Palestine Update 197
“Hope where there is no Hope”
Kairos Movement’s unyielding assertion at the 9th anniversary conference
The Kairos conference to commemorate the 9th anniversary was a demonstration of Palestinian daring. In the midst of what analysts and observers would declare as a desperate situation, the Palestinians declared that they hold on to “hope where there is no hope”. The event itself was dynamic with more than 300 people gathered in Bethlehem including Palestinian Christian church and organization leaders, Kairos Palestine leaders, people of faith, representatives of the Palestinian civil society, and around 100 international Christians representing the global Kairos for Justice movement and different church bodies. It struck an inter-generational note too with young women and men present and actively participating in the deliberations. They created a strong case for a Kairos Youth Movement with a youth-directed agenda and strategy.
For two days after the conference, a group of representatives from Kairos groups around the world gathered to draw up a strategic plan rooted in Kairos theology and ideology and with tangible actions based on the statement from the conference. They agreed to pursue the call from the conference “for the year 2019 to be a Kairos-year for the global Christian community and all justice and solidarity groups; a year in which efforts and actions on behalf of the Palestinian people are intensified”. This ‘Kairos Year’ would be launched with the commemoration of the Nakba on the 15th May and peaking at the International Day of Palestinian solidarity on the 29th of November and the 10th anniversary of Kairos Palestine”.
We invite readers of Palestine Updates to read and disseminate this statement from Kairos Palestine widely. More than that, we urge each of us to take up actions that will join Palestinians in their struggle for justice with dignity.
On December 6-7th, 2018, more than 300 people met in Bethlehem, consisting of Palestinian Christian church and organization leaders, Kairos Palestine leaders, people of faith, representatives of the Palestinian civil society, and around 100 international Christians representing the global Kairos for Justice movement and different church bodies.
We accepted the following as a joint position for action from the Open Letter of the NCCOP in June 2017 namely to: Recognize Israel as an apartheid state in terms of international law, and act with it accordingly; take a clear and the strongest theological stand against any theology or Christian group that justifies this apartheid; take a stand against religious extremism and against any attempt to create a religious state in our land or region; defend our right and duty to resist the occupation creatively and nonviolently; speak in support of economic measures that pressure Israel to embrace the way of justice and peace and stop the occupation; stand with those who speak for the right of Palestinians in response to the attacks and create lobby groups in defense of Palestinian Christians; and, to publicly and legally challenge organizations that discredit our work and legitimacy.
We – the Kairos movement – met in calamitous times that reached a level that is beyond urgent and critical in the history of this land, which calls us to act definitively and decisively. During the last years we have witnessed so many developments that confirm what Kairos has been observing and reporting; developments which have led to the intensification of the besieging and oppression of the Palestinian people. These include:
- Jerusalem’s identity is being moved towards an exclusive Jewish one, instead of a city for its entire people, especially with the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem.
- In declaring the new nation-state law, Israel has openly moved towards an ethno-centric rule of the strong, and denied the authentic identity of Arab Palestinians, affirming only the right of Jews for self-determination.
- The siege on Gaza, and the collective punishment of its people, has created an intentional deprivation on an enormous scale and furthered a humanitarian crisis.
- The US joined Israel in denying the Right of Return and stopped its support of refugee programs, including cutting UNRWA funds.
- The rate of land theft and demolition of properties is increasing. Israel is tightening the grip even on the churches and Christian organizations through unpredictable taxation issues. This, alongside efforts of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), aims to guarantee that the land will be in Israeli-Jewish possession in perpetuity.
This is apartheid! We have been pointing to these signs of injustice. Israel is institutionalizing its ethno-religious-centric superiority. It is there for all to see. It cannot be denied.
We are also witnessing an unprecedented campaign to silence those who speak against occupation and call for a shared land. Millions of dollars are invested to combat non-violent resistance and advocacy. These powers, and the parties which yield to their pressure, deny the right of Palestinians to resist non-violently and live in dignity and freedom, and by doing so empower the forces of occupation.
We welcome the growing awakening in the global Christian community. We take heart from the prophetic support for our cause, taking courage from their non-violent resistance and actions for justice, for the economic measures taken, and for standing in solidarity with all Palestinians here and the diaspora. We encourage all Christian communities to follow this lead and speak truth to power. Ecumenical structures should not be silent, choose the path of shallow diplomacy, or have lukewarm responses, which will directly support the Israeli policies of occupation.
We call out Christian groups who openly support Israel in its colonial policies and continuous occupation, and who use the Bible to give it theological justification. By doing so, they deny the truth and credibility of the Gospel, and advance apartheid.
This is a Kairos-moment to acknowledge that ways of the past have failed. Political proposals that were built on an unjust premise, imposed by one side on the other, and mediated by deception, failed and will fail to achieve peace. Walls and separation only bring division and strife. Polite church diplomacy and empty words only contributed to normalizing the occupation. Charity and sympathy can never substitute justice. It is time to acknowledge that new paradigms are needed. We need brave and prophetic voices. Costly solidarity is more than ever an ethical and moral imperative.
The word of God speaks hope and newness in the midst of adversity. With this prophetic Word, we see and commit to work for a shared land; a land free of occupation; a land for all its people. For the land and Jerusalem belong to God, and cannot be claimed exclusively by any religion, ethnicity and or nation. We call for equality and justice for all the people of this land; with equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities.
True peace cannot be achieved by fear of and separation from the other; It is only achieved when both the oppressed and oppressors are healed and redeemed; and consider each other as equal in dignity and worth.
God can and will make all things new, but he will use us the faithful to achieve this. We call for the year 2019 to be a Kairos-year for the global Christian community and all justice and solidarity groups; a year in which efforts and actions on behalf of the Palestinian people are intensified. We call for prayers, peaceful protests, justice-oriented costly decisions, boycott divestment and sanctions measures, “come & see” solidarity visit with the commitment to “go & tell”, combating pro-apartheid theologies, and governmental advocacy – launching it with the commemoration of the Nakba on the 15th May, and peaking at the International Day of Palestinian solidarity on the 29th of November and the 10th anniversary of Kairos Palestine.
Furthermore, this could be our last opportunity to save the Palestinian Christian presence in this land. The main threat to which is political instability and the absence of a just peace. We call for developing active programs to justice and peace and work on maintaining the presence of the Palestinian Christians through supporting their organizations, church work and peaceful efforts.
We, the Kairos Movement, lift up especially the presence and importance of Palestinian youth as active participants and important leaders in building a viable future. In this Kairos moment we vow to commit resources, educational opportunities, and full support to enabling their Palestinian identity and power come to its fullest capacity.
The message of Kairos Palestine to our people is one of persistence and hope, working relentlessly with all our partners towards creating a better tomorrow. We should not and cannot lose hope, as long as we believe in the living and just God.
It is time for our political leadership to unite and end the Palestinian division.
We stand with the Heads of Churches in their struggle with the Israeli government. We never the less call on them to unify and intensify their efforts towards ending the occupation and also towards keeping the Christian presence in the land.
We call on our people to fight religious extremism in all its expressions, and any exclusive world views and ideologies.
There can be no Holy Land without Christianity; and there can be no church without its living stones. It is the responsibility of each and every Christian around the world to embrace the mission of sustaining a viable and vibrant Christian Palestinian presence in the Holy land to share the burden of safe-keeping the birthplace of Christianity with Palestinian Christians. Persevere and embrace your calling. We have a message, and it is a message of hope, that God is opening a future. God can and will make all things new. Amen.
Don’t befriend me for a day, and leave me a month. Don’t get close to me if you’re going to leave. Don’t say what you don’t do. Be close or get away.
لا تصاحبني يوماً .. لتهجرني شهراً ولا تقربني .. لتبعدني .. لا تقل ما لا تفعل كُن قريباً .. أو ابتعد.