When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

The Real Lesson For Israel Is About Hubris — And The "Hell" Next Door

Blaming intelligence and military failure for the Oct. 7 assault diverts attention from Israel's real weakness — a distracted and divisive political leadership that ignored the fact that people just a few miles across the border are confined in a living hell.

photo of soldiers with masks carrying a body bag

Israeli military remove the bodies of civilian victims of Hamas' terror attack.

Ilia Yefimovich/dpa via ZUMA
Nathalie Tocci


In the dramatic early hours of the brutal Hamas attack in southern Israel, the most repeated word seemed to be "surprise."

But is this resurgence of conflict, which has already taken hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives and is destined to claim thousands, really all that surprising? What lingering truth hides behind the immediate shock?

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

An attack of this scale and complexity takes months of preparation. The Hamas militias, supported by Iran, did not improvise here. Rather, they meticulously planned every detail of the attack, including its military, political, intelligence, propaganda, and terror ramifications. They managed to do this despite Israel boasting some of the world's most advanced technological surveillance tools; the services of political informants; a complete blockade of Gaza, where 2.3 million Palestinians have been living in an open-air prison since 2005; and collaboration with Arab countries, starting with Egypt, Jordan, and the UAE.

How is it possible, then, that such a plot managed to go unnoticed? Focusing on intelligence and military shortcomings diverts attention from the real failure, which is political. It is a failure on the part of everyone: Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Arab countries, and the West.

Unprepared and deluded state

Israel, led by the most extremist government in its history, has been decidedly 'distracted' in the past year. For Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was focused internally on undermining the judiciary and internationally on rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian issue was almost non-existent.

This was despite the rising violence in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza: from January this year until the day before yesterday, already over 200 Palestinians and 30 Israelis had been killed during protests, clashes, and military operations, a significant increase compared to the previous year. But not only was there no talk of it, there was even an illusion that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was dormant, if not on the verge of stabilization, through generous Saudi funding against the backdrop of normalizing relations with Israel.

All the political, economic, and security capital were used to put a band-aid where there was no wound.

This state of affairs demonstrates the unpreparedness of a government and a state deluded that overwhelming force —assisted by the subservience of a morally and financially corrupt Palestinian Authority, which has for years acted as Israel's armed wing in the West Bank — would be sufficient to erase the memory of the trampled rights of the Palestinians.

Israeli society, convinced of the security guaranteed by its own armed forces, is in shock. A shock that rekindles the trauma of exactly 50 years ago, when Egypt and Syria trapped Israel in a surprise war: the Yom Kippur War. It is difficult to imagine that the anger and pain of Israeli society will not have long-term consequences for Netanyahu and his government.

But it also exposes an illusion that runs deeper. To echo the words of an Israeli colleague: how can you believe you live in paradise when there is hell all around you?

\u200bIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the 2023 UN General Assembly saying Israel is close to making historic peace with Saudi Arabia as accepting Israel as a Jewish State, and would truly create a New Middle East.

At the 2023 UN General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is close to making historic peace with Saudi Arabia as accepting Israel as a Jewish State, and would truly create a New Middle East.

Bianca Otero/ZUMA

Reward for Riyadh

To be fair, wild delusion is not exclusive to Israel and its government but also stretches to the Arab countries. For months, news coming out of the Middle East has been dominated by the negotiations for the normalization of Israel-Saudi Arabia relations, mediated by the United States. In turn, Riyadh would be rewarded with an enhanced security partnership similar to what Israel has enjoyed for decades.

Of course this is significant. But the Israeli-Saudi thaw has always been, at most, a secondary issue because the two states not at war. The real knots in the Middle East concern ongoing conflicts, starting with the mother of all evils, the Israel-Palestine conflict, moving on to Lebanon and Syria, and ultimately to the giant issue involving Iran.

Hamas has openly claimed Iranian support in terms of political, financial, technological, and military aid. Tehran has a clear interest in sabotaging the any deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which would have slowed down or even compromised its own rapprochement with Riyadh, established last spring with the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two main Gulf rivals.

But instead of healing the Middle East's open wounds, all the media attention and political, economic, and security capital were used to put a band-aid where there was no wound. Thus was born the naïveté that the region's real problems would remain dormant.

The hypocrisy of the west

Responsibility for this failure lies not only with the Middle East, but also with the West.

Just eight days ago, Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor of the Biden administration, had declared that the Middle East had not experienced such a peaceful period in decades.

There is no peace without justice.

Regardless of the absurdity of those words in hindsight, the most glaring fact is the enormous shortsightedness and hypocrisy of both the U.S. and Europe. Because if the U.S. has done little good in the Middle East in recent years, Europe has done even less.

In Ukraine, we know that there is no peace without justice, and stability will not come with a "freezing" of the conflict, allowing Russia to continue occupying territories and suppressing Ukrainian populations. That is why we support Kyiv.

Yet, in the Middle East, we deluded ourselves that a similar solution could be possible. We let the "two states for two peoples" solution, born 30 years ago with a handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn, die at the hands of Israel's hubris, the moral weakness and corruption of the Palestinian Authority, the cynicism of Middle Eastern regimes, and Western hypocrisy.

The solution faded into oblivion. But the problem, as it has emerged in the wake of this violent shock, is all too alive.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


Violence Against Women, The Patriarchy And Responsibility Of The Good Men Too

The femicide of Giulia Cecchettin has shaken Italy, and beyond. Argentine journalist Ignacio Pereyra looks at what lies behind femicides and why all men must take more responsibility.

photo of a young man holding a sign: Filippo isn't a monster, he's the healthy son of the patriarchy

A protester's sign referring to the alleged killer reads: Filippo isn't a monster, he's the healthy son of the patriarchy

Matteo Nardone/Pacific Press via ZUMA Press
Ignacio Pereyra

Updated Dec. 3, 2023 at 10:40 p.m.


ATHENS — Are you going to write about what happened in Italy?, Irene, my partner, asks me. I have no idea what she's talking about. She tells me: a case of femicide has shaken the country and has been causing a stir for two weeks.

As if the fact in itself were not enough, I ask what is different about this murder compared to the other 105 women murdered this year in Italy (or those that happen every day around the world).

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

We are talking about a country where the expression "fai l'uomo" (be a man) abounds, with a society so prone to drama and tragedy and so fond of crime stories as few others, where the expression "crime of passion" is still mistakenly overused.

In this context, the sister of the victim reacted in an unexpected way for a country where femicide is not a crime recognized in the penal code, contrary to what happens, for example, in almost all of Latin America.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest