Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group (SWVG) recently facilitated a relaxing day by the seaside in Bournemouth for about 50 adults and children seeking asylum. SWVG are a group of volunteers who befriend and support adult asylum seekers and refugees in the Southampton area.Continue reading
The Revd Prof. Allan Aubrey Boesak, one of South Africa’s leading anti-apartheid campaigners, Professor of Black Liberation Theology and Ethics, University of Pretoria, and President, The Sankofa Institute for Pan African Leadership and Prophetic Ministry, has endorsed the Convivencia Declaration. In his letter to the Conveners he wrote,
I think this is an excellent, and absolutely necessary initiative at a time when the Israeli state is more violently and criminally desperate than ever before, but simultaneously when solidarity with and support for the Palestinian cause seem to finding new allies, despite, and perhaps because of the persistent assaults on Palestinians and their allies within and without the Jewish community.
Yes, you are right. We have long understood that the religious and biblical justification claimed by apartheid constituted a denial and perversion of the most basic tenets for faith and should be declared a heresy. In 1982 the world church joined us and it turned out to be one of the most efficacious actions taken against apartheid. Because we recognise such frightening similarities in the Israeli apartheid State and its pernicious ideologies and actions, I have been arguing for some time now that Christians, at least, should think of the support of Christian, Evangelical, Zionist biblical and theological justifications in the same way. I think this is an important part of the battle and a crucial avenue to pursue. In the World Communion of Reformed Churches we are working towards the same goal.
The Convivencia Alliance also recalls for me the United Democratic Front, the political movement that brought our people together across those artificial barriers of race, religion, colour, culture, and class and that was so successful in its mobilization of people in the struggle for freedom and justice in South Africa, and whose political agenda always included Palestine.Anyway, this is my longwinded way of affirming your recollection of our role in declaring apartheid a heresy, a perversion of the gospel and a blasphemy. I continue to argue that the ability to take a stand in the anti-apartheid struggle in those final stages of the 1980s was the litmus test of our spiritual and political integrity. Such is the case today with the cause of Palestinian justice. So I think that the Convivencia Alliance will be a powerful instrument to put that choice before people at this time. It will be an honour to join others in making a contribution to this worthy cause. Warmest greetings and God’s richest blessings upon you and the important work you are doing, Allan Boesak
This is a truly inspirational story of how a young conservative white evangelical Christian became a passionate life-long campaigner for Palestinian rights.
The book reveals the heavy price Don has paid for his commitment to justice, peace and reconciliation. Don clearly stands in the subversive but non-violent tradition of Mohandas Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandella.
I simply could not put this book down. It is a compelling, detailed, eye-witness commentary on the unfolding tragedy of Palestine over the past 40 years. It is also a searing indictment of the failure of the West, tragically with the complicity of the Church, to hold Israel accountable to its obligations under international law and repeated UN Resolutions.
Don does not mince his words, describing Zionism for what it has become, a “brutal Israeli Apartheid-settler colonial regime.” p. 20.
At the same time, the book records the pioneering role Don and others have played in galvanising mainstream Western Christian engagement in the Middle East and in particular, advocating for, and partnering with, Palestinian Christians.
I have known Don personally for over 25 years and it has been a privilege to accompany him on several significant journeys to Palestine. Indeed, his early writings were the inspiration for my own PhD which examined the history, theology and politics of Christian Zionism.
Although I am confident this book will sell many copies, I am sure that what matters more to Don will be the extent to which readers are motivated to engage in the struggle for truth, justice and peace. For this is also a practical book. It is a call to action, indeed, a ‘Cry for Hope’. In the concluding chapters Don helpfully draws attention to numerous resources and initiatives which will enable readers to advocate and connect with fellow Christians in Palestine.
There are so many excellent quotes. I’ll restrain myself to one: “Palestine becomes at once a metaphor and a living reality of a people rising from the ashes of defeat to claim what is rightfully theirs – justice and only justice.” p. 20.
After serving for five years as a pastor in a remarkable Black church, Donald Wagner comes to fully understand the original sin of racism. As his journey continues, he encounters another marginalised people the Palestinians and witnesses their struggle for justice and equality. Touched by their resilience and fight against injustice, he leaves the pastorate to assume full time work as an advocate for Palestinian political and human rights.
The memoir begins in mid-September 1982, with a gut-wrenching day interviewing survivors of the Sabra-Shatila massacre in Lebanon, as they wept and waited for the bodies of family members to be pulled from the rubble. Donald Wagner’s conversation with the local Imam ended with a challenge: You must return home and tell what you have seen. This is all we ask. Go back and tell the truth.” Glory To God in the Lowest is a metaphor for his counter intuitive journey with the victims of the “chosen people” in the “unholy land”.
I am sure I am not alone in acknowledging a deep debt of gratitude to Don for his unflinching example of what it means to follow in the footsteps of Christ.
A Dossier on Israeli Apartheid: A Pressing Call to Churches Around the World. Prepared by: Kairos Palestine and Global Kairos for Justice 2022
Sisters and brothers in Christ,
We, members of Kairos Palestine and Global Kairos for Justice, have created a theological study for Christians and other civil society organizations who want to learn more about the crime of apartheid and why Palestinians and a growing number of churches and human rights organizations are using the word to describe Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.
In this guide, you will find: a clear description of apartheid and how Israel’s laws, policies and practices meet theinternational definition; a Biblical/theological reflection describing the sin of apartheid; a heartfelt call to the global church to hear the pleas of Palestinian Christians; and a list of recommended actions. Also included are brief summaries of and links to many of the reports cited above, statements made by churches, faith groups, and international leaders (including prominent Israeli Jews), and a short book list.
We call upon the churches around the world to receive and study this Dossier and respond to the evidence and the call to do justice. It is our hope that this study will equip the global church to rise up and join Palestinian Christians as we work to end Israel’s apartheid regime for the sake of all who live in the Holy Land.
+ Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah Chair of Kairos Palestine
General Coordinator: Global Kairos for Justice Coalition
The Dossier includes a link to my resource, “A Biblical Response to Israeli Apartheid” prepared for the Sabeel-Kairos UK conference last year.
Download the dossier here: https://www.kairospalestine.ps/images/kp-a-dossier-on-israeli-apartheid-main.pdf
‘Faithwashing’ refers to the use of interfaith relationships and alliances to deny Palestinian human rights and silence criticism of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It is centred on the idea that at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is centuries-old religious differences as opposed to a settler colonial project that continues to dispossess and disenfranchise Palestinians.Continue reading
In June, Christian Aid hosted a meeting at their Central London HQ with Sabeel-Kairos UK for staff and volunteers to hear presentations by Hagai El-Ad from the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, and Raji Souranifrom the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza. Representatives from the Sabeel-Kairos denominational groups attended (Anglican, Church of Scotland, Methodist, Roman Catholic, URC).Continue reading