The British Christians who say it's time to act on Palestine

August 28, 2013
Sarah Benton

Logo of Kairos Britain

Kairos Palestine – A British Christian Response

Embrace (the Middle East)
August 21, 2013

Time for Action is a call to British Christians to be involved in furthering a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis. It explains why British Christians have a particular responsibility toward the situation in Israel and Palestine and why there is an urgent need for them to be involved in supporting the call of the Palestinian church for international action.

Launched at the Greenbelt Arts Festival, the Kairos Palestine document has been put together by British Christians from a wide variety of traditions whose experience of visiting Israel and Palestine has compelled them to respond to the challenge made by Palestinian Christians in the Kairos Palestine document.

The Kairos Palestine document describes itself as: “A cry of hope in the absence of all hope.” It builds upon previous kairos documents such as Kairos South Africa, 1985, and calls for confession, repentance and the rejection of violence. It challenges Christians around the world to hear their cry and recognize that now is a crucial (kairos) moment to act: “Are you able to help us get our freedom back? This is the only way you can help the two peoples attain justice, peace and security.”

Time for Action is a part of a British response to that challenge.

Background Information

In December 2009, leading Palestinian Christians launched a document called A Moment of Truth; A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering. This became known as the Kairos Palestine document. Kairos is a Greek word that means ‘a critical moment in time’.

Time for Action presents a history of British involvement and demonstrates why Britain has a particular responsibility for the current situation. It then unpacks the interfaith dimensions before looking at the theological imperative for British Christians to engage with the issue. Time for Action then moves on to expose some of the daily humiliation and injustice experienced by Palestinians, before concluding with a Call for Action.

Time for Action was read through by Jewish and Muslim readers prior to completion and has been signed by 33 people who were involved in creating this response.

Time for Action can be downloaded from here (pdf).

The Greenbelt festival of ‘faith, art and justice’ has been held every year since 1974. This picture from 2011

Responding to ‘A Moment of Truth’

By Tom Ambrose, Thinking Anglicans
August 27, 2013

To report on all the enormous diversity of the 40th Greenbelt Festival would be impossible. Participants will look back on the glorious sunshine in contrast to the floods of 2012 which enabled everything, music, activities, talks, worship, to be enjoyed to the full. But the most significant event may turn out to be the launch of the British response to A Moment of Truth, the Kairos Palestinian document. It is time for action by British Churches in response to the suffering of Palestinian people. The document is available here.

It is timely, for it exposes the sham of the current ‘peace negotiations’ about the future of Israel-Palestine. Even as the Israeli government is claiming to talk, its actions in annexing more Palestinian land and building settler homes give the lie to the words. The homes of Palestinians in the occupied territories continue to be bulldozed. The descendants of refugees still inhabit the camps to which their grandparents fled 65 years ago.

The Kairos event attracted the attention of Zionists who protested outside Greenbelt — they could have bought tickets and participated in debates about Palestine, but chose not to. Had they joined the Festival they would have heard a huge variety of speakers, Christian, Jewish and Muslim, all acknowledging that it is time to act, with Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. These brought an end to apartheid in South Africa, and these same means are needed to end the Israel’s apartheid both in Israel and in the occupied territories. The flawed theology of those who made religious claims in support of apartheid in South Africa was as misguided as the Zionist claims of Christians and Jews about Israel-Palestine. The genocide reported in the Book of Joshua cannot be used as a justification for the actions of the Israeli government today.

It is acknowledged that this struggle will have to begin at the grass roots, and that it will provoke hostility. Christian leaders have been intimidated into failing to support Palestinians. Last year the Church Times reported that the C of E Bishop of Newcastle and the RC Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle withdrew from a conference on Palestine organised by Christian Aid, after local Jewish organisations threatened to withdraw from inter-faith organisations.

The present situation is a shameful result of Britain’s colonial past, when countries in the Middle East were divided up after the First World War. This is why Christians in Britain today have a particular responsibility to seek the end of the continuing injustice suffered by Christian and Muslim Palestinians.

British Christians Denounce Balfour Declaration, Claiming “It’s One of the Greatest Mistakes in History”

By PNN [Palestine News Network]
August 27, 2013

British Christians responded on Sunday 25th August, to ‘A Moment of Truth’, the Kairos Palestine document at the Greenbelt Arts Festival, in Cheltenham.

Rafaat Qasis, of the Kairos Palestine, told PNN that the document which was launched in 2009 by leading Palestinian Christians has received an international response in several countries and was reflected through the formation of committees and workshops that call for the actual work to implement what came in the document.

The document that was launched Sunday in Britain announced that Belfour Declaration, which is a November 2, 1917 letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Rothschild that made public the British support of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, is a mistake and that it has betrayed the Palestinian people. It says, “It’s one of the greatest mistakes in our imperial history.” Stressing that the declaration was silent on the political rights of the non-Jewish communities – in particular Palestinian Arabs – who by the start of the 1920s, made up almost 90% of the population in Palestine.

The Kairos Palestine document explains why British Christians have a particular responsibility toward the situation in Israel and Palestine and why there is an urgent need for them to be involved in supporting the call of the Palestinian Church for international action. It also identifies “the reality on the ground” in the Holy Land, the truth of life in the occupied Palestinian territories; West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

The document denounce Israel’s brutal and cruel policies and measures it carries out against the Palestinians from daily humiliation of women, men and children, deaths of civilians, demolishing of homes, the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem, the brutality of administrative detention, the relentless confiscation of land and natural resources, and thousands of olive trees destroyed. It also denounced the continuing construction of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian owned-land.

The document declared its commitment to listen to Palestinian voices and supports the growing Palestinian non-violent resistance movement, the release of prisoners from Israeli jails and the plight of thousands of refugees to return to their homeland. The document also encourages alternative tourism and spreading awareness to tourists and pilgrims about Palestinians’ daily life under occupation.

The document also condemns Israel’s blatant disregard for international laws and resolutions, and underestimation of the human rights, calling on societies and political leaders to put pressure on Israel and take legal actions to end the occupation and its brutal, arbitrary and racist practices towards the Palestinian people.

The document was built upon previous kairos documents such as Kairos South Africa, 1985, that called for confession, repentance and the rejection of violence. It challenges Christians around the world to hear the cry for justice and recognize that now is a crucial (kairos) moment to act now to attain justice, peace and security.”

’60 Minutes’ profiles Palestinian Christians, Michael Oren falls on his face, Mondoweiss, April 22nd, 2012
We Christians attest to the falsity of Ambassador Oren’s assertion, Palestinian Christian response, May 2012
A cry of hope in the absence of all hope, The Kairos Palestine Document, World Council of Churches

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