2018 PFIG Recipient Isabelle Foley
Journal Entry #1
My name is Isabelle Foley and I am a rising Fourth Year at UVA. I am pursuing a double major in Foreign Affairs and Religious Studies, as well as a minor in French. This summer, I am working as a Government Affairs intern at Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)
CMEP is a non-profit, ecumenical organization that advocates for U.S. policies that promote just peace in Israel and Palestine. In order to achieve this goal, CMEP works to educate Americans on the Middle East conflict and peace advocacy, elevate the voices of those who are promoting peace in the Middle East, and help constituents meet with their congressmen and members of the government to advocate for just U.S. policy. As a government affairs intern, I am particularly involved with the last of these three strategies: congressional advocacy.
My first month at CMEP has been a whirlwind. Only a few days into my internship, I found myself making impactful contributions in a fast-paced working environment. I knew immediately that this organization was a good fit for my academic interests and career aspirations. In general, my responsibilities include preparation for and attendance at legislative activates. This means scheduling meetings with congressmen or their staffers, and sometimes accompanying constituents on these meetings. Because of the CMEP staff’s expertise, the organization serves as a resource for those who are looking to get involved in peace advocacy. We provide constituents with information, literature, and media so they can be more informed on current issues; and ultimately, we facilitate their meetings with their representatives so they can advocate for U.S. foreign policies that they support. CMEP’s current summer campaign, “Document Detention,” focuses on the mistreatment of Palestinian youth in the occupied territories, who are subjected to mistreatment and human rights violations while detained in the Israeli military court system. I have spent the last few weeks researching this issue, writing and sending informational emails to our subscribers, attending hill briefings and meetings with other organizations that focus on this issue, and tracking relevant legislation as well as the appropriations process for the upcoming fiscal year.
A lot of my work this month has focused on CMEP’s annual advocacy summit, And Still We Rise. This summit took place in June and highlighted women—primarily religious leaders—from the U.S. and the Middle East who have dedicated their careers to advocating for peace in Israel and Palestine. For two days I listened to these amazing activists give their testimonies and share stories of their experiences in the region. The last day of the summit, Advocacy Day, was dedicated to training the attendees on meeting with their representatives, and ultimately joining them at some of the meetings. In preparation for this day, I spent almost two weeks contacting over 50 congressional offices, scheduling meetings with members and staff, creating individualized schedules for summit attendees, and preparing literature for the meetings. On Advocacy Day, I had the opportunity to accompany two women to meetings with the offices of Congressmen Norcross, Senator Booker, and Senator Menendez. We spoke about issues such as the detention of Palestinian youth and the freeze of U.S. humanitarian aid to the West Bank and Gaza. The main focus of the House meeting was H.R. 4391, a bill on child detention introduced by Congresswoman Betty McCollum and the first Palestinian human rights legislation ever to be presented to Congress. The experience of getting to know these two women and partnering with them in promoting just action on these important issues was the highlight of my first month at CMEP, and I expect of my entire internship.
In the upcoming weeks, I will continue to organize feedback from the Advocacy Day meetings and oversee future congressional meetings and events related to H.R. 4391, Document Detention, and humanitarian aid. I look forward to more hard work and new learning experiences.
Journal Entry #2
more information coming soon...
Journal Entry #3
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