I’ve been asked to say a bit more about this. You can read the Kairos Palestine document HERE.
Even to summarize the background would take a book. So, perhaps I’ll start with ‘foreground’. Christians are leaving the ‘holy land’ and it is usually reported, even recently by the ArchBishop of Canterbury, that the reason is persecution from Islam. It is actually the oppressive Israeli occupation that makes young people leave; and the fact they have places to go. The 2000 years old church in Palestine has many links with Europe and USA. Their young people leave and don’t return. Why?
Israel controls the economy. Until the recent changes is Egypt nothing went in or out of Palestine without an Israel say so. These ‘sanctions’ mean that unemployment is high. Bureaucracy and checkpoints make tertiary education difficult. Israeli Palestinians are discriminated against in Israel and Palestinians are even lower down ‘the food chain’. Israel exercises racist policies in employment, education and housing against its Palestinian population and has effective, (undemocratic) control over the Palestinian Authority.
Stating these facts – recognized by many in Israel – is likely to attract the charge of antisemitism. The real antisemitism in my view is to believe that what Israel’s governments do has anything to do with Judaism or Jewry. It is racist Zionism.
For many years there have been Christian voices pleading for help, for justice, for peace. The 2009 ‘Kairos’ was the product of 18 months work by Palestinian Christians from all denominations working together.
My view? It could have been shorter; they could have produced a version more suited to western ears. But the message of ‘hopeless hope’, of love and commitment in the face of persecution is one we in the West would do well to hear.
A British response from Iona can be found HERE.
Christians’ unquestioning support for Israel, often based on poor history and even poorer theology, has meant pain for our sisters and brothers in Palestine and brings the gospel into disrepute, not just with Muslims but with Jews too.
So, what will you do?