"For the Peace of Jerusalem" Conference Report
This email is also available online at: www.cmep.org/Alerts/2007May15.htm
May 15, 2007
The Churches for Middle East Peace board and staff thank all who participated in our May 6-8 conference, "For the Peace of Jerusalem." Your presence here in Washington, together with your work in your home states, amplifies CMEP's voice on Capitol Hill urging U.S. policies that are conducive to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.
CMEP's 2007 conference was an exciting time for fellowship, in-depth education and training, and advocacy. On Sunday, May 6th conference participants gathered in the sanctuary of National City Christian Church for an ecumenical worship service. On Monday, participants attended plenary panels and workshops to prepare them for their Congressional meetings. The conference culminated with a lobby day on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, May 8th. 150 church members and clergy, from 26 states, attended the three-day conference. Conference participants held meetings with over 65 House and Senate offices, with many of the Tuesday meetings including the Representative or Senator.
In their meetings, church advocates conveyed a message of support for U.S. leadership to achieve a two-state solution and a negotiated resolution for Jerusalem. Conference participants had two requests for their Representative and Senators:
1) "Support Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's new Middle East peace initiative and encourage sustained diplomatic engagement by the Administration to help bring about a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" and
2) "Support the U.S. policy that the status of Jerusalem be determined through negotiations, reject actions that would preempt a negotiated agreement, and support religious freedom in the holy city". Participants were well prepared to talk about the need for Israeli-Palestinian peace and the sharing of Jerusalem. They reported that their balanced approach and message of compassionate peacemaking was well received by Congressional offices.
The conference took participants inside-the-beltway to hear government officials and policy experts from think-tanks and interest groups. Highlights of the conference included presentations by Geneva Accord negotiators Daniel Levy and Ghaith al-Omari, Lincoln Chafee, the former Republican Senator from Rhode Island who chaired the Middle East subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Judith Kipper from the Council on Foreign Relations and Robert Danin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.
The 10 workshops provided participants with opportunities to hear and talk with some of the policy experts and specialists who work cooperatively with CMEP in Washington, including Americans for Peace Now, American Taskforce on Palestine, Catholic Relief Services and the Foundation for Middle East Peace.
CMEP plans to post on our website - www.cmep.org -the text of the homilies of (Armenian Orthodox) Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, (Catholic) Auxilary Bishop Denis Madden, (Episcopal) Rt. Rev. Frank Griswold, and videos of six workshops that focused on Jerusalem. Watch for a message about these transcripts and recordings.
At the Monday evening reception, Rep. Betty McCollum (DFL-MN) from Minnesota rallied the participants for their Hill meetings emphasizing the soundness of CMEP's advocacy voice and the importance of citizen advocacy at home as well as in Washington. Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) from California sent an encouraging letter to the participants, "As the daughter and granddaughter of Lutheran ministers, I was proud to be raised with these ideals [of peace, hope and humanitarianism] and I truly believe that they embody the path we must take to achieve peace among Israelis and Palestinians."
Links to press coverage are included below [...]
Legislative Update: Sens. Biden (D-DE) and Sununu (R-NH) are currently circulating a Dear Colleague letter - http://www.cmep.org/Legislative_Issues/Senate_Letter_FY_08.pdf - urging support for funding for Israeli-Palestinian coexistence and peace-building activities. The letter closes on Thursday and current signers include: Bingaman (D-NM), Brown (D-OH), Dodd (D-CT), Isakson (R-GA), Sanders (I-VT), Snowe (R-ME), Voinovich (R-OH), Warner (R-VA).
To send an email or call your Senators, urging them to sign on to the Sununu-Biden letter, http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Ask them to: "Please sign the Sununu-Biden Letter urging $20 million in funding for the Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Reconciliation and Democracy Fund for FY08, $10 million of which would be dedicated to people-to-people activities. Programs that promote peace and cooperation among Israelis and Palestinians, together with a vigorous political process, are integral to achieving a negotiated two-state solution."
Conference Press Coverage:
"Mainline churches lobby for U.S. engagement" - http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/breaking/101773.html - Jewish Telegraphic Agency, May 11, 2007
"Middle East Peace address by ecumenical coalition in Washington" - http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_85784_ENG_HTM.htm - Lucy Chumbley, Episcopal News Service, May 9, 2007
"ELCA Synod Bishops Urge Two-State Solution to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" - http://www.elca.org/advocacy/issues/middleeast/07-05-09-bishops.html - Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, May 9, 2007
Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace is a Washington-based program of the Alliance of Baptists, American Friends Service Committee, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Armenian Orthodox Church, 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 Friars OFM (English Speaking Conference, JPIC Council), Friends Committee on National Legislation, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Maryknoll Missioners, Mennonite Central Committee, Moravian Church in America, 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).
Churches for Middle East Peace