The limits of global legalism.

The African Union has decided not to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, which has indicted Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, for crimes against humanity. The African Union has 53 members, 30 of which are parties of the ICC. These 30 states have therefore effectively announced that they will not comply with their treaty obligation to arrest al-Bashir and extradite him to The Hague.

It is increasingly clear that the ICC, like every utopian international institution that preceded it, will not accomplish its mission—to bring international justice to places like Sudan where a genocide is taking place. It is rapidly being downgraded to a development institution, one that can provide legal and judicial capacity to states that request its help in battles with insurgencies, such as Uganda and the Central African Republic.

Yet at the same time, international criminal law is coming down like a juggernaut on Israel. Israeli officials increasingly fear that they will be hauled off to court if they enter a European country. European governments and judiciaries are taking note of claims that Israeli soldiers and leaders committed war crimes in Gaza and elsewhere. (Yet Spain is junking its universal jurisdiction statute, partly because of Israeli pressure.)

Israelis should consider the Sudan example and think about their problem in simpler terms. Their actions have offended people in Europe and so these European countries are issuing what might be called contingent sanctions against Israelis who have used too much violence, in European eyes, against Palestinians. Sudan is in a similar position, but it has plenty of friends in Africa. Israeli officials need to work on their diplomatic relationships with European countries, reduce their use of violence in conflicts against Palestinians, or accustom themselves to taking their vacations elsewhere.