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Ending the Cycle of Violence in Israel / Palestine 

Mubarak Awad
Mubarak Awad

Mubarak Awad and Spencer Graves lead a workshop on “Ending the Cycle of Violence in Israel / Palestine” May 4 (Saturday), in person and via YouTube Live with Q&A and follow-on planning, 2-4 PM, plus related comments for All Souls Forum the next day, May 5 (Sunday), 9:30 – 10:30 AM. 

Mubarak is Palestinian, born in Jerusalem in 1943. He has a PhD in psychology and US citizenship. In 1983 he founded the Palestinian Centre for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem. He was expelled by Israel in 1988 for organizing nonviolent civil disobedience in the First Intifada. The next year he founded Nonviolence International, which “advocates for active nonviolence and supports creative constructive nonviolent campaigns worldwide.” 

Spencer was raised on a farm in Kansas and spent 6 years in the US Air Force during the Vietnam War. He has a PhD in statistics and has studied the research literature in many fields, concluding that progress on every issue he has studied is blocked, because every countermeasure threatens someone with substantive control over the media. 

Donations appreciated. Net proceeds going to the Palestinian American Medical Association (PAMA), which has had better access to Gaza than any other organization since October 7.

Baklava donated by Jerusalem Cafe Kansas City (jerusalemkc.com).  

Church parking will be limited; street parking available. 

4501 Walnut St., KCMO 64111

YouTube Live: allsoulskc.org: UU Forum at All Souls Church  Channel
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIoASyxWDu-DqHJZh-2gcjQ

Sponsored by:
* Friends of Community Media (ourfcm.org) 
* PeaceWorks Kansas City (pwkc.org) 
* The FORUM, All Souls UU Church, 4501 Walnut St., KCMO 64111
* Peace Action (peaceaction.org)
* Citizens for Justice in the Middle East (cjme.org)
* Veterans for Peace Kansas City

Contact:

Spencer Graves <spencer.graves@effectivedefense.org>

Summary of key ideas

  • The nonviolence of the First Intifada did more to convince the Israeli electorate that they could live in peace with Palestinians than anything else Palestinians have done since the 1917 Balfour Declaration. That shift convinced Yitzhak Rabin to run for Prime Minister on a platform of negotiating with Palestinians. He was elected, and his work on that led to the Oslo Accords and the current State of Palestine. If Palestinians could have maintained nonviolent discipline, the two-state solution promised by Oslo would likely have worked. Early in the Intifada, Israeli agents provocateurs were identified and neutralized. Then Israel expelled 481 leaders of the nonviolence and arrested between 57,000 and 120,000 others. Finally, Israel got the Palestinian violence they needed to justify overwhelming counterviolence and a continuation of gross mistreatment of Palestinians under occupation while the media mostly suppress discussion of the routine mistreatment of Palestinians under occupation including destruction and confiscation of property, arbitrary and indefinite detention of Palestinians without charges, and even murder of nonviolent Palestinians by Israeli military and Settlers. The media consumed by nearly all supporters of Israel reported violent Palestinian responses to this mistreatment, while largely suppressing discussion of mistreatment that motivated the Palestinian violence. Meanwhile, media consumed by supporters of Palestinians reported both the mistreatment and the Israeli responses.
  • We are all prisoners of the media we find credible.
  • Media organizations everywhere are managed to please those who control most of the money for the media.
  • Segmentation of media markets drive political polarization.
  • People who control most of the money for the media are terrorized of nonviolence, because it makes it harder for them to (a) convince an audience to do things contrary to their best interest, and (b) get security forces to follow orders.
  • Nonviolent direct action tends to reduce political polarization and improve democracy. Violence generally does the opposite.
  • If we do not understand why our opponents do what they do, our actions could be counterproductive. We should look for media to help us better understand them and find ways to build win-win solutions to conflicts.

Eighty years ago, Europe was in a war not unlike what is happening in Gaza as this is being written (2024-04-19). People in the US might help make the future of Israel / Palestine more like Europe did after World War II by first accepting that the primary difference between opponents is a difference in the media they find credible. Try to understand what motivates your opponents and try to build bridges over the metaphorical walls that keep people fighting over misunderstandings.

In Phidadelphia, an interfaith group of Christians, Muslims, and Jews called “Prayers for Peace Alliance” is leafleting different congregations, asking them to pray for a “Lasting ceasefire, equity, justice, and safety for all” in Gaza. So far the Alliance includes around 120 of the roughly 2,000 congregations in the greater Philadelphia area. Many are asking President Biden to support a ceasefire.

Beyond that, we can ask the US Congress for things like the following:

  1. EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAWS: Give people everywhere the right to sue in a US federal district court for equal protection of the laws for any alleged denials of equal protection by the US or Israel. Let’s demand US legislation that would not allow Israel to detain people without charges nor to take their property, etc., without due process of laws, etc.1
  2. LIMIT STATE SECRETS PRIVILEGE:2 Every federal judge should have the right to subpoena any document in US or Israeli government possession that might be relevant to a particular case and declassify it, subject to appellate review, if the judge believes that the public interest would be better served by publication than secrecy. If this had been in place in 1998, the suicide mass murders of September 11, 2001, might not have occurred, especially if the Clinton administration had treated the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania as law enforcement issues. Instead, the CIA agent responsible for tracking bin Laden at that time later said “the US became bin Laden’s only indispensable ally.”3
  3. PROMOTE NONVIOLENCE: It is currently a crime under the USA Patriot Act to teach nonviolence to anyone designated as a “terrorist” by the US State Department.”4 That law would seem to violate the First Amendment, which says, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Instead of criminalizing teaching nonviolence, the US should subsidize teaching nonviolence to anyone interested.
  4. CITIZEN-DIRECTED SUBSIDIES FOR LOCAL NEWS NONPROFITS: There is a substantial body of research claiming that citizen-directed subsidies for local news nonprofits can reduce political polarization by increasing the diversity of professional local news outlets. In the early nineteenth century, the relatively young United States had more independent newspaper publishers per million population than at any other time or place before or since. That diversity encouraged literacy and limited political corruption, both of which helped the US stay together and prosper while contemporary New Spain / Mexico fractured, shrank, and stagnated economically. Since then, the US has had massive consolidation of ownership of the major media, which profit from amplifying political polarization. Social media is the worst in this regard. Media scholar Robert McChesney and journalist John Nichols have estimated that distributing 0.15% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to local news nonprofits via local elections would help reduce political corruption. Subsidies of those magnitudes would cost $27 million per year for Palestine and $780 million per year for Israel. These amounts are relatively small fractions of what the US has been giving Israel in recent years.5

We can do this.
________

  1. “Equal protection of the laws” is key verbiage in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1868 during the “Reconstruction era” (1864-1877) following the US Civil War (1861-1865).
  2. State secrets privilege” essentially says that no judge can question a claim of national security by a US government official. Columbia University History Professor Matthew Connelly has said that the current rules for secrecy in the US government effectively encourage government officials to clandestinely provoke foreign entities to do things that can then be denounced as “unprovoked” to stampede the public and Congress into supporting ill-advised actions against foreign entities. See his 2023 book on “The Declassification Engine: What History Reveals About America’s Top Secrets”.
  3. This is discussed with citations in the Wikiversity article on, “1998 Embassy bombings and September 11“, accessed 2024-04-19.
  4. In Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project (2010), the US Supreme Court ruled that teaching nonviolence to anyone designated as a “terrorist” by the US State Department was “providing material support to terrorism”, in violation of the USA Patriot Act, which made it a crime to do so.
  5. This is discussed in more detail in the Wikiversity articles on “How might the world be different if the PLO had followed Gandhi?” and “Information is a public good: Designing experiments to improve government“.

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