Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)
|In their own words||“CMEP works to encourage U.S. policies that actively promote a just, lasting, and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ensuring security, human rights, and religious freedom for all the people of the Middle East.”|
- In 2020, total income was $566,091; total expenses were $504,937.
- According to its website, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is “funded by individuals, local churches and organizations, national churches and ecumenical organizations.”
- In 2019, CMEP received a grant of $7,500 from the Foundation for Middle East Peace.
- Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is a coalition of more than 30 national church denominations and organizations.
- CMEP “engages in directly [sic] advocacy and education with the U.S. Congress. The CMEP board and staff communicate with Senate and House offices on a regular basis to further the policy positions of the CMEP coalition.”
- CMEP includes on its website “Advocacy Tools,” providing “resources to help you build a relationship with your members of Congress.”
- Organizes “Annual Holy Land Journey” that allows participants to “explore the complex issues facing Israelis and Palestinians.” Participants meet with members of highly politicized NGOs including Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), Breaking the Silence, Christian Peacemakers Team, Gisha, Tent of Nations, Parent’s Circle Families Forum, and Wi’am: The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Center.
- CMEP also hosts speaking tours in the United States titled “Pilgrimage to Peace,” which focus on “peacebuilding and advocacy related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
- In April 2023, CMEP was a co-sponsor for the annual “Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony” hosted by Parents Circle Families Forum and Combatants for Peace. The ceremony represents a narrow, one-sided part of Israeli civil society, and promotes a Palestinian narrative that draws an immoral equivalence between terror victims and terrorists.
- In March 2023, CMEP hosted a webinar titled “Raising your Voice for Peace in Israel/Palestine: Best Practices for Advocacy.” The webinar provided an “overview of the best tools for engaging in virtual and in-person Congressional advocacy related to Israel/Palestine.”
- In July 2022, CMEP endorsed a Congressional letter condemning the decision by the Israeli Ministry to designate six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. According to the letter, “Counter-terrorism legislation must not be applied to legitimate human rights and humanitarian activities. Furthermore, repressive tactics such as criminalizing organizations must not be used to suppress or deny the right to freedom of association, or to quash political dissent, or limit the peaceful activities of civil society.”
- In June 2022, CMEP hosted a webinar titled “Israel/Palestine and Apartheid: How Should the Church Respond?” The webinar discussed “As church bodies gather this summer with the question of Israel/Palestine and Apartheid on the agenda, what is the role of U.S. Christians in the conversation? How are we to respond as Christians? As citizens of a government that provides $3.8 billion dollars a year to Israel in military aid?”
- In August 2021, CMEP signed a letter to Speaker Pelosi, Senator Schumer, and President Biden calling to “Stop Ethnic Cleansing in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem and all of Palestine.” The letter called to “end U.S. military funding to Israel, which perpetuates apartheid and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land” (emphasis in original).
- In May 2021, in the context of the 2021 Gaza conflict, CMEP was a signatory on a statement accusing Israel of “express intent of pushing Palestinians out of Jerusalem in order to create and maintain a Jewish majority and supremacy in the city.” CMEP further accused Israel of turning Gaza into an “open air prison.”
- In July 2020, CMEP was listed as a “supporting organization” on a letter from US Congress Democrats to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, accusing Israel of “paving the path toward an apartheid system” and threatening to cut off US assistance to Israel in the event of annexation.
- In April 2020, CMEP was a co-sponsor for the 15th annual “Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony” hosted by Parents Circle Families Forum and Combatants for Peace. The ceremony represents a narrow, one-sided part of Israeli civil society, and promotes a Palestinian narrative that draws an immoral equivalence between terror victims and terrorists.
- In 2018, 2019, and 2021, CMEP endorsed US Congresswoman McCollum’s proposed legislation meant to advance BDS and demonization of Israeli companies and defense forces. The entirety of the proposed bill is premised on factually inaccurate claims from anti-Israel advocacy NGOs, including direct quotes from DCIP’s “No Way to Treat a Child” 2016 report and website.
- In the summer of 2018, CMEP partnered with Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P) for a spurious campaign titled “Demand Child Justice: Document Detention in the occupied Palestinian territories”, which purports to document “cases of mistreatment experienced by Palestinian youth.” In this campaign, DCI-P makes numerous false and misleading claims about the IDF and Israeli Military Courts. (Read NGO Monitor’s report “No Way to Represent a Child: Defense for Children International Palestine’s Distortions of the Israeli Justice System.”)
- Several DCI-P board members have close ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The PFLP is a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel.
- Hashem Abu Maria, coordinator of DCI-P’s community mobilization unit, was hailed by the PFLP as a “leader” after his death in 2014. On September 23, 2014, DCI-P uploaded a video of a memorial service for Abu Maria, featuring a speech by DCI-P General Director, Rifat Odeh Kassis. The courtyard where the memorial service took place was decorated with PFLP flags, posters, and pictures of prominent PFLP figures, such as founder George Habash and former leader Ahmed Sa’adat. Nearly all of the audience is dressed in PFLP apparel.
- In April 2018, CMEP called for people to tell Congress to “make a statement condemning Israel’s use of violence against nonviolent protesters.” The statement further called for “Israel to cease its violent response to protests at the border and to take the humanitarian and developmental needs of Gaza, in addition to the human rights concerns of its residents, into account as it addresses its own security concerns.” CMEP ignored the violent nature of the protests, which included Molotov cocktails, arson, and attempts to breach the border fence with Israel.
- In September 2017, CMEP, alongside Rebuilding Alliance and Jewish Voice for Peace, organized a Congressional briefing titled “Palestinian children speak about peace.” The briefing aimed to have members of Congress “personally make calls to the Israeli Embassy to express concern, stop the demolitions, recognize Palestinian planning rights, assure due process, turn on the lights in Gaza.” The briefing featured Palestinian children, as well as Arik Ascherman (Torat Tzedek) and Alon Cohen-Lifschitz (Bimkom).
- On June 4-6, 2017, CMEP hosted an “Advocacy Event” titled “50 Years Too Long” designed to educate participants “how to advocate for an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza and put that learning into practice by visiting government representatives to promote a solution that advances security and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians.”
- On December 1, 2016, CMEP Executive Director Mae Elise Cannon wrote a letter to President Obama urging him to “vote ‘yes’” on a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution that clearly stipulates…all Israeli settlements are illegal and obstacles to creating a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
- In September 2016, CMEP members wrote a letter to the U.S. Presidential candidates “express[ing] our deep concern about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Israeli military occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, now in its 50th year.” The organizations asked for the candidates to “call openly for an end of violence and settlement expansion. Almost 50 years of occupation have and will continue to erode the soul of both the occupied and the occupier.”
- In February 2016, CMEP, alongside the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, sponsored a Congressional briefing arguing that “Israel’s ongoing, illegal annexation of Palestinian land and settlement expansion are obstacles to any just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” One speaker at the briefing stated that “the facts on the ground clearly indicate Israel is not interested in a two-state solution, but is headed in the direction of one apartheid state.”
- CMEP partnered with Just Vision to promote its film Budrus about a Palestinian who “unites Palestinian political factions and invites Israeli supporters to join an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier.” CMEP created a “Discussion Guide” that included the question “As a person concerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its ramifications, how do you understand your role as a Christian in engaging on this conflict? How do you understand the role of your church or religious community?”
- In May 2013, CMEP’s Advocacy Conference featured Suhad Babaa, Executive Director of Just Vision, who spoke on the topic of “ways in which ongoing settlement expansion and continued evictions in East Jerusalem are destroying the opportunity for an equitable and sustainable future in the city… the role Americans can play in supporting the efforts of Palestinian and Israeli nonviolent activists who are trying to stop or reverse these alarming trends.”
- Sponsored a January 21, 2005 full-page New York Times ad that read, in part, “With each news report of Palestinian suffering…popular support in Arab and Muslim countries for terrorism grows and the threat of attacks directed at the United States increases.”
- CMEP endorses the Kairos Palestine document, which calls for BDS against Israel; denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms; and rationalizes, justifies, and trivializes terrorism, calling it “legal resistance.”
- In April 2016, Warren Clark, then CMEP Executive Director, signed an “Atlanta Summit of Churches in the USA and the Holy Land” document titled “Pursuing Peace and Strengthening Presence,” that “Encourage[d] reference to the Kairos Palestine message as an established initiative.”
- In April 2023, CMEP called for people to contact their Congressional representatives to “ensure no U.S. assistance is used abroad to violate human rights or harm civilians…The U.S. cannot help encourage a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict without first guaranteeing U.S. funds are not used to expand settlements, annex Palestinian land, or physically harm Palestinians.”
- In July 2021, CMEP was a signatory on a letter to President Biden to “Halt Weapons Sales to Israel.”
- In November 2019, CMEP “applaud[ed]” the decision of the European Court of Justice to apply a discriminatory labelling regime on products originating in the Israeli settlements.
- On April 12, 2017, CMEP hosted Sahar Vardi, the Israel Program Coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee, to discuss the “Human Rights Defenders Club.” Vardi has described the objectives of BDS: “in terms of profit, the real losses will not come from the boycott of products, but from divestment. That’s where the big money is. The last thing I’ll say about the BDS movement is that it’s fun. They’ve started using all these flash mobs and [other] cool activities. It accesses people who normally wouldn’t care. There are huge companies being affected, and [activists] are having fun.”
- Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
- A number of organizations on CMEP’s board also reflect the goal of demonization, under the façade of promoting peace.
- Church World Service
- Member of ACT Palestine Forum, a coalition of ACT Alliance Members that cooperates in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza under the Act Alliance network. Published a February 2013 Advocacy Paper, “The ‘Permit Regime’ and Israeli Attacks on Palestinian Freedom of Worship,” alleging that “Under Israeli military occupation, repression has become the worst of history compared to that of South Africa. It’s a sophisticated form of social, economic, political and racial discrimination, strangulation, and genocide, incorporating the worst elements of colonialism and apartheid as well as repressive dispossession, displacement and state terrorism to separate Palestinians from their land and heritage, deny them their rightful civil and human rights, and gradually remove or eliminate them altogether. The ID/permit system is one of many elements designed to make greater Israel an ethnically pure Jewish state.”
- During the 2014 Gaza war, CWS condemned “Hamas militants’ practice of firing rockets into Israel, and Israel’s bombardment of homes, hospitals and other civilian centers in Gaza,” drawing an immoral symmetry between Israeli self-defense and illegal attacks by terror organizations and failing to acknowledge Hamas’ responsibility through its systematic exploitation of civilians, homes, hospitals and population centers. The statement also ignores the illegal flow of weapons to Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza.
- American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
- AFSC is a leader of BDS campaigns on campuses and churches in the United States.
- Dalit Baum, director of AFSC’s Middle East program, is co-founder of Coalition of Women for Peace’s flagship BDS project “Who Profits?” Baum lobbies international audiences on how best to promote the global BDS campaign against Israel. AFSC materials include an online investment screening tool aimed to “help individuals and institutions identify companies on their investment portfolios that are directly complicit in ongoing severe violations of human rights and international law.”
- AFSC promotes “anti-normalization,” rejecting dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.
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