# 137 / Editorial

“Israel must not avenge itself”, the international press, especially the French press, repeats in a chorus. There is no doubt that this warning has the noblest pacifist intentions. But the fact remains that it shows a strange paternalism: is the concert of nations afraid that the Israeli state, still a young little brother, will revert to archaic attitudes? Has it ever done so? In his text, Danny Trom examines the relationship of exclusion that the modern state has with vengeance, and the confusion caused by the asymmetry of a conflict between a state and a group that poses as its existential enemy. He thus reassures those who can be reassured: no, there will be no Israeli vengeance. As for the others, who insist on understanding Israel’s reaction in terms of vengeance, he holds it up to them like a mirror. What does it mean to be fascinated by the logic of vengeance if not to hope to be part of it? “Hamas is avenging the Palestinians for the humiliation inflicted on them by Israel,” is how the discourse of this left goes, which knows how to make money out of resentment. Fantasies of self-humiliation and impossible proportionality are combined. Meanwhile, the ground is shaking beneath the feet of the Jews.

As Tsahal makes its first incursions into Gaza to fight Hamas forces, it is more important than ever to understand the social and political reality of the people of Gaza. Understanding, first and foremost, means distinguishing between what cannot be confused: a group that came to power through the ballot box in 2005 and has since maintained power by repressing civil society, and a population whose lives and aspirations are being exploited and sacrificed. However, understanding requires a willingness to listen, which has not been the main concern of the international community and the Israeli government. This week, K. proposes to share the Whispered in Gaza project, testimonies of Gazans collected and hosted by the Center for Peace Communications. In these videos, the voices may be muffled, reduced to whispers, the names and faces anonymised for fear of reprisals, but the words are crystal clear. They express the righteousness of the Palestinian cause and the resistance to its capture by the hateful and deadly logic of Hamas. Above all, they express the weariness of a population dragged against its will into an armed conflict that offers nothing but death and devastation.

The upheavals we are experiencing impose a pause on even the most elaborate schemes of interpretation, which we might hope would allow us to return to our reflections. However, this pause is usually short-lived or even tolerated. With a great deal of contextualisation, and often denial, meaning can be restored, the unshakable coherence of a worldview maintained: “I’m not surprised”, boasts the self-proclaimed sage. In his text, Ruben Honigmann shares with us an astonishment that cannot be resolved: the astonishment inspired in him by the Jewish people, which never ceases to be astonishing. It is indeed a surprising people that, after all these millennia, continues to be surprised at being persecuted; its naivety is almost irritating. But as Ruben Honigmann glides from one astonishment to the next, he reminds us of the vital importance of allowing ourselves to be surprised, of “never being deprived of meaning”. The fact that this eternally childlike gaze belongs to the oldest people in the world will not contradict him.

“Israel faces the vertigo of vengeance” was the headline of an article published in Le Monde a week after 7 October. But to imagine that Israel will act in this way is to delude oneself. Danny Trom explains why Israel will not and cannot avenge itself by deciphering what this omnipresent warning imperceptibly conveys.

“One thing never ceases to amaze me about Jews—their ability to marvel at the hostility directed against them. With every antisemitic murder, attack, massacre, or pogrom, we’re stunned. We are offended by the lack of empathy of our usual affable greengrocer; we are outraged by the reaction of the UN Secretary-General; we cannot stand the semantic contortions of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, worthy of the best Yeshiva students; we are revolted by the radical loneliness of the persecuted Jewish people. We rub our eyes every time, as we did the first day when we saw Harvard daddy’s boys denouncing the “genocide underway in Gaza” or the Queers for Palestine tearing down posters of Israeli hostages. But why are we surprised?”

The videos created by the Center for Peace Communications carry out projects that highlight the real conditions of civilians in the Middle East. In the case of Gaza, they show a daily life of oppression, warmongering coercion and Islamism. Democratically elected in 2007, Hamas immediately took control of civil society, leaving the population trapped between the severity of the Israeli blockade and the actions of the Palestinian government in power, which does not hesitate to use it for these destructive purposes, arrogating to itself with impunity the importance of the Palestinian cause and what is just in itself.

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Thanks to the Paris office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their cooperation in the design of the magazine’s website.