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The Truth about the Kairos Palestine Document

In the 60 Minutes report “Christians in the Holy Land” in March 2012, CBS correspondent Bob Simon attempted painted Palestinian Christian leaders with as non-violent brush towards Israel especially the Israel Defense Force (IDF).  Simon’s goal was to pin a “I support Martin Luther King” button on Palestinian Christians and  portray Israelis as evil ” segregationists” standing in the way of Palestinian civil rights. Nothing could be further from the truth once we delve outside the small box of  the 60 Minutes report.

Here are the words from the 60 Minutes transcript:

In 2009, this group of Christian activists did something unprecedented. They published a document called Kairos, criticizing Islamic extremism and advocating non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation which they called a sin against God. It was endorsed by the leaders of 13 Christian denominations including Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican.

The CBS correspondent continued to explore the Kairos Palestine Document by interviewing Mitri Raheb, a Palestinian Christian, the pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem:

Mitri Raheb: They [the Israelis] are fearful of this document because they are afraid this might influence the Christian world

Reverend Raheb, who helped write the document, says it’s anything but anti-Semitic.

Mitri Raheb: This document is– doesn’t ask for violent. It doesn’t ask for revenge. The most powerful thing in this document actually is that asking for hope and love and faith.

But is this document merely asking for “hope and love and faith”? How much do we as Christians in the Western World know about the Kairos Palestine Document?

Background of the Kairos Palestine Document

To grasp the impact of Kairos Palestine Document, I need to provide some background regarding the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s participation when it comes to Israel.  Existing within the church is a bloc of anti-Israel activists who have tried to portray Israel as the chief culprit for the problematic Arab/Israel conflict.  These individuals have submitted several anti-Zionist overtures to meetings of local presbyteries.
These overtures have ignored the terrorist activities of the Palestinians and focused on Israeli policies.  Once these overtures are submitted and passed by the local groups, they advance to the General Assembly, the PC (USA)’s national stage.

     The 2004 anti-Israel overture. In 2004 an anti-Israel divestment resolution was submitted by a presbytery in Florida was approved by the Presbyterian General Assembly.  The overture claimed Israel is the cause of the violence against innocent Palestinians.  Again, the resolution, like many of them, failed to mention the part Islamic groups played in creating violence in Israel.  The passage of this resolution appeared to be a great victory for the anti-Zionists within the PC (USA).

     The 2006 overturn of the 2004 resolution. Jewish leaders along with Presbyterian pastors and laity most likely complained about the 2004 resolution. So at the next GA two years later, the assembly overturned the 2004 vote that focused on Israel for divestment.  Oddly, the local presbyteries did not single out any other nation for divestment other than Israel. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out other nations could have been called out for human rights violations. 

     The 2010 divestment resolutions. The local presbyteries were still bent on singling out Israel for punishment by the PC (USA).  A number of resolutions were brought before the GA in 2010.  Two overtures called for the denomination to divest (to deprive of financial support) from Caterpillar because the company supplies tractors and bulldozers to Israel. Israel would often bulldoze the homes of Palestinian terrorists especially if that person was involved in a brutal attack on innocent Israelis. Both the home and the family dwelling in the home were displaced because of the terrorist actions of one of its family members.

     The report of the Middle East Study Committee (MESC). Apart from the above mentioned overtures, none of them were as bad as the 172 page report prepared by a nine-member MESC. This committee was responsible for providing a comprehensive report on the Israel/Palestinian conflict.
The resulting report “Breaking Down the Walls” was damaging to Israel and lacked any concern for Israel’s security. The report was unfortunately passed by the GA . . . but in an altered form while retaining its anti-Israel bias.  “Breaking Down the Walls” was seen by Presbyterians for Middle East Peace as “unbalanced, historically inaccurate, theologically flawed and politically damaging.”

 The creation of the Kairos Palestine Document. The Kairos Palestine Document was actually released on December 11, 2009 in Bethlehem. The KPD was supposed to provide a more balanced perspective than “Breaking Down the Walls.” The paper was composed by an ecumenical group of Palestinian Christians who wanted to show the world what was taking place in their land.  It cannot over overlooked that board of theologians and pastors who composed the KPD were all Palestinian!

The 219th General Assembly created a special “Monitoring Group on Middle East Policy” (MGMEP).  One of the tasks given to the MGMEP was to create a study guide for the Kairos Palestine Document, a so-called compromise for not accepting the “Breaking Down the Walls” report.  As we shall see, it isn’t much of a compromise.

The study guide was intended to endorse the Kairos Palestine Document’s (KPD) focus on the hope of “liberation, non-violence, love of enemy and reconciliation.”  Early in June 2011, the study guide was released . The study guide and accompanying document was solely meant to address the concerns raised by Palestinian Christians.

The Purpose of the Kairos Palestine Document

On the Kairos Palestine website the purpose of the document is spelled out:

This document is the Christian Palestinians’ word to the world about what is happening in Palestine. It is written at this time when we wanted to see the Glory of the grace of God in this land and in the sufferings of its people. In this spirit the document requests the international community to stand by the Palestinian people who have faced oppression, displacement, suffering and clear apartheid for more than six decades. The suffering continues while the international community silently looks on at the occupying State, Israel.

The document continues its biased intent:

In this historic document, we Palestinian Christians declare that the military occupation of our land is a sin against God and humanity, and that any theology that legitimizes the occupation is far from Christian teachings because true Christian theology is a theology of love and solidarity with the oppressed, a call to justice and equality among peoples.

Notice that the Kairos Palestine Document (KPD) does not represent the Israeli perspective but solely the Palestinian viewpoint.  There is nothing mentioned about Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israel.  The document uses the terms “occupying Israel” to prejudice the reader against Israel. I find it interesting that Palestinians so quickly forget that between 1948 and 1967 the Egyptians controlled Gaza and Jordan controlled the West Bank.  During that 19 year period the Palestinians were not in control nor did they seek a Palestinian state.  How come these two territories were not called “occupied”  during this interim?  The only reason the Israelis even entered these two areas was because the Egyptians and Jordanians were using them as strategic locations from which to attack Israel.  In Israel’s response to these acts of war by Jordan and Egypt, the IDF overcame their enemies and took over the land area from which they were being victimized.  The Palestinians had 19 years to appeal to Jordan and Egypt to have authority of the territories, set up their own Palestinian state and government.  Yet they failed to do so.

In addition, the KPD condemns any theology that would show support for Israel such as Christian Zionism, which is akin to a theology which “legitimizes the occupation.”  In other words, the KPD only allows for a replacement theology in which the church is now the new Israel and all the promises God made to Israel concerning the Holy Land are null and void.

I have a lot more to say about the KPD, which I will leave for my next blog.  The flaws and dangers of the KPD cannot be tossed aside.  If you are a member of a Presbyterian Church (USA), I  implore you to speak to your pastor or leadership board about their position on this document. Voice your concerns about the infiltration of an strong anti-Zionist contingency in the denomination.

13 Responses to “The Truth about the Kairos Palestine Document”

  1. Kathy says:

    I have been aware of the PC(USA) anti-Israel bias for a long time. I had been away from the church for 38 years, and when I returned, that bias was the reason I did not return there or to any PC(USA) church. I am now a member of a Bible Presbyterian church which soundly rejects replacement theology and embraces Israel’s place in God’s plan of redemption both for Israel and for all the nations.

    Last year when the PC(USA) General Assembly voted on the report “Breaking Down the Walls” I emailed the General Assembly and called the new pastor at my former church to express my opinion. I never received a response to my email, and the pastor, who seemed to be a very nice man, didn’t seem to take the matter seriously. He said, “Oh, you know, they do a lot of crazy things.” I told him it was those “crazy things” that prevented me from returning to his church.

    I expect these things from a church which my current church considers “judicially apostate” (for reasons which do not pertain to this blog), but what is so distressing to me is what I saw at the “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference, where people considered true mainstream evangelicals participated; people like Lynn Hybels, John Ortberg, and Christopher Wright. John Ortberg and Christopher Wright share my Reformed tradition, and that causes me great sorrow.

    I have shared your blog with my pastor and will continue to do so. I think it’s so important that we all understand what is going on in the Body of Christ.

    • Scripture Solutions says:

      kjcallison: Thanks for your comments and for validating the things that I wrote concerning the PCUSA. I do know of several PCUSA churches in the Southern California area that oppose the GA on the Kairos Palestine Document. So there is a remnant of PCUSA churches that are going against the anti-Israel flow. Thanks for your stance on behalf of Israel. I was appalled that 60 Minutes mentioned the KPD without any context. Mitri Raheb did a disservice by not associating the document with the PCUSA church and by failing to disclose the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic document that it is. My challenge to everyone who reads this blog is to read the history of the Middle East conflict and learn the truth so they can combat the propaganda and lies that are coming out of the evangelical supporters of the Evangelical Intifada.

  2. will spotts says:

    The bloc of anti-Israel activists you mention within the PC(USA) actually promoted / advertised the 60 Minutes broadcast that featured Rev. Raheb.

    • Scripture Solutions says:

      Will: I will approve your comment but I think you need to back up your comment with evidence regarding members of this anti-Israel bloc and references supporting your claim they paid and promoted for the 60 Minutes ad. Thanks. I await your reply.

      • will spotts says:

        That is no claim of mine. I did not in any way, shape, or form say or intend to imply they paid for this. My apologies if you got that impression, I see the confusion stems from my use of the word advertise.

        The fact is that certain elements of the PC(USA) promoted the program within the PC(USA). A far less interesting and provocative a claim, to be sure. I’m kind of regretting mentioning it at this point.

        But, since you asked – the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program featured an article on the broadcast http://www.pcusa.org/blogs/swords-plowshares/2012/4/20/rev-dr-mitri-raheb-encourages-viewers-watch-60-min/

        Also, the PC(USA)’s official representative in the Holy Land, Douglas Dicks prepares an email list that has been recommended by a Stated Clerk of the GA and several other PC(USA) interest groups. He sent at least 3 separate emails about this program.

        The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the PC(USA) linked to the program from their website http://www.theipmn.org/

        The General Assembly Mission Council of the Presbyterian Church (USA) mentions this broadcast among a section listed as “resources for study and engagement”

        • Scripture Solutions says:

          Will: I don’t think you are that far off in your speculation about the PCUSA. They have promoted and supported some pretty nasty anti-Israel reports in the past decade. While they did not commission or author the Kairos Palestine Document, they have endorsed it and have recently in 2010 composed a study guide of the KPD to be used in their churches. In addition, the Middle East Study Committee in the PCUSA authored a report called “Breaking Down the Walls” which is a 172 page assessment of the Middle East situation and it paints a very negative view of Israel and was so negative it had to be amended in accordance of the request of the General Assembly. It would not be a shocker if the PCUSA had sponsored this CBS program. According to Dexter Van Zile in his article on the website CAMERA.org. “Oslo Syndrome Redux?” he notes about the PCUSA, “For the past several years anti-Israel activists in the PCUSA have used the denominations institutions to de-legitimize Israel by broadcasting a narrative that portrays the Jewish state as uniquely at fault for the continued existence of the Arab-Israel conflict. They have done this by submitting overtures to meetings of local presbyteries that draw attention to Israeli policies while remaining silent about misdeeds of its adversaries.”

          Regardless, thanks for the links you included which do support your point of the PCUSA promoting the 60 Minutes program even if they did not “advertise” it. I will check out these resources. Thanks for the time you took to contribute a comment to ScriptureSolutions and I hope you feel free to comment again,

          • will spotts says:

            The MESC report did have some appalling things in it. The “revised” element goes to this years General Assembly.

            There are several worrisome items under consideration at that event (June 30-July7). The first (to my knowledge) actual boycott proposal in the PC(USA), divestment from CAT, MSI, and HPQ, a statement criticizing Israel (singularly) for violating religious freedom, an Israel = apartheid proposal. It should prove an interesting event.

          • Scripture Solutions says:

            Will: can you suggest a link where I can view the current MESC report? Thanks for keeping us up on the PCUSA’ stance on Israel. Again, I have to emphasize that not all PCUSA churches agree with the anti-Zionist element in the church. This is not a denominational policy at large but the result of overtures introduced by individual churches/committees into the General Assembly where the overtures are voted on. Even when an overture passes, it’s contents still do not reflect the church’s position. We as Christians need to be careful about painting any group with a broad brush stroke.

  3. Maxime says:

    The Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Lutheran, and Anglican churches which signed the document represent the overwhelming majority of Christians and the entire Christian church before about 1700 (I guess with the bare exception of Calvinists but then we have PCUSA agreeing).

    Only modern non-traditional, non-liturgical sects buy into the false doctrine of Christian Zionism, itself bought and paid for by rich non- or even anti-Christian Zionists.

    Wake up! Nearly 100% of Christians in the Middle East are opposed to the Israeli government’s policies.

    • Scripture Solutions says:

      Maxime: The “overwhelming majority” of denominations that are liberal in their theology and often hold to left wing liberation beliefs including Palestinian liberation theology support the Kairos document according to you. The entire Christian church prior to 1700? How could they sign the document? That makes no sense.

      Maxime, have you read what the entire Christian church prior to 1700 has written about women throughout church history? Women are lesser than men and are said to be “demonic.” Do you believe that? These denomination you cite have liberal views of the Bible that excludes them from being called theological conservatives. Some of them are unclear on the major doctrines of the faith including the person of Christ, salvation through Jesus alone, the authenticity of the word of God, the second coming, the virgin birth, and many other doctrines that define us as followers of Jesus. Is it any wonder that they do not know what the Bible teaches about God’s plan for Israel and sign such a dastardly anti-semitic document as the Kairos Palestine document?

      You say, “Nearly 100% of Christians in the Middle East are opposed to the Israeli government’s policies.” That is quite a statement. I know many pastors of evangelical churches in Israel as well as well as messianic Jewish pastors in Israel who DO support Israel’s policies. So there goes your “100%.” I would not be so foolish as to say 100% of churches in America support the policies of the government of Israel. They don’t. I behoove you to familiarize yourself with churches in Israel that support the government there.

      Your terms “non-traditional, non-liturgical” have to do with a church’s practice of their faith (aka liturgy) not their doctrine (except in some cases). Are you saying that those who belong to Protestant denominations are non-traditional theologically or liturgically? I’d rather be “right on” with my theology than to be in alignment with a liturgy, though uplifting and reverent, that has little connection to any liturgy described in the New Testament. Traditional liturgy is not a substitute for a correct and sound biblical theology.

  4. Maxime says:

    The new Israel is the Church not an ethno-nationalist Jewish State run by anti-Christian secular Jews who do not even believe the religious documents you cite (with misinterpretation) as grounds for Christian Zionism.

    It is absurd to have a doctrine whereby enemies of a religion, in the eyes of that same religion, have the right to some land in order to fulfill a prophecy.

    • Scripture Solutions says:

      Maxime: In light of the many articles on this website, at least you can try to prove your point that “the new Israel is the Church.” This whole site is dedicated to demonstrate from the scriptures that the church is NOT the “new Israel.” Such terminology is foreign to the New Testament writers but only exists in the minds of biased theologians who are opposed to the fact God is presently working with the Jewish people as a nation.

      I am not a Christian Zionist. I am a messianic Jew who is a Zionist. It doesn’t matter whether or not modern Israelis believe in the biblical texts; the texts are either true what they say about God’s plan for Israel or they are not. Were the scriptures about salvation in Jesus only true when you accepted Christ as your Redeemer or are they true regardless of your faith in them?

      The “right to some land”? This land has been promised to the Jewish people from Genesis 12 onward to the New Testament. The passage you quote about Jewish people being enemies to the message of the NT gospel message must be read in context: Romans 11:28-29: “As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”

      The Jewish people are still God’s elect nation according to Paul and God’s promises to them are irrevocable. Will you stand against God’s word and deny God’s truth about Israel or side with anti-Jewish church fathers who did everything they could out of their own prejudiced anti-Jewish minds to wipe Israel off the map of God’s covenant promises?

  5. will spotts says:

    The MESC item appears in the business before this year’s General Assembly. It is now the product of the Middle East Monitoring Group. It can be found at https://www.pc-biz.org/IOBView.aspx?m=ro&id=4331&promoid=320

    It is very difficult to say what is ‘official’ PC(USA) policy as different things have differing levels of imprimatur. But you are right. I expect a great many Presbyterians do not support this at all.

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