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Churches for Middle East Peace

The Middle East is Running Out of Water, and Parts of It Are Becoming Uninhabitable

A look at increasing hardships, discussions of cooperation, and more news in this week’s bulletin.

Image: A tomato farmer looks off towards an area where the Dead Sea has receded in Ghor Haditha, Jordan, on April 10, 2021. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

middle east drought

Image: A tomato farmer looks off towards an area where the Dead Sea has receded in Ghor Haditha, Jordan, on April 10, 2021. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The Middle East is running out of water, and parts of it are becoming uninhabitable


“The ferries that once shuttled tourists to and from the little islets in Iran's Lake Urmia sit rusty, unable to move, on what is rapidly becoming a salt plain. Just two decades ago, Urmia was the Middle East's biggest lake, its local economy a thriving tourist center of hotels and restaurants. ‘People would come here for swimming and would use the mud for therapeutic purposes. They would stay here at least for a few days,’ said Ahad Ahmed, a journalist in the former port town of Sharafkhaneh as he showed CNN photos of people enjoying the lake in 1995.”

israel jets strike gaza

Image: A fireball rises following an Israeli air strike in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, late on August 23, 2021. (Said Khatib/ AFP)

Israeli jets strike Gaza following fires set by arson balloons
Times of Israel

“The Israel Defense Forces carried out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip late Monday (August 23) night in response to the launching of arson balloons from the coastal enclave that set off at least nine fires in Israeli border communities earlier in the day, the army said. The army said it hit a Hamas weapons factory in the southern town of Khan Younis, the entrance to a terror tunnel in Jabaliya and an underground rocket launcher. The army said the launcher was located in a heavily populated area near a school in the Shejaiya neighborhood. There were no casualties in the raids, but they did cause material damage, a Palestinian security source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.”

Israel temple mount prayer

Image: Orthodox Jews and others praying at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Monday. Israel has long prohibited Jews from praying there. (Amit Elkayam for The New York Times)

In shift, Israel quietly allows Jewish prayer on Temple Mount
New York Times

“The Israeli government has long forbidden Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, a site sacred to Jews and Muslims, yet Rabbi Yehudah Glick made little effort to hide his prayers. In fact, he was livestreaming them. ‘Oh Lord!’ prayed Rabbi Glick, as he filmed himself on his phone on a recent morning. ‘Save my soul from false lips and deceitful tongues!’ Since Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, it has maintained a fragile religious balance at the Temple Mount, the most divisive site in Jerusalem: Only Muslims can worship there, while Jews can pray at the Western Wall below. But recently the government has quietly allowed increasing numbers of Jews to pray there, a shift that could aggravate the instability in East Jerusalem and potentially lead to religious conflict.”

What's Happening at CMEP

Sheikh Jarrah Virtual Tour:

Join CMEP and MEJDI Tours on September 29th at 11 am Eastern for a virtual tour. We'll travel via Zoom through the City of David, Silwan, and Sheikh Jarrah, starting with the relevant background and sharing the local narratives. This is an in-depth opportunity to view, learn, and discuss with your live guide. CMEP staff will be present to talk about current events and advocacy opportunities related to the Holy Land.

advocacy issues

Become a Church Partner:

CMEP relies on partnership to promote a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. CMEP helps churches, organizations, leaders, and individuals advocate for justice and peace for all peoples. We provide opportunities to learn about the Middle East, elevate diverse voices, and support local peacebuilding efforts in the region. Join us today!


Rewind: CMEP Journeys:

This spring we hosted a series of virtual events designed to educate, elevate, and advocate. Video recordings include a media training on writing op-eds, webinars featuring women peacebuilders and peacemakers working in Gaza, and three different author conversations.

Support CMEP

Make supporting peace a regular routine part of your month by joining CMEP's Sustainer Circle today!

Is a two state solution still viable

Image: A Palestinian medic in the West Bank, June 2021. (Mussa Qawasma / Reuters)

Is the two-state solution still viable?
Foreign Affairs

“We at Foreign Affairs have recently published a number of pieces on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the viability of the two-state solution. To complement these articles, we decided to ask a broad pool of experts for their take. As with previous surveys, we approached dozens of authorities with specialized expertise relevant to the question at hand, together with leading generalists in the field. Participants were asked to state whether they agreed or disagreed with a proposition and to rate their confidence level in their opinion.”

progressive dems slam palestinian authority

Image: Progressive Democrats in the House and the Senate lamented the Palestinian Authority's crackdown on human rights activists and critics. (AFP)

Progressive Democrats slam Palestinian Authority over crackdown on protesters
Middle East Eye

“Several progressive US Democrats have accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) of human rights violations following the arrests of dozens of demonstrators over the weekend. The outcry erupted after Palestinian security forces arrested 24 demonstrators who had gathered to hold protests on both Saturday and Sunday to demand accountability over the killing of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat. Banat, a 43-year-old activist who was a fierce critic of the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, died in custody on 24 June after PA security forces raided his home. Since the arrests over the weekend, progressive Democrats in both the House and the Senate have sounded their displeasure, lamenting about the PA's crackdown on human rights activists and critics."

middle east prepares for us syria departure

Image: Syrians wave national flags and carry a portrait of their president after an election set to give the current president, Bashar al-Assad, a fourth term in Damascus on May 27. (Louai Beshara/AFP via Getty Images)

The Middle East Is preparing for the United States’ exit from Syria
Foreign Policy

“The Arab world has taken note of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and is starting to wonder whether Syria—where the United States still has several hundred troops—will be next. The Biden administration has already given indications it is willing to look away from Gulf Arab states reviving relations with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rather than actively prevent them from doing so. This marks a slight but significant shift in U.S. policy, as represented by the 2019 Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act. With Washington showing a diminished appetite for enforcing Syria’s isolation—including through military means—some Arab countries are starting to bring Syria in from its diplomatic isolation."

CMEP's Bulletin is a weekly round-up of news from the Middle East and represents an array of perspectives on the issues we cover. CMEP does not necessarily agree with all the views expressed in the articles, and they do not speak on CMEP's behalf.

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)
110 Maryland Ave NE, Suite 311 | Washington, District of Columbia  20002
(202) 543-1222 | info@cmep.org

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