CMEP’s Executive Director Responds to the Trump “Peace” Plan

Dear CMEP Community,

“They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 6:14

Earlier this afternoon, the Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) staff gathered around a laptop in our office–just a mile or so from the White House–to watch the President and Prime Minister Netanyahu announce the much anticipated “plan” for Israelis and Palestinians. As I listened to the speech, I was devastated. I was heartbroken as I thought of all the pain, suffering, and injustice that this plan will perpetuate.

The plan presented by President Trump and further fleshed out by Prime Minister Netanyahu is nothing less than a recipe for endless oppression and injustice. Palestinians for far too long have suffered under Israeli military control, a reality which today was denied and ignored.

The proposed plan would further entrench the Israeli security establishment, ensuring that generations of Israeli young men and women will serve in a military tasked with continuing control of the Palestinian people. The inevitable result will be more human rights abuses, trauma, and violence.

This cannot stand.

In addition, as Christians, we must not stand by and let our faith be perverted. It is clear that Christian values are being weaponized in an attempt to give a veneer of moral legitimacy to a plan that is, in fact, meant to facilitate further Israeli control over Palestinian lives, land, and resources.

The use of Judeo and Christian religious and spiritual imagery to justify political aims and agendas is idolatry. Referring to the modern geopolitical state of Israel as “a light unto the world,” and glorifying “places inscribed in the pages of the Bible,” without seriously addressing the injustices suffered by those who have lived under decades of occupation, flies in the face of what the Prince of Peace taught us. This appropriation of religious ideals diminishes the true spiritual significance of the land we call Holy and is a betrayal of the Christian faith.

At first glance, some of the language of the plan sounds promising. For example, we heard, “No Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes.” Certainly a good thing! However, when the repercussions of the plan are understood more fully, it becomes clear that another reading is possible. Palestinian citizens of Israel might not be moved out of their homes, but it is very possible that they would be disenfranchised, and the territory their homes are on would be deemed a part of the triangle communities of the “future Palestinian state.” This would be a part of the proposed “land swap” meant to maximize the amount of land under Israeli control while minimizing the number of Palestinians living on the land.

Speaking of “opportunities for Palestinians” to have a prosperous future without recognizing the root causes of the suffering experienced by generations worldwide obfuscates the problem and presents a distorted “solution.” While Palestinians at times have not contributed constructively toward peace, we must be clear: the root of their despair is decades of dispossession, violence, and lived humiliation — a perpetuated dynamic that is not without consequences for Israeli society. For Israelis to have hope for a future without fear, where their legitimate security needs are met, there must be a peace plan where U.S. and Israeli governments recognize and commit to just resolutions in response to the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people.

What we also did not hear was an articulation of the basic rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, freedom, equality, and dignity in a land to which they have centuries-old ties — something that money can’t buy.

So where do we go from here?

We must redouble our efforts to advocate for a durable and just peace that, unlike this and other plans of the past, centers justice, equality, human rights, and freedom for all in Israel and Palestine. Please join us in prayer. Let us know your thoughts and desire to stand in solidarity with all people in the Holy Land, especially those who were not present at the “peace table” today. Please stay tuned in the coming days and weeks for positive actions you can take to engage in advocacy as part of the CMEP community and in your networks. As we prepare for the work ahead, I offer this prayer:

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

In Christ,

Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon


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27 Comments On “CMEP’s Executive Director Responds to the Trump “Peace” Plan”

  1. In response to Drumpf-Israeli arrogant and racist presumption and claim of impunity from any and all claims of justice, elect our first Jewish President, Bernie Sanders.

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  2. This plan is outrageous and dangerous. I’ve followed the Palestinian situation for decades. It gets more horrible every year.

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  3. I was heartbroken when I heard the news this morning. I agree completely.

    Please let me know what, what we all can do.

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  4. Thank you Dr Cannon for a beautiful message, worthy of your faith and your organization.
    The world was commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau yesterday. By ignoring
    the lessons of Auschwitz, Netanyahu and Trump desecrate the memories of its victims.

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  5. Phyllis Taub Albritton

    The time is long past due for Palestine to have its own legal boundaries. Having been to Israel in 1954, I am
    truly upset about the way my Jewish brothers and sisters continue to treat our half-brothers and -sisters. Israel has EVERY right to exist, but not beyond the borders originally established many years ago. How long, O Lord, how long?

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  6. I stand with the Palestinian people and all those who support them in their quest for a just peace and homeland (sovereign state). I also support the BDS movement as it is non violent. The supporters of Israel are so frightened of it they are having laws passed to make it illegal to support this movement. What do we do when our government is the biggest supporter of Israel both financially and in the international community (United Nations). The Congress and Senate is owned by Israeli lobbyists. Since at least 1967 the United States has been a supporter of Israel while publicly stating we were even handed. The Trump Administration has taken the covers off and shown the world what we stand for in The Middle East- anything Israel wants it gets without any cost to them. How do we break the hold the Israeli lobby has on Congress and the Senate? Also right now the Trump administration.

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  7. Thanks for this opportune information with which to view the news tonight. Yes, so sad.
    I hope your office/staff will be able to later view the Calvin University lecture of today (you
    were at this event) by Najla Kassab on the web site ( Calvin.edu/January) “The Reformed
    Church in the Middle East: Hopes and Challenges.” Todays action by the US and Israeli leaders
    only make that challenge greater.
    I am a friend of Kairos W. MI. where we heard you speak at Third Reformed and bought and
    read your excellent book.
    Thanks for your work; our prayers – and occasional small gifts – are with you.

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  8. My heart bleeds with sorrow at the continuation of the injustices gripping the Middle East and especially the Palestinian people.

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  9. Thank you CMEP for your important work.

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  10. The world agrees, as do I.

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  11. I appreciate all you’ve articulated.
    My question is, if “Israel has the right to defend itself,” what do Palestinians have? It would appear the answer to that question is “Nothing.”
    And what about the ongoing home demolitions in East Jerusalem?
    Israel has all the “rights” and all the power, thanks to the neverending gift to Israel of billions of our taxpayer dollars and endless claims of insecurity by Israel’s Washington lobby. The Congress has to stop giving them money.

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  12. As Christians, Jews, and Muslims we have a tremendous division over our belief in God that has lasted for centuries.
    It is very hard today, as Muslims return to living a more true faith from the 6th or 7th century to really see that their religion is from God. Whereas with the Jews, we can see where we have a lot in common and their view of God which seems a lot more realistic.

    Why in the last couple of centuries hatred for the Jews has been strong and the Jewish people from the early 1900s to today are always on the verge of a new holocaust is very strange. My only thought is holocaust is jealousy as they are the chosen people of God. This may be a big step forward to peace in the middle east. The only other solution seems to be the complete destruction of the Jewish people which with nuclear weapons can occur at any time since they are now so concentrated in this one area of the world.

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  13. There is a possible bright side…. a realization a peace process hasn’t and will not work. Trump stated to the world at his first visit with Netanyahu as President that he was good with one state or two, so long as both agreed. That put the secular democratic state, which was the first position by the newly formed PLO in 1965, on the biggest table. Today Saeb Erekat said annexation could move Palestinians to go for one person, one vote. Supporters of Palestinians will be forever stymied by Israel’s game….rocks, rockets, and random violence. BDS is so divisive, it loses nearly as much as it gains. Yesterday’s denial of dignity and respect for Palestinians may lead them to reach out to liberals, including Jews in Israel and America, as allies with a campaign for equality under the law. I believe the world and many in the US Congress will embrace such a campaign. To make that work any violence will have to be considered unacceptable.

    Because this is clearly unacceptable for both sides to agree, it opens the door to a sustained human rights campaign that can change America’s politics.

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  14. deeply sadden, upset and angry for the Palestinian people and for everyone ‘who knows not what they do in their name’

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  15. “Peace, peace, peace. God’s peace be upon you. But living today in a time of war, crying out peace, peace, peace, where there is no peace. Fearing age and death, pain and darkness, destitution and loneliness, people need to get back to the simplicity of Brother Lawrence”, Dorothy Day advised; because Brother Lawrence Practiced the Presence of God in every situation.

    During one of my eight trips to Palestine since 2005, Mohammad Alatar, film producer of “The Ironwall” addressed my Sabeel group on an Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions tour through Jerusalem and to the village of Anata and the Shufat refugee camp, in the very area where the prophet Jeremiah critiqued the violent conflicts in the Mid East in the 6th century B.C.: “I hear violence and destruction in the city, sickness and wounds are all I see.” [Jeremiah 6:7]

    After we broke bread and ate a typical Palestinian feast prepared by the Arabiya family in the Arabyia Peace Center, Mohammad Alatar told us:

    “I am a Muslim Palestinian American and when my son asked me who my hero was I took three days to think about it. I told him my hero is Jesus, because he took a stand and he died for it. What really needs to be done is for the churches to be like Jesus; to challenge the Israeli occupation and address the apartheid practices as moral issues. Even if every church divested and boycotted Israel it would not harm Israel. After the USA and Russia, Israel is the third largest arms exporter in the world. It is a moral issue that the churches must address.”

    Before my first trip to Israel Palestine I taught youth Sunday school in a rural community in central Florida, but I never returned. During my first trip to Palestine my Jesus morphed into a social justice radically non-violent Palestinian devout Jewish road warrior who rose up/intifada against a corrupt Temple and taught the people no need for ritual baths and sacrificing livestock to get OK with God because God already loves every one just as they are and God is already within every one!

    “Let us move now from the practical how to the theoretical why: Why should we love our enemies? The first reason is fairly obvious. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence and toughness multiples toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”-Rev. MLK, Jr.

    During my first trip to Palestine I also received within this spin on the Beatitudes:

    was about 33, he hiked up a hill and sat down under an olive tree and began to teach the people;

    “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”

    In other words: it is those who know their own spiritual poverty, their own limitations and ‘sins’ honestly and trust God loves them in spite of themselves who already live in the Kingdom of God.

    How comforted we will all be, when we see, we haven’t got a clue, as to the depth and breadth of pure love and mercy of The Divine Mystery of The Universe.

    God’s name in ancient Aramaic is Abba which means Daddy as much as Mommy and He/She: The Lord has said, “My ways are not your ways. My thoughts are not yours.” -Isaiah 55:8

    Jesus proclaimed: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

    The essence of meek is to be patient with ignorance, slow to anger and never hold a grudge. In other words: how comforted you will be when you also know humility; when you know yourself, the good and the bad, for both cut through every human heart.

    “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will be filled.”

    In other words: how comforted you will be when your greatest desire is to do what “God requires, and he has already told you what that is; BE JUST, BE MERCIFUL and walk humbly with your Lord.”-Micah 6:8

    “Blessed are the merciful, they will be shown mercy.”

    In other words: how comforted you will all be when you choose to return only kindness to your ‘enemy.’

    “For with the measure you measure against another, it will be measured back to you” Christ warns his disciples as he explains the law of karma in Luke 6:27-38.

    “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they see God.”

    In other words: how comforted you will be when you WAKE UP and see God is already within you, within every man, every woman and every child. The Supreme Being is everywhere, the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. Beyond The Universe -and yet so small; within the heart of every atom.

    “Blessed are The Peacemakers: THEY shall be called the children of God.”

    And what a wonderful world it would be when we all seek peace by pursuing justice; for there can be none without the other.

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  16. I agree. If all are not at the peace table, can there be peace?

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  17. My heart aches for the people of Israel and Palestine and for the fact that the tenants of compassion and justice found in Judaism, Islam and Christianity have been abused for political gain. My prayers are with you and the people of Israel and Palestine who truly strive for peace and equity. May we all repent for our failure to follow Micah 6:8.

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  18. Rev. Sandra R Mackie

    No US citizen would ever accept anything close to this “deal” for themselves or their family. I hope people of faith will rise up – literally and figuratively – to end apartheid. No justice, no peace.

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  19. The plan aims to more than double the amount of land the PA actually control, link the West Bank to Gaza, and both to the outside world. That is, there seem to be real positives for the Palestinian people in it. I also like that it wants people of all faiths to have the right to pray on the Temple Mount. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and some Europeans are also interested in it as a basis for further negotiations.
    It is certainly a great pity that the PA have refused to participate in negotiations to date, just as they refused throughout the Obama years. At present, tragically, they are corrupt and un-elected.
    Palestinians need to accept the reality of Israel, and work with it. The PA still preach hate and devote much of their budget to rewarding and encouraging the murder of Israelis.
    Clearly, they are not yet ready for peace.

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  20. Sheral Marshall, OSF

    I’m so sorry to hear of this so-called agreement. I will continue to encourage my Catholic parish to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and all of Palestine.

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  21. Rev. Dr. David Hindman

    I cannot imagine that this plan will produce any good result. It is another expression of a colonialist perspective that assumes white elites can do whatever they choose, regardless of the impact on the lives of others. This is no “good faith” process, but something imposed from above by the powerful with accompanying threats of total destruction of Palestinian aspirations in the coming years if they don’t submit this this set of demands. It is also outrageous that the USA and Israel have taken upon themselves to determine the future for Palestinians without any input or serious consultation with the UN or Arab states. This is pathetic, disheartening, frustrating, unjust and oppressive, and another step in the process of denuding the Holy Land of Christian witness and presence.

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  22. The Reverend Ernest Cockrell, Episcopal priest in CA.

    Having been to Israel/Occupied Territory many times and to Gaza three times I have eye-witness accounts of the devastation Israel continues to pour onto the Palestinians, heightened now by President Trump’s one-sided plan that will cause further blood shed, physically and psychologically both to the Palestinian people, to the Middle East in general, and to us in the U.S. The American people may not know – or care – about the imbalance, but I can assure you that people around the world – and the Palestinians and other Arabs – certainly take note of America’s duplicity in funding Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians, both Christians and Muslims. Israeli rabbis tell me that the actions of the Israeli government, supported blindly by U.S. tax dollars, as well as funds from Evangelical churches, as well as Jewish congregations, are undermining Judaism, which is built so much on the concept of justice. That you to CMEP for taking the stand. Please help get the word out. The dream of a Palestinian state working in peace with Israel and the rest of the region is being slaughtered by our president and the prime minister, setting up a new tinder box of hostility from the simple lack of justice all around. Trump’s message and stance reflect the worst of America’s bigotry, not the best heart of our democracy. Solve the Palestinian problem and many of the problems of the Middle East will be solved, as well.

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  23. It seems to become worse for our Palestinian friends by the day. Thanks for your eloquent thoughts. My prayers to all of my Palestinian brothers and sisters that have waited over and over for some positive thoughts and ideas for justice. Please hang it there and may we live long enough to see justice some day. Let us know the best way to help, besides our monetary support for CMEP! Thanks and bless us all.

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  24. Thank you, everyone, for your words of affirmation and support! It means a lot to know there are individuals out there who care deeply about peace and justice. As we plan our further response to the “peace” plan and continue to respond to the situation on the ground both in the Holy Land and here in the US, please keep your eyes out for other opportunities to share your feelings on the future of peace in Israel and Palestine. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter at @ChurchesforMEP or register to receive our emails on our website, cmep.org.

    Reply

  25. Rev. Beverly Blackman (ret.)

    Yes, God have mercy. We pour out our hearts to you oh Lord. Thank you to those who strive to communicate the truth of oppression. Prayers are being lifted up from here in Texas.

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  26. The actions by the Trump administration with this “Deal of the Century” sadden and sicken me. The downward trend in human rights and social justice for Palestinians continues, if not speeds up. CMEP, what can we do? I have written my Senator, but to what end? More has to be done. Noura Erakat’s book, “Justice For Some,” explains the legal work that has been undertaken by both sides, but again, to what end? Things are clearly not working out to the Palestinian’s advantage. I feel helpless — which is a feeling I’m sure Palestinians can relate to! Time to ramp things up? What could that look like?

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  27. Linda C. Stewart-Kalen

    I am grateful for our leadership at both the stated cerk’s office and the Washington Office, as well as this cmsp office. We benwfit from this kind of thoughtful discernment and witness. Thank you.

    Reply

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