In an Easter message, more than 60 South African church leaders and Christian, Jewish and Muslim lay theologians have conveyed their solidarity with Palestinian Christians in their Kairos call to action for a just peace.
The message comes as Israeli forces are launching a further massive assault on Gaza, further to a series of recent low-key military exchanges, including rocket attacks from Hamas.
Recognizing the Palestinian Christian “history of keeping the faith in the Holy Land”, despite the circumstances, the South African church leaders and theologians urged Palestinians to be steadfast and resist being “forced out of your own land”.
Responding to the Kairos Palestine document, they recall the words of Nelson Mandela who said: “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”. Conveying South African solidarity “with your cause”, they express conviction that “justice will come to the Holy Land, as it came to us here in the southernmost part of Africa”.
The Kairos Palestine document was launched in December 2009 in Bethlehem and reflects the Palestinian Christian’s word to the world about what is happening in Palestine.
Drawing on their own experiences, they define apartheid as “the denial of the humanity of one human being by another or the idea that there is a superior and an inferior human being”. Yet, they observe, the practical manifestations of Israeli apartheid are in many ways worse than South African apartheid ever was.
Endorsing the Kairos Palestine view that the occupation is a sin and evil, they strike a note of hope that “Jesus must be weeping at the injustice that he sees in Jerusalem and we are convinced that God is already intervening and will continue to intervene to establish his justice in the Holy Land”.
Rejecting Christian Zionism and Christian theologies that justify the Occupation as illegitimate and heretical, they commend the Kairos Palestine initiators for longing that those responsible for the occupation will regain their God-given humanity.
Pledging to develop solidarity, they endorse non-violent resistance through the Kairos Palestine call for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement “as a way to put maximum non-violent pressure on Israel to lift the boot of oppression from the neck of the Palestinians”.
Listing to what “we can learn from you”, they ask Palestinians to be prepared to consider what process of healing would be needed in the Holy Land once a political solution has been reached. Celebrating this year the 25th anniversary of the South African Kairos Document, they invite Palestinians to share their journey.
Among the signatories of the message are the Archbishop Dr Thabo Cecil Makgoba, Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa; Bishop Dr N.P. Phaswana from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa; Professor Tinyiko S. Maluleke, South African Council of Churches (SACC) president and executive director of research at the University of South Africa; and SACC General Secretary, Edwin Makue.
The South African response to Kairos Palestine is one among others that can be found on the Kairos Palestine website (www.kairospalestine.ps). It is significant because of the near-parallel experiences described by the South African theologians.
The South African response to the Palestine Kairos Document can be read in full here: PK Document