Kairos Palestine conference
This past weekend I attended the Kairos Palestine conference in Bethlehem. It was an inspiring gathering of leading clergy and lay people from churches and advocacy organisations in Jerusalem and Palestine. It was well attended with locals and visitors from around the world, including a group of 15 Bishops, of different denominations from the Philippines. It was a delightful surprise to meet Christine N. and Wendy G. – from the United Church of Canada – the folks who sponsored me for two terms of service with the World Council of Churches advocacy program in 2013.
We were all gathered with the common purpose of seeking peace with Justice for all peoples in the Holy Land.
Readers will remember that the Kairos Palestine document “A Moment of Truth” was the inspiration for solidarity and action by organizations and churches around the world to engage in advocacy for Palestine justice and an end to the occupation. Drafted in 2009 with the sub title “A word of faith , hope and love from the heart of Palestinian
suffering “ the document is a plea from Palestinian Christians to the rest of the world to know what is happening in Palestine and a cry for help to relieve their suffering. It calls “Our word is a cry of hope, with love, prayer and faith in God. We address it first of all to ourselves and then to all the churches and Christians in the world, asking them to stand against injustice and apartheid, urging them to work for a just peace.
”Here is a link to the full text: http://www.kairospalestine.ps/index.php/about-us/kairos-palestine-document
The conference was held at the Dar-Annadwa International Center in Bethlehem a beautiful facility although the conference room itself was overheated.
My dear friend Fr. Fadi Diab opened the Saturday session with a theological dissertation on Justice and an opening prayer it was great seeing him and talking with him again. Saturday was a long day of prominent speakers who spoke passionately and knowledgeably on different aspects of the military occupation and colonization of Palestine, the current situation and what near term and long term future holds for the Palestinian people. Most of the presentations were in Arabic with simultaneous translation. The Highlight for me was the first session with Gideon Levy a prominent Israeli journalist and writer in which he explained what shapes the thinking and the current attitudes of mainstream Israelis towards Palestinians and why the current situation is likely to continue unchanged for a long time.
Kairos Palestine is The Voice of the churches in Jerusalem when often those churches are afraid to use their own voices for fear of reprisals such as denial of visas to clergy appointed to serve in Jerusalem, the denial of permits to renovate buildings or develop property, or even the confiscation of church property.
As with other organisations such as Defense for the Children International (DCI) Kairos holds a deep concern for the plight of Children living under the Military Occupation. In the Christmas Alert 2016 from Kairos Palestine Jean Zaru Clerk of Ramallah Friends Meeting writes “
We worry and we ponder their future as millions have become children of war and children of a prolonged cruel military occupation. They are denied education and adequate Medical Care, they are imprisoned, tortured, and homeless and left vulnerable to a host of social problems. Over one-third of the Arab world is under 14 years of age and nearly half the world’s refugees are children”. In her article she goes on to state the three most important ways we can get involved in shaping the character of this society.
- Stop violence against children.
- Demonstrate Justice and nonviolence in the church.
- Organize institutions to meet immediate human need and stop militarism.
She says “no amount of humanitarian Aid will revive Palestine or Syria unless we end militarism, occupation, and the military destruction of infrastructure, lives and livelihoods”.
In the same Kairos, Christmas Alert 2016, Defense for the Children International (DCI) calls for an end to the arrest , detention and interrogation and torture of children contrary to human rights , and international humanitarian law . The DCI recounts some of the awful incidents that have been perpetrated on Palestinian children by the Israeli military in the past year.
Here is a link to the downloadable Kairos Palestine Christmas Alert 2016: http://www.kairospalestine.ps/images/Kairos%20Palestine%20Christmas%20Alert%202016%20Email.pdf
MAE/ HLE Dec. 12 2016
Kairos Palestine 7th Anniversary Conference 2016 FAITH, SUMUD, CREATIVE RESISTANCE Dar-Annadwa International Center
9 Dec. 2016 8:30 – 9:00 Welcome and Registration 9:30 – 10:00 Opening Prayer –Theological Reflections on Justice Father Fadi Diab
10:00 – 11:30 Session I: Where Are We Now? Speakers: Gideon Levy, Mohammed Barakeh, Diana Buttu Moderator: Rif’at Kassis
11:30 – 12:00 Coffee Break 12:00 – 13:00 Session II: The Modern History of Palestine and Justice: Critical and Analytical Reading
Speakers: Walid Atallah, Patriarch Sabbah Moderator: Nora Kort
13:00 – 14:00 Lunch Break
14:00 – 15:30 Session III: The Campaign Against Advocacy and Creative Nonviolent Resistance Speakers: Sha’wan Jabarin, Jack Munayer, Muna Mushahwar, Eman Abu Hanna
Moderator: Manal Hazzan-Abu Sinni 15:30 – 16:30 Session IV: The Growing Phenomenon of Exclusion and Extremism in the Name of Religion
Speakers: Iyad Barghouti, F. Jamal Khader Moderator: Lucy Thaljieh
16:30 – 16:45 Coffee Break 16:45 – 17:45 Session V: The Kairos Palestine Message in the Light of Current Challenges Speakers: Bishop Atallah Hanna, Rev. Munther Isaac Moderator: Hind Khoury