Ma'an News Agency
December 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian Christians from all denominations were in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Friday to demand sanctions on Israel and to jointly reject Christian Zionism.

Clergy have termed their movement the Palestine Kairos Initiative, modeled after black South Africa's 1985 Kairos Document, a theological statement that called on churches to join the fight against apartheid.

In the same theme, over a dozen leaders of the region's Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican and Baptist traditions co-authored "A moment of truth," a point-by-point rejection of the occupation and a call for action against it.

"The aggression against the Palestinian people which is the Israeli occupation, is an evil that must be resisted. It is an evil and a sin that must be resisted and removed," the document declares. "Primary responsibility for this rests with the Palestinians themselves suffering occupation. Christian love invites us to resist it."

The initiative urges the international community to begin "a system of economic sanctions and boycott to be applied against Israel," and to "engage in divestment and in an economic and commercial boycott of everything produced by the occupation."

The message insists, however, "These advocacy campaigns must be carried out with courage, openly sincerely proclaiming that their object is not revenge but rather to put an end to the existing evil, liberating both the perpetrators and the victims of injustice."

Christian Zionism

A portion of the document is addressed to Christians abroad, with particularly strong language reserved for "certain theologians in the West [who] try to attach a biblical and theological legitimacy to the infringement of our rights." Their interpretation of scripture has "become a menace to our very existence. ... The 'good news' in the Gospel itself has become 'a harbinger of death' for us."

"In face of those who use the Bible to threaten our existence as Christian and Muslim Palestinians, we renew our faith in God because we know that the word of God can not be the source of our destruction," it adds. "We call on these theologians to deepen their reflection on the Word of God and to rectify their interpretations so that they might see in the Word of God a source of life for all peoples."

The Kairos Initiative was first proposed in Amman, Jordan by Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah, Lutherans Bishop Munib Younan and Rev. Mitri Raheb, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna, Anglican Rev. Naim Ateek, Baptist Rev. Yohana Katanacho and other leading Palestinian Christian officials.

"After sitting and theologically reflecting on the situation, the injustice of the situation, we came up with this document," said initiative spokesman Ranjan Solomon in an interview Thursday. "Palestinians perceive this as a moment of truth."

Solomon added, "In the 1980s, a similar document had the effect of galvanizing churches around the world and creating unity amongst them, from which not even 10 years later came the end of apartheid.

"Whether the two are linked, one will never know, but it's the effect on public opinion that inspired Palestinian Christians to look at its potential, too."


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