Churches for Middle East Peace
|Focus||Israeli-Palestinian conflict, peace, security|
|United States, Israel, Palestinian Territories,|
|Warren Clark, Executive Director|
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. In addition, Churches for Middle East Peace currently has over 100 partner churches, which are religious orders, congregations, church committees, regional church bodies, and church-related organizations such as peace fellowships that commit to working for Middle East peace, and can agree with CMEP’s mission and views.
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 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;
- 4) promote the right of people to live in peace and security, free of fears of harassment, oppression, and violence;
- 5) encourage the demilitarization of conflicts and help to establish the Middle East as a region free of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons;
- 6) foster respect for human rights based on full observance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights covenants of the UN, and the Geneva Conventions;
- 7) encourage equitable development and humanitarian assistance to the region by the United States and other nations;
- 8) 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;
- 10) recognize the religious importance of the region to Jews, Christians, and Muslims and protect the religious freedom of all.
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.
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 Catholic, Orthodox, mainline Protestant, Evangelical, and historic African American 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.
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.”
CMEP takes an even handed approach, emphasizing the need for both sides to create the conditions for peace. 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."  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.
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. Clark has been the Executive Director since 2008.
CMEP's governing board, which makes all policy decisions, is composed of staff from the national policy offices of the coalition members in addition to two independent members. This board makes all policy decisions by consensus. CMEP staff and the board implement these through concrete educational and advocacy actions. CMEP's Board Members include:
Aziz Abu Sarah
Statements about CMEP
"...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) 
"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) 
"While it is important to always pray for peace, your active commitment to peacemaking at the grassroots level is imperative to the success of the President's peace efforts" -Rep. Donald Payne (New Jersey-10) 
CMEP is not a fair witness. The group has strong anti-Israel prejudices. Yes, I found a CMEP resolution that condemned terrorist attacks, but it is buried on a web page. But I heard no reference to terrorism at all at their conference. Israel was criticized at every turn. There is a binary mentality at the CMEP: Palestinians are the victims and Israel the perpetrators. Jewish concerns were largely ignored or trivialized. If only the occupation would end, we are to believe, the conflict would end. But wasn't there a conflict before 1967 and the start of the occupation? Perhaps, then, all of Israel is an "occupation"? -Rabbi Kenneth L. Cohen, Founder of The Vine and Fig Project 
...these are good people. But if they are not the enemy, they are opponents. And while positions articulated often have some measure of truth, the general tone lacked balance and fairness; I said as much quietly, politely, but firmly. What was encouraging to me is that I think people were ready to listen. There was good will. -Rabbi Kenneth L. Cohen, Founder of the Vine and Fig Project 
Churches for Middle East Peace is grateful to Rabbi Kenneth Cohen for his sincere reflections about our annual advocacy conference. We hope that Rabbi Cohen’s commentary will open further dialogue between CMEP and the Jewish community. -CMEP Executive Director Amb. (ret.) Warren Clark in response to above statements.
"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) 
"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 
Facebook:Churches for Middle East Peace
- Policy in Brief: http://cmep.org/about-cmep
- Episcopal Life Online, January 20, 2009, www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_104178_ENG_HTM.htm
"...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)
- CMEP Advocacy Conference Statement, June 2010