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Avner Falk (Hebrew: אבנר פלק‎; born 1943) is an Israeli clinical psychologist and author.[1] Falk has written psychoanalytic studies of Jewish and Israeli leaders, Jewish history, the Arab–Israeli conflict, antisemitism and Islamic terrorism.


Avner Falk grew up in Tel Aviv and studied psychology and clinical psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1960–1966) and at Washington University in St. Louis (1966–1970) where he received his Ph.D. in 1970. He returned to Israel in 1971 and worked as a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist in Jerusalem until 1995. He has published psychoanalytic biographies of Moshe Dayan, David Ben-Gurion, Theodor Herzl, Napoleon and Barack Obama. In 2005, his book Fratricide in the Holy Land: A Psychoanalytic View of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (2004) won the Outstanding Academic Title award from the American Library Association's Choice magazine.

In July 2010 Dr. Falk was contacted by Dr. Hans-Joachim Lang, a Holocaust historian and journalist in the German university town of Tübingen, whose city government had just published the existence in its museum of a wooden Torah disc from Zgierz, the hometown of Falk's maternal family, which had been in its possession since 1994. It turned out that the disc was a relic from a Torah scroll that Falk's Polish-Jewish maternal grandfather, Jozef Cwi Szpiro (1880–1941), had donated to his Zgierz synagogue in 1927 in memory of his deceased parents, and that some time after 1939 came into the possession of Otto Michel (1903–1993), a well-known Tübingen university theologian, a former Nazi and SA member, who after the Second World War and the Holocaust became a Jewish Studies pioneer in Tübingen, and whose widow had given it to the city museum. Since then, Dr. Falk has been writing a psychohistorical book, which has also become a detective story, about when and how this relic of his grandfather's Torah scroll came into Michel's possession. Michel himself had said nothing about his Nazi past in his autobiography of 1989 and had apparently told no one about how he had come by the wooden Torah disc. In November 2011 Dr. Falk received this relic of his grandfather's Torah scroll from the mayor of Tübingen, Boris Palmer (born 1971), in a public ceremony in Tübingen's city hall, at which Falk delivered a German-language lecture on his findings entitled "Die Verneinung der Vergangenheit: Die Geschichte einer Thorarolle" ("The Denial of the Past: The Story of a Torah Scroll"). He continues his research for this book in the face of considerable resistance from some German archives.

Awards and critical acclaimEdit

1987 Resident Scholar, Rockefeller Foundation Study and Conference Center, Bellagio, Italy

1997 Fellow of the International Napoleonic Society

1999 Featured Scholar, Clio's Psyche

2006 Outstanding Academic Title award for Fratricide in the Holy Land from the American Library Association's Choice magazine

Published worksEdit


1985 משה דיין: האיש והאגדה. ביוגרפיה פסיכואנליטית [Moshe Dayan, the Man and the Myth: a Psychoanalytic Biography]. Jerusalem: Cana. Tel Aviv: Maariv Library.

1987 דוד מלך ישראל: ביוגרפיה פסיכואנליטית של דוד בן-גוריון [David King of Israel: a Psychoanalytic Biography of David Ben-Gurion]. Tel Aviv: Tammuz Publishing.

1993 Herzl, King of the Jews: a Psychoanalytic Biography of Theodor Herzl. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America

1996 A Psychoanalytic History of the Jews. Madison, New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. Cranbury, New Jersey & London: Associated University Presses

2004 Fratricide in the Holy Land: A Psychoanalytic View of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press.

2007 Napoleon Against Himself: A Psychobiography. Charlottesville, Virginia: Pitchstone Publishing.

2008 Antisemitism: A History and Psychoanalysis of Contemporary Hatred. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger.

2008 Islamic Terror: Conscious and Unconscious Motives. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger.

2010 Franks and Saracens: Reality and Fantasy in the Crusades. London: Karnac Books

2010 The Riddle of Barack Obama: A Psychobiography. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger


1963 Buber and Gandhi. Gandhi Marg, Seventh Year, Fourth Issue, October, pp. 235–247

1964 On Heinrich von Kleist's "Broken Pitcher." Vent, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

1964a Clues to Suicide: Psychiatrists Discuss Israeli Aspects. The Jerusalem Post.

1971 An Israeli Legal-Psychiatric Dilemma. Journal of Forensic Medicine, vol. 18, pp. 39–46

1974 Border Symbolism. The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, vol. 43, pp. 650–660. Reprinted (1989) in Stein, H. F. & Niederland, W. G. (Eds.) Maps from the Mind: Readings in Psychogeography. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press

1974a (with Rafael Moses et al.) יחידה ערפית לטיפול בנפגעי הלם קרב בשלהי מלחמת יום הכיפורים [A Rear Unit for the Treatment of Combat Reactions in the Wake of the Yom Kippur War]. Harefuah, Journal of the Israel Medical Association, December 15.

1975-1976 Identity and Name Changes. The Psychoanalytic Review, vol. 62, pp. 647–657

1976 (with Rafael Moses et al.) A Rear Unit for the Treatment of Combat Reactions in the Wake of the Yom Kippur War. Psychiatry, vol. 39, pp. 153–162

1977 Freud and Herzl. Midstream, vol. 23, no. 1 (January), pp. 3–24

1978 Freud and Herzl [expanded version]. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, vol. 14, July, pp. 357–387

1979 פרויד והרצל [Freud and Herzl]. Ha'ummah, vol. 56, pp. 57–75

1979a לפשר שגעונו של הירשל: סיפור פשוט של ש"י עגנון [on the Meaning of Hirschl's Madness: A Simple Tale by S.J. Agnon]. Bammah, no. 81-82, pp. 107–111

1982 Freud und Herzl: die Geschichte einer Beziehung in der Phantasie. Zeitgeschichte (Salzburg), vol. 9, pp. 305–337

1982a The Messiah and the Qelippoth: on the Mental Illness of Sabbatai Sevi. Journal of Psychology and Judaism, vol. 7, pp. 5–29

1982b Eichmann, Rohan and Cohen: Psychiatric Justice in Israel. Medicine and Law, vol. 1, pp. 191–198

1982c The Role of Guilt Feelings in War Neurosis. In Milgram, Norman A. (Ed.) Stress and Anxiety, vol. 8, pp. 163–169. Washington: Hemisphere

1983 Border Symbolism Revisited. International Review of Psycho-Analysis, vol. 10, pp. 215–220. Reprinted in Stein, H. F. & Niederland, W. G. (Eds. 1989) Maps from the Mind: Readings in Psychogeography. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press

1983a Moshe Dayan: the Infantile Roots of Political Action. The Journal of Psychohistory, vol. 11, pp. 271–288

1984 Moshe Dayan: Narcissism in Politics. The Jerusalem Quarterly, vol. 30, pp. 113–124

1985 Aspects of Political Psychobiography. Political Psychology, vol. 6, pp. 605–619

1986 Der Kampf zwischen der Psychoanalyse und den Universitäten. In Pircher, Wolfgang (Ed.) Vernunft als Institution? Geschichte und Zukunft der Universität, pp. 125–134. Vienna: Österreichische Hochschülerschaft.

1987 Ben-Gurion: Immigration as Rebirth. Midstream, vol. 33, no. 5, pp. 32–34

1987a על הספה: הדרך הארוכה לשינוי עצמי מציאותי [On the Couch: the Long Road to a Realistic Self-Image]. Politica (Israel), no. 14-15, pp. 52–55

1987b מהלר ופרויד: סיפורה של פגישה [Mahler and Freud: the Story of an Encounter]. Musica (Israel), vol. 6, pp. 30–35

1987c The Meaning of Jerusalem: a Psychohistorical Inquiry. The Psychohistory Review, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 99–113. Expanded version in Stein. H. F. & Niederland, W. G. (Eds. 1989) Maps from the Mind: Readings in Psychogeography. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press

1989 Aspectos psicoanalíticos del conflicto árabe-israelí. Diálogo (Jerusalem, Israel), vol. 19, pp. 3, 6-13, 31

1989a Incest and Parricide on the Throne of Judah. The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, vol. 14, pp. 149–165

1991 לעבד את האבל [Working Through the Mourning]. Davar, March 19

1991a לאומיות כנרקיסיזם קבוצתי הגנתי [Nationalism as Defensive Group Narcissism]. Davar, Oct. 10

1991b Why Are the Serbs and Croats Killing Each Other? The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 6

1992 Unconscious Aspects of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, vol. 17, pp. 213–247

1993 עגנון והפסיכואנליזה [Agnon and Psychoanalysis]. Iton 77, vol. 16, no. 156, pp. 28–39

1993a רוזה כהן ולאה שלוסברג: על יצחק רבין [Rosa Cohen and Leah Schlossberg on Yitzhak Rabin]. Politica (Tel Aviv).

1993b The Problem of Mourning in Jewish History. The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, vol. 18, pp. 299–316

1999 מאוסוולד עד עמיר: דיוקן פסיכואנליטי של רוצח פוליטי [From Oswald to Amir: Psychoanalytic Portrait of a Political Assassin]. Panim, No. 8, Winter 1998-1999, January 1999

2001 De Claude-André Strauss à Claude Vigée: Refléxions d'un ami psychologue. In Mendelson, David & Leinmann, Colette (Eds.) L’Oeil Témoin de la Parole: Rencontre autour de Claude Vigée. Paris: Editions Parole et Silence

2001a Political Assassination and Personality Disorder: The Cases of Lee Harvey Oswald and Yigal Amir. Mind and Human Interaction, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 2–34

2001b Osama bin Laden and America: A Psychobiographical Study. Mind and Human Interaction, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 161–172

2004 Terres promises: le regard d'un psychanalyste. Perspectives: Revue de l'Université Hébraïque de Jérusalem, No. 11, pp. 199–207.

2006 Collective Psychological Processes in Anti-Semitism. Jewish Political Studies Review, vol. 18, no. 1-2, pp. 37–55

Book Reviews

1978 Analyzing Freud. Review of From Oedipus to Moses by Marthe Robert. Midstream, vol. 24, no. 10, pp. 70–71

1986 Review of The Immortal Atatürk by Vamik D. Volkan and Norman Itzkowitz. Asian and African Studies, vol. 20, pp. 266–271

1988 Loss and Longing. Review of Freud: A Life for Our Time by Peter Gay. Weekend, The Jerusalem Post Magazine

1992 Old-Hat Freud. Review of Freud and Moses by Emmanuel Rice. Moment, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 67–68

1999 Reviews of Shame and Humiliation: Presidential Decision Making on Vietnam by Blema S. Steinberg (1996) and Richard Nixon: A Psychobiography by Vamik D. Volkan & al. (1997). Political Psychology, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 420–428


  1. ^ Holmes, Paul (January 11, 2006). "An uncertain Israel lionises a stricken Sharon". Times of Malta. Retrieved 24 July 2012.

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