Needed: Regime Change in Israel

EDITORIAL, 11 Aug 2014

#336 | Johan Galtung

Like so many, like millions, this author’s heart is bleeding for the killed and bereaved in Gaza–so disturbingly similar to the Warsaw ghetto in 1943 and Warsaw 1944. With Arab and Western governments doing nothing; like the Red Army in 1944. But the latter was heading for Berlin. And the West uses Ukraine as a distraction.

Like Rabbi Michael Lerner, my non-Jewish heart is also bleeding for Judaism and the Israel that could have been. The present regime is a traitor to both, driving into the abyss. Yet they have parliamentary and democratic, voter, support? Except that parliaments are not infallible, democracies can be wrong; even more so if the people think they have a divine mandate. England, the mother of parliaments–once thought it had; colonized 25% of the world and is now hanging on to the “united kingdom”. The USA still feels covenanted to the Lord but is lording over less and less; Japan suffers from similar Sun Goddess delusions.

So does the present Israeli regime, but there is enough sanity left. By “pathology” it is meant not only the megalomaniac-paranoid component but the deficient sense of reality. Particularly:

Pathology 1: The delusion of victory being feasible, destroying tunnels, rockets and hard core Hamas. Finite goals, reachable. But this is autistic actio with no sense of reactio. Kill one Hamas, produce ten. Rule over ruins of mosques and UN schools and children’s corpses in Gaza and occupied West Bank-East Jerusalem moves, inside Israel moves. Floods of tears, grief and hatred, and strong forces rejecting the tamed Arab state system now fight for an Islamic State. An Ottoman caliphate with no special role for Turkey and Istanbul?

And sooner or later pressure inside Western countries to withdraw ambassadors from Tel Aviv, like the UN recognizing Palestine, step up BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions). Down the road: US ire overflows, “Israel: you have become a liability”. Like Philippines, South Africa. And asylum in the USA.

Pathology No. 2: imputing symmetry to conquest-colonialism. Throughout history the conquered-colonized resist, fight back, for freedom; Palestine is no exception. To see Hamas just as a belligerent with rockets, as the real enemy to be defeated, is the delusion of all terrorists, state like Israel or non-state: “If you only get rid of what we hate terrorism will stop”.

To the contrary, the terrorized turn against the terrorists instead–later on maybe settling some political accounts. True, the wisdom of fighting a militarily very strong regime with military means can be doubted, however psychologically understandable, but who are we to judge? Norway occupied by the hated Germans also combined violence and nonviolence. The German regime collapsed, a new Germany emerged.

Pathology No. 3: to believe that at the end of this expansionism “secure and recognized borders” are waiting, and hence “peace”. From the Nile to Euphrates, the Genesis promise, involving 9 states by the present map, with Y-h as guarantor? Face it, the regime prefers expansion to security, and may end up with neither one, nor the other.

The obvious alternative, 1-2-6-20 may not be available forever:

1: A Palestine fully recognized, also by Israel;

2: A 1967 two-states nucleus for sustainable peace, with some swaps, and Israeli cantons in sacred places on the West Bank, and Palestine cantons in Northwest Israel where most of the Nakba took place;

6: A six-states Middle East Community of Israel with its five Arab neighbors–Lebanon-Syria-Jordan-Palestine recognized-Egypt. Model: the six-state Treaty of Rome European Community of 1 January 1958.

20: An Organization for Security and Cooperation for West Asia. Model: OSCE for Europe, related to the Helsinki 1972-75 conference, with the neighbors of the five neighbors and some of their neighbors–also with Iraq-Syria, IS(IS), Kurds on the agenda. Initiative: UN.

In short: security through peace, not the delusion of the opposite.

There is nothing anti-Israel in this. Israel as a state with Jewish characteristics–not a “Jewish state” (read: only for Jews) is there, learning how to live in peace with others. True, it is Buber, not Jabotinsky–the latter leads but to the Wall and to:

The Underlying Pathology: Displaced aggression against the Palestinians. To dump the bill for European, particularly Nazi-German atrocities at the feet of the Arabs, particularly the Palestinians, instead of carving out an Israel on German lands is bad enough. But there is historical legitimation for a Zion-Israel in the Middle East, like the pre-1967 accepted by most. Horrendous: to do to the Palestinians, step-by-step, escalating, what Germans did to Jews. Proving “manhood” or whatever on somebody weaker than themselves. The Warsaw ghetto was emptied; there are voices for an empty Gaza. The genocide on top of the sociocide is already there in the killing of children and women. Nobody believes the IDF to be bad at targeting.

The many steps of Nazi atrocities not trodden by this ill-conceived scenario should not be used to legitimize the steps taken. Just like belligerent cannot hide behind “we did not use nuclear bombs”, the present regime cannot hide behind “no gas chambers”.

That pathological regime has to yield to sanity. In my own numerous visits to Israel, talking about 1-2-6-20 (six visits from early 1971), Israeli women have invited me to contemplate their situation, caught between the definition of a Jew as born by a Jewish mother and the way they are treated by the religious aspect of Zionism, orthodox zionism (not reformed). Make no mistake, they favor an Israel with Jewish characteristics, but distance themselves enough from the four pathologies to constitute a solid basis for an alternative. Very, very many men will join them. Look at statements from the “secret” agencies and army leaders themselves these recent years, much stronger than anything said above. My intuition tells me that some of them may even be preparing a regime change.

Not even the USA can force change upon Israel. Antisemitism certificates will be issued, history will be invoked. But everything has its limits. And the present regime has overstepped theirs.


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.

Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TRANSCEND Media Service-TMS, is included. Thank you.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 11 Aug 2014.

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7 Responses to “Needed: Regime Change in Israel”

  1. Magnus Haavelsrud says:

    Combining security with occupation is not a formula for peace. How could anyone in The world think that an occupied people has no right to defending themselves? The question is: What are legitimate forms of defense when you are occupied? Please help in answering this question.

    • Reply from Prof. Johan Galtung:

      Dear Magnus — massive nonviolence/civil disobedience by Palestinians all over–but then added to that, help from the outside. The total delegitimation of the present Israeli regime by the holocaust survivors and their descendance is an iconic example. Recognition of Palestine–like recognition of marijuana–by US states or municipalities would be another. By our own country, Norway a third–so that Israel and Palestine could meet more as equals. Alt godt Johan

  2. Werner T. Meyer says:

    I agree wit the necessity of regime change.
    Netanyahu’s regime is Jabotinsky-revisionist. The N. family including father Benzion is old Jabotinsky nobility. Some former
    PMs, notably Begin (and all Likud) and Sharon came from the same camp. Sharon and Netanyahu have killed the peace process and the 2-state-solution for good no later than 2006.

    Jabotinsky-revisionism is a classical fascism akin to (and inspired by) Mussolini’s.

    I will present some arguments for this starting with the fascism-definition of Michael Mann (“Fascists”) adding counter-arguments from Thomas G. Mitchell quoting Ilan Peleg (“Israel/Palestine and the Politics of a Two-State Solution”. Finally I discus some pragmatic considerations of using the “fascist” label.

    MANN: DEFINITION OF FASCISM (summary from 2 pages)
    (1) Nationalism. A deep populist commitment to an “organic” or “integral” nation. In German “völkisch” “Volkskörper”. Some ethnic, religious, “racial” and behavioral minorities cannot be part of this nation.
    (2) Statism. Fascists worship state power.
    (3) Transcendence of classes as one nation as project. The historic 5 fascist regimes however did tend to backtrack from their original project.
    (4) Ethnic cleansing. Because opponents were seen as “enemies,” they were to be removed, and the nation cleansed of them. This was fascist aggression in action.
    (5) Paramilitarism was both a key value and the key organizational form of fascism.
    For Israel: (my interpretation)
    (1) Zionism
    (2) Zionist state, Eretz Israel
    (3) Kibbutz ideology – vanishes as in all historic fascist regimes
    (4) Typical for Jabotinsky revisionism. There IS a Palestinian people and it must be kept apart by a (yet symbolic) iron wall. Or “transported”.
    (5) Paramilitaries in mandatory Palestine. Settlers today. More + more recent war veterans than in any of the 5 historic fascist European countries.

    Thomas G. Mitchell quotes Ilan Peleg with a redundant Fascism definition but a set of characteristics setting NEO-revisionism apart from them:

    • An emphasis on power, particularly military power, as the sole instrument in international relations:
    • a tendency to romanticize the nation:
    • seeing the outside world as anti-Semitic and dedicated to destroying Israel:
    • an effort to dehumanize the enemy;
    • an emphasis on territorial expansion and national rights:
    • the equation of internal dissent with treason:
    • and a continuous disrespect for international law.3*
    But Peleg argues that Neo-Revisionism is not fascism for a number of reasons:
    • Neo-Revisionism does not demand a transfer of all power to the state:
    • Neo-Revisionists are still committed to democracy and basic liberties:
    • Neo-Revisionists do not glorify the past to the same degree as do fascists:
    • Dreams of grandeur and glory are limited in Neo-Revisionism:
    • Stylistic similarities with fascism are limited:
    • Neo-Revisionism is a combination of secular realism and religious messianism and it looks to traditional values as a source of legitimacy.

    I doubt that the latter points are sufficient for withdrawing the FASCISM diagnosis. The 5 historic European fascisms were as diverse.

    Is using the “fascist” label healthy for conflict resolution?

    – It corresponds with the facts, it explains the behavior of the regime towards the out-group and its alliances with the similar European populist radical right parties and the US-neocons.
    – It takes away the blame from all ethnic/religious Jews.
    – It puts the blame on the right; positioning oneself and the other on the left – right dimension is common use.
    – It permits question like why did the US Israel lobby, the US-Neocons and the Netanyahu camp on the one hand promote the second Iraq war while the average US Jewish opinion was on the pacifist side of the US average?

    – It defines and vilifies an out-group (but only a regime and a non-representative lobby)
    – It puts an terrifying mask on them (but what is a mask in addition to 300 nuclear war heads on missiles able to reach you)


    Werner T. Meyer

  3. […] University Press-TUP. Galtung’s Editorial was published by TRANSCEND Media Service. Go to Original. Click here to download this article as a PDF […]

  4. […] Press-TUP. Galtung’s Editorial was published by TRANSCEND Media Service. Go to Original. Click here to download this article as a PDF […]

  5. Werner T. Meyer says:

    Addition to my response 2)

    Zeev Sternhell, a leading expert on fascism just confirmed Israel’s descent into fascism:

    “Signs of fascism in Israel reached new peak during Gaza op, says renowned scholar.
    Israel Prize laureate and renowned scholar Zeev Sternhell fears the collapse of Israeli democracy, and compares the current atmosphere with that of 1940s’ France. The time we have left to reverse this frightening trend is running out, he warns (HAARETZ. By Gidi Weitz | Aug. 13, 2014 | 5:54 PM | 1)”

    Werner T. Meyer