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This Is The Right Moment for Churches To Pay Attention to Israel's Occupation

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In his book Kairos for PalestineRifat Odeh Kassis  deals with a topic that is as fresh as the destruction of a Palestinian home by Israeli-driven, US-built bulldozers, and as ancient as the use of the term kairos, derived from an ancient Greek word which refers to a specific moment in time.

Why does this wanton destruction of private Palestinian homes continue unabated? The answer is simple: Israel controls the narrative that justifies its conduct by reporting the demolition of a Palestinian home as a "necessary step" for the "security" and well-being of Israel. The Israeli narrative keeps the Western world locked into a permanent state of ignorance, following the pattern of previous Western colonial invaders and occupiers.

The Israeli narrative, carefully honed by Israel well before Israel's 1947-48 war of conquest, has skillfully made the case that Israel is a state whose inhabitants deserve their own state as victims of oppression and genocide. They chose the ancient biblical lands of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) on the grounds that the land was "given to them" by Yahweh (the Hebrew word for God).

That narrative -- mixing ancient biblical beliefs with modern political strategy -- has so totally dominated the perspective of the Western world outside the Middle East, that it has emerged as the only view of reality known to the West. It is in this narrative that Israel is the "victim" and the Palestinian people are an enemy that seeks to drive Israelis "into the sea."

It has been Israel's goal since it gained UN recognition as a state in 1949 to control this narrative and prevent any contrary narrative from obtaining a hearing. The occupation of the Palestinian people is sold to the West as a necessity. Palestinians in this narrative are perceived as a threat to the well being and security of all Israelis.

The large majority of Americans have accepted this narrative as the only available reality. They permit their government to function as a financial backer of Israel, and to politically support Israel in world forums. American politicians function within a bipartisan political operation which accepts and promotes the "Israel is a permanent victim" narrative. This narrative obscures the political reality that Israel serves as an important part of the American empire, which seeks to control the people of the Middle East through military power and political deceit.

The invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and the current role the US plays in Libya and in the agitation for war against Iran, are the most recent examples of this power and deceit.

The Palestinian narrative traces its history through Arab history, from which Palestinians emerged as an important part of the Ottoman Empire. Following Arab support for the Western allies in their war in 1917-18 against Germany and Turkey, Palestinians were assured they would retain their homeland in their corner of the Ottoman Empire.

The Palestinian narrative in the modern era emphasizes the Nakba (catastrophe), the ethnic cleansing that led to Israel's establishment. That narrative has been denied a part in American discussions of the Middle East.

It is the Israeli narrative that enables Israel to be an important American ally in the Middle East. That narrative saturates American society through the media, the economy, political structures, nongovernmental institutions involved in education and religious groups.

The Zionists were amongst the last of the western colonial invaders to arrive in the Middle East to conquer a land and exploit its population. This invasion was built on military power and deceit, the twin sins that continue to shape the US/Israel alliance in the Middle East.

Kairos for Palestine traces the history of what led to the Palestine Kairos Document that emerged from the situation created by that alliance. It tells the story of the Christian churches' effort to communicate the suffering imposed by Israel on Palestinians and it does so from a Christian perspective.

The document originated within the Christian churches working inside Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza. It is a community-created document written out of the experience of the Palestinians. It calls upon Christians everywhere to wake up to the conditions under which all of the people of Palestine -- Christian, Muslim and non-religious -- and respond appropriately to gross injustice created by the US/Israel alliance of empire-building through oppression.


The political strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is a separate project from the Kairos Document. (For more on BDS, see Omar Barghouti.) The Kairos Document and BDS run parallel, however, as two ways in which Palestinians address the outside world, one theological, the other strategic.

BDS is a strategy of nonviolence that advocates economic pressure on Israel to halt its oppressive military occupation. It calls attention to the manner in which outside corporations endorse that occupation and profit from it.

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http://wallwritings.wordpress.com/

James Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced Jim's writings over (more...)
 

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