As we prepare for Christmas this year let us consider places around the world where real hope for real peace continues to dwindle.
In Palestine, the Apartheid Wall and illegal settlements limit our mobility, deny us access to our natural resources, and strangulate our economy. Wherever one looks, be it the prolonged and inhuman siege in Gaza, the isolation of East Jerusalem and the fragmentation of the West Bank, the fabric of Palestinian society is being torn to shreds.
Fear grows in the shadow of Israeli settler violence that has increased most dramatically per month. Settlers, accountable to no one and acting in total impunity, have set blaze to churches, mosques, and most recently, a house with its family inside, burning to death eighteen month old baby Ali Dawabsha and his father Saad Dwabsha. The mother Riham, also succumbed to her wounds in early September.
This prolonged occupation contorts the great human values born in the cradle of our Abrahamic faiths. Arguments about divine election and misinterpretation of the Holy Book are summoned to deny Palestinians their God-given rights and to justify policies of dispossession and expulsion. “They say: ‘Peace, peace’ when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). Our challenge must be to implement a course of action that can change the dehumanizing realities of our lives as Palestinians, both Christians and Muslims. If the arc of the moral universe does indeed bend towards justice, then let us continue pursuing a just peace with courage and confidence.
Palestinian resilience in the face of a prolonged occupation is a clear message that our humanity stands tall and a better future is possible. We are thankful for the growing international solidarity and efforts for justice in Palestine, and we hope those efforts will continue to push the international community to act in ways that bring melding and moderation rather than polarization and extremism to the Middle East.
This Advent season, we take you to Bethlehem accompanied by the spirit and actions of brave, unyielding and resilient Palestinian women, the bearers of good news. These women continue to weave hope every new day, just as their foremothers and forefathers did for centuries. Amidst suffering, they continue to explore the mysterious forces of faith, hope and love.
In the following reflections Hanadi takes us to the Apartheid Wall and reconfirms the love of parenthood and the struggle for normality under the wall’s suffocating impact.
Rania speaks to us of Palestinian resilience, unity, and mutual respect despite Israeli policies of “divide and rule.”
Amira shares with us the energy of Palestinian youth and their growing faith in the face of harsh realities.
Sister Virginie inspires us by affirming the status of Palestinian women, and tells of the blessed event when two Palestinian women were canonized by the Vatican as Saints in recognition of their great vision and selfless sacrifice for their communities.
Finally, we end this Christmas Alert with the message of the inspirational mayor of Bethlehem, Ms. Vera Baboun. With her courage and persistence, she speaks of her desperate hope and new developments planned for the holy city of love and peace.
In Solidarity from Brazil, Nancy Cardoso reflects on the Alert for all women everywhere.
Our joint pledge this Christmas is to take our light out from under the basket and to act as agents for positive change in the Holy Land.Kindly start by widely sharing this document and former publications including the Kairos Palestine document; let our Kairos Call reach schools, congregations, universities, political representatives, theological institutes and church hierarchies. As Christians, we need to ensure that the global church critically revises a theology that justifies the oppression of peoples, and in its stead advocates a theology of justice and liberation, equality and peace. Our faith has empowered us with moral courage, love and faith to act boldly and speak prophetically. Do support Palestinian civil society in their non-violent struggle to boycott and divest from the occupation and injustice. ‘Come and see’, visit us, talk to Palestinian Christians, and find the truth which liberates both the oppressed and the oppressor. Collectively we can make incredible change and turn the tide towards real peace. Together, we can make this Advent a time of reflection and action. Let us stand firm, truthful and righteous and we shall be amply blessed and rewarded.
A very happy and fulfilling Christmas to all!
Dr. Hind Khoury, Secretary General (Kairos Palestine)