In Advent last month, I prepared four Bible studies for Sabeel-Kairos UK as a resource to enable churches to engage with scripture and challenge apartheid. Although prepared for Advent, it is hoped you will find them a useful resource at any time.
Watch again the first in our series ‘Challenging Apartheid in Advent’ featuring Antony Lerman and Revd. Dr. Stephen Sizer speaking on the issue of Zionism and its contribution to Israel’s apartheid practices. This video includes both speakers’ presentations. If you would like the bible study to accompany the week, please head over to https://www.sabeel-kairos.org.uk/apar… to download it.
We are pleased to publish, with his permission, a paper delivered by Dr Allan Aubrey Boesak at the Chile Conference on Palestine and Latin American Churches on 5 November 2022. His presentation was entitled Global Apartheid and Systems of Exclusion “This Wall Has No Future”
“Every time right minded Black South Africans have the opportunity to visit Israel/Palestine, they come away with a profound sense of shock, and it is the shock of recognition, of profound disorientation, of relived trauma: this is apartheid. It is the sense that something as irrelevant as the colour of one’s skin or what is called “racial identity” has condemned you from birth. It is the onslaught upon your dignity through discrimination, a thousand humiliations every day in every imaginable situation, and the relentless, deliberate process of dehumanisation.
It is the sense not only that your very life is being threatened at every turn, but that your life does not matter. It is the ongoing tragedies of dispossession through land theft and forced removals, destruction of property, and devastation of communities, legalised and legitimised by the law and enforced by the violence of the state. It is the myriad ways in which one is told that one has no place in the country of one’s birth. And it is always the violence: systemic, structural, physical, pervasive, and permanent.
In October, the Convivencia Alliance arranged an international webinar entitled: “The Convivencia Declaration: Justice, Peace and Reconciliation in Palestine – Christian Perspectives: The Struggle for Justice and Peace: Experiences from South Africa, Northern Ireland, USA and Palestine. You may watch the entire webinar or view the four presentations individually by clicking on the speakers below:
Revd Allan Boesak:Professor of Black Liberation Theology and Ethics at University of Pretoria
Mark Braverman: Executive Director, Kairos USA and Research Fellow in Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Jonny Clark: Programme Manager for Public Theology at the Corrymeela Community, Northern Ireland
For Christians who believe that all are created in the image of God, with equal worth and dignity, what are we called to do for the people of the Holy Land? How can we be faithful and faith-filled peacemakers and justice-seekers? A presentation given during a recent webinar hosted by Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA).
In this conference, we considered how we can respond to Christian Zionist theology and bring love-inspired, biblically based teaching and action to our congregations and communities.
As an Israeli Jew and the head of an Israeli human rights organization – ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – I am appalled by the very thought of bringing anyone, let alone such a principled person as Stephen Sizer, before a religious Tribunal. What, are we back to the Medieval days of the Inquisition? I can’t speak for the Church of England, but Jews, the British Board of Deputies, participating in a religious Tribunal?! The very thought is appalling. What has happened to us, Jews and Christians together? Are we willing to return to the dark processes of Tribunals with no legal underpinnings, no genuine evidence or testimony, conducted solely against people whose views we don’t like – besmirch and destroy people’s lives – just to prevent criticism of Israel? Is it really so easy, in the 21st Century, to persecute people for their religious and political views? Savonarola meets Trump?
The charges against Dr. Sizer are untrue and trumped-up – and you all know it. Antisemitism?! How do you possibly defend yourself against such a charge? In the intellectual and democratic world in which most of us live, Dr. Sizer has made a rational, well-researched case for his views and analysis presented in articles, books and lectures based firmly on academic research and religious history. But that is exactly the type of person for which Tribunals are necessary, since analyses like Dr. Sizer presents, unpopular in some partisan circles as they may be, cannot be dismissed in academic circles or barred in courts of law. They must be denounced in Tribunals with no moral, legal or intellectual authority, and as in all religious Tribunals, the person maligned and destroyed in order to somehow delegitimize his or her views. I am embarrassed for all of you – and downright angry at the Jews who participate in the dark proceeding of religious Tribunals.
Let me say this as plainly as I can. I have known Dr. Sizer for over twenty years. I respect his moral position on Israel. I certainly respect his academic work on Christian Zionism, one of the most insidious and antisemitic religious doctrines in modern history and profoundly anti-Israel (Israel exists to bring on the Christian End of Days in which virtually all Jews die or become Christians). I respect Dr. Sizer’s willingness to go beyond the comforts of parish life to engage critically in an issue of central concern to us all: how to prevent Israel from becoming the next apartheid South Africa, how to prevent Jews from becoming Afrikaners, and how to liberate the Palestinian people from the yoke of occupation and apartheid – causes Christians and Jews should be engaged with rather than outdated and discredited Tribunals. And while I don’t use Dr. Sizer’s faith-based language, I have never heard him utter a word that I would consider antisemitic. To accuse or “convict” him of such is truly medieval. It is all the more outrageous if you and your Tribunal are basing your judgement on the false and tendentious position represented by the IHRA assertion that any criticism of Israel is de facto antisemitic – a position disavowed by Kenneth Stern, who drafted the IHRA paper (only intended as a “working definition”), as well as by dozens of prominent Jewish and Israeli scholars and progressive Jewish and Israeli organizations.
Not only should Stephen Sizer be “acquitted” of such ridiculous charges, he should not have been brought before a Tribunal at all. I would have advised him to disassociate from this entire inquisitorial process completely – and I urge you to do so as well. Especially the Jews, for God’s sake!
A Dossier on Israeli Apartheid: A Pressing Call to Churches Around the World. Prepared by: Kairos Palestine and Global Kairos for Justice 2022
Sisters and brothers in Christ,
We, members of Kairos Palestine and Global Kairos for Justice, have created a theological study for Christians and other civil society organizations who want to learn more about the crime of apartheid and why Palestinians and a growing number of churches and human rights organizations are using the word to describe Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.
In this guide, you will find: a clear description of apartheid and how Israel’s laws, policies and practices meet theinternational definition; a Biblical/theological reflection describing the sin of apartheid; a heartfelt call to the global church to hear the pleas of Palestinian Christians; and a list of recommended actions. Also included are brief summaries of and links to many of the reports cited above, statements made by churches, faith groups, and international leaders (including prominent Israeli Jews), and a short book list.
We call upon the churches around the world to receive and study this Dossier and respond to the evidence and the call to do justice. It is our hope that this study will equip the global church to rise up and join Palestinian Christians as we work to end Israel’s apartheid regime for the sake of all who live in the Holy Land.
+ Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah Chair of Kairos Palestine
Rifat Kassis General Coordinator: Global Kairos for Justice Coalition
Michael Scott-Baumann’s book on the history of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is the most useful I have read in a very long while. The book is a literary equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife. In 258 pages, broken up into ten easy to read chapters, the author provides much more than a concise history of the conflict. The value of the book is enhanced significantly by the inclusion of an index, a helpful glossary of key terms and people, a chronological time line and a bibliography for further study. The book will also prove useful for interactive group discussion as each chapter begins with key questions answered and concludes with personal testimonies to illustrate the human impact of the conflict.
Over seventy years old, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is now the longest unresolved dispute in the hands of the United Nations. It is also the subject of more UN Resolutions than any other dispute in the world. Michael Scott-Baumann’s book explains the reasons why and puts in context the futile attempts at resolving the conflict, or indeed to diffuse the simmering tensions which all too frequently erupt in violence and death, invariably of Palestinian civilians.
This was my presentation at the launch of the Convivencia Alliance:
I have been looking forward to this day for a very long time. I became very excited when I read the first draft of the Convivencia Declaration. My dream has always been of seeing Jews, Muslims and Christians work together to bring justice, peace and reconciliation in Palestine. Why? Because, if with God’s help we can achieve peace in Palestine, we can achieve it anywhere.