Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holy Land Christians issue their own Manhattan Document - will anyone heed it?

Friday, 11 December 2009, a group of Christian religious leaders of Palestine and Israel met in Bethlehem where they issued The Kairos Palestine Document. In many ways, this document constitutes a kind of Middle Eastern Christian Manhattan Document. Not only arguing for the removal of the many restrictions and human rights violations claimed against the government of Israel, the document also challenges the "Christian Zionism" that is almost a hallmark of many US Protestant groups. Some of these groups support Israel believing that by destroying the Dome of the Rock and building the "Third Temple" the Second Coming of Christ will be brought about. The Kairos Document also frames the situation of Palestinian Christians as apartheid. Thus far, only Speros News has reported on the document.

It is a fact that for many people in the United States, the dispute and ongoing conflict in the Middle East is solely understood as Israel against Muslims. The Palestinians are seen as being a Muslim people. While it is true that the majority of Palestinians are Muslim, a significant - but tragically shrinking - minority of Palestinians are Christians: Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, and a sprinkling of Protestant groups. Often Christians are caught in the crossfire between militant Palestinians and Israelis. When Israel imposes curfews, Palestinians Christians suffer along with the many local Palestinian Muslims who have no part in the terrorist acts perpetrated by groups of militants. In recent years, a curfew of Bethlehem during the season around Christmas severely impacted the local Christian community, and other curfews have adversely affected Christians whose businesses rely on pilgrims during the Lenten and Paschal Seasons. (There are increasing reports of young Israelis spitting on Orthodox and Catholic Christian priests and using vulgar language to insult them.)

The cause of peace cannot be forwarded by ignorance of the facts. Acts of terror are not justified by oppression, but neither is oppression against the many justified by atrocities committed by the few. ("The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself." Ezekiel 18.8 ESV)

I will let The Kairos Palestine Document speak for itself. I anticipate that the site itself will grow over time.
For myself, I reproduce a most important and inspiring talk given by His Eminence Archbishop Elias Chacour at the 2007 Presbyterian Global Fellowship Conference. His message of peace, love and seeking the good of all the people of the region - as well as a kind request for Protestants to roll up their sleeves and help versus rolling up their pamphlets to convert Middle Eastern Christians - is well worth your time.

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