Those of you on Churches for Middle East Peace's postal network will soon receive our December newsletter, "New Strategies for a New Era" along with the annual appeal from CMEP for contributions to support CMEP's work. You who are part of CMEP's e-mail network received that analysis and action alert on November 28. I e-mail you today the appeal letter from CMEP's treasurer and myself asking that you consider a donation to CMEP as the year 2001 concludes.
The Board of CMEP joins me in wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We are heartened by knowing that you and a great number of our church members across the country join us in prayer and advocacy for a just and enduring peace in the Middle East.
The horrifying attacks on the United States on September 11 and the ensuing diplomatic and military responses led by the U.S. government have highlighted the urgent need for a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians. The enclosed CMEP newsletter analyzes the changed debate in Washington and offers guidance for much-needed advocacy toward U.S. policymakers.
The work of Churches for Middle East Peace in promoting U.S. policies that encourage and enable peacemaking has never been more important and necessary. The good news is CMEP and its member denominations and organizations have recognized this need and are launching new programs and initiatives that will strengthen the churches in their call for Middle East peace.
An expanded and energized ecumenical structure is already in place. Some months ago, in response to the breakdown in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and cycle of violence, the Church World Service and Witness Middle East Forum was established. In coordination with CMEP, the Middle East Forum is developing new resources for congregations, enlisting church leaders as advocates in key states, and organizing delegations and ecumenical observers.
An important part of this burgeoning effort is CMEP's new Media Program. Thanks to generous donors and additional gifts from CMEP member churches, CMEP is beginning the new year with a Media Program. The director of the new program, Jim Wetekam, is a UCC clergyman with considerable experience in legislative and public relations campaign work in Washington. Jim will be reaching out to the print and broadcast media to promote better and more balanced coverage and to amplify the voices and perspectives of the CMEP member communions, Christian Palestinians and those working for peace and justice here and in the region. The United Methodist Church's General Board of Church and Society has donated a larger office for CMEP in its headquarters at 100 Maryland Ave NE in Washington.
Additionally, CMEP has already begun a project to enlist church members
and leaders, from locales where we think we can have a political impact,
in direct advocacy with their members of Congress and the Bush Administration.
Anna Rhee, who formerly represented the United Methodist's Women's Division
on CMEP's board, is coordinating the CMEP Grassroots Advocacy Project.
In 20002 CMEP will continue:
to promote the "Churches Call for a Shared Jerusalem" as fundamental for the reconciliation of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples and the three religions that consider Jerusalem their heritage, home and hope.
to advocate an end to Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem as the means to Israel's security and peace with its neighbors and to fulfill the Palestinians right to self-determination.
to promote a process for peacemaking that is grounded in justice and international law, encouraging the United States to work with others, including the United Nations, to bring an end to this conflict.
to advocate against arms sales to Israel and Arab countries, and advocate for human rights, sustainable development and democratic political systems throughout the region, including in Iraq where the people's suffering is compounded by economic sanctions.
In this time of geopolitical turmoil, it is certain that the perspectives on Middle East issues of CMEP and its member churches and organizations need to be heard by those who make policy and shape public opinion. The action alerts and issue analyses provided by CMEP are fundamental to the transformation of the Churches' statements into timely and responsible advocacy of U.S. policies supportive of peace.
We greatly appreciate the contributions that many of you have made in the past to CMEP for the expenses of this work. Now, we ask that you consider making a donation, which is tax deductible, to Churches for Middle East for our on-going and expanding program work. CMEP's board, composed of staff from the member churches' Washington public policy offices, plans program work based on available funding. So every donation is important in making additional advocacy and education work possible.
Catherine Gordon Corinne Whitlatch
As of January 1, 2001 the address will be:
Churches for Middle East Peace
100 Maryland Ave, NE, room 313
Washington, DC 20002