Finding the Church’s Prophetic Voice: Revd Naim Ateek

This past year, during the pandemic, Rev. Naim Ateek, put together a collection of his writings including lectures, sermons, largely unpublished but mostly delivered at various universities, colleges, and churches over the years.

A number of them have been organized by topics and published in booklet forms. This is a work in progress. So far, six booklets have been published. They are now available through Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. The contents and titles of these booklets are as follows:

“Religion and Politics in Israel/Palestine and the Question of Toleration/Intolerance”
“Palestinian Liberation Theology” Remembering Father Michael Prior
“Cry Out, Do Not Hold Back! Finding the Church’s Prophetic Voice for Palestine”
“Jerusalem” The Significance of Jerusalem A Palestinian Theology of Jerusalem.
“Sabeel Christmas Messages 2014-2020”

I was invited to review one of the booklets, “Cry Out, Do Not Hold Back! Finding the Church’s Prophetic Voice for Palestine”

“The distilled wisdom of over 50 years ministry, this is an immensely significant and urgent call (as well as loving rebuke) for the Western church to find its prophetic voice and speak truth to power over Palestine. For far too long church leaders has been silent about injustice in Palestine and have compromised their prophetic witness. 

In clear and simple terms Naim explains how Christians have “quenched the Spirit and choked the prophetic”, caring more about personal interests than fidelity to God’s truth.

Through simple biblical expositions, Naim shatters the illusion that somehow Jesus was apolitical. Instead, we are offered a clear, Christ-centred, biblical theology of justice and peace. 

The inclusion of the testimonies of contemporary Palestinian Christian leaders who, as faithful “martyrs”, have shown courage in challenging Israeli apartheid, is also deeply inspiring.

This book is particularly valuable in outlining the practical steps we need to take to recover our prophetic voice and so fulfil our God-given mandate.”

You can participate in the international launch of these booklets on Friday 3rd December via Zoom

We pray, Lord, to bless Pastor Dr. Naim Ateek, who has worked over the years to raise awareness about the reality of Palestinians, issues of liberation, and strive for fair peace and participate in international gatherings and haunted events. God bless this version and the different versions that narrate the reality of what is going on in the country.

Israeli Committee Against House Demolition (ICAHD) Webinar on Christian Zionism

ICAHD USA hosted a webinar on 7 November entitled ‘Christian Zionism: What Is It, How Does it Impact on the Palestinian Question, and How Do We Combat It?’ The three guest speakers were Jonathan Kuttab – Executive Director, Friends of Sabeel, North America, Dr Don Wagner – Author, co-author of five books dealing with Christian Zionism and Christian history in Palestine / Israel, and myself. Here is a recording of my presentation:

“The very being of the church, the integrity of the Christian faith, and the credibility of the Gospel is at stake.  We declare that support for the oppression of the Palestinian people, whether passive or active, through silence, word or deed, is a sin.  We assert that Christian support for Zionism as a theology and an ideology that legitimize the right of one people to deny the human rights of another is incompatible with the Christian faith and a grave misuse of the Bible.” (2020 Kairos Palestine: ‘Cry of Hope’)

Watch a recording of the full webinar here

A Biblical Critique of Apartheid

What does the Bible say about apartheid? How has the Bible been used to justify supremacism, segregation and racial purity? How is apartheid easily refuted from the Bible? This presentation will provide some answers. The introduction gives a brief historical overview showing the lineage of European supremacism, slavery, segregation and apartheid. It also examines why apartheid has been designated a crime against humanity, and shows the similarities between the South African and Israeli variants.

Download a copy of this presentation here

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Sabeel-Kairos UK: A Christian Response to Israeli Apartheid

During the annual Sabeel-Kairos UK conference held in September, I led a short bible reflection on Apartheid based on Isaiah 56. I also led a workshop for which I prepared a research paper as well as a Bible study for personal as well as group discussion.

The following statement, presented by the Sabeel-Kairos UK trustees with the support of both Kairos Palestine and Sabeel Jerusalem, was endorsed by conference participants.

‘Having considered a Christian response to Israeli apartheid, we affirm that all people are created equally in the image of God; we commend the B’TSelem and Human Rights Watch documents designating Israel as an apartheid state; we repudiate all forms of racism and discrimination; and we recommit ourselves to working for justice, peace and reconciliation in Israel/Palestine.”

Kumi Now: Christian Zionism

Kumi Now are working to connect activists around the world with the organizations working on the ground in Palestine and Israel to bring a just and lasting peace based on international law and nonviolence.

All Palestinians regardless of their faith face similar challenges. However, Palestinian Christians face a specific kind of challenge from Christian Zionists who manipulate scripture to support the oppression of Palestinians. On August 22, 2006 Palestinian Christian churches addressed the threat of Christian Zionism with the “Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism.” We mark the anniversary of the declaration by learning about Christian Zionism and learning what you can do so that together we can rise up.

Continue reading about Kumi Action and resources for download Kumi Now

Find additional resources here

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A Christian Response to Israeli Apartheid

Although we would love to meet in person, this year we have made the decision to keep our conference online in the hope that as many of you as possible are able to join us.

This year our theme is ‘A Christian Response to Israeli Apartheid’. We will be hearing from two excellent speakers about apartheid in both the Palestinian territories, and inside Israel itself.

Alongside this we will be joining together in worship, reflection, and action, and we will be hosting a number of workshops in breakout rooms, looking at how we can work within our Churches and communities to combat apartheid.

We will also be hearing direct from our partners Sabeel Jerusalem and Kairos Palestine about their work on the ground in Palestine/Israel, and the highs and lows of the last year!

We are very much looking forward to this event, and hope that you can join us.

Sabeel-Kairos UK

Morally Responsible Investing

Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and flouting of United Nations resolutions is ongoing and unwavering. Dozens of international corporations profit off this oppression by contracting with the Israeli government and participating in the construction of illegal settlements. As we mark the beginnings of the BDS Movement on July 9, 2005, here’s what you need to know about morally responsible investment and what you can do so that together we can rise up.

Our guest will be Charlotte Marshall of Sabeel-Kairos UK.

Time: Tuesday, July 13, at 4:00pm London time (6:00pm East Jerusalem, Palestine time UTC+3)

Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/94679502800

(There’s no registration page, so please set an alarm for yourself and use this link on Tuesday.)

Remember, if you’d like to receive a reminder about the gathering an hour before it begins, please use the registration form at the bottom of the page.

Dear Archbishop Justin: Why are you silent on the suffering in Gaza?

The Board of Trustees of Sabeel-Kairos UK have written an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury questioning his silence over the last 11 days on the disproportionate violence against civilians in Palestine, and the lack of solidarity and support for the Palestinian people.  You can read our letter, and share in this action here. 

In the last 11 days we have witnessed once again an unprecedented level of violence towards civilians in the Holy Land. 

Whilst people have been suffering in Israel and in the West Bank too, the lives of those in Gaza have once again been disproportionally affected. 219 Palestinians, including 63 children and 35 women (3 of whom were pregnant) have lost their lives. Tens of thousands have been displaced and made homeless once more. Hundreds of buildings have been destroyed, including 6 hospitals and 44 schools. This is unacceptable.

We welcome the news of the ceasefire, which we hope will hold and protect all civilians from more violence. But unless the root causes are addressed – namely Israel’s ongoing occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem, its siege of Gaza, and its discrimination against non-Jews inside the State of Israel, we will be back here, lamenting the next war very soon.

During the last 11 days, Churches around the world have been issuing statements of support and solidarity, and calling for the structural injustices in the Holy Land to be addressed. In the UK, the Methodists, United Reform Church, Catholics, Quakers and others have all spoken out, yet the Church of England has remained silent. In the letter below, written by the trustees of Sabeel-Kairos UK, we challenge that silence, and we ask those of you that are members of the Church of England to do so with us.

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The Greatest Threat to Peacemaking

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:19-23)

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Ancestral Journeys and Western Missions by Anita Damiani-Shanley

Like other Western colonial-settler experiments, for over 70 years, Zionists have been systematically erasing the culture and history of indigenous Palestinians to justify their forced removal and the theft of their land. Ilan Pappe, in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, calls this ‘memorocide’ and in The Palestine Nakba, Nur Masalha elaborates, 

“The founding myths of Israel have dictated the conceptual removal of Palestinians before, during and after their physical removal in 1948… The de-Arabisation of Palestine, the erasure of Palestinian history and the elimination of the Palestinian’s collective memory by the Israeli state are no less violent than the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948 and the destruction of historic Palestine.”

This is why books such as Ancestral Journeys and Western Missions are so vital in recording the memories and eyewitness accounts of Arabs and Palestinians who experienced the arrival of Western colonialists to the Middle East, were co-opted into their wars, witnessed the rise of Zionism and then became refugees in the Palestinian Nakba.  Anita Damiani-Shanley’s book will most certainly help perpetuate their heritage and rightful historic claim to Palestine.

Ancestral Journeys is however much more than the story of two families, one Arab and the other Scottish joined in marriage. It traces the influence of missionaries, archaeologists, traders and colonialists competing with each other for a share of the Near East as the Ottoman Empire met its demise. Richly illuminated with family photos, the three main chapters trace the ancestral journeys of Damiani-Shanley’s extended family from Scotland and Lebanon to Iraq and then to Palestine. A fourth chapter traces the role of the Anglican Church in Palestine.  

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