Click here to read the NGO Monitor report: The Political Agenda of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)


Dear Dr. Steinberg,

Thank you for your response to my letter. It is certainly my hope as well that constructive dialogue can continue. I think it is very important that all issues and complaints be represented clearly and fully at any dialogue table, and that weight be given them with as little vilification as possible of opposing views. Naturally, there is always the tendency for those of us who have a heavy investment in one side or the other to bring some strong emotions to the table, but nothing will ever be gained by stopping the dialogue as soon as these emotions, with their loaded terms and admittedly self-serving arguments, arise. What I hope all of us, even those like myself who might not be in any way personally affected by the outcome, can do is seek both justice and security for all in the Middle East. No outcome of this conflict will ever please everyone, of course, but if we can somehow come to a position at which the parties involved can feel heard, safe, and treated justly and with respect, I think we can expect much more than we have had so far.

Yours truly,
Frank Ostrowski

Frank J. Ostrowski, Ph.D.
Representative to the United Nations for the international Fellowship of Reconciliation
1214 Poplar Grove Dr. NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30306 USA
494/876-5909 (fax)


From: NGO Monitor <>
To: Frank J. Ostrowski, Ph.D. <>
Sent: Thu, 25 Aug 2005 12:44:24 +0200
Subject: Reply: The Political Agenda of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)

Dear Dr. Ostrowski,

Thank you for taking the time to write to send us your response to NGO Monitor’s report on CPT’s political activities. My "day job" as an academic is as the director of the Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation at Bar Ilan University in Israel, where issues related to war and peace, negotiations, hatred and reconciliation are central concerns. In this context, my colleagues and I have been involved in many dialogues, track two discussions, and exchanges with our Palestinian counterparts, which should not come as a surprise to you.

These dialogues place a particular emphasis on religious sources of conflict and peace, including both the potential for various forms of reconciliation and its clear limitations (a topic which I recently addressed in a conference in Oslo). And we recognize the very different narratives, as well as the enormous barriers to mutual acceptance and compromise, evidenced by the violence and brutality that continues to be part of the environment.

It is precisely in this context that the importance of NGO Monitor lies, particularly in showing the need for a dialogue wit humanitarian-based groups such as CPT, MCC, etc. who have become parties to the conflict and promote the Palestinian agenda. This is not merely "an irritant" as you put it, but a fundamentally immoral abuse of the language of peace and reconciliation to pursue hatred and encourage terrorism. The church-based anti-Israel divestment campaign is designed to continue the implementation of the 2001 Durban agenda to brand Israel falsely as "an apartheid state", and deny the Jewish people sovereign equality with other nations. The focus is not on helping the Palestinians to improve their situation, or to promote a just peace, but on the transformation of Jews in Israel into "the other", to use the jargon of post-colonial ideology.

In your role as the Representative to the United Nations for the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, positive measures to help repair this damage and bring groups such as CPT and MCC back to a moral position that actually contributes to peace would be welcome.

Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg
Editor, NGO Monitor

Subject: Re: The Political Agenda of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)
Date: Mon, August 22, 2005 7:36 pm

Dear NGO-Monitor,

I receive your Monitor regularly. I am aware that you are deeply concerned about the security of Israel, and that many of the positions taken by various NGOs are severely at variance with your ideas. In some ways you give voice to much of what is no doubt current in Israeli sentiment. While that sentiment is based, I am sure, on a deep and abiding fear of the Palestinian side, I am also aware that peace in the Middle East is certainly desired not just by Israelis, but by all people of good will on both sides of the divide.

However, one of the most difficult things for any of us to do when we are confronted with the "Other," no matter who or what that “Other" might be, is to grant that those on the opposing side do have within them the capacity to meet us and to talk reasonably. I know that you, as any of us, can give a lot of instances when it seems that the other side rejects diplomacy and negotiation, and when we fallback on these as the reason for our own animosity and intransigence, we block the path to any kind of solution at all.

Some of the groups that you mention (such as Sabeel and the Mennonite Central Committee, etc.) do consider the Palestinian plight almost exclusively, and that is a decided irritant to you, I know. But if any progress is going to be made, it is necessary to listen to the Other carefully, with an open mind, and with an attempt to understand fully why it is that they carry such animosity toward you. What is necessary after listening is not then to launch into an angry rebuttal, but to learn to dialogue with the groups whom you are currently criticising in order first to insure that you have heard them properly, secondly to ascertain what their grievances might be, third to stand in their shoes to see what they see and feel what they feel, fourth to check out with them that you have understood, seen, and felt correctly, fifth, and only then, let them know what YOUR grievances are. Ask of them that they understand, see, and feel your pain as well. At the end of that, see what kind of constructive solutions are possible, with both of you agreeing to talk about this.

Of course, all of this means that you are in contact with the Other. If that is not happening, there is really not even the beginning of a solution, and the whole thing will just have to go on in its chaotic and deadly way for another century, I suppose.

And so, let me ask you: have you had this kind of dialogue with Palestinians or with any of these peace groups? I don’t mean just "Have you met some of them?" The dialogue, the diplomacy, the sharing is where peace can begin, not just in confrontation.

I want you to know that I am not saying all of this just to criticize you. I think that would be presumptuous of me, since I am an American, and do not live in the maelstrom that constitutes your land. I cannot with any justification lecture you. What I am saying is simply that all of us who view the entire situation are depressed by it, since it seems so terribly insoluble, and want to do anything we can from outside to make life better for everyone. What I have been presenting are simply some basic psychological principles necessary for communication that can move things forward.

Yours truly,

Frank J. Ostrowski, Ph.D.
Representative to the United Nations for the international
Fellowship of Reconciliation
1214 Poplar Grove Dr. NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30306 USA
494/876-5909 (fax)