Wednesday, June 13, 2012
A Call to Action: Kairos Palestine
Here is a report of what happened on the island of Iona in the UK in re Kairos Palestine over Pentecost, 2012.
Mark Braverman an American Jew, brought the message and Naim Ateek, a Palestinian Arab from SABEEL made an impassioned plea for UK church support for Palestinian Christians Just as Kairos Palestine builds upon the anti-apartheid Kairos South Africa model, so the Kairos USA builds upon Kairos Palestine. (Thank you Stephen Sizer for making this report available to US Christians).
Arab and Jew Challenge the Churches
Bring together a Jew steeped in Zionism and a Palestinian Christian theologian and you can expect fireworks. Especially when the meeting takes place at Pentecost [May 27, 2012].
But, instead of conflict, the outcome was a powerful challenge to Britain’s churches to end their “deafening silence” on Palestine and to speak out for justice.
When Mark Braverman preached at the Pentecost Sunday Eucharist in Iona Abbey, the Jewish American revealed a personal moment of truth. On a visit to the Holy Land, as he stood before the 24 foot high concrete separation wall in Jerusalem, he realised he had to break down a personal barrier that prevented him facing up to what his own people were doing to the Palestinians.
He said there was a tragic irony that, from the Nazi Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, you look across at the ruins of Deir Yassin, a Palestinian village, where more than 100 men, women and children were massacred by Jewish forces in 1948.
As a Jew, steeped in the Zionist narrative, he said he experienced a profound change of mind. He became and remains, a committed advocate for the Palestinian struggle for human and political rights.
‘It is’, he said, ‘the most Jewish thing I have ever done.’
Now he and the Rev Naim Ateek, director of Sabeel liberation theology centre in Jerusalem, are urging Britain’s churches to speak out for a just peace. Referring to the South African Kairos initiative (1985) they expounded the Kairos Palestine document which asks “Are you able to help us get our freedom back, for this is the only way you can help the two peoples attain justice, peace, security and love?”
More than 70 people from all over Britain took part in the international consultation on the Hebridean island of Iona. The outcome was a joint appeal in which they said:
We ask our churches to challenge how the Bible has been used to justify oppression and injustice.
We urge Christians to participate only in those pilgrimages which give opportunity to listen to the experiences of Palestinians and to engage with the harsh realities of occupation.
We support Palestinians in their non-violent resistance to Israeli injustice and oppression. We endorse their call for boycott, disinvestment and sanctions and other forms of non-violent direct action.
We call on Christians to put pressure on governments and the European Union to demonstrate a commitment to justice for Palestinians and security for all people.
In pursuit of the above we intend to establish a UK Kairos network, linked to the Kairos Palestine global movement, to alert our churches to the urgent situation in Palestine. We challenge Christians and churches to engage in prayerful study of the Kairos Palestine document in openness to what the Spirit is saying to the churches (Rev. 2.7). We must read the signs of the times and act in obedience to God's will (Matt. 16.3).
Difficult though this journey may be, we seize this Kairos moment with conviction and hope. We recognise our responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ to speak the
prophetic word with courage.
So, Friends in FPI (Friends of Palestinians and Israelis),
I will be making Kairos USA (KUSA) available on June 18, the official launch day when our KUSA website will be up and running. FPI will now be following the Kairos USA Response to Kairos Palestine, as an action plan to give solid support to our Christian brothers and sisters in Palestine/Israel.
We (originating in Holland, MI) are planning to be part of a network of Christians and Churches throughout the USA (principally the W. MI branch, including especially Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, South Haven, Grand Haven and Holland) that will engage in nonviolent, direct action to bring about needed changes, principally to End the Occupation of Palestinian land, especially through BDS (boycotts, divestments and sanctions).
A Call to Action: A US Response to Kairos Palestine will be officially launched June 18. I'm appending the INTRODUCTION to this document to introduce you to our efforts.
Here is the Introduction to the 16 page document: A Call to Action: the US Response to Kairos Palestine.
It begins with a confession of sin against both Arab Palestinians and the Jewish people and includes a call to repentance and an outline for action.
“This is the KAIROS, the moment of grace and opportunity, the favorable time in which God
issues a challenge to decisive action.”
—“The Kairos Document: Challenge to the Church,” South Africa, 1985
The mission of Kairos USA is to mobilize the churches in the United States to respond faithfully
and boldly to the situation in Israel and Palestine. In December 2009, the Christians of Palestine
brought forth “A Moment of Truth: A Word of Faith, Hope and Love from the Heart of
Palestinian Suffering.” [Kairos Palestine].
In 2011 and again in 2012, U.S. clergy, theologians and laypersons
gathered to write this response to the Palestinian document. In gratitude for the courageous
witness and call to action issued by our Palestinian sisters and brothers, and inspired by the
prophetic church movements of southern Africa, Central and South America, Asia and Europe
that have responded to the call of our sisters and brothers in Palestine, we have prayed for the
guidance of the Spirit so that we might also respond with integrity, love and wisdom.
We begin with a confession of sin to Palestinians in the State of Israel, the West Bank, Gaza,
East Jerusalem, the diaspora and in refugee camps in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and
Syria. As U.S. Christians we bear responsibility for failing to say “Enough!” when our nation’s
ally, the State of Israel, violates international law. Our government has financed Israel’s unjust
policies and has shielded its government from criticism by the international community. At the
outset of the current U.S. administration, our government led Palestinians to believe that at last
we would pursue a political solution based on justice. But the “peace process” has continued to
be no more than a means for the continuing colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem,
the imprisonment of Gaza and the intensification of the structures of oppression.
As Christians addressing the Palestinian cause we must also acknowledge our shameful role in
the historic persecution of the Jewish people. We recognize the dehumanizing and destructive
power of doctrines and theologies that denigrated Judaism. Our predecessors perpetuated anti-
Semitic stereotypes, practiced scapegoating and cloaked prejudice, hostility and murder itself in
the robes of our religion. We confess that our churches failed to resist, and sometimes even aided
and abetted pogroms, mass dislocations of Jews, and the calamity of the Nazi Holocaust itself. In
so doing, they betrayed the teaching and example of the one we claim to follow. We speak for
and with our forbears in expressing deep remorse. With a commitment to never forget those
failures and to be instructed by them, we pledge ourselves to growth in faithfulness, compassion
In light of these tragic failures, we must repent. We must work and even suffer for peace, filled
with a heart of love for both Israelis and Palestinians. We know that raising questions about our
churches’ and our government’s support for the State of Israel’s policies exposes us to the charge
of anti-Semitism—and for many of us the risk of the loss of hard-won bonds of friendship with
Jewish colleagues, friends, and the Jewish community at large. We believe that the charge of
anti-Semitism is unfair and in error. Too often, however, unwilling to pay this price, we have
failed to speak the truth as we see it and in this way follow Jesus’ path of love and forgiveness as
the way to justice and peace. But now we are called to speak the truth, as our faith in the life and
ministry of Jesus directs us. We firmly believe that it is precisely in this way that we express not
only our commitment to the dignity and human rights of the Palestinians, but our dedication to
the humanity of our Jewish sisters and brothers.
We acknowledge and affirm “the reality on the ground” described in the Kairos Palestine
document. Many of us have seen with our eyes, heard with our ears and felt in our hearts the
painful realities of life in the Palestinian territories. We have witnessed the daily, grinding
humiliation of women and men, young and old; the deaths of civilians; the demolition of homes;
the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem; the destruction of hundreds of thousands of olive trees; the
unlawful and brutal practice of administrative detention; the relentless land taking and
construction of illegal colonies that have made a contiguous and viable Palestinian state
impossible. None of these actions has brought the State of Israel the security it seeks. Israel is
pursuing a course that is fruitless and corrupting, both morally and politically. We have also
observed with deep sadness the damage inflicted on Israeli society, particularly its young people.
We can no longer be silent; we can no longer betray the core of our Christian faith as expressed
in Matthew 25: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members
of my family, you did it to me.”
We call upon our Christian sisters and brothers in the United States to join with us in the
Move beyond stereotypes, longstanding prejudices and biased, oversimplified reporting,
toward a well-considered, more complex understanding of the Middle East, its conflicts and the
yearnings of its peoples for justice, peace and co-existence.
Build personal relationships:
Visit the land and meet Palestinians, including Palestinian
Christians, and Israelis working for justice and peace—listening to their stories, understanding
their pain and hearing their hopes and dreams.
Enrich worship and congregational life:
Take initiative in our places of worship to pray and
preach justice and peace in Palestine and Israel, pursue opportunities to learn and study about the
situation, explore cultural and economic exchange and challenge your congregation to participate
in the blessed calling of peacemaking.
Engage in theological reflection:
Examine flawed biblical interpretations and unexaminedtheology that have shaped attitudes and
perceptions leading to and allowing the present injustice to continue unchallenged. Pursue open
and active theological inquiry and encourage study and reflection, in order to guide your actions
in striving to follow Jesus’ injunction to “interpret the present time” (Luke 12:56).
Participate in nonviolent action:
Translate concern into action. Support those—in Israel, the
occupied territories and throughout the world—who work to end the illegal occupation through
peaceful means. We urge Christians to become educated about the Palestinian call for boycott,
divestment and sanctions and to explore this and other forms of legitimate, nonviolent resistance.
Advocate with the U.S government
as Christians who are committed to justice, peace and
security for both Israelis and Palestinians. Support political candidates who do the same.
The favorable time is now! We invite you to read and study this document; to see it as a spur to
action. It is a call to individuals, churches, schools, human rights organizations and interfaith
partners to join with all who embrace nonviolent resistance to injustice. It is a call to listen to the
same Spirit that inspired the Civil Rights movement in this country and the struggle to end
Apartheid in South Africa. We issue this call in the
absolute conviction that God calls us to compassion
—to join the struggle for justice and equality in the spirit of Matthew 25. We issue
this call in the faith that, even when the cause appears most hopeless, God’s light shines in the
darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.
Kairos Committee (signed)