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Where is the Love in the Kairos Palestine Document?

In my previous blog I introduced the Kairos Palestine Document (KPD).  KPD,written by an ecumenical group of Palestinian Christians, was released publicly on December 11, 2009.  This manifesto was released by the PCUSA to let the world know what is taking place in Palestine, according to Palestinian Christians.

The KPD was previously mentioned on a CBS 60 Minutes segment called “Christians in the Holy Land” aired in March 2012. In the segment’s attempt to demonstrate that the Christian population in the Holy Land is shrinking due to Israeli policies, the KPD was mentioned as a “good faith” example of how Arab Christians are attempting to practice non-violence in the face of IDF pressure and duress.

As mentioned in a previous blog about the KPD, the document portrays Palestinian Christians as peaceful and steering away from any form of revenge of terrorism in dealing with Israel. Once again, here are the words introducing the KPD 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 Bib Simon 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.

The underlying goal of the KPD  is to call the “international community to stand by the Palestinian people.” At the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the PCUSA, the full document was approved to the church for study and to endorse its emphases on “hope, liberation, nonviolence, love of enemy and reconciliation.”

But just how loving in the Kairos Palestine Document?  Does the KPD recognize and affirm the legitimacy of the Jewish state of Israel?

Let it the truth be told that the desire of the Presbyterian leaders of the PCUSA who recommended the KPD was for others to hear the “often neglected voice of the Palestinian Christian.” Unfortunately, the Palestinian Christian voice managed to distort the Israeli perspective and gave the PCUSA a dangerously one-sided perspective on the Middle East conflict.

As one examines the KPD, several glaring anti-Israel messages are observed. As a result of reading through this document and noting its anti-Israel stance, I strongly urge this document should be further challenged and rejected by the PCUSA leadership.

Full blame for the current Middle East problem is placed on the occupation.

The document assumes that if Israel would end the “occupation” then peace would result. However, one would need to be quite naive to believe this falsehood. Consider the continued military attacks that were initiated by the Palestinians from Gaza towards Israel when the Jewish nation withdrew from Gaza. Since these attacks are continuing, it becomes quite clear the that goal of the Palestinians was not to remove Israeli settlements from Gaza, but to remove Israelis from Israel.

Today there is a strong call for Israel to unconditionally lift its embargo against Gaza for humanitarian reasons. Yet there are no safeguards offered that would stop the flow of rockets and weaponry to be used by Hamas against Israelis if the embargo is lifted. Israel provides any ships a harbor in Ashdod  who  desire to bring humanitarian aid for the people in Gaza.  It’s not that Israel is stopping humanitarian aid into Gaza. Israel chooses to make sure any goods coming into Gaza are examined first to ascertain whether any illegal weapons or ammunition are being smuggled into Gaza to be used against Israeli citizens.

The vision of Israel by the KPD committee is a non-Jewish Israel.

Despite the long term stance of the PCUSA that affirmed Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, the KPD calls for an international Israel.

In KPD 2.3 the document states, “we believe our land has a universal mission. The text states, “In this universality, the meaning of the promises, of the land, of the election, of the people of God open up to include all of humanity, starting from all the peoples of the land.”

These words are a clear rejection of the Jewish Scriptures which call the people of Israel, God’s elect chosen to dwell in clear geographically boundaries within the Holy Land.  In KPD 2.3 the writers expose their theological prejudice favoring replacement theology in which the God’s promises once made to Israel are given to the church.

Yes, it is God’s intent for the nations of the world to come to Israel to worship the God of Israel and for the Law to go forth from Jerusalem to all the nations (Isaiah 2).  Yet God never pronounced that the international blessings of the world through Israel meant that Israel would become unnecessary and be replaced by an international entity. In all the passages describing a future messianic kingdom, Israel continues to exists and remains the key nation under the rulership of the Messiah King through which God’s blessings to the nations flow forth. Israel is never replaced for a universal non-descript international entity.

Thus, the KPD undermines the legitimacy of the state of Israel.

The security of Israel is ignored in the KPD and only challenges the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

It is surprising to read a document written by Christians who have no problem condemning Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian territory, yet the same document fails to condemn the violence committed by Palestinian terrorists.  In my writings I have brought up this point as a major flaw in the Palestinian Christian’s call for non-violence in dealing with Israeli soldiers.

I find the Palestinian Christian attempt to paint themselves as peaceful and advocates of  a “love thy enemy”  theology to be a serious misuse of this New Testament passage. This is especially true when these proponents of non-violence fail to condemn the violent actions of their own Palestinian leaders.

In relation to Israel’s right to protect itself against terrorist attacks, the KPD claims Israel used Palestinian terrorist attacks as a “pretext to accuse the Palestinians of being terrorists and was able to distort the real nature of the conflict, presenting it as an Israeli war against terror, rather than an Israeli occupation faced by Palestinian legal resistance aiming at ending it” (KPD 1.5). After listening to several messages from Palestinian Christians and their supporters who spoke at the 2012 Christ at the Checkpoint Conference at the Bethlehem Bible College during March 2012, the speakers all had one area in common:  they all fail to condemn Islamic Palestinian terrorism against Israel.  Speakers at the conference were quick to condemn the inconvenience and hardships of Palestinians having to spend hours passing through Israeli checkpoints.  However, they failed to display the weapons collected by the IDF from Palestinians who passed through the checkpoints. In addition, they did not expound on the terrorist attacks by Palestinian extremists that were avoided due the checkpoints.

From reading the KPD, one observes that the Palestinian framers of the document do not require the Palestinian government be held to the same standards as for the Israeli government.

Palestinian Christians are quick to point towards the poverty suffered by their people, but rarely hold their own government responsible for relieving the financial burdens of their people.  It’s quite amazing that the Palestinian ruling authority has enough financial capital to purchase arms to use against Israel but cannot feed their own people. It’s also uncanny that the Palestinians are supported by Iran, Syria and Egypt in order to arm itself against Israel but once again, they fail to use these funds to improve the living conditions of their own people.

The KPD is filled with many inconsistencies and historical flaws regarding the background of the Middle East conflict.  I strongly suggest the PCUSA make every attempt to work with Jewish organizations and the Jewish community to provide a balance in their perspective on the Arab/Israel crisis.

The failure to include any Jewish authorities in compiling this report on the Middle East tempts one to believe that the PCUSA had no interest in presenting a balanced view on this most important conflict.  Rather, they used this committee that composed the KPD an an opportunity to bias the PCUSA against Israel.I have to conclude in disagreement with Mitri Raheb that the KPD is anything but asking for “asking for hope and love and faith.”

One Response to “Where is the Love in the Kairos Palestine Document?”

  1. Scripture Solutions says:

    I wanted to add a few corrections to this article upon further research about the involvement of the PCUSA in the formation of the Kairos Palestine Document.

    In 2004 the PCUSA’s General Assembly did approve an anti_israel divestment overture. The overture did not mention the role of Islamist terrorists but only focused on Israel as the major culprit. It was a victory for anti-Zionists in the PCUSA.

    In the 2006 GA the 2004 overture which singled out Israel for divestment was overturned.

    At the 2008 GA, the same Presbyterian activists passed overture 11-06 calling on the church to take a non-partisan approach to achieving peace in the Middle East.

    ‘Meanwhile a group of 13 Palestinian clergy composed the Kairos Palestine Document. In the 2010 GA, an attempt was made to endorse the KPD but failed.

    However, as bad as the previous overtures were, in 2008 the Middle East Study Committee released a report after being charged by the GA to come up with a comprehensive view of the Arab-Israel conflict. This mandate, also called’ Breaking Down the Walls,” was hostile to Israel, failing to consider Israel’s security concerns. The report was passed by the GA only after it was gutted, but even the gutted version was an attack on Israel. It has become apparent with these overtures that there is a strong anti-Zionist element in the PCUSA who see Israel as the major cause of Palestinian suffering. The MESC report was so bad that it equated Israeli leaders with Nazis, downplayed Islamic attacks on Israel and held Israel to a high standard that they did not ask of Palestinians.

    The MESC report , despite the earlier failed attempt for the GA to lift up the KPD, “endorses the document’s emphasis on hope for liberation, nonviolence, love of enemy and reconciliation.” The major problems in the KPD were not addressed lest the PCUSA be perceived as ignoring Palestinian suffering.

    Later in 2010 the PCUSA did commission a group to create a study guide for the KPD. In other words, they could not fully endorse the document but they are willing to have it’s distorted contents be taught in the church.

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