Friday, August 3, 2018

Palestinian Christians Respond to "The Jewish State" Declaration (Basic Law)

Dear Friend of Kairos,
There have been countless statements opposing Israel's declaration of Israel as the "Homeland of the Jewish People" (Basic Law by the Knesset).
At their request, here is the statement by our friends, Kairos Palestine (Christian-based, but open to other faiths).
It is unflinching in its denunciation of this act, spelling out its implications.

1. The Jewish position
To be fair, let's be clear about the Jewish position:

"To be a Jew is NOT to be racist. "We have a right to our national existence. We are 'unique' that way.
"Arabs" (the 20% that stayed, not fleeing in 1948), just have to accept that fact.
"(The millions in the West Bank, Gaza and Arab dispersion, count for even less. They are in the way.)
"Arabs will NEVER be citizens like Jews from all over the world, who are welcome home here.
"The problem has always been that they just do NOT and never will accept us in their neighborhood.
"So, our military has had to be (and will continue to be) vigilant against the 'terror' they are determined to inflict on us.
"We are entitled to do anything that we must, to protect our security and existence as The (one) Jewish State.

2. The Palestinian Arab position
Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace
Statement on the Jewish State (Basic) Law
(from Philip Farah, officially affirmed by Kairos Palestine)


Israel has always defined itself as the State of the Jewish People, and its recent adoption of the Jewish Nation State Law is simply a declaration to the world of its historic commitment, ideologically and programmatically, to Jewish supremacy. Many critics of Israel’s 51-year-old occupation of Palestinian East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Syrian Golan Heights have referred to Israel’s occupation of these territories as a system of apartheid. However, some among these critics, such as President Jimmy Carter, rejected the use of the same term to describe Israel’s relationship to the roughly 20 percent Palestinian Arab minorities who hold Israeli citizenship within Israel’s 1948/49 border. After the passage of the new Israeli law, such critics ought to open their eyes to the historical reality of Israel since its establishment in 1948, and recognize the deep racism that underlies its state and society.

The expropriation of Palestinian land and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the early years of Israel’s existence were traumatic. Israel’s Absentees’ Property Law (1950) and Land Acquisition Law (1953), among others, resulted in the pauperization and ghettoization of Palestinian citizens of Israel. More than 60 laws directly and indirectly ensured that they remain far behind Israeli Jews in every aspect of their existence including their access to the legal system, citizenship privileges, income and employment, distribution of resources and social welfare, accessibility to land, educational resources, availability of health resources, and political participation. The Israeli occupation in 1967 of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights, and the extreme form of apartheid practiced there are an extension of the settler-colonial praxis that created Israel.

What is new is that Israel now feels emboldened by the ascendancy of right-wing racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia in the United States in particular, and western societies in general. It no longer feels that it has to conceal its own racism. The recent love fest of right-wing extremists in the annual conference of Christians United for Israel in Washington, DC is emblematic of the convergence of Zionism with anti-democratic forces in the West. Thankfully, others in the West are speaking out more forcefully against racism and discrimination in all its forms. And the movement of solidarity with the Palestinians is growing worldwide, including in the United States and Europe.

We call on all people of conscience to condemn Israeli apartheid unapologetically and to heed the call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions in solidarity with the Palestinian non-violent struggle for justice, peace, and freedom. In particular, as a faith-based group, we call on other people of faith, including our evangelical brothers and sisters, to challenge Israel’s intensifying apartheid. For Christian groups to remain silent about the implications of Israel’s Jewish Nation State Law and all other Israeli human rights violations stands in contradiction to the Biblical mandate to do justice and to stand with the oppressed.

Well, Kairos friends, there you have it. Our Christian brothers and sisters in Palestine, desiring equal treatment under a common law, not a Law that favors Jews.

Are they entitled to this desire? Are Jews open to this desire? There are many Jews, both inside Israel and beyond the fluid borders, as well as persons all over the globe, who are working to bring about this desired result.
We in the Kairos movement, will be unrelenting in pursuing this goal.
Right now, the US administration is clearly in favor of the Jewish position; some of our evangelical Christian brothers and sisters are in favor of it as well, to the dismay of many.

Plan now to gather as a Kairos community in Holland/Zeeland, MI on Monday, October 29, for a presentation by our colleagues, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) and The Holy Land Trust, as they give us an assessment of how the nonviolent resistance movement is doing in the land Jews, Christians and Muslims call "Holy".

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Embassy Change/Gaza Protests & "Evangelical" Debate

Dear Friend of Kairos W. MI,

Now and then, one finds a clear articulation of the situation in Israel/Palestine.
Ron Sider has an article in his Evangelicals for Social Action that does it for me.
Here it is:

By Andrew F. Bush and Rob Dalrymple

Recently, the world watched the shocking televised split-screen images of Israel resorting to live fire against Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza, killing dozens and wounding hundreds including women and children, while simultaneously Israel joyously celebrating the opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem. For the Trump administration, which had authorized the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv, the day was portrayed as a triumph, a gesture of unqualified support for Israel, and a gift to the Trump administration’s passionately pro-Israel base of supporters among evangelical Christians.

Almost no hint of the sorrow in Gaza crept into the Jerusalem festivities. Instead, images broadcast by western media perpetuate a narrative that promotes the Israelis as victorious underdogs who have overcome the world, while castigating the Palestinians as violent protesters who engaged in mutiny when that underdog prevails. Such media coverage is not only inequitable and unjust, but it propagates a storyline that perpetuates a conflict instead of fostering peace. Scheduling the opening of the embassy on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding as a modern state, the event was effectively a repudiation of Palestinian aspirations for their own sovereign state.

Such media coverage is not only inequitable and unjust, but it propagates a storyline that perpetuates a conflict instead of fostering peace.

Political pundits quickly began pointing out a long list of possible negative results of the embassy’s relocation and the continued harsh treatment of Gaza’s citizens. Such a unilateral move forfeits any leverage that a final settlement of Jerusalem might offer in peace negotiations, as well as America’s role as a fair arbiter between Israel and Palestine. Such a move will further isolate Israel and America globally, while handing Shi’a Iran and Sunni Muslim extremists a tool to inflame anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiment. In short, in the view of many pundits, the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem will ultimately hurt Israel.

According to some evangelicals, the moving of the US Embassy to Jerusalem is sanctioned by God, in that Jerusalem is the God-ordained capital of Israel—and, consequently, is an event that should be supported by all Christians. But many others, including a wide array of Christians who also identify as evangelicals, do not look at the day’s events in the same light. While on the one hand we rejoice with the Israelis, we also recognize that these events may well work against the state of Israel and its long-term security. Further, this action represents a rejection of the Palestinian historical presence (both Christian and Muslim) and their relationship to the land.

Simply put, Jerusalem is a shared city. Recognizing one people’s relationship to the city, while simultaneously ignoring the rightful claims of the other, is not a move towards peace, but a provocation that will necessarily result in unrest—not because one side is composed of radical terrorists while the other is peaceful victims, but because inequities foster strife.

As a result, a growing number of evangelical leaders view these events with concern. Not only for the political and social ramifications for Israel and Palestine, but also for the apparent diminishing of the gospel of God’s universal love in Christ Jesus—through Christians’ fervent support of Israel at the expense of the Palestinian people, the emphasis on nationalism above humanitarian needs, and the superseding of the clear, ethical teachings of Christ by speculative interpretations of prophecy.

Such inquiring evangelicals do not discount the importance of the State of Israel to the Jewish people, the centrality of Jerusalem in the Jewish faith, or even, in many cases, the prophetic role of Israel in what they understand to be the events that will mark the end of this age and the return of Christ. Where, though, they ask, is the compassion of Christ for the weak regardless of nationality or ethnicity?

How can Christians speak of the destruction of nations which oppose Israel in the end times without shedding a tear? In the same way as the Hebrew prophets who would only flatter Israel’s ancient kings by shouting “Peace, peace,” (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11) when there was no peace in store for God’s people because of its sins, questioning evangelicals are asking if the unqualified support of Israel—of even its harshest political policies toward Palestinians—is actually participating in Israel’s self-delusion, and perhaps of its destruction? At the least they wonder, does not such support by pro-Israel evangelicals frustrate Israel’s ancient call to be a unique humanitarian oasis in the world? Wouldn’t it be so much more like the kingdom of God if Israelis and Palestinians both could have celebrated the fulfillment of their peoples’ hopes in Jerusalem?

Evangelicals are asking if the unqualified support of Israel is actually participating in Israel’s destruction.

For those evangelicals who are asking such questions, an embrace of a more compassionate Christianity should not be equated with an exclusively pro-Palestinian political posture. To do so would frustrate the very borderless compassion and inclusiveness which they seek to promote. Rather, these evangelicals emphasize that they seek to be ‘pro-humanity’ in their spiritual lives, not only as it touches Israel and Palestine, but in matters of ethnic tensions in the United States, the flow of refugees globally who are cast adrift by war, famine, or other horrors, and other social issues.

Evangelical supporters of Israel repeatedly return to a belief in the chosenness of the Jewish people, and the favor of God upon them as demonstrated by the creation of the State of Israel. One might ask, though, what this chosenness implies. And what are its limits?

In the first sermon of Jesus as recorded by Luke (4:14-30), Jesus infuriated his synagogue audience in Nazareth by bringing to their attention that even though in the time of the prophets Elijah and Elisha there was famine and illness in Israel, it was a Gentile woman from Sidon and a Syrian army captain who miraculously were fed and healed. The message was straightforward: chosenness by God should not be equated with an exclusive claim to God’s blessings.

This was an outrageous message to the first-century Jews listening to Jesus. It undermined their national identity, which was founded upon their understanding of an exclusive claim upon God’s blessings. Such teaching crossed a red line for them, and they sought to put Jesus to death. Jesus lived to teach another day, and throughout his brief ministry on earth, he demonstrated what the universal love of God looks like both by blessing the sinful (Mark 1:40-45) within Israel and granting the prayers of those without (Matthew 15:21-28).

Perhaps an important takeaway from the jolting images of celebrations and concurrent deaths is that Christians should take a fresh reckoning of their understanding of the gospel of Jesus, and how as its messengers we are to carry that gospel into the world as peacemakers, reconcilers, and bearers of hope. Many evangelical Christians are doing just that, and inviting others to join them. [The Kairos movement is one important bearer of HOPE. Please be part of it! - 296 Timber Lake Dr E, Holland, MI, USA, 49424 --jrk]

Andrew F. Bush, D.Min., is a professor of missiology at Eastern University, and continues his more than twenty years of Christian service in Israel/Palestine.

Rob Dalrymple, Ph.D., is a pastor, teacher, and writer based in California.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Sowing Hate, Reaping Death

Sowing Hate and Reaping Death

By Rami Elhanan

April 28, 2010 "Occupation Magazine" -- - My name is Rami Elhanan. Thirteen years ago, on the afternoon of Thursday the fourth of September 1997, I lost my daughter, my Smadar, in a suicide attack on Ben-Yehuda street in Jerusalem. A beautiful sweet joyous 14 year old girl. My Smadar was the granddaughter of the militant for peace, General (Ret.) Matti Peled, one of those who made the breakthrough to Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. And she was murdered because we were not wise enough to preserve her safety in Matti’s way, the only correct and possible way – the way of peace and reconciliation.

I do not need a Remembrance Day in order to remember Smadari. I remember her all the time, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 60 seconds a minute. Without a pause, without a rest, for 13 long and accursed years now, and time does not heal the wound, and the unbearable lightness of continuing to exist remains a strange and unsolved riddle …

But Israeli society very much needs Remembrance Days. From year to year, like clockwork, in the week after Passover, it is drawn into the annual ritual: from Holocaust to the Rebirth of the nation, a sea of ceremonies, sirens and songs – an entire people is swept into a whirlpool of addictive sweet sorrow, eyes tearful and shrouded; mutual embraces accompanied by `Occupation songs` and sickle and sword songs [1] against the background of images of lives that were cut short and heart-rending stories … and it is hard to avoid the feeling that this refined concentration of bereavement, fed directly into the vein, is intended to fortify our feeling of victimhood, the justice of our path and our struggle, to remind us of our catastrophes, which God forbid we should forget for a single moment. This is the choice of our lives – to be armed and ready, strong and resolute, lest the sword fall from our grasp and our lives be cut short.[2]

And when all this great sorrow is dispersed with the smoke of the barbeques, [3] when Israelis return to their daily routines, I am left enveloped in great sorrow. I miss the old good Land of Israel that never existed, and I have feelings of alienation and estrangement that keep increasing with the passage of years, from war to war, from election to election, from corruption to corruption.

And I think about the stations of my life, on the long journey that I have taken on my way to a redefinition of myself, of my Israeliness, of my Jewishness and of my humanity. About the light-years that I have traveled, from the young man who 37 years ago fought in a pulverized tank company, on the other side of the Suez Canal, from the young father who 28 years ago walked the streets of bombed Beirut, and it did not at all occur to me that things could be otherwise. I was a pure product of a cultural-educational and political system that brainwashed me, poisoned my consciousness and prepared me and others of my generation for sacrifice on the altar of the homeland, without any superfluous questions, in the innocent belief that if we did not do it, they would throw us – the second generation after the Holocaust – into the Mediterranean Sea.

Nearly 40 years have passed since then, and every year this armour of victim hood continues to crack. The self-righteousness and the feeling of wretchedness keep dissipating, and the wall that separates me from the other side of the story keeps crumbling.

When Yitzhak Frankenthal recruited me to the Bereaved Families Forum 12 years ago, for the first time in my life I was exposed to the very existence of the other side – to this day I am ashamed to say that for the first time in my life (I was 47) I encountered Palestinians as normal human beings, very much like me, with the same pain, the same tears and the same dreams. For the first time in my life I was exposed to the story, the pain and the anger, and also to the nobility and the humanity of what is called “the other side.”

The climax of that journey was the meeting between me and my brother, the “terrorist” who spent seven years in an Israeli prison, the peace-warrior Bassam Aramin, who wrote to us, among other things, the following moving words:

“… Dear Nurit and Rami. I wanted to express my identification with you as a brother on this sad day, the anniversary of the death of your beautiful and pure daughter, Smadar. There is no doubt that this is one of the saddest days, and from the moment we met I did not have the courage to write to you about it, for fear of adding more sorrow and pain to your hearts. I thought that time would likely heal that deep wound. But after I myself drank from that same bitter cup that you drank from before me, when my daughter Abir was murdered on 16 January 2007, I understood that parents never forget for a moment. We live our lives in a special way that others do not know, and I hope that no other human beings, Palestinians or Israelis, will not be forced to know …”

Today my perception of the two sides is completely different from what it was 40 years ago.

For me, the line that separates the two sides today is not between Arabs and Israelis or Jews and Muslims. Today the line is between those who want peace and are willing to pay the price for it, and all the rest. They are the other side! And today, that other side, to my dismay, is the corrupt group of politicians and generals that leads us and behaves like a bunch of mafia dons, war criminals, who play ping-pong in blood among themselves, who sow hate and reap death.

But this evening I want to talk specifically to those who are in between, who are sitting on the fence and watching us from the sidelines, I want to talk to the satiated Israeli public that does not pay the price of the Occupation, the public that sticks its head in the sand and does not want to know, that lives within a bubble, watches television, eats in restaurants, goes on vacation, enjoys the good life and looks after their its own interests, shielded by the pandering media that help it to hide from the bitter reality that is concealed only a few metres from where they live: the Occupation, the theft of lands and houses, the daily harassment and oppression and humiliation, the checkpoints, the abomination in Gaza, the sewage on the streets of Anata …

On this evening, especially, I want to address the Left public in all its shades, those who are disillusioned and angry, those who are afflicted with apathy, with despair and weakness, those who enclose themselves in the bubble of themselves and grumble on Friday nights, but are not involved with us in this hard war against the aggressive pathogen of the Occupation that threatens to destroy the humanity of all of us. And on this evening, the evening of Remembrance Day for the dead on both sides, I want to ask them to join us in our war against this fatal affliction! I want to tell them that to be bystanders is to be complicit in crime! I want to tell them that there are many who are not willing to stand aside, who are not willing to be silent in the face of evil and stupidity and the absence of basic accountability and justice!

And I want to tell them about the true anonymous heroes of our dark age!

About those who are willing to pay a high personal price for their honesty and decency, those who dare to stand in front of the bulldozers with rare and amazing courage, the refusers who say no to the omnipresent militarism, the combatants for peace who discarded their weapons in favour of non-violent resistance, the resolute demonstrators who crush against the terror of the police and the army in Bil’in, in Ni’lin, in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan every weekend, the lawyers who struggle every day in the Ofer camp military Court, and in the High Court of Justice, the heroic women of Mahsom Watch, the dedicated peace activists from abroad, like the late Rachel Corrie who gave her life, and also the those who blow the whistle on crimes and conspiracies, from Anat Kam to Gideon Levy and Akiva Eldar, and also the peace organizations of both peoples, and especially the bereaved Palestinian and Israeli families who are bringing about the miracle of reconciliation despite their tragedies.

The darker the sky gets, the more visible are these stars gleaming in the darkness! [4] The more the oppression becomes opaque and evil, the more they, with their heroism and their noble struggle, save the honour and the humanity of all of us!

And today we desperately need to expand the circles of non-violent opposition to the Occupation! This evening I call on you from here and from the bottom of my heart: get out of your bubble! Join the mosquito that buzzes unceasingly in the ears of the Occupation, [5] that annoys and irritates and harasses, and does not let Filth prevail in silence! [6] Don’t let the other side steal the future of all of us! Don’t let the other side continue to endanger the security of our remaining children.

Thank you.

[1] Songs of the singing troupe of Nahal (a brigade in the Israeli army).
[2] From Moshe Dayan`s Eulogy for Roi Rutenberg (April 19, 1956).
[3] Israelis traditionally have barbeques on the eve of Independence Day.

[4] Martin Luther King.

[5] Ali Abu Awwad.

[6] Ze’ev Jabotinsky: Betar Song.

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent. Original Hebrew:

Monday, January 29, 2018

@ Davos, Trump Affirms Israel, Disavows Palestinians!

Pres. Trump Affirms Israel, Disavows Palestinians
January 25, 2018

In a dramatic one-on-one at the Davos Economic Forum, US President Donald Trump met with P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) of Israel on Thursday, January 25, 2018). Have you heard about it?

In their brief news conference, Bibi thanked the President profusely for his unstinting support of the Israeli position vis a vis the Palestinians (without once even mentioning the Palestinians).

President Trump, for his part, again reiterated his threat of divesting even more funds for Palestinians (So far, $65m withheld from UNRWA, which helps refugees in camps because no room in Israel). He claims "hundreds of millions" of US dollars (a gross exaggeration), have gone to the Palestinians and they have made no "progress toward peace."

By recognizing "Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel", Mr. Trump has virtually invalidated any Palestinian claims to E. Jerusalem as its capital, or to any part of the land; while virtually validating Israel's claim to all of Jerusalem as its "eternal and undivided capital." And, Palestinians, stop your resistance! In the process, he has abandoned US leadership in brokering any "peace" between Israel and the Arab Palestinians.

By "taking Jerusalem off the table", our President implies that Palestinians have no valid claims for redress or restitution in regards to how they have been treated through the decades leading to the present state of affairs. So now, the Israelis have less incentive than ever to stop the settlements being built on stolen land, home and orchard demolition, restrictions on movement, home invasions to terrorize children/families and other indignities.

It's onward and upward for the debilitating Occupation in the foreseeable future, with its disregard for human and property rights, all to the long-term detriment of Israel and a growing number of Jews there and here who are wanting to follow a truer form of Judaism (such as respecting the rights of non-Jews).

Instead of threatening the withholding of funds to Israel ($3.6b/year), for their mistreatment of the Palestinians, the President is withholding funds set aside for the Palestinians (isn't that a Congressional decision?) and has purposely removed a main "bargaining chip" the Palestinians have always wanted to use to press their case for legitimacy (and in keeping with the UN and international expectations since 1947/48).

"Peace" in Israeli/US terms, is for the Palestinians to withdraw their claims of human rights violations and accept the degrading treatment the Israelis have meted out to them through all the years. All Israel requires is that the Palestinians "accept the State of Israel," by which is meant giving up any and all claims of Palestinian autonomy, their own state, and accepting total Israeli control over all the land. Then, there will be "peace." What a deal! But more importantly, the US President now clearly sides with the Israeli point of view.

So, what of the Palestinians now? Through 82-year-old President Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinians have disavowed the US as an honest broker, calling for someone else to deal with the Israeli/US axis on their behalf. He even refused to meet with VP Pence during his visit there this week.

Who will step up? Belgian has offered $25m in help. The UN and European countries are totally distrusted by the Israelis. As far as the Israelis are concerned, no broker is needed to broker anything. There is nothing to negotiate, change or discuss. The US has their back. It's "Get your embassy here and keep attacking Iran."

Yet we, in the grassroots resistance, will continue to lift up the Palestinian plight. We will present the Palestinian narrative, with their legitimate claims, to America people. We will press for changes in what America expects of our friends, the Israelis: Justice. Equality. Respect.

All of the above is to whet your appetite to attend our four sessions on the Kairos Palestine document of 2009 where Christians there plead for understanding and help: Holland Library, 7:00, Jan. 30, Feb. 6, 13, and 20.

For much more information from our affiliated organizations go to: JRK