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About Us

Common Humanity is a non-profit organization based in New York City which seeks to build understanding, respect and friendship with the Middle East and Muslim world.   We believe that the road to peace in the Middle East lies in recognizing the humanity of people on all sides of the conflict we’re in.  Instead of sending more guns to the Middle East, we should be sending compassion and humanitarian relief supplies.

Prior to our official beginning in 2009, Mel Lehman led

three medical delegations to Damascus during which

North American doctors shared their medical expertise

with their Syrian colleagues.  Sadly, the war in Syria has

prevented us from returning but we are continuing our

peacemaking work.

During one of those visits, he made contact through the

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with a

group of Iraqi refugee artists who had fled to Damascus. 

We began purchasing their paintings and bringing them

back to New York, exhibiting and selling them, and with

the money we received going back to Damascus and

repeating the process by buying another round of

paintings.  The exhibits we’ve held have attracted

hundred of visitors who have expressed appreciation for

the opportunity of seeing a part of the beauty and humanity

of Middle East and Arab culture.

Encouraged by the positive response we’ve received, we’re trying to expand our outreach.  We believe that our message of peaceful co-existence is urgently needed today.  We are working to “take our show on the road” and exhibit these beautiful paintings in other parts of the country.  Your contribution will help us accomplish that goal.

Mel Lehman is the director of of Common Humanity.   He has worked in international humanitarian issues for several decades, inducing two decades at the National Council  of Churches.  He has traveled extensively in the Middle East and has published a number of articles about his experience.

Videos About Our Work

Mel Lehman discusses his work with refugee art (right)

Mel Lehman in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus,

Syria, in 2010 before the war (links on home page)

A video about exhibiting Iraqi refugee art

Articles About Our Work 

Eastern Mennonite University Dec. '16  Alumni Magazine 

CNN Inside the Middle East Blog  

Articles by Mel Lehman

Book Review:  The Radical Muslim and Mennonite

Ending the Forever War

Samaritan's Purse and the Parable of the Good Muslim

What Would Mr. Rogers Do with the Muslim Travel Ban?

Understanding and Responding to Middle East Anger



2013 regional Journey Award from Everence, a Mennonite-related

financial services organization (photo at right)


East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church, Oct. '17, "Spiritual Resources to Help

     End the Forever War" Audio Version

Other Related Works by Mel Lehman


"Christmas Cards to Bethlehem" video produced by Mel Lehman for United Methodist Church

Articles by Mel Lehman

God's Voice in an Arabic Lesson, National Catholic Reporter (won award)

Middle Easter:  Op-Ed in Newark Star-Ledger (won award)

Growing Up Under Occupation:

Articles about Mel Lehman

Christmas Card Exchange with Palestinian Schools

Learn more about the ancient heritage of Middle East and Muslim World by joining us in a virtual

Tour of Biblical Archeology in Metropolitan Museum of Art   (tour begins 3 1/2 minutes into video)

Mel '22.jpeg

Mel Lehman received the 2013 regional Journey Award from Everence for his work with Common Humanity.

Mel Lehman, Director of Common Humanity Bio

Mel Lehman, center, led several medical delegations to Syria before

the current war.  Above, inside the historic Umayyad mosque.

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