Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christian compassion

snowflake Wilson Bentley image

Palestinian Christian leaders are asking their Christian brothers and sisters throughout the world to join them in non-violent action, especially the boycott of Israel, to stop the oppression and end the occupation of Palestinian people and land:

"Palestinian Christian leaders, representing churches and church-related organisations, have launched a "landmark campaign" aimed at enlisting Christians worldwide in proactive efforts to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, reports Khaled Amayreh in Bethlehem. The unprecedented initiative, called "Kairos Palestine-2009: A moment of truth", appeals to churches worldwide to treat Israel in the same way they had treated the erstwhile South African apartheid regime.

The authors of the 13-page document include such religious leaders as Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Lutheran Bishop of Jerusalem Munib Younan, Archbishop of Sebastia Atallah Hanna from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, as well as the heads of various denominations in occupied Palestine.

"We, Palestinian Christians, declare in this historic document that the military occupation of our land is a sin against God and humanity and that any theology that legitimises the occupation is far from Christian teachings because true Christian theology is a theology of love and solidarity with the oppressed and a call to justice and equality among peoples," reads the document.

The authors said they hoped that the document would raise the conscience of Christians worldwide on the enduring Palestinian plight. "We hope, as Palestinian Christians, that this document will be the leverage for the efforts of all peace-loving peoples in the world, especially our Christian sisters and brothers. We hope that it will be welcomed positively and will receive strong support, as was the case with the South Africa Kairos document launched."

In Christian theological terminology, the word "kairos" means "moment of truth" or "time for action".

In Canada, KAIROS, an ecumenical group, has joined the call to boycott Israel and for that the Harper goverment has told them Merry Christmas by cutting funding to their programs:

"Ottawa's decision to axe funding to a group apparently because it criticized Israel has enraged many Canadians and fully exposed the zealotry of Stephen Harper's government in supporting Israel and attacking those who don't.

"KAIROS, an ecumenical group, promotes social and economic justice in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Its $7 million contract to set up a rape clinic in the Congo, among other projects, was killed by Harper because the group was said to have backed a boycott of Israel for oppressing Palestinians. As Jason Kenney admitted: 'We've de-funded organizations, most recently like KAIROS, who are taking a leadership role in the boycott.'"

Meanwhile, over in England, Stuart Littlewood wonders why the contemporary Christian narrative of the Holy Land wipes out any mention of the Israeli oppression of Palestinians, and asks some hard questions about the lack of vocal support for the Palestinians by powerful Christians, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury:

"Relax, Holy Father... Viva Palestina and George Galloway are on the case. They are doing your job for you and breaking the evil siege. You could have done it in the name of God. They are doing it in the name of human decency.

It seems that the salt of the earth from our city back-streets - assorted Christians, Muslims, atheists and even Jews - who organized, joined or supported the convoy, have more understanding of compassion and the teachings of Christ than all the learned navel-gazers in the Vatican.

I can find no specific reference to the human tragedy of the Holy Land on the Vatican’s website. The Pope “refrains” from mentioning it even in his New Year’s Message celebrating the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2010.

Nor do I see Christmas greetings to Gazans on the Lambeth Palace website.

When Archbishop Rowan gets home from his historic visit, what will he do? He and 25 of his colleagues sit in the British parliament's House of Lords. They have clout. But in a quick search through I could find no recent record of these ’super-clerics’ raising questions about Israel's murderous onslaught, the unending persecution of the Christian and Muslim communities and the unlawful restrictions imposed on the Holy Land generally. No criticism of the British government’s inaction either."

When its leader has seen and heard the awful truth at source, and reported it, what will the Anglican church as a whole then do to begin the process of improving the human condition in the Holy Land and safeguarding its spiritual legacy?


tasteofbeirut said...

I wonder what (horrors) it will take for people and governments to act decisively against the oppression and occupation of innocent Palestinian civilians.I am not only disgusted but dumbfounded.

northshorewoman said...

the close of the decade looks foreboding.