The Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) is a coalition of 85 organizations (NGOs), who promote people-to-people coexistence between Arabs and Jews, Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East. Through ALLMEP, the NGOs work together to raise awareness about the extent and importance of their work, as well as cultivate new and expanded resources to support Middle East coexistence.
ALLMEP was formally incorporated in 2006 after operating as an informal coalition since late 2003. The group first convened in February 2004, at the first annual Middle East coexistence conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. It grew from 14 organizations in 2004 to 27 in 2005 and 44 NGOs in 2007.
After first gathering in 2004 to educate policymakers about the wide range of coexistence projects underway, the gathered NGOs saw great opportunity in working together. In particular, they organized to raise the profile of Middle East coexistence in the minds of key stakeholders and policymakers so that these activities would be viewed as a critical part of solving the conflict. In addition, working together, they could expand their base of supporters; seek new and expanded financial resources to support their work; and develop more effective programs and organizations through networking and shared capacity building efforts.
From the beginning, ALLMEP has furthered its mission by:
Opening dialogue to policymakers
Working to open and sustain a dialogue between ALLMEP member NGOs and U.S. agencies that can support coexistence work. These efforts have included meetings with USAID and State Department officials, an event in Jerusalem in 2006 including NGO representatives and U.S. diplomats, and ongoing contact with appropriate U.S. officials responsible for NGO funding.
Public events to support Middle East coexistence
ALLMEP hosts an annual event in Washington. In June 2005, for instance, ALLMEP increased its presence and impact with a summer conference on coexistence. For the first time, Middle East ambassadors, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders, members of Congress and staff, State Department officials, Middle East scholars, leading pro-Israel and pro-Arab activists, the media, private funders, students, and Middle East NGO peacemakers all gathered together in support of coexistence.
More than 250 participated, including diplomats from Tunisia, Yemen, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan. The programming included a panel discussion by Egyptian Ambassador Fahmy, Jordanian Prince Firas bin Raad, Palestinian Chief Representative Hassan Abdel Rahman, Luxembourg Ambassador (during EU presidency) Arlette Conzemius-Paccoud, and former U.S. Ambassador Phillip Wilcox of the Washington Middle East Institute on the importance and role of coexistence efforts in the region. In addition, participants joined in a round of breakout sessions to discuss ways to further coexistence through religious groups, college campuses, and business. ALLMEP members also met with over 30 congressional offices, many of which were impressed and surprised to learn about the number and range of NGOs (and by extension, individuals) working cooperatively toward reconciliation in Israel and Palestine.
In March 2006, ALLMEP co-sponsored a reception and screening of a new documentary film about coexistence efforts, Encounter Point, with film producers JustVision. More than 70 participants joined together to view clips from the film and discuss coexistence efforts and ways to further them. With ALLMEP members, congressional staffers, USAID representatives, and the media in attendance, this was another opportunity to build support for people-to-people programs. In conjunction with this event, ALLMEP and JustVision representatives met with more than 37 congressional offices.
In 2008, ALLMEP hosted a comedy performance of the Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour on Capitol Hill.
Media outreach to raise the Middle East people-to-people profile
Through its web site, PR efforts (including engaging pro bono media relations professionals), and reports, ALLMEP uses the media to promote its members’ work. ALLMEP published a 10-page report in the wake of the Summer 2006 violence between Hezbollah and Israel. In September 2006, ALLMEP electronically published and distributed its report, An Autumn of Hope, to highlight the substantial coexistence programming continuing to occur despite the summer’s violence and demonstrate how ALLMEP members actually used their programs to mitigate the ill effects of the war. ALLMEP distributed the report to individuals and media outlets (newspapers, magazines, broadcasts, webcasts, and radio) around the U.S. via email and fax.
Increasing public and private resources for coexistence
ALLMEP encourages both public U.S. funding of coexistence efforts, as well as funding by private foundations. Each year, bipartisan groups of 35 - 40 members of Congress have supported ALLMEP’s letter in support of coexistence funding, in addition to 7 senators in 2006. As a result, U.S. funding for reconciliation programs worldwide has grown and attempts to create a dedicated fund for coexistence programs in the Middle East have begun to bear fruit.
Networking and capacity building to improve NGO impact
ALLMEP always keeps its members in touch as they are developing new and expanded programming and facing similar challenges in their work. ALLMEP has organized private meetings, seminars, networking opportunities, and capacity building sessions for its members, including instructional sessions on fundraising, public advocacy, preparing grant proposals, using the Internet to promote their work, and direct mail development.