Mission & Name
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The Kairos Palestine Document:
16 Christian Leaders Call for an End to the Israeli
Occupation of Palestine
By Mazin Qumsiyeh
ccun.org, December 15, 2009
I attended the launching of this critical document on Friday (December
11, 2009) in Bethlehem (a packed press conference with over 200 people
attending). Please forward this document to all churches in your
area. It is essential to bring peace.
For immediate release
- 11/12/2009 16:12:00
A PALESTINIAN CHRISTIAN CALL TO END THE
A group of Palestinian Christians representing a variety
of churches and church-related organizations have issued an animated and
prayerful call for an end to occupation of Palestine by Israel. The call,
issued at a 11 December meeting in Bethlehem, comes at a time when many
Palestinians believe they have reached a dead end. It raises questions to
the international community, political leaders in the region, and the
churches worldwide about their contribution to the Palestinian people's
pursuit of freedom. Even in the midst of "our catastrophe" the call is
described as a word of faith, hope and love.
Referred to as "The
Kairos Palestine Document" the call echoes a similar summons issued by
South African churches in the mid-1980s at the height of repression under
the apartheid regime. That call served to galvanize churches and the wider
public in a concerted effort that eventually brought the end of apartheid.
The authors of the Kairos Palestine Document, among them Patriarch
Emeritus Michel Sabbah from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the
Lutheran Bishop of Jerusalem Munib Younan, and Archbishop Theodosios
Atallah Hanna of Sebastia from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of
Jerusalem, have raised the challenge of the urgency for peace with justice
to religious and political leaders in Palestinian and the Israeli society,
international community, and to "our Christian brothers and sisters in the
churches" around the world. They believe that current efforts in the
Middle East are confined to managing the crisis rather than finding
pertinent and long term solutions to the crisis.
Expressing their pain, the signatories of the call decry
the emptiness of the promises and pronouncements about peace in the
region. They remind the world about the separation wall erected on
Palestinian territory, the blockade of Gaza, how Israeli settlements
ravage their land, the humiliation at military checkpoints, the
restrictions of religious liberty and controlled access to holy places,
the plight of refugees awaiting their right of return, prisoners
languishing in Israeli prisons and Israel's blatant disregard of
international law, as well as the paralysis of the international community
in the face of this tragedy.
Rejecting Israeli justifications for
their actions as being in self-defence, they unambiguously state that if
there were no occupation, "there would be no resistance, no fear and no
They argue: "God created us not to engage in strife
and conflict but together build up the land in love and mutual respect.
Our land has a universal mission, and the promise of the land has never
been a political programme, but rather the prelude to complete universal
salvation. Our connectedness to this land is a natural right. It is not an
ideological or a theological question only." They reject any use of the
Bible to legitimize or support political options and positions that are
based upon injustice.
Declaring the occupation of Palestinian land
as a sin against God and humanity, they steadfastly adhere to the signs of
hope such as "local centres of theology" and "numerous meetings for
inter-religious dialogue", recognizing that these signs provide hope to
the resistance of the occupation. Through the logic of peaceful
resistance, resistance is as much a right as it is a duty as it has the
potential to hasten the time of reconciliation.
this is a moment demanding repentance for past actions, either for using
hatred as an instrument of resistance or the willingness to be indifferent
and absorbed by faulty theological positions, the group calls on the
international community and Palestinians for steadfastness in this time of
trial. "Come and see [so we can make known to you] the truth of our
reality", they appeal.
Poignantly, they conclude, "in the absence
of all hope, we cry out our cry of hope. We believe in God, good and just.
We believe that God's goodness will finally triumph over the evil of hate
and of death that still persist in our land. We will see here 'a new land'
and 'a new human being', capable of rising up in the spirit to love each
one of his or her brothers and sisters."
The authors are:
Patriarch Michel Sabbah
Bishop Dr Munib Younan
Theodosios Atallah Hanna
Rev. Dr Jamal Khader
Rev. Dr Rafiq
Rev. Dr Mitri Raheb
Rev. Dr Naim Ateek
Rev. Fr Fadi Diab
Dr Jiries Khoury
Ms Nora Kort
Ms Lucy Thaljieh
Mr Nidal Abu
Mr Yusef Daher
Mr Rifat Kassis - coordinator of the
Media contact in Jerusalem: Ranjan Solomon
Full text of the Kairos Palestine Document:
For the list of signatories:
Churches in the Middle
East: solidarity and witness for peace:
Additional information: Juan
Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363
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
Israeli occupation a 'sin against God', say Palestinian Christian leaders
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
"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
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.
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
"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
The full title of the document is, "A moment
of truth: A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian
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
"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
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
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
"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.
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.
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
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 website: