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A Moment of Truth: The Kairos-Palestine Document - A Latin American Theological Response

Written by Dr. Samuel Pagán
March 8, 2010

My initial word regarding this document is of gratitude. First, it is a privilege to respond to this important theological statement. And also we need to recognize and to congratulate the group of Palestinian leaders that took the time and efforts to prepare this creative and pertinent writing. This Kairos Document includes the aspirations, dreams and hopes of the peace with justice loving people in Palestine, Israel, Latin America, and the rest of the World. Indeed this is a very well written and thought theological text, and you will see how «The Moment of Truth», within the coming years, will be studied and quoted in seminaries, universities and church bodies around the world.

To start my responses I should say that indeed this Document is produced in a special Kairos moment… When the dynamics of respect and dialogues of peace seems to be at a dead end, and when the sufferings, pains and tragedy of the Palestinian community seems to be hurting the very soul of this people, the Kairos-Palestine Document is a firm message of hope, a solid statement of faith, and a serious prophetic word of encouragement, vision, dignity, and future. This Document represents a relevant moment of truth, hope and verticality, in a context of half truths, semi-truths, almost truths… and complete lies. It also affirms God's justice in a context of superficial discourses of peace without serious commitments to justice and without firm political will.

The reading of the Kairos Document, which its 10 specific areas of concern for the Palestinians (e.g., reality, faith, hope, love, and resistance), makes me remember the contexts where our Latin American theologies of liberation grew and were developed. The way it describes the realities of Palestine reveals some of the same problems, similar difficulties and common institutional sins that were also present in our hurt Continent.

For instance, the separation wall between Jerusalem and Bethlehem is similar to the one being built between Mexico and the United States. The Gaza embargo is similar to the one experienced by Cuba from the USA for half a century. The development and implementation of policies of discrimination and segregation, based on a racist, irrational, and colonial readings of some biblical passages, are similar to the ones implemented in Latin America during the European conquest of our Continent, mainly from Spain. The humiliations of the Palestinians at the checkpoints… the violence, hostility and hate of some settlers… the division and segregation of the Palestinian families… the reality of political prisoners… and the racist ideology behind some Israeli administrative and military decisions… are all very familiar experiences in our Continent.

When I was reading the Kairos-Palestine Document I was able to see and feel parallels and similarities, and also some differences, with our Latin American experience…  It is in these contexts of continuities and discontinuities, that I must clearly state my first theological affirmation: Evil does not have nationality, neither recognizes frontiers, nor respect identities or distinguishes ethnic or national grounds. The fundamental aim of evil, in both Latin America and Palestine, and all over the world, is to oppress, control, occupy, corrupt, hurt, conquer, discriminate, humiliate, offend, restrict and kill... Its most fundamental objective is to destroy the image of God which is present in every human being… And in our immediate context that evil aims to destroy the soul and most inner spirit of the Palestinian people by taking this land…

I must add in reference to this same theme that the evil that is hurting the Palestinians is also affecting the Israeli society. Those forces of discrimination and hatred are affecting the spiritual DNA of the Jewish people living in Israel and in the Diaspora. They know very well the realities of captivity and oppression, and they also know very well the power of a liberating God. They have written about these themes, because they have cried to the Lord to be liberated! When they manifest oppressive and discriminatory attitudes, they are going against the most sacred traditions of their own prophets (e.g., Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel).

It is at this moment of my reaction that I should say it very clearly: The fundamental and most important problem within the Palestinian and Israeli societies is the occupation with its political, spiritual, social, economic, military, and human rights ramifications… The rest of the problems identified in the Kairos-Palestine Document are consequences of that reality.

It happens in Latin America, and also in Israel and Palestine: There must be something wrong if you need to have a complex military system to maintain the stability of the nations… There must be something extremely wrong, if to sustain a peace environ you must engage in a military race with include nuclear and atomic power… There must be something absolutely wrong if at once you have dialogues, meetings and negotiations on peace, and at the very same time you continue with the building of more settlements in the Occupied Territories… I am convinced indeed that in these lands politicians are very much interested in peace dialogues; I am not that sure, however, that they are interested in the real implementation of peace with justice…

One of the more important contributions of the Kairos Document is related to what we can call transforming education: We should not wait for this reality to change in order to create transforming programs! This Document is creating a new Palestine! It is not waiting for the peace agreements to be approved and signed! The Kairos-Palestine Document is bringing the future to our present!

I want to end this brief reaction with a note of hope and future, and with a firm statement of salvation and life… Although this «moment of truth» is politically complex and sociologically difficult, we are able to discern within this document clear signals of hope. The main characteristic in this Kairos Document is not resentment, bitterness, hostility, hate…

We are able to see the power of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Future is not predicated in terms of passive resignation or silent acceptance of this sinful reality. Hope is alive because it is active in the resistance to the forces of occupation, and also because it prepares the way to enjoy a better Palestinian society…

A society that respects the human rights… A society of ecumenical and interfaith dialogue, mutual respect and pluralism… A society able to overcome the forces of hate and resentment… A society that affirms love, forgiveness and reconciliation as necessary values in their educational systems…A society that recognizes and celebrates the importance of human dignity and democracy…

And that is the reason why from Latin America we salute and celebrate the visionary spirit of this Kairos-Palestine Document: The Moment of Truth…

Dr. Samuel Pagán
Dar al-Kalima College


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