2013 continued the growth and development of the expanding vision and organizational infrastructure of Indiana Center for Middle East Peace, marked particularly by a greater “footprint” in the community. ICMEP is “changing the conversation” in NE Indiana regarding a just peace throughout the Middle East, with the issues of Israel and Palestine being central to that conversation.
First, though, ICMEP lost one of its board members, Judy Kuelling. A committed educator throughout her life, Judy brought a passion for justice, for fair play, and for human rights. After she traveled with Executive Director, Michael Spath, on one of his “study and solidarity tours,” Judy provided a strong voice on our board, particularly for children and youth, and for including more events that featured music and the arts. Her compassion, gentle spirit, and commitment to those on the margins will live on through the contributions made in her memory used in an annual event dedicated to the arts.
We added three new board members in 2013 – Mrs. Carolyn Krebs, Dr. Ahmed Abdelmageed, and Mr. Sam Jarjour. Each brings a specific and unique set of skills to our work, and they “hit the ground running,” making significant contributions in their work on the board and on specific committees.
In 2013, ICMEP established a critical partnership with Jewish Voice for Peace, both the Detroit Chapter and the national organization. Michael traveled to Detroit to meet with Barbara Harvey, President, and George Evalt, Treasurer (George traveled with Michael on one of his early “study and solidarity tours”) to introduce the work of ICMEP and to begin this relationship. Subsequently, Michael was in conversation with Cecilie Surasky, Program Director for JVP’s national office who offered their support and partnership on key events. Finally, Michael and board members, Ron Caldwell, Carolyn Krebs, Joan Coslow, and Ahnee Conner, traveled to Chicago to meet with Rabbi Brant Rosen, Co-chair of JVP’s Rabbinical Council. JVP co-sponsored the following 2013 events: Miko Peled (September) and Craig & Cindy Corrie (November), as well as the 2014 events, Mark Braverman (February) and Rabbi Brant Rosen (May).
ICMEP created a Marketing Committee and a Volunteer Committee, led by Carolyn Krebs and Joan Coslow respectively. The Marketing Committee increased its budget and continued its relationship with NIPR and the Cinema Center. Carolyn also contacted the Fort Wayne Physicians Group and Fort Wayne Magazine, as well as the Fort Wayne Newspapers, to get estimates for future advertising in 2014. Joan created a list of volunteers to help at our functions. Also, the Marketing Committee helped the board identify a new shorthand motto for our mission: “We educate, engage, and enlighten for peace, justice, and intercultural dialogue locally and globally.” Both committees have been very helpful in our work. Plans are in the works to create a Program Committee and Development Committee in 2014.
ICMEP hosted Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary for our 2013 Gala. While we didn’t make as much money as we have in the past, much positive energy and good will was created, and in that regard, it was a successful Gala.
Michael led a very successful “study and solidarity tour” to Israel and Palestine in June 2013, which included the popular, award-winning Quaker folk singer, Carrie Newcomer (and her husband), thanks to the generosity of the Happy Way Foundation. Michael enlisted eight different venues at which Carrie performed in Israel and Palestine, honoring the cultural boycott of sites in Israel proper. Venues included – Silwan neighborhood (with popular Palestinian hip-hop group DAM), Dheisheh refugee camp, Lutheran World Federation offices, Education Bookshop in East Jerusalem, Bethlehem Music Festival, and the Al-Rowwad Cultural and Theatre Training Center in Aida Refugee Camp (where Michael established a friendship with Al-Rowwad’s director, Abdelfattah (Abed) Abu Srour). Michael hopes that this new friendship will leads to further partnerships on joint projects in the future. In return, Carrie has offered to do a benefit concert for ICMEP in 2014.
It must also be said that after the presentation by Miko Peled, The General’s Son, and the criticism from the Fort Wayne Jewish Federation of his presentation and of ICMEP’s sponsoring of it, there was a great bit of introspection and reflection about ICMEP’s mission and message, and our place in the community. After much honest discussion between board members and friends in the community, and among board members themselves, the ICMEP board came to a clarity of focus and of mission, especially regarding the balance between education and advocacy.
Throughout 2013, the board continued its discussion of mission, programming, and infrastructure and organization, including making the Executive Director’s position a paid position.
Representing ICMEP, Executive Director Dr. Michael Spath continues as a National Board member of Pilgrims of Ibillin, the US-based support organization for Archbishop Elias Chacour, and the Mar Elias Educational Institutions in the Galilee, as well as an Area Representative for Bright Stars of Bethlehem, the US-based support organization for Rev. Mitri Raheb, and the ministries of the Diyar Consortium in Bethlehem.
Dr. Spath also was invited by Mayor Thomas Henry to be one of the leaders of One City, Many Faiths: Prayers for the City, April 21, 2013. Over 250 people attended this wonderful community event with lots of positive energy and good will.
It should also be noted that 2013 so a great increase in attendance at ICMEP’s monthly events, averaging between 150-175 people per event.
Finally, ICMEP sponsored the following programs in 2013:
- Dr. Louise Pascale, The Afghan Children’s Songbook Project, January
- Performance artist, Leila Buck, Arab Identity and Immigration, February
- Dr. Mark Braverman, An American Jew’s Call to Action on Israel and Palestine, April
- Ambassador Dr. Feisal Istrabadi, Iraq and the US – Where Do We Go From Here?, May
- Andrew Spath, A Tour of Uprisings in the Arab World, September
- Tibetan Buddhist Monks, Welcome to Tibet and Sand Mandala Creation, September
- Miko Peled, The General’s Son: Beyond Zionism, A New Paradigm, September
- Peter Yarrow, Gala – Operation Respect, October
- Kala Pierson, Maestro Robert Nance, Heartland Chorale, Heartland Sings for Peace & Justice, November
- Craid and Cindy Corrie, Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, November