#149 / Editorial

What accounts for Israel’s unpreparedness in the face of the October 7 attack? What explains the impression that Israel, in its legitimate response to an external military threat, is sailing without a clear strategy and at the risk of alienating the international community? Although the current crisis is particularly acute, and although it was triggered by the massacres committed by Hamas, we cannot shake off the idea that it should be an opportunity for Israeli democracy to look inward. Eva Illouz’s text, which we are publishing this week, aims to contribute to this necessary reflexive awakening by emphasizing that the existential threat currently hanging over Israel stems from an internal failure. According to Ilouz, October 7 revealed “a systemic collapse of the entire Israeli societal apparatus,” which can be explained by the consolidation of political and religious extremism and an ongoing process of degradation of democratic norms and values. Israel’s enemies are counting on this internal vulnerability: democratic vitality is therefore here, more than anywhere else, a matter of survival. Hope therefore presupposes the removal of those responsible for the deterioration, i.e. an end to the Netanyahu sequence and a renewal of the contract between state and citizen.

After last week’s analysis of the political implications of the International Court of Justice’s decision, we wanted to offer our readers a truly legal perspective and expertise on this issue. K. therefore interviewed Yann Jurovics, a lawyer, specialist in crimes against humanity and former expert at the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. His answers help to clarify the nature of the proceedings that led to the ICJ’s decision, to understand the significance of the provisional measures that were ordered, and to remove ambiguity about certain definitional elements. However, this interview cannot be reduced to a purely didactic interest, as it also allows us to appreciate the processes and styles that characterize legal thinking. The distance with which Jurovics articulates his answers to our sometimes impatient questions exemplifies the restraint of the discipline he interprets here, formulating his judgments far from the din of militant opinion. Law, then, which may be called upon to answer questions with political echoes, nevertheless delivers its verdict independently of any attempts at instrumentalization.

Israel faces an existential threat on multiple fronts. Externally, the country’s militarily challenging enemies are piling up. But we cannot overlook what threatens Israel from within. For Eva Illouz, Israel needs a vast centrist and social-democratic movement to renew the contract between state and citizen. Only such a movement can give Israelis back the strength that has been taken away from them, and save them from a real existential risk.

What is the nature of the proceedings initiated by South Africa’s request? What is the significance of the interim measures ordered? What is the difference between genocide and war crimes or crimes against humanity? Yann Jurovics, a specialist in these fields and a former jurist at the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, shares his expertise on the issues at stake in the decision of the International Court of Justice, allowing us to appreciate the restraint of a legal approach untainted by political conflicts.

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.

With the support of:

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