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Kairos Palestine Document, a prayerful call of Palestinian Christians to End the Occupation
Date:11 December 2009
Introducing the Kairos Palestine Document
An ecumenical group of Palestinian Christians issued Kairos Palestine, “A Moment of Truth,” on Dec. 11, 2009, in Bethlehem. The statement’s formal title is “A Moment of Truth – A word of faith and hope from the heart of Palestinian suffering.”
What is Kairos?
The Greek word Kairos refers to a moment in time, a moment when God is present in opportunity, when the world’s axis is the Word of God. The moment to speak truth is now!
Remember South Africa
The Kairos Palestine document recalls a powerful effort from South African Christians in the apartheid era. They speak to all who are directly or indirectly involved in the ongoing conflict in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including Christians in North America: “We call out to our Christian brothers and sisters in the Churches around the world.”
Jerusalem comes first
Jerusalem is highlighted in the document: “Jerusalem is the foundation of our vision and our entire life.” The document calls for a political resolution to the struggle for Jerusalem, based on the prophetic vision of peace. “The city is inhabited by two peoples of three religions.” Kairos Palestine is very clear: “This is the first issue that should be negotiated.”
Occupation is sin
The message calls Israeli occupation of Palestinian land “a sin against God and humanity.” The theological context of this declaration is God’s desire for life with love and dignity for all people. This is not a political position. The occupation deprives Palestinians of dignity and basic human rights. The sin of the occupation is that it keeps both Israelis and Palestinians from seeing God in each others’ faces.
Kairos Palestine does not argue with Israel’s right to exist, but it calls for an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. It argues for religious liberty in the face of those who insist upon Israel as a Jewish state as well as those who would attempt to make the future Palestine an Islamic state.
Economic measures and BDS
Kairos Palestine affirms economic measures as a means of nonviolent resistance, including divestment, boycott and economic sanctions (sometimes called “BDS” in activist circles). These efforts “must be carried out with courage,” the message says, to resist injustice in an attitude of love and put an end to evil.
Hope and love
The Christian leaders who wrote Kairos Palestine long for us to hear a word of faith in “one God, a good and just God,” who has spoken to us in Jesus, born in their land and brought close to all people by the Holy Spirit. It is a word of hope and a word of love, that is, “seeing the face of God in every human being” as one’s brother or sister.
Kairos Palestine is “the Christian Palestinians’ word to the world about what is happening in Palestine.“ It was developed after more than a year, in prayer and discussion, guided by faith in God and love for God’s people. The authors accepted advice from many friends: Palestinians, Arabs and those from the wider international community.” (From the Kairos Palestine website – www.kairospalestine.ps )
The message has three parts:
“Our word to the Churches of the world is firstly a word of gratitude for the solidarity you have shown toward us in word, deed and presence among us.”
They extend an invitation: “In order to understand our reality, we say to the Churches: Come and see.”
Then, understanding “the facts and the people of this land, Palestinians and Israelis alike,” they call on us to tell the truth publicly for the sake of justice, peace, and reconciliation.
While Kairos Palestine is a message to Christians worldwide, note that it reaches out to a wide range of others in the Palestinian community: Muslims, people who are not religious, and people loyal to various political parties.
North American Christians must read carefully: Kairos Palestine has a specific geopolitical context. We are invited to receive its “word of faith and hope from the heart of Palestinian suffering,” to accept its challenges even when we may not fully understand or agree.
Kairos Palestine is grounded in hope in a time of discouragement and frustration. It calls for resistance to injustice and violence. Nonviolent resistance is based on hope and love that “puts an end to evil by walking in the ways of justice.”
Kairos Palestine is not a comprehensive analysis of the Middle East or the complex history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It does point to the expulsion of Palestinians from the land of their history and the desire of the West to “make amends” for the suffering of the Jews of Europe, criticizing contemporary western Christian motivations concerning the State of Israel.
The document emphasizes the connection of Palestinians to the Holy Land, acknowledging that the entire Holy Land belongs to God and is inhabited by two peoples. The clear message to Jews is, “Even though we have fought one another in the recent past and still struggle today, we are able to love and live together.”
Read, share and act
Kairos Palestine should be shared widely and studied in North American churches with a mind to increasing understanding and advocacy efforts. Bring it into your church. Show it to your pastor. Ask for an opportunity to lead a study group in your church. Discuss it with various groups in your church (be sure to include youth and young adults), ecumenical and interfaith groups. Write an op-ed for your church newsletter or a denominational publication or local newspaper. Pull out several main ideas to use as talking points when you contact elected political leaders. Add your signature and encourage others to sign Kairos Palestine at kairospalestine.ps.
- Read and study
- Share in your church and peace group
Respond with prayer and advocacy
Check these denominational websites for more resources:
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America http://www.elca.org/Our-Faith-In-Action/Justice/Peace-Not-Walls/Palestin...
Presbyterian Church USA - http://presbyterian.typepad.com/peacemaking/2010/02/palestinian-christia...
United Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ - http://www.eif-pcusa.org/InterfaithRelations/InterfaithRelationsandtheMi...
The authors are:
● Patriarch Michel Sabbah
● Bishop Dr Munib Younan
● Archbishop Theodosios Atallah Hanna
● Rev. Dr Jamal Khader
● Rev. Dr Rafiq Khoury
● Rev. Dr Mitri Raheb
● Rev. Dr Naim Ateek
● Rev. Dr Yohana Katanacho
● Rev. Fr Fadi Diab
● Dr Jiries Khoury
● Ms Sider Daibes
● Ms Nora Kort
● Ms Lucy Thaljieh
● Mr Nidal Abu Zulof
● Mr Yusef Daher
● Mr Rifat Kassis - coordinator of the initiative
A list of signatories of the document can be found at:
Media contact in Jerusalem: Ranjan Solomon +972-54-733-7857
FULL ENGLISH TEXT OF THE KAIROS PALESTINE DOCUMENT ONLINE
Churches in the Middle East: solidarity and witness for peace:
Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, from the Methodist Church in Kenya. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.
World Council of Churches - News Release
Contact: +41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 firstname.lastname@example.org For immediate release - 11/12/2009