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Gaza, Germany, justice and reconciliation | Letters



Eva Ladipo’s article is impressive (My family’s past, and Germany’s, weighs heavily upon me. And it’s why I feel so strongly about Gaza, 19 April).

For millennia different people and different groupings have wanted the same thing, which is regarded as desirable by each. Obviously they cannot both have it – unless what they both want is peace. The challenge has been and continues to be, both in Europe and elsewhere in the world, to construct a political order which enables competing sides to live in continuing peace, notwithstanding that they cannot each have all that they wish. For each side to insist that the other is overcome does not lead to lasting peace – as France and Germany and many other places have shown over centuries.

The creation of the European Community after the second world war was a serious attempt to accustom opponents, by regularly working together, to try to find answers to what are often common problems, to realise that the other is also human. This attempt has largely been successful. Certainly much more successful than the quest by France after the first world war to secure what it saw as justice.

Having served as a judge in this country and in the European court of justice, I of course think that justice is a laudable aim. But I also became acutely conscious of the limitations of what can be achieved, both in the context of criminal and civil law and in the context of international law, by an exclusive focus on what is seen as justice.

Justice cannot be the only desideratum and will not always be the most important and exclusive one. As Eva Ladipo rightly insists, miracles can be, and have been, achieved by understanding the importance of considering all humans as equal – regardless of racial, ethnic or religious background.
Sir Konrad Schiemann
Patrixbourne, Kent

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