July 10, 2003

TO: Churches for Middle East Peace Email Network
FROM: Corinne Whitlatch, Executive Director
RE:  CMEP letter to Powell on Iraq

At the July meeting of CMEP’s Board, we decided to state for the record – by means of a widely distributing a CMEP letter to Secretary Powell – that our churches and organizations are concerned about the U.S. occupation of Iraq as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The following letter, which was printed on CMEP letterhead, was faxed today to officials at the White House, National Security Council, Vice-President’s office, Departments of Defense and State, US mission to the UN, and delivered to key members of Congress including all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House International Relations Committee.

July 10, 2003

The Honorable Colin Powell
Secretary of State

Secretary Powell:

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is a coalition of the Washington-based public policy offices for 18 denominations and church organizations.

We appreciate your recent diplomatic efforts to move forward the "road map" and are hopeful that this framework will lead to a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

In this regard, we are concerned that current developments in Iraq could undermine further progress on the road map.  As you know, instability in one part of the Middle East can have significant impact on other parts of the region.

Several member organizations of Churches for Middle East Peace are engaged in relief work in Iraq and are well aware of just how volatile the situation is.  The Christian community in Iraq feels especially vulnerable.  It is urgent that ordinary Iraqis experience immediate improvements in their daily lives and that security and stability be restored.  News reports in recent weeks make it unmistakably clear that the United States cannot do the job alone -- in part because of the enormity of the task, but also because many Iraqis resent the visible U.S. occupation and are suspicious about U.S. motives for being there.

We believe that the United States should bear significant responsibility for rebuilding Iraq's war-damaged infrastructure.  But we also urge the Bush administration to invite the United Nations to play a much more prominent, if not the lead, role in broader reconstruction efforts.  As an international body, the United Nations is uniquely equipped to help restore stability, to assist in forming a new Iraqi government and to strengthen critical elements of civil society.

We hope that you will use the good influence of your office as Secretary of State to urge the President to move in this direction.


Executive Committee of Churches for Middle East Peace
The Rev. Stan DeBoe, OSST
The Rev. Mark B. Brown
Catherine Gordon
James H. Matlack
Jere Myrick Skipper

Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace is a Washington-based program of the Alliance of Baptists, American Friends Service Committee, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men's Institutes, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of the Brethren, Church World Service, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Franciscan Mission Service, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Maryknoll Missioners, Mennonite Central Committee, National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church (GBCS & GBGM) .  For further information, see www.cmep.org.