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Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Prophetic Church is moving forward!

The past weeks haven been weeks of a lot of lobbying and advocating all around the world. Kairos Palestine is proud and thankful of its partners all around the world, who share our Call for a Just Peace and creative resistance against the illegal Israeli occupation. Clearly, the ongoing achievements of the worldwide Christian movement for Palestine can be seen as a success in countering increasing hegemonic and heavily biased narratives and attacks from the Israeli government and its worldwide lobby institutions. The BDS-resolutions in so many churches clearly give a signal to the world, that it is not right, neither morally nor legally, to occupy land and oppress the people living in it. With concrete actions like that of the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Universalists or the UCC South Africa and the Quakers, Baptists and United Church of Christ last year, we show the world that we all have a responsibility to work and campaign for justice and peace, not only in Palestine, but everywhere where life in dignity is endangered!

 

Let's remember the voice of Kairos Palestine: "The cruel circumstances in which the Palestinian Church has lived and continues to live have required the Church to clarify her faith and to identify her vocation better. We have studied our vocation and have come to know it better in the midst of suffering and pain: today, we bear the strength of love rather than that of revenge, a culture of life rather than a culture of death. This is a source of hope for us, for the Church and for the world." (KP Document, Chapter 3.4.5)

 
Here is an overview about all the ongoing efforts, Christian brothers and Sisters are achieving around the world:
 
+++ Update 14/07/2016+++
 
Another BDS victory in Canada!
 
Mennonite Church Canada just passed another BDS-Resolution during their General Assembly. 349 out of 350 delegates voted for a resolution which is also a response to Kairos Palestine!

"We ask the Mennonite Church Canada General Board, along with regional churches, congregations, and members—to avoid investing in or supporting companies that do business with Israeli settlements and the Israel Defense Forces, and companies that are profiting from the occupation of the Palestinian territories; and

We encourage the government of Canada to support measures that put pressure on Israel (including through economic sanctions) to end the occupation and work for a just peace, in accordance with international law.”

Read more on Mondoweiss News
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Methodist Conference calls for accountability of the Israeli government for the destruction of Palestinian land and life
 
On invitation from our partners, the United Methodist Kairos Response (UMKR) team, Kairos Staff Areej Masoud participated in the General Conference of the UMC 2016 in Portland, Oregon. Important resolutions on the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict have been discussed. One of the main controversial issues presented  by UMKR and other Kairos supporters was the resolution to divest from complicit companies such has HP (Hewlett Packard), Caterpillar and Motorola - all are companies which directly support the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, either by providing technical equipment for intelligence or machines for building the annexation wall and demolishing Palestinian houses.
 
US Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton, a Methodist herself, addressed the conference with a letter of support for the Anti-BDS movement and stressed: "We must never tire in defending Israel’s legitimacy, expanding security and economic ties, and taking our alliance to the next level". The occupation and the injustices against Palestinians, ongoing for almost 70 years now, have not been mentioned by Clinton. This letter fueled the aggressive campaigns of the anti-BDS and justice lobby groups.
Despite the pressure against the pro-justice efforts of the hard working UMKR group, the General Conference passed important resolutions in favor of the Palestinian struggle, such as calling on "Israel to correct the unequal distribution of water in the West Bank, where illegal Israeli settlers receive four times as much water as the indigenous Palestinians." (Res. 60206) 

Another measure passed by the conference, Resolution 60843, calls for the accountability of the Israeli government for the destruction of Palestinian land and life. It urges US officials to contact the Israeli government to halt the expansion of illegal settlements and confiscation of Palestinian land.Kairos Staff Areej Masoud speaks to the Methodists
A UMKR event during the conference featured three Bishops, including the President of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, who called for the use of decisive action by the church to cut its ties from the occupation. Japanese Americans, Filipino Lumad natives, Africans and the head of the Native American International Caucus were among those highlighting the parallels between the Palestinian plight today and the ethnic cleansing of other indigenous peoples.
Read here Kairos Palestine's Letter of support for the UMC Conference.
 
Presbyterians pass powerful overtures
 
It has been the 222nd biennal General Assembly in Portland, where the Presbyterian Church once more showed their support for Palestinian Rights and passed historical overtures in favor of legitimate Palestinian non-violent resistance. The decision of the Presbyterians to divest from companies that profit from and sustain Israel's nearly 50-year old occupation of Palestinian lands in 2014, is progressively being implemented.

divestThe GA has called the real estate company RE/MAX, a well known actor in the real estate trade of illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine, to stop selling properties in occupied Palestinian land in violation of International Law and official US policy. Just prior to the Assembly, RE/MAX confirmed already to take actions to "not longer receive any income from the sale of Jewish settlement properties in the West Bank."

Furthermore, the GA passed a historic resolution, which is now policy:

[...] 3. Create resources that teach the church about its theology of peacemaking and nonviolence in relation to its historical decisions to boycott companies and/or their products, divest from holdings in corporations that profit from non-peaceful and violent pursuits, and otherwise call for sanctions by entities that have the power to effect positive change.  

Unintimidated by the current climate of sever repressions targeting human rights activism for Palestine, the Presbyterians have proven that Churches can counter those attacks and that it is their responsibility to stand with the oppressed. A majority of over 70% has decided that BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) should be carefully studied thus defeating attempts to categorically reject it.

In addition to these great achievements in nonviolence, the GA approved a report submitted by the church’s Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) supporting a focus on advancing human rights rather than focusing on prescribing a solution to the conflict (one vs. two states). This rights based approach is very much in line with the call of Kairos Palestine. We need to tell the world that any solution to the conflict will not be successful before the Israeli aggressive measures of oppression, human rights violations and occupation of territories finds an end.


Universalists voted on historical Palestine resolutions
 

With profound gratitude Kairos Palestine welcomes the initiative “Divestment from Corporations Complicit in the Violation Of Palestinian Rights” of the UU member group Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East. The resolution is calling for divestment of complicit companies profiting and supporting the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.
In their General Assembly a majority of 54% voted in favor of the resolution. Taking in mind that this was the first initiative of such kind in the United Universalist Church, the vote can be seen as a huge success, even if it fell short of the two thirds needed for passage. 
We are thrilled of the efforts from our partners, the Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East who have been campaigning and lobbying since many months for this initiative. We are with you on the path of justice, and support you to keep on to achieve actual divestment! 

World Council of Churches condemns Christian Zionism

During the Central Committee Meeting in Trondheim, Norway, the World Council of Churches issued a statement regarding the standstill of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace Process. 

wcc general secretary with moderators

The statement comes at a time when Israeli authorities and pro-Israeli groups have engaged in some strong criticism against WCC peace and justice campaigns in the Holy Land. The WCC has been heavily attacked by pro-Israeli groups as well as the Israeli government itself during the last months. Several WCC staff and delegates have been denied entry at Ben Gurion Airport and reported about aggressive, intimidating and abusive interrogation and treatment by the authorities, including detention for up to three days and deportation. 
It also comes when tensions are rising in the region with increasing encroachment of illegal Israeli settlements into Palestinian areas and floundered peace talks along with flaring violence.

But despite all pressures of desperation and provocations, the WCC wants to keep on „encouraging and accompanying Palestinian people and communities in their efforts to resist occupation, including through economic measures such as divestment and boycotting goods produced in illegal settlements on occupied territories“, the statement reads. The whole statement can be read here

  First South African Church, UCCSA decided to commit to BDS and Kairos Palestine

"We recognize that the Palestinian struggle is not simply a conflict, but an asymmetric struggle between an oppressor and the oppressed."

2016 1072We also welcome the decision of the United Congregational Church of South Africa to commit to BDS and their response to Kairos Palestine! Kairos Palestine has always been closely connected to South Africa, we thank you for your ongoing partnership and friendship! Muna Nassar from Kairos Palestine addressed the conference with a keynote speech about the situation of Palestinian Christians and the oppression caused by the Israeli occupation. Kairos Palestine has been actively involved in the process, a sign of our mutual trust and friendship. In fact, the UCCSA was the only church in South Africa which supported the historic South African Kairos Call of 1985. where South African theologians asked the world to help ending apartheid. Until today, Kairos South Africa serves as an example of what is possible with a strong and united global Christian movement. The whole statement reads as follows:

We pledge our support to the Palestinian people as follows at this 8th South African Synod Conference of UCCSA in George, South Africa:
  • We recognize that the Palestinian struggle is not simply a conflict, but an asymmetric struggle between an oppressor and the oppressed. The oppression entails a decades’ long institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians in the occupied territories of Palestine and also against those within Israel and those in the diaspora who are not allowed by Israel to return.
  • We hear the call of our sisters and brothers from Kairos Palestine who asked the world and in particular Christians to take a public stand against injustice in ‘A Moment of Truth – a Word of Faith, Hope and Love.’muna
  • We do not take an anti-Semitism position. However we are extremely concerned about fundamentalist and progressive Christian Zionism which conflate the Biblical Israel with the modern state of Israel. We call on all Christians to read the Bible responsibly so as to not trample on the human rights and the dignity of the Palestinians.  We ask Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land to meet with and to listen to the Palestinians in Bethlehem, East Jerusalem and other cities in the occupied Palestinian territory.
  • We acknowledge with gratitude the support of our Palestinian sisters and brothers in South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle.
  • With this resolution we join other churches in the world such as the Presbyterian Church and the United Methodist Church in the United States of America and the United Church of Canada. With them we stand in public solidarity with the Kairos Palestine’s appeal for help and the Palestinian civil society’s call for creative non-violent resistance.
  • We pledge our support to the international Boycott Divestments Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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