The Bethlehem Call: Here we stand – Stand with us

Children at their demolished house (Jericho)

The multiple and illegal forms by which Israel occupies Palestine have taken on dimensions of systemic injustice.  The unthinkable has become globally accepted and supported.  As if it is normal and unavoidable.

In December 2009 a group of Christian Palestinians, in solidarity with their Muslim brothers and sisters from Palestine, cried from within their suffering under the Israeli occupation in their Kairos for Palestine document:

“…a cry of hope in the absence of all hope, a cry full of prayer and faith in a God ever vigilant, in God’s divine providence for all the inhabitants of this land.”

As Christians and as Palestinians they called out for help from the world.   They explained the reality on the ground.  They spoke about faith, inclusion, hope and the mission of the Church.  They spoke about love and non-violent resistance and they appealed to Jewish, Muslim and other spiritual and religious leaders to stand up for the oppressed.  They addressed the Palestinian people and the Israelis and asked them to see the face of God in each other.

Two years later, in December 2011 the Palestine Kairos group met with more than 60 people from 15 countries from all the continents in the world.  They gathered in Bethlehem, Palestine, to launch the Kairos for Global Justice initiative.

Why global justice?  The conflict between Palestine and Israel is financed by the international community, and hence this conflict is an international issue.  We dare not turn away from this, they say.  Justice is the other side of love.  Kairos for Global Justice calls on the world to take a stand and be part of a solution as opposed to maintaining the pain.

What is a Kairos moment?  “Kairos” time is qualitatively different from “kronos” time.  “Kronos” time relates to a chronological span of time over a period. “Kairos” time on the other hand is about the present, about an appropriate, opportune time.  One cannot catch up with Kairos time as it is a decisive moment that asks for participation in the here and now.  If one misses this critical opportunity, it may pass you by.  A Kairos time needs action, courage and transformation.

“’Come and see,’ said the Christians of Palestine.  ‘Come and see the olive groves, bulldozers, the ancient terraces, the segregated cities.  The situation is worsening.’”

Their appeal in The Bethlehem Call is urgent:

“We now say: ‘Injustice no more. Here we stand. Stand with us.’”

They call the Israeli occupation a crime and a sin.

In a bold move, they list things that they cannot accept.  These include:

  • The silence of the Church;
  • Any arguments by the international community that claims that Muslims as opposed to the Occupation is the cause of the problems;
  • Any tours to the Holy Land offered by church related organisations that do not include encounters with local Palestinians and their position.

“In love, we rage against injustice and yet refuse to be destroyed by our anger.”

They call on affirming voices from Jewish, Muslim and other religious traditions in the vision for a democratic, pluralistic society in the Holy Land.

They demand the dismantling of Israeli apartheid in Palestine that will include:

  • People living side by side in justice and peace within pre-1967 borders;
  • A shared Jerusalem, including open access to all holy sites;
  • The right of return for Palestinian refugees;
  • An end to all settlement extensions and a dismantling of the settlement system;
  • Free access to water and sanitation;
  • The breakdown of the apartheid wall.

They are committed to non-violent resistance, including active co-operation with Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS); and to promoting tourism in the Holy Land that includes the Palestinian perspective.

Click on the link to read The Bethlehem Call
en in Afrikaans Die Bethlehem Oproep

Olive trees broken by Israeli settlers (Qusra)

The segregation wall

And now there is an Islamic Response to Kairos Palestine

This response was issued by Peace for Life (PFL), a global solidarity network of peace:

“We say to our Christian sisters and brothers in Palestine: ‘We hear your cries; you are not alone. We need each other now more than ever before and we commit ourselves to walking the journey towards freedom and justice in Palestine side by side with you.’  In responding to Kairos Palestine we respond to the Islamic imperative to identify with the oppressed and the marginalized. We do so in a manner that

  • reflects our inadequacies as Muslims;
  • rejects attempts to co-opt our faith for the agenda of Empire; and
  • offers a vision of Islam that is just, compassionate and recognizes the sacredness of all of humankind while maintaining a particular bias for those whom the Qur’an refers to as the marginalized in the earth (mustad`afin fil-ard). Muslims across the globe are invited to sign this document.”

Click in the link below to read the full response and,
if you are a Muslim, to sign it:

An Islamic Response to The Palestinian Kairos Document

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