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Open letter to opponents of peaceful assembly

2024 Columbia University Pro-Palestine protest
2024 Columbia University Pro-Palestine protest

I feel a need to support nonviolent protesters like the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” at Columbia University and oppose efforts to suppress them. The right of peaceful assembly is in the First Amendment to the US Constitution for a reason: Peaceful assembly promotes democracy, according to recent research by Chenoweth and Stephan. 

We are all prisoners of the media we find credible, according to research in social psychology and political economy. This works, because everyone thinks they know more than they do. Nonviolent protests create cognitive dissonance among supporters of the opposition, opening opportunities for nonviolent conflict resolution and building democracy. 

The nonviolence of the First Intifada (1977-1993) shifted Israeli public opinion to the point that Yitzhak Rabin won an election in 1992 and became Israeli Prime Minister on a platform of negotiating with Palestinians. That led to the Oslo Accords and the current State of Palestine. The promise of Oslo was thwarted by Israel deporting 481 leaders of the nonviolence and arresting between 57,000 and 120,000 others. Then they got the violence needed to justify overwhelming counter-violence and to increase the gross mistreatment of Palestinians, including destruction and confiscation of property, arrests and indefinite detention without charges and even murder by Israeli military and settlers. But the clandestine encouragement of violence and routine denial of equal protection of the laws by Israel has been largely unreported in the media consumed by supporters of Israel but covered in the media consumed by supporters of Palestinians. 

Peaceful assembly facilitates civil discourse, too often otherwise blocked. 

Spencer Graves, PhD

Secretary, PeaceWorks Kansas City

DISCLAIMER: This is my personal opinion. It is not an official position of PeaceWorks Kansas City. 

Photo copyright 2024 SWinxy, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

copyright: 2024 Spencer Graves, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) 4.0 international license. 

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