Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

Print Print Cite Cite
Style: MLA APA Chicago Close


The Trouble With Europe

by Elliott Abrams
May 1, 2012


From time to time come reminders that the disease of anti-Semitism remains deeply embedded and very widespread in Europe. Some of these are predictable, coming from the extreme right or extreme left, but once in a while comes a reminder that deserves special attention.

Yesterday the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a story about a Norwegian named Johan Galtung, who is regarded as the “father of peace studies” and remains today Distinguished Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Hawaii. He is the founder of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo and of the periodical known as the Journal of Peace Research. He has more honorary degrees than you can shake a stick at. And he is an anti-Semite.

As the Haaretz story reveals, he continues to write about how “the Jews control U.S. media,” suggests reading the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and has suggested a link between Israel and the murders in Norway last year committed by Anders Behring Breivik–through the Mossad. Classic anti-Semitic garbage, from one of Norway’s most honored academics.

It will be interesting to see if there are any reactions now. First, what will the University of Hawaii do? Then, what about the Norwegians? In the years in which I have been closely involved in Israeli-Palestinian policy matters, Norway has moved from being a firm voice for moderation and common sense to a knee-jerk opposition to Israel. It would be comforting to think that Galtung’s views will now be roundly denounced and rejected, but they have been matters of public record in Oslo and have elicited no response. After all, it was an Israeli and not a Norwegian newspaper that made all of this an issue. Perhaps the Haaretz story will elicit something more, but the deeper problem is the one to which I alluded at the start: the sense that classic European anti-Semitism is re-emerging as the Holocaust and the silence it imposed become more distant.


Post a Comment 6 Comments

  • Posted by Tone

    I don´t understand how you can say that it was an Israeli newspaper and not a Norwegian newspaper which made this an issue. That is so wrong. it was Haaretz that made the story known to the American and international public, but Norwegian media had certainly made a national issue of it before that and there has been lots of negative responses.

    It was also a Norwegian freelancer who started looking in to Galtungs views and made several articles about it. You really should look deeper into how this debate has unfolded in Norway, before commenting the way you do.

  • Posted by Elliott Abrams

    I appreciate this information. The real issue is what happened when the comments by Galtung were made public, and the answer appears to be nothing. How many honorary degrees were withdrawn, what did the prime minister say, which organizations demanded his resignation?

  • Posted by Odin

    Its all true, the USA and nearly all western media is strongholded by the zionists

  • Posted by Dean Smallwood

    If Barack Obama can receive the Nobel Peace Prize , it won’t be long before Galtung gets his !

  • Posted by Tone

    Johan Galtung is 81 years old, and as I understand he is primarily based in the US, and otherwise lectures all over the world. He has fled Norway, partly due to “the bad Norwegian debate climate”, according to himself. I hardly think he holds any positions he can be resigned from, although he is listed as a (retired) member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

    The Norwegian Humanist organization who awarded him in 1988 and invited him to Oslo in 2011 has denounced him, as has the Norwegian Green party which awarded him a honorable membership in 2009. It is a tiny party with no representation in the parliament. Other than that; there isn´t any tradition in Norway for officially withdrawing awards. I do however think that the institution PRIO that he founded ought to officially denounce him.

    The prime minister has not commented on this, and I don´t anybody has indicated that he ought to. Galtung´s anti-Semittic remarks are part of a conspiracy theory regarding the terror attacks in Norway where the prime minister himself was a main target (the goverment building with his office totally bombed), along with all the young Labour Youth members who were killed at Utøya. It goes without saying that the kind of conspiracy theory that Galtung is presenting is highly offensive to the prime minister and the rest of the party. Galtung has earlier this year compared Norway´s foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre to Breivik, and said the two were one of a kind. The foreign minister declined to comment.

    The Norwegian Labour Party is of course a very traumatized party after the terror attacks, still filled with enormous sorrow. They have handled the situation with extreme dignity and discipline.

    Reaction from Norwegian Jews:


  • Posted by Uai

    The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters is a learned society. Its members are elected for life by the existing members. Nobody but the members have any right to decide who can become a member. It isn’t possible to strip someone of a membership in the society as it is for life. It isn’t a job, but a membership/accolade. Galtung lives mainly in the US, France and Japan, not in Norway. Galtung’s comment on FM Støre referred to Norwegian soldiers murdering children in Afghanistan and was part of the debate on the war in Afghanistan. Other famous individuals have certainly used equally strong words about the war in Afghanistan. For example Harold Pinter used similar expressions about George W. Bush for this reason, as did many others.

    Besides, Galtung is the founder of the entire discipline of peace studies, the inventor of the concept of Peacebuilding, conflict resolution and much more. Nobody wants to strip Galtung of anything.

Post a Comment

CFR seeks to foster civil and informed discussion of foreign policy issues. Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions. All comments must abide by CFR's guidelines and will be moderated prior to posting.

* Required