So you’re thinking of starting a CJPME Chapter

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Take_action!.pngCanadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a growing organization that significantly impacts the Middle East dialogue in Canada – especially on the question of Palestine-Israel.  CJPME has community and campus branches across Canada.  This document has been developed to help local groups think about what it means to lead a local CJPME Chapter. 

What are the implications of launching a branch of CJPME in your community? 

In considering a CJPME Chapter for your community, you associate yourself with a tradition of fact-based policy and activism directed specifically at Canadian audiences and policy-makers.  Since 2004, CJPME has sought to uphold common principles of human rights and international law on a broad variety of Middle East issues.  As part of a pan-Canadian organization, a local CJPME Chapter will want to ensure that it supports these core principles.  Traditionally, these principles have been captured by three things – CJPME’s mission statement, its values, and its policy “pillars” – which are as follows.

CJPME Mission Statement
To empower Canadians of all backgrounds to promote justice, development, and peace in the Middle East, and here at home in Canada.

CJPME Values
Welcoming to all; Secular; Empowering people; Grassroots based; Action oriented; Excellence in everything; Pro-active; Professional; Developing leadership; Resourceful; Informed; Non-partisan.

CJPME Policy Pillars
        1. Support for international law
        2. Equal expectations for all parties
        3. A belief that violence is not a solution

Local groups interested in launching a CJPME Chapter are invited to adopt these core principles.   CJPME has workshops that describe the history, significance, and implications of these fundamentals.  Leaders of the local organization are also invited to adhere to a “code of conduct” based on these principles.

How is CJPME different from other organizations working for human rights in the Middle East? 

There are many organizations in Canada that do great work for human rights in the Middle East.  Nonetheless, we believe that CJPME stands apart for some of the following reasons:

  • We strive to be very active: CJPME is a busy organization that gets things done. We are known for action.

  • Professionalism is a priority: CJPME was founded with a high standard of professionalism and accountability.  At all times, we seek to operate professionally, credibly, and strategically.

  • We do both grassroots activism and policy development: CJPME is one of the few grassroots organizations which also has a policy arm, with concrete proposals for Canadian Middle East policy. CJPME’s strong grassroots presence amplifies the impact of its policy proposals.

  • We provide tools for the layperson: Because of its mission to “empower” people, CJPME works hard to provide tools to make it easier for everyone to have an impact on our issues. Our Media Centre, Boycott Centre, and advocacy tools are examples of these efforts to empower.

  • We are Pan-Canadian: CJPME was founded with a vision to see Canadian Middle East policy be balanced and humane. To enable this vision, CJPME must be present, bi-lingual, active, and visible (i.e. speaking to policy-makers) across the entire country. 

What are the expectations of the local CJPME Chapter? 

CJPME encourages local chapters to excel in three areas:

  1. To be relatively active.  There are quiet periods in the life of any organization, but generally speaking, CJPME wants a family of chapters that are led by passionate individuals actively seeking to make a difference in their community.  Each chapter is asked to develop an annual “action plan” in conjunction with the CJPME national office, to encourage intentional and effective action.  The CJPME national organization can also serve as a catalyst for local action and energy.
  2. To be involved in national campaigns and initiatives.  CJPME develops tools, hosts speaking tours, and supports campaigns, locally and nationally.  It serves the interests of all when local chapters engage actively with such tools and initiatives.
  3. To provide input to CJPME's national initiatives.  For CJPME to be as relevant and dynamic as possible, we seek out the input and feedback of local leaders on national initiatives.  Input and feedback processes include periodic telephone conference calls, whether for the organization as a whole or for one of CJPME’s “virtual” action teams.  This input and feedback are also essential to enabling each local chapter to feel connected to the broader organization.  

How does a local Chapter maintain a relationship with the national organization? 

Maintaining a linkage between local chapters and the national organization is key to the success of CJPME.  CJPME uses the following mechanisms to ensure good communication and feedback:

  1. Participation in weekly Zoom calls, whenever local members can join.  The CJPME national team has a Zoom call each Monday morning, ET.  If local adherents are able to join, these calls keep people abreast of everything going on across CJPME.
  2. Dialogue around each chapter’s “action plan.”  Once each chapter has its action plan in place, the Chapter leaders and the national office can touch base periodically.  The plan can be collaboratively expanded or reduced based on evolving capabilities and opportunities.
  3. Local Chapter roundtable calls.  As necessary, CJPME holds telephone conference calls oriented around CJPME’s local work.  Local leaders set the agenda for these calls, and share success stories and strategies in terms of local effectiveness. 
  4. Tours and Campaigns.  Frequently, CJPME’s national initiatives (e.g. lecture tours; exhibitions; advocacy campaigns) will require that CJPME national and local leaders coordinate closely.  Such initiatives are key to establishing trust and relationships across the organization.
  5. Leadership conferences.  Ideally, CJPME would like to host gatherings of Palestine solidarity leaders, whether virtually or in person.  All key CJPME players – locally and nationally – would be invited to join such a conference, and it would be a pivotal opportunity to define organizational strategies and develop relationships.

Creating a common CJPME voice 

Since many people across the country are “invested” in CJPME, it is important that the organization be consistent in its position-taking and tone.  This is ensured through some of the following mechanisms:

  1. Formal positions on important points are centralized.  CJPME’s official policy stance is articulated through press statements, position papers, and other publications, typically hosted on its Website.  Such policy is overseen centrally, though with input from people at all levels of the organization.
  2. Curated points of contact.  Media, politicians, partners, and the public need a clear way of accessing CJPME leaders.  Formal contact with the organization is managed through the national organization’s office, Website, and social media.  Local and national leaders are involved in responding as necessary. 
  3. Overall adherence to CJPME’s tone and core values.  Apart from core positions, when CJPME adherents engage with the public, a common tone and set of values should be evident.