Many of us after a long and tiring day of work have the frustration of sitting in traffic queues, or waiting for trains and buses, sometimes for hours when things go wrong, just to get home. Imagine, though, if the queuing and long waits are part of an oppressive controlling regime, every single day, and if they are a reflection of a severely limited freedom, and if there simply is no other route to take? Because that is the reality every day for the many weary workers waiting to return home to Bethlehem through the Birqat es sultan gate in the Separation Wall after a long day’s work in Jerusalem on the other side of the divide. Sometimes in the morning they cannot get to work on time, even get to work at all, because of the same humiliating system. We saw this separation wall several times on our travels through Jerusalem and it is a striking and potent symbol of the prolonged occupation of the West Bank and the suffering of so many of these beleaguered citizens. Sometimes eight metres high concrete, heavily covered in graffiti, sometimes nasty touch sensitive wire topped with razor wire, it is there for “security” or so Israel says.
After decades of suffering Israeli occupation, in 2009 Palestine Christians published the Kairos Palestine document: A Moment of Truth- a word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian Suffering, an appeal for Christians everywhere to sit up, take notice and actually do something.
|The Peace Pole in Jerusalem|
In June 2011 a group of U.S. clergy, theologians and laypersons inaugurated a similar movement for American Christians. Their document is Call to Action .
I have been and seen for myself the injustices and humiliations that Palestinians face daily and I urge my readers to take a look at these projects and to do something! The booklets are different, but the messages broadly similar: Go and see for yourself if you possibly can just what is happening in the Holy Land, follow up with political action, challenge the theology and misuse of the Bible behind these injustices, and pray. The American booklet includes a very useful study guide as well.
Why Kairos? “Kairos” is Greek for “favorable time,” “crisis,” “decisive epoch.” It demands urgent response, a change of mind and direction. Jesus invoked this urgency in his mission in Galilee when he says “The time has come.” Other Kairos moments were when the injustices of Apartheid and slavery were tackled and overcome. A more recent Kairos moment came with the launch of A Common Word, about which I have written in a previous post.
Pilgrims to the Holy Land take with them the gifts of joy, trade, prayer and hope.
|looking across from the Shepherds' fields to Israeli occupation |
settlements beyond the fence
As I write this I notice coincidentally in the media that Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister, seems to be going about face on his previous attitude, and now says that it is time to do a deal. He is still unrepentant, however, about the settlements still being built and expanded in the occupied West Bank, only too visible to us on our visit, and illegal under international law.
(UK reporting in the Telegraph is here).