Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Call to Action: Kairos Palestine

Dear Friend,

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

and justice.

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

following actions:


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)


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