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Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)

Profile

Country/TerritoryUnited States
Websitehttp://www.cmep.org/
Founded1984
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.”

Funding

  • In 2016, total income was $303,018; total expenses were $251,911.
  • According to its website, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is “funded by individuals, local churches and organizations, national churches and ecumenical organizations.”
  • In 2016, received a grant of $30,000 from the Foundation for Middle East Peace.

Activities

  • Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is a coalition of 27 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.”

Political Advocacy

  • 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.”
  • 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 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.”)
  • 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 November 2017, CMEP endorsed US Congresswoman McCollum’s proposed legislation to sanction Israel over its alleged “ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children.” 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 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 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.”
  • 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.”

Staff

  • 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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