Churches for Middle East Peace


Churches for Middle East Peace
Churches for Middle East Peace
Type 501(c)(3)
Founded 1984
Location Washington, D.C.
Key people Warren Clark, Executive Director
Area served United States United States, Israel Israel, Palestinian territories Palestinian Territories,
Focus Israeli-Palestinian conflict, peace, security
Website http://www.cmep.org

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. As a coalition of Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches, CMEP works to influence American policy in ways that will bring justice and peace for all people and countries in the Middle East.[1] Currently, Churches for Middle East Peace has over 100 partner churches.[2]

Contents

Advocacy

According to its website, CMEP promotes positions that:

1) realize the vision of a region where two viable states, Israel and Palestine, live side-by-side within secure and recognized borders;
2) promote the sharing of an undivided Jerusalem by the two peoples -- Israelis and Palestinians -- and by the three religious communities that call it sacred;
3) encourage negotiated, just, and peaceful resolutions to conflicts in the region; promote the right of people to live in peace and security, free of fears of harassment, oppression, and violence;
4) encourage the demilitarization of conflicts and help to establish the Middle East as a region free of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons;
5) foster respect for human rights based on full observance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights covenants of the United Nations, and the Geneva Conventions;
6) encourage equitable development and humanitarian assistance to the region by the United States and other nations;
7) promote the rights, and meet the humanitarian needs, of refugees and displaced persons in the region;
8) support the United Nations in playing an important role in seeking a just resolution of problems and the maintenance of a region without conflict;
9) recognize the religious importance of the region to Jews, Christians, and Muslims and protect the religious freedom of all.[3]

CMEP is a sponsor of the Shared Jerusalem Campaign, which proposes to make the city a shared property of the Israelis and Palestinians.[4]

CMEP emphasizes the important role that Christians have to play in prospects for pluralism and democracy in Palestinian society and supports a safe and secure state of Israel. It urges the United States to pursue the creation of a Palestinian state and the end of Israel’s occupation as integral to helping Israel achieve the security, recognition and normalization of relations with all countries of the region that it has long been denied.[5]

CMEP has vocally supported the efforts of the Obama Administration to re-establish direct negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian parties. On August 30, 2010 they organized a letter to President Obama stating support for his goal of ending the occupation that has existed since 1967 and achieving a just and comprehensive two-state solution to the current conflict. Signed by the leadership of 29 national Christian denominations and organizations, the letter acknowledged the difficulties in achieving this goal, but pledged the U.S. Christian community’s efforts to expand the dialogue with American Jewish and Palestinian communities to help achieve this goal.[6]

CMEP has also advocated for U.S. leadership in ending the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. In June 2010 they issued a statement advocating for the relief of the blockade of Gaza. In doing so, they affirmed their position that Palestinians have the right to more than just humanitarian aid. They are entitled “to trade, travel, study, and engage in productive work, subject only to reasonable security requirements, and to take part in building a viable Palestinian state together with those who live in the West Bank. Israel has the right to self-defense and to prevent illicit trafficking in arms.”[7]

According to Haaretz, the Foreign Ministry of Israel would not meet with a US Congressional delegation sponsored by CMEP and J Street because the Ministry viewed these organizations as an "anti-Israel."[8] Congressman Bill Delahunt, a member on the congressional delegation noted: “We were puzzled that the Deputy Foreign Minister has apparently attempted to block our meetings with senior officials in the Prime Minister's office and Foreign Ministry - questioning either our own support of Israel or that we would even consider traveling to the region with groups that the Deputy Foreign Minister has so inaccurately described as "anti-Israel."”[9]

According to Rabbi A. James Rudin, director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, CMEP and its member churches "basically take an anti-Israel position and historically have had a double standard for Israel and Palestinians."[10] According to Eugene Korn of the American Jewish Congress, CMEP's "rhetoric" is "anti-Israel." [11]

These extreme views do not however reflect the reality of CMEP's balanced approach. For example, during the 2008-2009 Gaza War, CMEP acknowledged that "Israel's massive military operation has taken a terrible toll on Gaza's population and public infrastructure, while ongoing indiscriminate rocket attacks against towns in southern Israel have made normal life there impossible." [12] In addition, CMEP has received praise for its bi-partisan and even handed approach, seeking only to move toward a negotiated peace for both Israel and Palestinians.[13]

Management and Organizational Structure

Churches for Middle East Peace Executive Director, Warren Clark, was a career U.S. Foreign Service officer in the Department of State, serving in the Middle East, Europe, Canada, Africa, and at the United Nations. He was Chargé d'affaires in Lagos, Nigeria; the U.S. Ambassador in Libreville, Gabon; Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa in Washington; and represented the U.S. on the UN Security Council for Middle East and African issues. In addition to his diplomatic service, Ambassador Clark worked on international programs at the Washington National Cathedral and chaired the Commission on Peace for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. He also has served as a chaplain at Sibley Hospital.

CMEP's governing board, which makes all policy decisions, is composed of staff from the national policy offices of the coalition members. This board makes all policy decisions. CMEP staff and the board implement these through concrete educational and advocacy actions. CMEP's Board Members include:

Martin Shupack, CMEP Board Chair, Church World Service

Catherine Gordon, CMEP Board Vice Chair, Presbyterian Church, USA

Aura Kanegis, CMEP Board Secretary-Treasurer

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, CMEP Executive Committee, Armenian Orthodox Church

Bob Tiller, Alliance of Baptists

Jonathan Evans, Friends Committee on National Legislation

Alex Patico, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Fr. George Rados, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

John Sullivan, M. M., Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach, Mennonite Central Committee

Michael McNulty, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men’s Institutes

Wayne Burkette, Moravian Church in America

Rev. Michael Kinnamon, National Council of Churches

Peter Makari, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Jay Wittmeyer, Church of the Brethren

Rev. Marlin Vis, Reformed Church in America and Christian Reformed Church

Eric Cherry, Unitarian Universalist Association

Alex Baumgarten, Episcopal Church

Dennis Frado, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Peter Makari, United Church of Christ

Russ Testa, Franciscan Friars (OFM)

Mark Harrison, United Methodist Church

Tatiana Dwyer, United Methodist Office for the UN

Statements about CMEP

"By your presence and activity, you manifest the true spirit of this country. I applaud you for your work and I am happy to be on the same team as CMEP" -Representative Brian Baird (Washington) [14]

"Churches for Middle East Peace presents opinions and information both to me and to my staff that are balanced and that I take seriously. On the thorny issues that are part and parcel of Middle East policy, CMEP gives clarity to the voice of the churches." –United States Senator Jim Jeffords (Vermont) [15]

"As one who believes that peace in the Middle East is possible, I applaud the work of Churches for Middle East Peace. I have found CMEP’s advocacy efforts in Washington to be indispensable, both in my role as general secretary of the National Council of Churches and as a former member of Congress." – Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, National Council of Churches [15]

"...Your organization's bipartisan efforts...to advocate for sustained U.S. leadership in the peace process are admirable...Your vision for a negotiated agreement to end the conflict, with a secure Israel living side by side with a viable and independent Palestinian state, is both valuable and timely...CMEP's advocacy work is important. Thanks to you and your members for your continued work to promote a just, lasting and comprehensive peace." -Sen Richard Lugar (Indiana) [16]

"The Arab – Israeli conflict is not primarily religious in nature. But I believe religious leaders – Christian, Jewish and Muslim – can play a critical role in finding solutions. Of course, the path to peace will be long and difficult. But we will find strength if we travel it together. I thank you for your commitment in this endeavor and congratulate you on a successful conference." -Sen. John Kerry (Massachusetts) [16]

"While it is important to always pray for peace, your active commitment to peacemaking at the grassroots level is imperative to the success of hte President's peace efforts" -Rep. Donald Payne (New Jersey-10) [16]


Website: http://www.cmep.org/

Notes

  1. ^ http://www.cmep.org/AboutCMEP.html
  2. ^ http://cmep.org/partner/cmeppartners.html
  3. ^ About CMEP: http://cmep.org/AboutCMEP.html
  4. ^ Bridging the barrier: Israeli unilateral disengagement, Tami Amanda Jacoby, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007, p. 99.
  5. ^ Policy in Brief: http://cmep.org/Policy/CMEP_Policy_In_Brief.pdf
  6. ^ http://cmep.org/letters/2010_Letters/Letter%20to%20the%20President%20083010.pdf
  7. ^ http://www.cmep.org/Statements/Relieving_Blockade_of_Gaza_6.22.10.pdf
  8. ^ U.S. lawmakers blast Ayalon's boycott of J Street delegation, Barak Ravid and Natasha, Haaretz, Mozgovaya, Feb. 18, 2010 [1]
  9. ^ Press Conference, Bill Delahunt, February 17, 2010
  10. ^ American Jewish Year, Book 1997, eds. David Singer, Ruth R. Seldin, Verlag für die Deutsche Wirtschaft AG, 1997, p. 166
  11. ^ Divestment from Israel, the Liberal Churches, and Jewish Responses: A Strategic Analysis, Eugene Korn, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs No. 52, 1 January 2007 / 11 Teveth 5767 [2]
  12. ^ Episcopal Life Online, January 20, 2009, http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_104178_ENG_HTM.htm
  13. ^

    "...Your organization's bipartisan efforts...to advocate for sustained U.S. leadership in the peace process are admirable...Your vision for a negotiated agreement to end the conflict, with a secure Israel living side by side with a viable and independent Palestinian state, is both valuable and timely...CMEP's advocacy work is important. Thanks to you and your members for your continued work to promote a just, lasting and comprehensive peace." -Sen Richard Lugar (Indiana)

  14. ^ http://cmep.org/
  15. ^ a b http://cmep.org/documents/cmepbrochureold.pdf
  16. ^ a b c CMEP Advocacy Conference Statement, June 2010

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