The S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace was established in 1989 by Slim Fast Foods Chairman Dan Abraham and Utah Congressman Wayne Owens. A World War II combat veteran, Abraham experienced the horrors of war and has since committed himself to the prevention of future conflicts. When he met Owens, who served on the House Foreign Affairs and Select Intelligence Committees, the two men recognized that they shared a determination to achieve a peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
After serving in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Committees for 13 years, Florida Congressman Robert Wexler joined the Center as President to build upon the lifelong work of Abraham and Owens. In April 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton re-affirmed the Center’s goals at a dedication ceremony in Washington, D.C.
The Center continues to pursue its mission in the loving memory of Congressman Owens.
Tribute to Congressman Wayne Owens
In December 2002, the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace lost Congressman Wayne Owens, who suffered a heart attack while working for Middle East peace. As a four-term Congressman and a co-founder of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, Owens worked tirelessly throughout his career to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Owens first met Dan Abraham in November 1987 and they immediately established a unique friendship. Over the next two decades they made over sixty visits together to the Middle East, forging working relationships with almost every leader of Israel, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, Oman, and Yemen.
Born in 1937, in Panguitch, Utah, Owens graduated from the University of Utah where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in 1961 and his Juris Doctor in 1964. After working as a staffer for several senators, he coordinated the presidential campaigns for Robert Kennedy in 1968 and Edward Kennedy in 1980. In 1972, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives and served one term. He later won reelection three more times from 1987 to 1993, and served on the Judiciary Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee and Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. Owens held a deep commitment to advancing American policy in Middle East, leading delegations to discuss peace initiatives, organizing fact finding missions and maintaining relationships with foreign leaders.
Throughout his career, Owens championed the belief that economic cooperation and growth could incentivize peace. His vision of a more prosperous, secure and stable region continues to inspire the work of the Center today.