Dear CMEP Family and Friends,
Last night, the nation watched as then president-elect Biden acknowledged the 400,000 Americans killed by COVID-19 over the past year and proclaimed, "to heal, we must remember." Remembering and choosing to heal with hope for the future is a spiritual act. We remember with grief and lament many of the significant losses of 2020, including those affected by the coronavirus; the devastating impacts of violence against people of color manifested in the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and so many others; the disastrous U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East; the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol that provoked so much fear and concern only inflaming distrust and partisanship; and the many personal challenges and tragedies that touched so many of our lives. There is much to grieve. And we remember.
But our faith reminds us that grief is not the end of the story - rather, we will pursue healing and move forward with hope toward the future. Our work at Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is rooted in our spiritual beliefs and our faith that God cares deeply about healing communities and leading the world toward both peace and justice. During the Advent Season, the CMEP staff used the words of a song called the "Canticle of the Turning" by Gary Daigle, Rory Cooney, and Theresa Donohoo to lead us into a prayer of hope and healing:
My heart shall sing of the day you bring
Let the fires of your justice burn
Wipe away all tears for the dawn draws near
And the world is about to turn!
The world is about to turn! This is a great word for us as we enter into the new era of the Biden Administration. Today is a historic day, marking the inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Vice President Kamala Harris, the first female and woman of color vice-president of the United States.
CMEP is eager and ready to work with this new administration and continue our work where there is policy alignment in holistic peacebuilding, supporting economic and humanitarian assistance, and human rights while working toward peace and just resolutions to conflicts in the Middle East. We anticipate strong traction with the Biden administration while working to end U.S. support for the Saudi Coalition and its intervention in the Yemeni Civil War, pursuing constructive diplomacy with Iran, and reinstating aid to UNRWA and the humanitarian programs in the West Bank and Gaza.
There may be times in the years ahead where CMEP will need to play a prophetic and constructive role in challenging the Administration on issues we care about related to the Middle East. We are committed to being courageous and bold in our pursuit of constructive U.S. policies toward the Middle East. The status quo is not good enough. Rather, the Biden administration has the opportunity to pursue policies toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other parts of the Arab world that are forward-thinking. We can no longer afford to return to historic U.S. policies that have failed in the Middle East over the past years and decades. We must move ahead in creative and courageous ways to address real issues such as economic challenges, the plight of refugees and displaced peoples, and boldly address human rights violations that are rife in the region. The United States must become a truly constructive presence in the Middle East, something we have not been under recent Republican and Democratic Administrations.
Finally, as 30 member church communions, denominations, and organizations, CMEP cares deeply about the Christian community's sustainability in Israel and Palestine and throughout the Middle East. The real prospect of the survival of the indigenous Christian presence in the Holy Land must be addressed. By ensuring the U.S. government stands firmly in support of peace and justice in the region, the Biden Administration can help ensure the Christian community, along with all people in the Holy Land, can flourish.
We commit to praying for President Biden and those appointed and elected into office as the first days of the new administration begin. There is much work to be done, and we are grateful for the support of each of you as CMEP plays our part in working toward holistic and just U.S. policies toward Palestine, Israel, and the entire Middle East.
Blessings and health to you and yours,
Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)