Acknowledging our communities’ commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the “Al-Nakba,” along with that of their fellow Palestinians, the Council of Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem reiterates the Churches’ call to strive for a just and lasting peace for our land, the Holy Land.
Our faith teaches us that we are all brothers and sisters in humanity, and that we must unite and worktogethertoachievepeace,tolerance,andjustice.Christianityhastaughtusthatlove, compassion, and mutual respect are the path to achieving peace in the world, and this is especially applicable to our beloved Holy Land.
We pray for all members of our churches and the rest of the people in our land, and we urge everyone to work together to build a better and more humane future for all. We remind everyone that peace can only be achieved when there is fairness and respect for human rights and international law.
We believe that justice and peace are the keys to stability and prosperity in the region, and we declare our readiness to work with all concerned parties to achieve these noble goals. We call upon the international community to play a greater role in supporting the protection of our communities and in preserving holy sites and the current “Status Quo” rules under The Hashemite Custodianship as well as striving to achieve a permanent and just peace in the region, based on international legitimacy and United Nations resolutions.
Our beloved Holy Land is “the home of the three faiths.” We pray for God to grant us all wisdom as we work to move towards a better future, and to provide the Palestinian people the right to self- determination, state building, and prosperity—allowing all the peoples of this Land to live in peace, dignity, and prosperity.
The Council of Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem
Mark is Executive Director, Kairos USA and Research Fellow in Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology, Stellenbosch University.
These are the questions asked in our interview (paraphrased):
How do we reconcile the biblical texts promising the land to the descendants of Abraham with the call of the Palestinian Christians for sharing the land of Palestine?
The modern Jewish Zionist program calls the land “Israel.” And the settler movement, with the support of the Israeli government, is committed to Jewish hegemony over the entire land from the river to the sea (indeed, from the Nile to the Euphrates!). They justify this biblically. Is this claim consistent with biblical promises?
Is it theologically sound to use the Bible to argue land claims and human rights issues of equality? How do we read the Bible today confronting issues of racism and colonialism? What does Jesus have to say about this?
Christian Zionism provides the basis for many Christians’ commitment to and activity in support of the State of Israel. It is also being challenged, as biblically erroneous, theological unsound, and unacceptable on moral grounds. Is it Biblical? Indeed, what is its provenance with respect to the political and historical contexts in which it was conceived, took shape, and has been applied, right up to the present day?
Visit Kairos USA for more information about their work.
We are delighted that Ranjan Solomon has kindly agreed to join the Peacemaker International Board of Reference. Ranjan is a freelance writer, organisational consultant and human rights activist living in Goa.
Ranjan served for 33 years with the YMCA in refugee services in Bangladesh and India. He was also Executive for Justice and Development in the Asia-Pacific Alliance of YMCAs.
Ranjan is executive director of Badayl (Arabic for ‘Alternatives’) is a Consultancy that deals with Organizational Development for organizations that address questions of justice, peace, and human rights. Badayl facilitates’ ‘Future Search ” process which results in arriving at new paradigms of organizational development consistent with leadership/management trends that are contemporary and out-of-the-box in scope. Some of Badayl’s projects include a Global Review-Research on “Environmental Democracy, An Evaluation of an NCCI initiative: “Freedom of Religion and Belief”. Other evaluations involved a review of the work carried out in Chechnya at the height of the war with Russia. The evaluation looked at Future Search and a capacity-assessment of the organization. A major evaluation of the Yakkum Emergency Unit in Indonesia during the inter-religious conflict in Medan. Badayl served as Consultant to the Caritas-Goa’s programme for justice in tourism in Goa (Centre for Responsible Tourism). Badayl supported a study on “The Question of Water in tourism (Water as a right of ‘The Commons’)”.
Ranjan is the co-founder and Core Group member/Program Coordinator of the Movement for Liberation from Nakba (MLN) a coalition of organizations and individuals from Southeast Asia, South Asia, Australia, the UK and South Africa which disseminates knowledge about Palestine in the Global South. He is Convener of Indo Palestine Solidarity Network and Global Kairos for Asia Pacific Palestine Solidarity Network. He is an Op Ed writer for The Goan.
I am pleased to be able to write and share the latest news from Peacemaker Trust. We thank God for the way he has opened new doors recently to enable me to teach and advocate for justice, peace and reconciliation. It is exciting to be working more closely with Christian leaders in the Middle East as well as Jewish and Muslim leaders in the UK who share our vision and wish to partner with us.
Salaam in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose resurrection from the death we celebrate these days ever proclaiming: “Jesus Christ is risen”.
In recognition of our long-standing relationship of over thirty years, I am writing to formally invite you to become my chaplain in the UK, to assist me when I am visiting, or to advise me in the fulfilment of my episcopal duties, albeit in retirement.
My dear Stephen, you are a person of integrity and forthright views with the courage to express them.
At the same time you have always shown the utmost respect for the adherents of different faiths, in particular to Jews and Moslems, while advocating for Christian presence in the Land of the Holy One, Israel and Palestine, and campaigning for Palestinian Human Rights.
I wish more servants of Christ, bishops and clergy, Anglicans and others, were as courageous as you in challenging the destructive effects of Israeli apartheid and Christian Zionism on both Jews and Palestinians.
I appreciate your prayers, your advocacy and solidarity with the Church in the Holy Land.
Know this comes with my prayers and my sincere thanks in advance.
+Bishop Riah Abo El Assal
I have been assisting Bishop Riah in the fulfilment of his episcopal duties in an informal capacity for decades. It is a delight and honour to have that role more formally recognised.
Why then do we write about antisemitism? The answer is simple.
The foundations on which we struggle against Palestinian oppression are the same foundations on which we are committed to fighting against antisemitism. Furthermore, if it is wrong of the state of Israel to deny our full humanity, it is futile and unacceptable for us to do the same. There will be no peace in our land until all of us recognize the full humanity of all who live here – especially Palestinian refugees, forcibly exiled who wish to return and have been denied that right.
As Christians, we believe – with our Jewish brothers and sisters – that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. As human beings, we endorse the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the human rights conventions based upon it.9
It is wrong for the state of Israel to discriminate against, dispossess, and displace us, because we are as human as Israeli Jews are. Equally, it is wrong for anyone anywhere to hate, discriminate against, or seek to destroy Jews, because Jews – Israeli or not – are as human as we are.
There is another reason.
If it is wrong of the state of Israel to deny our full humanity, it is futile and unacceptable for us to do the same. There will be no peace in our land until all of us recognize the full humanity of all who live here – especially Palestinian refugees, forcibly exiled who wish to return and have been denied that right.
Already this book has been of value to the Sabeel community. Writing it has helped us to examine how antisemitism may arise in ourselves, our organization, and our communities in the context of Palestine and Israel.
We recognize the need for internal reflection on the way we speak, act, and write. To allow an “us and them” mentality to infect our work for justice both violates the tenets of our faith and hurts the cause of liberation.
We offer this book as a first statement, open to revision, of where we stand. We offer it for study and discussion, and we welcome feedback in the form of constructive criticism or other comment.
The text was written by a small team over many years. Many people from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and secular backgrounds took time to read the various drafts and supply academic, theological, and editorial comments. Sabeel is grateful to all who helped; they are, of course, not responsible for our conclusions.
We do not claim to speak here for our Jewish, Muslim, or secular friends, nor, indeed, for the Christian community.
We speak to our Christian brothers and sisters in the first place here in Palestine. Likewise, we speak to the others with respect. We trust that our words will be heard with the same goodwill with which we say them.
This book is the first in a series of education tools we are planning to publish to help Sabeel and our friends identify where we may be caught up in prejudice or discrimination. We plan similar books on discrimination against Islam and against Christianity in the context of the struggle between Palestine and Israel.
We hope that all who read this book will use it not just as an educational resource, but also as a tool for self-reflection and transformation. We invite our local and international partners, as well as the larger community, to examine their rhetoric, action, organizing, and strategy to ensure that the movement for Palestinian liberation is grounded firmly in the values of human rights for all.
Sabeel is a center for Palestinian liberation theology based in both occupied Palestine and Israel. Our aim is to stand with those who are on the margins of society, and to use theology to liberate those who are oppressed. Sabeel strives to free theology from those who would wish to use it as a weapon against others. We seek to understand our situation and our struggle in the light of the Christian faith.
To buy the PDF version of the book please click here.