“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.