize a pro-peace rally next time, invite me.” In accordance with Mother Teresa’s argument as such, I also would like to avoid, as much as possible, to use such words including “anti-Semitic”, “anti-war”, “anti-violence” or any other “antis”. Instead, I would like to use the words “pro-something”. For instance, it is more preferable to use the term “pro-peace” rather than to use the term “anti-violence”.

    Let me list a few of “pro-something” relating to the subject of the above editorial.

    – Pro-withdrawal of Israelis from the Occupied Territories.
    – Pro-nonviolence (or pro-peace) for both Israelis and Palestinians.
    – Pro-nondiscrimination (or pro-equal treatment) for both Israelis and Palestinians.
    – Pro-human rights for both Israelis and Palestinians.
    – Pro-peaceful coexistence for both Israelis and Palestinians.
    – Pro-forgiveness and pro-reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.
    – Pro-forgiveness and pro-reconciliation between the Palestinian authorities and Hamas.
    – Pro-friendship between Israelis and Palestinians.
    – Pro-cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians towards their common future.

    What do you think of the above list? Too ideal? Too unrealistic? Laugh as you wish. In the beginning of your effort, everything looks too ideal and too unrealistic. Why? It is because you need to go beyond the status quo to see those things/goals, but, unfortunately, you are just looking at the status quo only. You do not see things that are beyond the status quo. By looking only at the status quo, you say that things that I mentioned above are too ideal and/or too unrealistic. Do not judge things (that locate beyond the status quo) simply looking at the status quo. Even if you are in the middle of a lengthy drought, a rainy day will come one day at last. There are two messages contained here in this context: The first is that whether you can imagine that a rainy day will come one day. The second is that you cannot control nature, whereas the Israel-Palestine issue can be solved sorely by human effort!

    When you cruise the sea (especially the ocean), you do not see any land on the horizon. All you can see, then, is nothing but the sea. But you believe that there is an island or a land behind the horizon. This was true, especially for people in the ancient times (and even in the Medieval Ages) when no accurate map was available. Nonetheless, they traveled the sea. And they actually reached the island or the land that they aimed at. Begin to travel the sea toward the land of “peaceful coexistence” even though you cannot see such land on the horizon at this moment. Believe that you can reach that land. Go ahead! The land of “peaceful coexistence” is waiting for you! Think of your future – based on empathy, mutual respect, human dignity and the spirit of the brother/sisterhood – “beyond the horizon”. And actually go beyond the horizon, not only think. Go beyond anti-Israeli-ism. Go beyond anti-Palestinian-ism. In other words, “Go beyond anti-Semitism”. Go beyond anti-something. Transcend them all. Then, pro-peace in the Middle East will truly begin.

    • majid says:

      to Satocshi,
      The very word “Semitic” is already laden with prejudice and misleading,
      As regards your remarks concerning Iranians being “Semitic” you are absolutely wrong,
      I think you yourself have no idea what “Semitic” genetically and in terms of blood type , as well as linguistically means, perhaps you mean western Asian ?
      I believe many people like yourself can not emancipate themselves from biblical terminologies such as dividing people into Semitic ,…which is in fact a religious prejudice rather than a scientific approach to define different cultures ,
      it is true that in modern Iran various peoples live who may have somewhat different genotype but the majority of Iranians neither genetically nor linguistically nor culturally can be categorized as Afro-Asiatic (aka “Semitic” )

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