Politics and the Infinite Regression

The daily life of Palestinians revolves around overcoming the obstacles of Israeli occupation. No aspect of life escapes this effect. Ignore religion and national patriotism (Israeli, Palestinian, American, or otherwise) for the moment. There are Israelis and Palestinians and they are living near one another. The Israelis have the military power. The Palestinians have some grievances with their treatment by the Israelis, which are recognized as valid by the international community. Israelis have security concerns that are also valid in the eyes of the international community. International law says that Israel should stop certain activities, and international opinion says that Palestinians should not act violently against their occupiers.
So the West Bank has been relatively quiet for several years. No uprisings and little violence from them against Israelis. But the Israelis continue to do things they are not supposed to. Since Palestine doesn’t have the military ability to stand for itself, the international community should enforce its own edicts. But then comes politics. The US has an interest in keeping Israel happy, and as a member of the UN security council, it can veto actions that reprimand Israel. On the other hand, making Palestinians happy gets the US almost nothing, except for a warm, fuzzy feeling when the Arab world actually supports an American decision.
So that’s why the Palestinians are in such bad shape. Their civil and national rights are protected by international law, but that law is useless unless there is economic/military enforcement behind it. And right now, the Sherriff of the international community is the US. And we aren’t out for justice that doesn’t suit us.
But you won’t catch anyone phrasing it quite this bluntly. The real danger of discussing Israeli-Palestinian politics is getting caught in what I call the “infinite regression”. For every act of violence, oppression, or otherwise immoral behavior, there is a rationalization. Both Israelis and Palestinians claim that their actions were justified by a previous injustice by the opposing group. And that is without even considering the religious motivations, which don’t require even a pretense of rationality beyond scriptural edict. In my opinion, a peace in this place requires both sides to acknowledge partial guilt and compromise on their demands. No one is served by a continued demand for reparations for past grievances, on either side.

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