Presbyterian Church USA Middle East Study Committee recommends Kairos Document adoption for study by General Assembly 2010 by Peter Menkin

immediate resumption of negotiations toward a two-state solution.

“The committee calls on the United States to:”

•repent of its “sinful behavior” throughout the Middle East, including the war in Iraq, its “continuing support of non-democratic regimes,” and its “acquiescence” in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands;

•eliminate tax loopholes that permit U.S. citizens to make donations “to organizations that support human rights violations and breaches of international law and U.N. resolutions”;

•account for the percentage of U.S. foreign aid that supports such activities and redirect that aid toward the rebuilding of Gaza and the “dismantling of remaining settlement infrastructure; and

•”employ the strategic use of influence and the withholding of financial and military aid in order to enforce Israel’s compliance with international law and peacemaking efforts.”

Other recommendations:

•the main Palestinian political parties — Fatah and Hamas — to work toward immediate reconciliation;

•all parties in the Middle East, including Iran and Israel, to refrain from all nuclear arms proliferation;

•Egypt and Israel to end their blockades of Gaza;

•all parties in the Middle East to “cease rhetoric and actions that demonize others, including Iranian leaders’ holocaust denials, threats by Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas against Israel, and threats by Israel to transfer masses of Palestinians to Jordan;

•Syria and Israel to resume negotiations about the status of the Golan Heights;

•creation of an international council for Jerusalem, which is a spiritual center for all three Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

“The Reformed Pastor” also adds in his blog this interesting note of reporting: “At the suggestion of the Rev. Susan Andrews of Hudson River Presbytery, the committee added the following footnote: ‘The phrase ‘the right of Israel to exist’ is a source of pain for some members of our study committee who are in solidarity with Palestinians, who feel that the creation of the state of Israel has denied them their inalienable human rights.’

The Jewish Community continues in its criticism of the Kairos Document. As we know, the criticism started early. Here is a longer comment from The Wiesenthal Center press statement, “2010 Jerusalem Conference at the Regency Hotel, Jerusalem, February 16, 2010.”

Then, on the first day of Chanukah past, a group of Palestinian Christians issued the Kairos Document,[2] immediately embraced by a slew of Protestant denominations. It calls for a general boycott[3] of Israel, arguing that Christians are required by their faith to side with the “oppressed” – meaning the Palestinians. It speaks of the evils of the “Occupation”, but is silent on any evils committed by the Palestinians. It links any Jewish connection to the Land only to survivors of the Holocaust, denying 3,000 years of Jewish domicile in the land. Most importantly, connecting the dots to the previous documents, these leaders declare that there must not be a Jewish State, because any religious state has to be inherently racist. It ignores the state religions of England, Norway, Greece, Denmark, Argentina, and Thailand, not to mention the two dozen officially and oppressively Muslim states in Israel’s neighborhood. Kairos launches a new Biblical fundamentalism, in which ‘specialness is reserved’ for Palestinians. The Jews? They are written out of Scripture.

Within days Kairos won accolades from different Protestant and Catholic groups. They most serious impact so far, however, comes from a church whose leadership took pride of first place in the campaign against Israel. The Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA) in 2004 was the first mainline American Protestant group to call for divestment from Israel. The move proved enormously unpopular with the rank and file of the church, and the move was rescinded in 2006. In 2008, its General Assembly considered – and accepted – what everyone thought were mutually exclusive overtures, one pro-Palestinian, and one more balanced. One of them called for greater balance in church policies and material, and a thorough reexamination of PCUSA policy on the Middle East. Nonetheless, the “Special Committee to Prepare a Comprehensive Study Focused on Israel/Palestine” that was subsequently assembled included only one pro-Israel member who soon quit in disgust. The committee of nine had at least seven members and three staffers[4] who had strongly indicated pro-Palestinian views before their appointment. Several were direct imports from PCUSA’s Israel-Palestine Mission Network (IPMN), whose blog has hosted anti-Semitic videos[5] and material from Muslim terrorist groups.

A February 2nd, 2010 press release told the world what to expect from the committee’s report. It will ask the United States government to “employ the strategic use of influence and the withholding of financial and military aid” from Israel. It will concede Israel’s right to exist, but append an apology to Palestinians for that concession! In the words of one member of the committee, “To say this [the right of Israel to exist] is to give Israel a pass on the way Israel was created and denies the legitimacy of the Palestinian people.” Perhaps most importantly, it will enthusiastically embrace the Kairos Document.[6] Altogether, the PCUSA report should be considered as nothing less than a declaration of war on Israel and her supporters.

Viola Larson’s blog “Naming His Grace,” notes these sections of the Kairos Document as important, and this writer agrees:

 

1. “The Word of God is a living Word, casting a particular light on each period of history, manifesting to Christian believers what God is saying to us here and now.”

2. “For this reason, [see above] it is unacceptable to transform the Word of God into letters of stone that pervert the love of God and his providence in the life of both peoples and individuals.”

3. “We believe that our land has a universal mission. In this universality, the meaning of the promises, of the land, of the election, of the people of God open up to include all of humanity, starting from the peoples of this land. In light of the teachings of the Holy Bible, the promise of the land has never been a political programme, but rather the preclude to complete universal salvation. It was the initiation of the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God on earth.”

“Our presence in this land, as Christian and Muslim Palestinians, is not accidental but rather deeply rooted in the history and geography of this land, resonant with the connectedness of any other-people to the land it lives in.”

More key sections of the Kairos Document. These were selected by Will Spotts, a Presbyterian, whose blog is here:

4 c. Calls upon Israel to release, without any further delay, withheld Palestinian tax moneys to the Palestinian National Authority.

4 d. Calls on the Israeli government to end immediately its blockade of Gaza, and on the U.S. government to end any support it is giving to the blockade, and also calls on the Egyptian government to facilitate the passage of humanitarian supplies into Gaza as well as consumer goods from the strip.

4 e. Urges the main Palestinian political parties (Fatah and Hamas) to set aside their differences, to pursue an ideology of nonviolence, to reconcile immediately, and to work for peace with each other and with their neighbor, Israel, for the sake of their people, and also calls on the U.S. government to offer support for such reconciliation.

4 f. Supports the establishment of an international council for Jerusalem to ensure the nondiscriminatory treatment of all Jerusalemites, including fair allocation of housing and family unification permits, free movement of religious workers of all faiths, fair provision of city services in exchange for taxes, protection of all religious and historic sites, international scientific review of all archeological sites and labeling of historic sites, and equitably accessible mass transit from both Israeli and Palestinian areas and links to the West Bank and Gaza.

The Addendum to this commentary and report is inadequate. This writer believes the unique and creative Christian document that reveals the pain of the Palestinian Christians is a cry that asks people throughout the world, especially Christians, to take action and moral action, especially against Israel. Many people are impressed by this Kairos Document, but its failures are apparent in statements like Israel is an apartheid state. Granted that inflammatory remarks and charges are almost impossible to avoid in a document that is like an accusation as well as a call; this writer can’t say how Presbyterian Church USA will act on its content, attitude, and especially its accusatory statements and reflections on history (as the document sees contemporary affairs and history). Certainly, Christians will find the Presbyterian Church USA answer in General Assembly this July, 2010 important.

ADDENDUM

In looking through the Kairos Document, this writer thinks these sections help the interested reader to also understand the Document:

This document is the Christian Palestinians’ word to the world about what is happening in Palestine. It is written at this time when we wanted to see the Glory of the grace of God in this land and in the sufferings of its people. In this