December 2010 marked the first anniversary of the release of Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth. This document, endorsed by almost all of the heads and leaders of Christian churches in Palestine, is described as "a word of faith, hope and love from the heart of the Palestinian suffering". South Africans can relate to the potential significance of this document, since the South African Kairos Document in 1985 was a major turning point in our history when Christian churches added their voice to the resistance against apartheid. The Kairos Document in South Africa galvanized all faith communities and strengthened the broader liberation movement in its struggle against apartheid for a just society free from oppression. I believe, similarly, that the proclamation of Kairos Palestine may be destined to become a watershed moment in the history of the Palestinian struggle against the tyranny of the Israeli occupation.
Palestinian Christians--The Strategic Lever for Liberation
A recent visit to the Swedish Theological Institute in Jerusalem has reaffirmed and strengthened my conviction that Palestinian Christian leaders are the strategic lever that may be able to unlock this epic struggle for liberation in the Middle East. Palestinian Christians bear witness to the same oppression and indignity suffered by their Muslim compatriots but their voices are seldom heard in a conflict largely depicted in the West as one between Muslims and Jews. Thus the witness of Palestinian Christians has the strategic potential to disarm the Zionists and their sympathizers from reducing the Palestinian conflict to a narrow sectarian war that is engendered by Islam and Muslims.
I would like to provide five brief insights from Kairos Palestine that highlight the significant contribution that this document makes towards broadening support for the liberation of the Palestinian people from the yoke of Israeli occupation. I hope this will encourage people to read the full document, accessible at www.kairospalesune.ps, and critically engage with its contents.
Five Critical Insights from Kairos Palestine
First, Kairos Palestine contexmalizes the struggle of the Palestinian people and places the primary responsibility for the Middle East conflict squarely at the feet of the West and the Israeli state. The document states that "The West sought to make amends for what Jews had endured in the countries of Europe, but it made amends on our account and in our land. They tried to correct an injustice and the result was a new injustice." Kairos Palestine thus declares that the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land (known in Arabic as al-ihtilal) is a sin against God and humanity because it deprives the Palestinians of their basic human rights, bestowed by God.
Second, Kairos Palestine contends that the aggression against the Palestinian people through the Israeli occupation is an evil that must be resisted and removed non-violently and on the basis of love (muqawama bil hubb). The document describes the spirit and methods of Palestinian resistance that it calls for: "We can resist through civil disobedience. …