Kairos Palestine Easter Alert 2016
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Easter is the time to turn to Jerusalem where Jesus manifested his infinite love to all people. Through his immeasurable sacrifice he redeemed us from sin and through his human fullness, made us all worthy of life. Through his death and resurrection, He elevated us to be one with Him, if we so choose.
More than anything else, it is this “new human being capable of rising up in the spirit to love each one of his or her brothers and sisters” (Kairos Palestine -KP- 10) that is direly needed today.
This aching Holy Land needs to be healed from the wounds of violence, the blindness of extremism and the destructive forces of oppression and death. Together we need to be empowered by love and truth so that we can roll away the stones of injustice to bring freedom and dignity to the oppressed and downtrodden.
We, the Palestinian people and the indigenous people of this Holy Land, still seek salvation from oppression and occupation after a century of struggle for life with dignity. The hope for peace, which we all seek in this part of the world, is not looming on the horizon. Unfortunately, Israel is adamant to continue to plague us with colonial settlement expansion, the grabbing of our natural resources, and the denial of our basic freedoms and God given rights in order to rid the land of as many Palestinian Christians and Muslims as possible.
The latest escalation of violence began in October 2015 in the Holy City. This is the revolt of a new generation of young Palestinians who object and stand in the face of painful discrimination, land expropriations, home demolitions, illegal detentions, daily oppression and humiliation. This new wave of violence killed over 180 Palestinians and 28 Israelis by the end of February 2016. While we mourn all loss of life, we condemn Israeli collective punishment of the Palestinian people which is bringing more destruction, poverty, devastation and despair to the four million Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the besieged Gaza. No one is spared, even the youngsters between the ages of 9 and 18 years. Clearly the occupation seems adamant to terrorize and paralyze a whole generation of young Palestinians so that they never lift their heads to object to their own oppression and humiliation.
Jerusalem continues to be out of reach to Palestinian Muslims and Christians for pilgrimage and for prayers, except through a hard-to-obtain permit system, made especially rigorous during the last ten years. Upon arriving at the Old City of Jerusalem, even with permits, Christians face road blocks and the closed gates of the Holy City by Israeli security forces. Armed with the excuse of security, Israeli occupation seems determined to destroy the spirit of Easter, not only by imposing confrontations and violence but also by denying us the continued practice of our centuries-old Christian traditions so far preserved in Palestine in spite of millennia of occupations and wars.
We, Palestinian Christians, will not stop seeking the salvation promised to us through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem: a salvation from the five-decades long occupation of our land; a salvation from the mourning and sadness we feel with every Palestinian killed, held in prison or evicted from his or her home. As people of faith and conscience, we hold on to he promise of life with dignity.
This Easter we mark the forty-ninth commemoration of the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights. The Old Testament calls the faithful to celebrate the fiftieth year as a Jubilee (Lev. 25:11-12), a special year, a KAIROS year, a special moment to raise the voice of the righteous, to take the side of justice and to promote just peace and true reconciliation. This Easter Alert is guided by the scripture of Luke 4:18-19:
“The spirit of The Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
For this Easter celebration, all the way to Pentecost, we invite our brothers and sisters to share and pray with us over seven weeks, guided by theological reflections and professional reports. Let us all, congregations, seminaries, organizations and individuals, amplify the voice of justice as called upon in our Kairos Palestine document, and insist on accountability and liberation of both the oppressed and the oppressor.
In the following literature, H.B. Michel Sabah is calling Israel and the world for a new human vision which will bring freedom and security to all.
Bishop Atallah Hanna reminds us how the Palestinian people are still waiting for their resurrection from occupation and injustice.
Dr. Nassar Ibrahim from the Alternative Information Center (AIC) in Beit Sahour describes the systemic destruction of the Palestinian economy and its subjugation to Israeli hegemony.
Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) describes the inhuman conditions and flagrant violations of the rights of Palestinian children through detentions, investigations and torture.
Reverend Dr. Munther Isaac shed the light on how Christian Zionists are viewed through the perspective of Palestinian Christians.
Al Mezan for Human Rights, Gaza shares with us the experience of one of the biggest human catrastrophes: life in Gaza. Gaza is the isolated little strip of land on the Mediterranean coast, where Palestinians are confronted with devastating living conditions, the inability of reconstruction under conditions of siege and three consecutive wars and the apathy of the International Community.
The Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ) describes “Israel’s settlement enterprise” which may end with a tiny and fragmented Palestinian state tailored to Israeli colonial interests, far away from justice and a life with dignity for Palestinians.
Rev. Dr. Yohanna Katanacho beautifully presents the power of liberating love without which no peace can be built, no fear can be overcome and no hope can be found.
BADIL, which follows the situation of the refugees, tells us the story of millions of internally displaced Palestinians and their second class treatment as Palestinians living inside Israel. Little is known about the dramatic discriminatory situation Palestinians are living under in the so called “only democracy in the Middle East”.
Al-Haq, the Ramallah-based human rights organization, reminds us of the responsibility of the international community. How many resolutions have been passed? How many International Laws have been violated? It is time to hold the occupying power as well as the International community accountable for what is happening in Palestine!
Finally, Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb introduces us to the claim of Jubliee and its background and interpretation in the Bible. After nearly fifty years under occupation, he call upon the Arab, Islamic and Western nations to sieze the moment now before it is too late.
We hereby provide you, dear brothers and sisters, with different perspectives of the truth and recall a theology that can lead to liberation, justice, dignity and security for all. We seek the prophetic in each one of us to struggle for what we believe is true; we also seek the courage that will expose and reject false accusations and reject ongoing patterns of criminalizing the victim and victimizing the criminal, or launching accusations of terrorism, anti-Semitism and replacement theology to hide injustice and instill fear.
Let us promote truth, life and joy. Join us in this campaign of love and justice. Let us work incessantly for true peace and reconciliation. Let us partake in the redemption of our shared humanity.
Wishing you all, our dear brothers and sisters, an Easter of renewal and rebirth.
Secretary General, Kairos Palestine