Sunday, 9 September 2012

Kairos Palestine

After 5 years in South Africa and after writing my thesis about the prophetic voice of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) the Kairos concept is very familiar. It has been used a lot in South Africa after the launching of the Kairos Document in 1985. It has been said that the fight against crime is a Kairos, the fight against HIV and AIDS is a Kairos and recently that the momentum in the struggle for sustainability in the Environment is a Kairos. I have not studied the Kairos Palestine Document enough. This I realized earlier today when attending a seminar at the S:t Paul’s Church in Malmö at Världens fest.
Kairos Palestine: a Christian Call for justice and peace in the Israeli – Palestinian conflict – who is listening?
It was amazing to listen to one of the authors: Father Jamal Khader. According to the Kairos Palestine website
Fr. Jamal teaches at the Latin Seminary in Beit Jala, Bethlehem University, the Emmaus Center in Beit Sahour, and Mar Elias College in Ibillin. He also teaches Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution Strategies for the master's in International Cooperation and Development (MICAD) program. Fr.Jamal is the Chairperson of the Department of Religious Studies and the Dean of Arts at Bethlehem University.
With a lot of energy he told us about the dire need for Hope in the current situation. I will try to give a short resume of what he said: The situation in the Holy Land today is no longer first page news. But for the people in Beit Jala, threatened to be divided by the wall and diminished into about 20% of its original size [if I recall rightly what Fr Jamal said] it should be first page news. Israel started to build the separation wall in 2003. Then there were about 200 000 settlers on occupied ground. Today they are almost 650 000. There is a plan to have only 12 % Palestinians in Jerusalem by 2020. Today they are 23%. Young Palestinians are starting to lose hope. And not without reason, Fr Jamal says. I got really upset when he told us, that Sweden voted against Palestinian membership in UNESCO. I did not know! But the people of Palestine will still not give up. They know what despair is but also that collaborating with God means hope.
If Gods plan is that we should live together we want to live together.
A bit surprising was his view that there is no conflict. A conflict is when two parties are having different values or aspirations. In a conflict there are things to discuss. There is room for negotiations. But in this case he only said that the occupation is evil. I could also hear an echo of Archbishop emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu when he said that liberation for the Palestinian people also means liberation for the oppressors. The Kairos Palestine Document wants to illegitimate occupation, not Israel. It is a very inclusive document. The expression “for all” is used 46 times.
Israel deserves to live in peace and security. Neither the wall nor soldiers will give them that security.
He continued to state that the time for a two states solution almost is gone. There is already an Israeli state but the Palestinians don’t get theirs. He was specific in our context and said:
You as Europeans are supporting occupation.
So he turned to theology and said that the Bible never can be used to justify injustice. The criteria of every theology must be: What are the consequences? Finally he gave some feedback to Church of Sweden. He spoke about costly solidarity and meant that Church of Sweden is showing that. By visiting both sides in the situation and by continuing to support different institutions in the Holy Land. He urged us to revisit our biblical theology and to continue to dialogue with the Jews. On that note he contextualized the whole dialogue concept. In the Holy Land dialogue between Christians and Jews means one thing. The Jews are in majority and the Palestinian Christians in minority. In Europe it is totally different, which makes the dialogue quite different. I have to admit: I never supported the document on the website. It is possible to do that on the website. I will now read it thoroughly and probably I will support it after having read it. Only Palestinians can sign it. Others may support it. Right now there are more signatures then supporters. I think we have to change that.

By the way: The website has a nice address, ending with ".ps" which means "Palestine". At least Palestine exists on the World Wide Web, Fr Jamal said.

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