PALESTINIAN CHRISTIANS CAMPAIGN TO ISOLATE ISRAEL

Palestinian Christians Urge Israel Isolation
By Khalid Amayreh
“Apartheid can’t be wrong in South Africa and right in occupied Palestine,” Kassis told IOL.

BETHLEHEM — Christian religious and community leaders in occupied Palestine have launched an ecumenical campaign aimed at enlisting Christians around the world to help end the Israeli military occupation.”This document is the Christian Palestinians’ word to the world about what is happening in Palestine,” says the 15-page document.

“We, Palestinian Christians, declare in this historic document that the military occupation of our land is a sin against God and humanity and that any theology that legitimizes the occupation is far from Christian teachings because true Christian theology is a theology of love and solidarity with the oppressed and a call to justice and equality among peoples.”

Initiators, who include leaders of major churches in the Holy Land, said they had been working on the document for over a year.

“We have not encountered any real opposition to the document,” Rifat Kassis, the main spokesman of the initiative, told IslamOnline.net.

He expects as many as 32 Christian institutions, 200 community leaders as well as thousands of intellectuals and intelligentsia to sign the document, themed Kairos Paletine-2009: A Moment of Truth-A word of Truth, Hope, and Love from the Heart of Palestinian suffering.

“In fact, all religious leaders are backing the initiative wholeheartedly. Even some evangelical leaders are endorsing the document.”

Palestinian Christian leaders say the situation in occupied Palestine has reached “the moment of truth,” or Kairos as the concept is called in Christian theological lexicon.

“The decision-makers content themselves with managing the crisis rather than committing themselves to the serious task of finding a way to resolve it,” says the document.

“The problem is not just a political one. It is a policy in which human beings are destroyed, and this must be of concern to the Church.”

Ugly Reality

The document describes an extremely ugly reality in occupied Palestine under the yoke of the Israeli occupation.

It lists the various numerous disastrous effects of the occupation on Palestinian daily lives, including the separation wall, continued Jewish settlement expansion and the daily humiliation of Palestinians at military checkpoints.

“Religious liberty is severely restricted; the freedom of access to the holy places is denied under the pretext of security,” it says.

“Jerusalem and its holy places are out of bounds for many Christians and Muslims from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

“Even Jerusalemites face restrictions during the religious feasts. Some of our Arab clergy are regularly barred from entering Jerusalem.”

Israel captured and occupied Al-Quds in the six-day 1967 war, then annexed it in a move not recognized by the world community or UN resolutions.

The city is home to some of the holiest Christian worship places including the ancient Jerusalem Church and Greek Orthodox Church.

Al-Quds is also home to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which includes Islam’s third holiest shrine Al-Aqsa Mosque, and represents the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Since its occupation, Israel has adopted a series of oppressive measures to force the Palestinian inhabitants of Al-Quds out, including systematic demolition of their homes.

“The shrinking number of Christians, particularly in Palestine, is one of the dangerous consequences, both of this conflict, and of the local international paralysis and failure to find a comprehensive solution to the problem,” says the document.

“Thus the land is deprived of its most important and richest resource-educated youth.”

World Support

The document is being symbolically signed by dozens of Christian leaders in the West Bank, Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem) and the rest of occupied Palestine.

The symbolic signing, which started on Friday, December 11, will last for a few weeks.

Then special emissaries, mostly clergymen, will carry the landmark document to churches in Europe and North America for endorsement and adoption.

Initiators said they hoped that the document would raise the conscience of Christians in the West and around the world to end the Palestinian plight.

Some church leaders have described it as an impassioned appeal or an SOS to Christians worldwide to stand on the side of justice in Palestine.

“We are a peaceable people, we are not terrorists if only because we are the victims of terror, we love freedom, we love justice, we love our country, we love our Jerusalem and we insist on living with human dignity,” says Archbishop Atallah Hanna, a prominent leader of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem and one of the initiators.

“This is why we feel Christians worldwide have a paramount religious and human duty to stand on our side. This is a moral and human responsibility that Churches and Christians in general must not flinch from pursuing.”

Kassis, the spokesman, said local Christian leaders had been coordinating the initiative with the World Council of churches and other Christian bodies around the world.

“Ultimately, we hope that Christian institutions, including churches around the world, will endorse this document and act on it the same way churches related to the anti-apartheid South African regime back in 1985,” he told IOL.

In 1985, a group of black South African theologians based predominantly in the black townships of Soweto issued a theological statement challenging the churches’ response to the vicious policies of the apartheid regime.

The Kairos Document evoked strong reactions and furious debates world-wide.

“In the final analysis, apartheid can’t be wrong in South Africa and right in occupied Palestine,” says Kassis.

Archbishop Hanna, an outspoken critic of Israeli occupation and apartheid, believes the unbearable situation in occupied Palestine must come to an end.

“Everything has a beginning and an end. The Israeli occupation must have an end, and the end must come now.”

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From Mazin Qumsayeh …..

Full text of the Kairos Palestine Document:

In English
http://www.oikoumene.org/fileadmin/files/wcc-main/2009pdfs/Kairos Palestine_En.pdf

In Arabic
http://www.oikoumene.org/fileadmin/files/wcc-main/2009pdfs/Kairos Palestine_Ar.pdf

Auf Deutsch
http://www.oikoumene.org/fileadmin/files/wcc-main/2009pdfs/Kairos Palestine_Ger.pdf

En français
http://www.oikoumene.org/fileadmin/files/wcc-main/2009pdfs/Kairos Palestine_Fr.pdf

For the list of signatories:
http://kairospalestine.ps/?q=node/2

Churches in the Middle East: solidarity and witness for peace:
http://www.oikoumene.org/?id=3113

Additional information: Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 media@wcc-coe.org
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.

=====================

And From Ecumenical News International (Switzerland); www.eni.ch
Israeli occupation a ‘sin against God’, say Palestinian Christian leaders

Jerusalem (ENI). Palestinian Christian leaders have issued a call for an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, which they described as, “a sin against God and against humanity,” and have appealed for support from the world’s churches.

“The injustice against the Palestinian people, which is the Israeli occupation, is an evil that must be resisted,” the Christian leaders said in a document that was almost two years in the making. “Resistance is a right and a duty for the Christian. But it is resistance with love as its logic,” they said. “It is thus a creative resistance, for it must find human ways that engage the humanity of the enemy.”

The initiators of the statement, made public at an 11 December meeting in Bethlehem, have referred to the text as the “Kairos Palestine” document. “Kairos” is a Greek word used in the Bible for a God-given time of challenge, grace and opportunity.

The organizers said that their statement echoes the Kairos document that South African churches issued in the mid-1980s, and which helped galvanise churches and the wider public in a concerted effort that eventually led to the end of apartheid.

“It is a call to the international community worldwide to look at the plight of the Palestinians and put pressure on Israel to conform to international law,” spokesperson and coordinator Rifat Kassis told Ecumenical News International.

“Despite the talk about peace and the peace process conducted for 17 years, nothing has happened and the situation continues deteriorating,” Kassis said. “It is the right time for a more ethical perspective on the conflict, and that should come from religious leaders.”

The full title of the document is, “A moment of truth: A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering”.

Signatories include the former leader of the Roman Catholic Church in the region, Latin Patriarch emeritus Michel Sabbah; the Lutheran bishop of Jerusalem Munib Younan; and Archbishop Theodosios Atallah Hanna of Sebastia from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

“The aim is to free both peoples [Israelis and Palestinians] from extremist positions of the different Israeli governments, bringing both to justice and reconciliation,” the Palestinian Christian leaders stated. “In this spirit and with this dedication, we will eventually reach the longed-for resolution to our problems, as indeed happened in South Africa and with many other liberation movements in the world.”
The signatories accused Israel of “disregard of international law and international resolutions”. Issues faced by Palestinians, they said, included the “separation wall” that cuts through Palestinian territories, Israeli settlements and “daily humiliation” at military checkpoints.

Rejecting Israeli justification for Israel’s actions being in self-defence, the Palestinian Christian leaders said, “There would be no resistance, no fear and no insecurity” if there were no occupation.

“The Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is a sin against God and humanity,” the Palestinian Christian leaders stated, “because it deprives the Palestinians of their basic human rights, bestowed by God. It distorts the image of God in the Israeli who has become an occupier, just as it distorts this image in the Palestinian living under occupation.”

The initiative brought together leaders of most Palestinian Christian denominations and prominent Christian theologians, said Kassis.

The Geneva-based World Council of Churches helped facilitate the formation of the document, which also addresses churches worldwide including WCC members who may have differing views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The signatories, acknowledging that they are small in number, said their message was, “great and important” not only to Christians but also to Muslims and Jews. To their Muslim neighbours, they sent a “message of love and of living together,” while at the same time urging them to reject fanaticism and extremism. They also called on the world to reject uninformed views of Muslims so that they were not, “stereotyped as the enemy nor caricatured as terrorists”. To their Jewish neighbours, the signatories affirmed the possibility of a shared life despite past struggles.

The Christian leaders condemned all forms of racism including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and called on Christians world wide to, “say a word of truth and to take a position of truth with regard to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land”.

The writers also urged churches around the world, “not to offer a theological cover up for the injustice we suffer, for the sin of the occupation imposed on us”.

Kairos Palestine document: www.oikoumene.org/fileadmin/files/wcc-main/2009pdfs/Kairos%20Palestine_En.pdf
Kairos Palestine website: www.kairospalestine.ps

6 Comments

  1. December 13, 2009 at 18:01

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  2. December 13, 2009 at 19:25

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  3. sharon said,

    December 13, 2009 at 22:44

    My prayers are with you but my faith is in Adonai. Everything that is happening in Israel, is according to our Father’s divine plan. Continue your struggle for freedom and peace, but know that very soon our Lord will be taken over the cause.

    Shalom Sharon

  4. Joe Gall said,

    December 13, 2009 at 23:00

    Best wishes, Christians of Palestine.

  5. Dave said,

    December 14, 2009 at 02:31

    Any bets on Pope Benny not signing the document?

  6. December 14, 2009 at 16:33

    To Dave – why on Earth would you want Pope Benedictus Sixtus (aka Benny the 16th) sign this document? It is a document FROM Christians – by virtue of that alone, he is excluded … but, even more importantly, as you discover by reading the document, you must ask to become a signatory: I sincerely doubt that His Hoariness will take the time from his precious schedule to read the entire declaration and then decide that he wants to come out on the correct side of history – the opposite side of the Israeli Government.

    The others who will not sign the declaration are the numerous evangelical ‘Christo-Zionists’ who purport to ‘love the Jewish people’ and do as much as they can to support the ‘restoration of the Holy Land’. This is, of course, undertaken without considering that the ‘Holy Land’ is not an area where only one people live; the Christo-Zionists operate under the false beliefs that the fulfillment of end-time prophecies (the study of eschatology for those of you interested in playing) can only come about through the ‘restoration’ of Israel – without taking into consideration the displaced people who have been living in the area for generations – often much longer than the ‘settlers’ who come and steal their land.

    Unfortunately the Christo-Zionists fail to ask themselves a key question, one which would resolve many of the issues in the ‘Holy Land’ within a few moments – if those who asked the questions were honest enough to listen to the answers and actually follow them. The questions? What would Jesus say, think, and do? In other words, when it comes to Christians and the ‘Holy Land’, what would Jesus say, think, and do? Would He blindly support the policies of the Israeli government, allowing the persecution of the Palestinians to take place before His eyes, or would He intervene in some small way, demonstrating that He did NOT condone the actions of the State?

    I am convinced that the answer to the questions would not be ‘maintain the status quo’, nor would it be, ‘Israel must be allowed to defend themselves’ for the Lord is no fool – He would see that exchanging bullets for rocks and bombs for bullets is no way to build a genuine peace. So, what would Jesus do? Would He travel to the ‘Holy Land’ as a tourist? I doubt it; I cannot imagine a man of Jesus’ character desiring to contribute to an economy founded upon the suffering of those who cannot be citizens by virtue of the fact that they were not born as Jews. I say this with the confidence of a man who knows this Man Jesus as though He were my brother – for He is, and brothers know the way each other think (the presence of the Ruach HaKodesh doesn’t hurt either).

    The Pope may decide to sign this document when he discovers what it means to know Jesus … until then, he’s a lost cause.

    In His Service,
    Rev. Peter Amsel

    Wie viel ist Aufzuleiden!


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