Churches for Middle East Peace Condemns Violence in Jerusalem

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” Psalm 122:6

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) has issued a statement condemning the violence in Jerusalem and calling for the Biden administration to intervene immediately. The Church of the Brethren is a member organization of CMEP. The statement, from May 10, 2021, follows:

Churches for Middle East Peace logo with dove and olive leaf

Over the past several days we have seen a sharp increase in violence in Jerusalem including assaults against Muslims worshipping at al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, a violation of religious freedom. On Monday, May 10, 2021, during Jerusalem Day events, Israeli police forces used rubber bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas canisters against Muslim worshipers at the al-Aqsa mosque. Orthodox Israeli participants attempted to break into the compound through locked gates. Per the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, 331 Palestinians were injured, 250 of whom were hospitalized. With tensions escalating by the hour, rockets have been launched from Gaza toward Jerusalem with Hamas publicly taking responsibility. Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) calls for an immediate cessation of all violence and condemns these acts of aggression targeting civilians.
 
Over the past few days, Israeli police have also attacked peaceful Palestinian protestors in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where Palestinian families face impending eviction and forcible transfer at the hands of Israeli settlers. Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) denounces the violent actions in Jerusalem and calls on the U.S. State Department and Secretary Blinken to immediately intervene with the Israeli government to stop the aggression toward Palestinians, many of whom are observing Ramadan, and to put an immediate and permanent end to eviction threats against Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

The evictions in East Jerusalem are not an anomaly; they are part of a larger and systematic effort to displace Palestinians. Over the past several decades we have seen a significant increase in de facto annexation, with Palestinians expelled from their homes throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, to make way for expanded illegal Israeli settlements. The continued hold on de jure annexation has not lessened the threats faced by Palestinians as evidenced by the situation in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, another East Jerusalem neighborhood, where several families face eviction orders.

Kyle Cristofalo, CMEP’s Senior Director of Advocacy and Government Relations, said: “The Biden Administration has consistently said human rights and rule of law will be at the center of U.S. foreign policy. We call on the Administration to move beyond statements that fail to address how the current situation stems from the ongoing occupation and the systematic power imbalance. The U.S. cannot play a positive role in helping to bring a peaceful end to the conflict in Israel/Palestine where all people living in the land are treated equally and with respect unless we can acknowledge the primary drivers of the ongoing occupation and use diplomatic pressure to help to bring about its end.”

CMEP calls on the Biden Administration to:

  • Publicly declare that Israeli settlements are illegal and that the U.S. opposes all settlement activity, including in occupied East Jerusalem.
  • Intervene directly with the Israeli Government to ensure the cancellation of all pending eviction orders in East Jerusalem immediately.  
  • Support Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s (MN) legislation, HR 2590, which calls for greater transparency on how U.S. security assistance to Israel is used, specifically seeking to ensure U.S. taxpayer funds are not used to abuse Palestinian children, annex Palestinian land, or demolish Palestinian homes. 

CMEP’s Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, said: “We stand strongly in support of a prosperous future for all in Jerusalem and throughout Israel/Palestine, where all who live in the land called Holy—Israelis and Palestinians alike—have their rights protected and can live in peace. We condemn all violence, the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian people, and the conditions which have led to the injury and death of Israelis and Palestinians in the last week.” 

Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is a coalition of 30 national church communions and organizations, including Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Evangelical traditions that works to encourage US policies that actively promote a comprehensive resolution to conflicts in the Middle East with a focus on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. CMEP works to mobilize US Christians to embrace a holistic perspective and to be advocates of equality, human rights, security, and justice for Israelis, Palestinians, and all people of the Middle East.