# 150 / Editorial

The ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) clarifies the situation as the international public is now called upon to understand it. Rejection, first and foremost, of South Africa’s assertion that Israel’s war on Gaza currently represents genocide as prohibited by the 1948 Convention. Rejection, too, of Israel’s assertion that the relevant legal framework for an application to the ICJ concerning the responsibilities of the Jewish state in Gaza is not the Genocide Convention, but the texts of International Humanitarian Law. Indeed, the Court’s ruling establishes the plausibility of a threat to the rights of the Palestinians guaranteed by the Convention and therefore pronounces provisional measures aimed at preventing the actual violation of these rights, i.e., the genocide feared by South Africa. This is the prerogative of law—not to be an oracle, but to set a common benchmark, and to have the authority to do so.

The legal response of the International Court of Justice is one thing, but the political effect of the entire proceeding initiated by South Africa is another. Granted, the Court did not order Israel to cease fire, which means that it does not believe that genocide is being committed as a result of the military operation in Gaza. What is remarkable, however, is how Israel’s enemies are expressing a sense of victory. The first of this week’s articles is devoted to this dissonance, based in particular on a reading of a text by Aharon Barak published on the ICJ website—Separate Opinion of Judge ad hoc Barak. A former president of the Supreme Court and a great defender of democracy in Israel, whom Netanyahu’s government calls an enemy, Barak—as an ad hoc judge in The Hague to rule with his colleagues on South Africa’s charges—voted in favor of some of the provisional measures. But without failing to point out that South Africa, in accusing Israel of violating the Genocide Convention, had reversed political reality by wrongly attempting to “impute the crime of Cain to Abel.”

We are also invited by Tal Bruttmann to reflect on a certain mode of inversion of reality in an interview he granted us in partnership with Akadem. The historian of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, who points out that “for forty years, Israel has been regularly accused by its ideological opponents of committing genocide,” revisits, in particular, those discourses that see Israel as instrumentalizing the memory of the Holocaust to justify a war that is considered genocidal, thus echoing the trope that yesterday’s victims have become today’s executioners.

Robert and Gérald Finaly—born in 1941 and 1942—were placed in a Catholic institution in 1944. While they themselves escaped deportation, their parents were murdered in Auschwitz. After the war, their guardian refused to return them to their immediate family. Among the reasons given by the guardian for his refusal was the fact that the children had been baptized. Philosopher Jean-Michel Rey looks back at the “Finaly affair” and paints a picture of the views held by some of the Catholic intelligentsia of the time about the Jews and what they saw as their desirable future. We encounter the ghosts of Dreyfus, Simone Weil, and Marcionist ideology. It’s the story of a Church that never really gave up on the conversion of the Jews, and until 1950, in its Good Friday prayer, the phrase “Let us pray for the perfidious Jews…” spoke volumes about its desire to see them somehow disappear.

The Editors

On Friday 26 January, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on South Africa’s request to order Israel to cease its military operations in Gaza, arguing that there was a “serious risk of genocide”. The answer is clear: the ICJ does not consider that genocide is taking place. It even explicitly stated that there was nothing in the measures pronounced that would lead to any conclusion in this respect. What remains to be analysed is the political significance of the proceedings as a whole. This raises the question of why South Africa hailed a “decisive victory for the international rule of law…”.

What is the significance of this massive return to the history and memory of the Holocaust as a point of reference since the October 7 massacres, and what is the significance of the proliferation of the word “genocide” to condemn Israel’s war on Gaza? How should we understand speeches that claim that Israel is instrumentalizing the memory of the Holocaust to justify a war that is considered genocidal, echoing the trope that the victims have become the executioners? We asked Tal Bruttmann to shed some light on these questions.

On 10 February 1944, Anni and Fritz Finaly, Austrian refugees who had arrived in France six years earlier, entrusted their sons to the Sisters. Four days later, they were arrested by the Gestapo. Deported to Auschwitz, they never returned. Aged 2 and 3, Robert and Gérard were entrusted to the care of a devout Catholic, Antoinette Brun, who became their guardian. When the children’s family wanted them back, Miss Brun refused – on the grounds that they had been baptised. Philosopher Jean-Michel Rey looks back at this “Finaly affair”, which hit the headlines in the early 1950s, and at the violence of a gesture of erasure that people thought could be legitimised by recourse to Catholic theology alone.

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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.