No — Peace — Justice — Israel — Palestine


“No Justice, No Peace” is a well-established formula. With orgins in the Black Power Movement, it gets at the asymmetrical conflict over Israel and Palestine. The very simple argument is that Israel won’t enjoy peace without justice for Palestine. Less simple is figuring out the intention of speakers who cite the formula. Is this intended by the speaker to be a descriptive statement that seeks only to describe political reality? Or is it intended as a normative statement meaning that Israel should not be allowed to live in peace without justice for Palestine?

Flip the formula to see the other side of the coin – “No Justice, No Peace.” It’s hard to imagine how to draw up the careful arrangements that might make for justice for Palestine under the conditions of war and violence that threaten Israel. This is not meant to justify the injustice as much as to describe a parallax view of the conflict. Do war and violence reveal the pre-given injustice of a situation? Or do they only aggravate that condition and make it worse?

Spinning in vicious circles, each formula articulates a truth that is as partial as it is brutal and basic. Viewed logically, one term has to precede in order to ground the other. But these kinds of conflict do not lend themselves to logic. In the end, neither party gets what it needs. Morally, the claims must be met simultaneously, whereas politically it’s up to the stronger party to resolve the asymmetrical conflict which the weaker party continues to sustain on this side of a catastrophe.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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1 Response to No — Peace — Justice — Israel — Palestine

  1. Michael says:

    I guess you imply Israel is the “stronger party”? I see this as a very narrow view of the conflict. It has been running for decades between Israel on one side, and on the other side there are Arabs of Mandatory Palestine, backed by half a billion Arabs and 22 Arab league states, 1.5 billion Muslims and 57 OIC states, and with the support of various political groups in the West, ranging from left-wing anarchists and social democrats to anti-semitic extreme right and not to forget OPEC, the Soviet Union and the list is longer and longer. Not that Israel has no friends, but its not as simple as you present it.

    Will Israel enjoy peace if there is a Palestinian state tomorrow within the cease-fire lines of 1967? What is “justice” here? The Arabs see “justice” as a Judenrein Palestine, and have said so in unambiguous terms. Ignoring it and repeating the leftist mantra’s about vicious circles and the suffering of the Palestinian people is not going to change that.

    In the meantime, the security ties between Israel and Egypt have never been better, the Saudi’s are begging Israel for help on the Iranian issue and Jordan depends on Israel for its survival for decades, needing rescue from the Palestinians, from Syria and now from ISIS. The PA is held standing by Israeli control of Judea and Samaria. The alliance between Israel and Kurdistan is a long-standing one, that is coming out of the shadows. The Middle East has changed beyound recognition, and its a matter of time before this change trickles into the heads of even the most hard-core “pro-peace” zealots. The players are the same, but they all play for a different team now. Opportunity knocks. Its just not the one you and your associates have preached for.

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