– As partners of the Kairos Britain initiative, we wanted to highlight this years’ World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel (18th – 24th September 2016) by encouraging our members in the Christian faith communities to share their experiences with you. Charlotte Marshall tells us about how the Kairos call came about and what Kairos Britain and partners are working towards…
Kairos Britain is a network of individuals, organisations and faith communities who are actively campaigning and praying for justice in Palestine and Israel. Kairos Britain was created as a direct response to the cry for help from Palestinian Christians, issued in 2009 in the Kairos Palestine document. They asked a critical question of the Church worldwide –
“Are you able to help us get our freedom back? For this is the only way you can help the two peoples attain justice, peace, security and love”
The Kairos Palestine document has sparked a worldwide Kairos movement – from Brazil to Sweden, including countries in the global North and South. The groups are connected by their solidarity and work for justice in Palestine, and draw together Christians across the globe to campaign for an end to the occupation and equal rights for all in the Holy Land. The call to non-violent action from Kairos Palestine is focused on supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against everything profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation.
At Kairos Britain, we seek to inform our Churches about the situation in Palestine, educating and inspiring people to take action and pray. We have a growing and ecumenical membership, and over 30 Kairos community groups who have put on events challenging the narrative about Israel and Palestine here in the UK, and the theological positions that justify the violence and undermining of Palestinian human rights. We connect with many of the other organisations doing similar work for Palestine (including ICAHD UK), and seek to work in close partnership with them. Our voices together are stronger than individually!
As a Christian network, one of our key focuses in the year is the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, of which we are a part of the UK working group, and contributor to the resources produced. The World Week for Peace is an initiative by the World Council of Churches and takes place in September. This year the theme is ‘God has broken down the dividing wall’ and we chose to focus our campaigning efforts on the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes and structures.
Since the start of 2016 the United Nations has recorded over 769 demolitions (figures from OCHA OPT) of Palestinian-owned structures by the Israeli government and military forces. This is a marked increase on the already alarming figures of demolitions that have taken place over previous decades. The demolition of homes is used as a strategic means to displace and move Palestinians out of areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem to pave the way for more illegal Israeli settlements. Despite this contravening international law (4th Geneva Conventions) there is worldwide silence to Israel’s actions from countries such as our own, and Israel continues to destroy Palestinian homes and land with impunity every day.
Next year marks the 50th year of Israeli occupation. Despite our own government’s acknowledgment that the actions of the Israeli government – as they build more illegal settlements, destroy the lives, homes and futures of Palestinians, and enclave Palestinian towns and cities with their apartheid wall – are presenting significant barriers to peace, we have failed to be a ‘critical friend of Israel’.
Now, more than ever before, we must act for justice. For the sake of Palestinians, Israelis, and for us all. For a world without justice, where one person’s rights and security are considered secondary to another’s, is not a world we want to build.
Charlotte Marshall, Advocacy Worker, Kairos Britain
– Please sign the petition here to stop the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes and property.