What does free Palestine from earth mean?

Kairos-Palestine Document

Moment of Truth: A word of faith, hope and love from the midst of the suffering of the Palestinians


After prayer, reflection and exchange of views, we, a group of Christian Palestinians, raise our voices out of the suffering of our Israel-occupied land to a cry of hope where there is no hope, to a cry that is filled with prayer and with faith in God, who watches over all inhabitants of this land in His divine goodness. We are animated by the mystery of God's love for all people, the mystery of His divine presence in the history of all peoples and in a special way in the history of our country. As Christians and Palestinians, we proclaim our word - a word of faith, hope and love.

Why now? Because the tragic fate of the Palestinian people has become hopeless today. Decision makers are content with crisis management rather than undertaking the difficult task of finding a solution to the crisis. The hearts of believers are filled with pain and questions. What are the political leaders doing in Palestine, Israel and the Arab world? What is the Church doing? This is not just a political problem. It is about a policy that destroys people, and that concerns the Church.

We turn to our brothers and sisters, to the members of our churches in this country. As Christians and Palestinians, we turn to our political and religious leadership, to our Palestinian and Israeli societies, to the world community and to our Christian brothers and sisters in churches around the world.

1. Reality

1-1 "They say: 'Peace! Peace!' and yet there is no peace " (Jer 6:14). These days everyone is talking about peace in the Middle East and the peace process. So far, however, these have only been words; The reality is the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, the loss of our freedom. The reason for this is the following situation:

1-1-1 The separation wall that has been erected on Palestinian territory, much of which has been confiscated for this purpose, has turned our cities and villages into prisons and separated them from one another, making them scattered and divided districts. The Gaza Strip, especially after the cruel war that Israel waged against this area from December 2008 to January 2009, continues to live in inhumane conditions, under a permanent blockade and cut off from the rest of the Palestinian territories.

1-1-2 In the name of God and in the name of power, Israeli settlements are stealing our land; they control our natural resources, including water and farmland, thereby depriving hundreds of thousands of Palestinians of their rights and standing in the way of a political solution.

1-1-3 Reality is the daily humiliation we face at military checkpoints on the way to our workplaces, schools and hospitals.

1-1-4 reality is family separation; it makes family life impossible for thousands of Palestinians, especially if one of the spouses does not have an Israeli identity card.

1-1-5 Freedom of religion is severely restricted; Free access to the holy places is denied on the pretext of security. Jerusalem and its holy places are inaccessible to many Christians and Muslims from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Even residents of Jerusalem face restrictions during religious festivals. And some of the Arab clergy are often prevented from entering Jerusalem.

1-1-6 Refugees are also part of our reality. Most of them are still living in camps in inhumane conditions. And although they have the right to return home, they have been waiting for their return for generations. What shall become of them?

1-1-7 What about the prisoners? Thousands of prisoners dying in Israeli prisons are part of our reality. The Israelis move heaven and earth to free a prisoner. But when will the thousands of Palestinian prisoners regain their freedom?

1-1-8 Jerusalem is at the heart of our reality. It is a symbol of peace and a sign of conflict at the same time. As the separation wall divides Palestinian residential areas, Palestinian citizens, Christians and Muslims, continue to be forced out of Jerusalem. Their identity cards are confiscated and as a result they lose their right to stay in Jerusalem. Their houses are destroyed or expropriated. Jerusalem, the city of reconciliation, has become a city of discrimination and exclusion, a source of strife instead of peace.

1-2 Part of our reality is the disregard for international law and international resolutions by the Israelis and the inaction of the Arab world and the global community in the face of this disregard. Human rights are violated, but despite the multiple reports from local and international human rights organizations, the injustice persists.

1-2-1 Even the Palestinians in the State of Israel, who are citizens and as such have rights and obligations, have suffered historical injustice and they still suffer from discriminatory politics today. They too are waiting to enjoy their unrestricted rights and to be treated on an equal footing with the other citizens of the state.

1-3 Another element of our reality is emigration. The lack of a vision or a spark of hope for peace and freedom drives young people, both Muslims and Christians, to emigrate. This robs the country of its most important and precious resource - its educated young people. The shrinking number of Christians, especially in Palestine, is one of the dangerous consequences of this conflict. It is also the result of local and international paralysis and the inability to find a comprehensive solution to the problem.

1-4 Faced with this reality, Israel justifies its actions, including occupation, collective punishment and all other forms of reprisals against the Palestinians, as self-defense. In our view, this notion turns reality on its head. Yes, there is Palestinian resistance to the occupation. However, if there was no occupation, there would be no resistance, fear, and insecurity. That is how we see things. We appeal to the Israelis to end the occupation. You will then discover a new world free of fear and threat, where security, justice and peace reign.

1-5 The reactions of the Palestinians to this reality varied. Some responded by negotiating: that was the official position of the Palestinian Authority; but she was unable to move the peace process forward. Some parties embarked on the path of armed resistance. Using this as a pretext to accuse the Palestinians of terrorism, Israel was able to distort the true nature of the conflict, portraying it as an Israeli war on terrorism rather than an Israeli occupation facing legitimate Palestinian resistance to end it.

1-5-1 The internal conflict among the Palestinians and the separation of the Gaza Strip from the rest of the Palestinian Territory made the dire situation worse. It should be borne in mind that, although the Palestinians are divided among themselves, a large part of the responsibility lies with the international community, for they refused to respond constructively to the will of the Palestinian people, which resulted in the democratic and legal elections in the year Was expressed in 2006.

We repeat and reaffirm that our Christian word in this situation is a word of faith, hope and love in the midst of our disaster.

2. A word of faith

We believe in God, in a good and just God

2-1 We believe in the one God, the Creator of the universe and of humanity. We believe in a good and just God who loves each of his creatures. We believe that every human being was created by God in His image and like Him, and that every being owes its dignity to the dignity of the Almighty. We believe that this dignity is indivisible and equal in each and every one of us. For us here and now, and especially in this country, that means that God did not create us for struggle and strife, but so that we can come to one another, get to know and love one another and build the country together in love and mutual respect.

2-1-1 We believe in God's Eternal Word, in His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, whom he sent to the world as Savior.

2-1-2 We believe in the Holy Spirit who accompanies the Church and all humanity on their journey. The Spirit helps us to understand the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and to remind us here and now that the two belong together. The Spirit gives us the revelation of God for humanity in the past, present and future.

How do we understand the word of God?

2-2 We believe that God spoke to the people here in our country: "After God spoke many times and in many ways to the fathers through the prophets, in these last days he spoke to us through the Son, whom he appointed to inherit everything, through whom he also made the world" (Heb 1, 1-2).

2-2-1 We Christian Palestinians, like all Christians around the world, believe that Jesus Christ came into the world to fulfill the law and prophecy. He is the alpha and omega, beginning and end: in his light and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we read the Holy Scriptures, reflect on them and interpret them as Jesus Christ did for the two disciples on their way to Emmaus has laid out. In the gospel according to Luke it is written: "And he began with Moses and all the prophets and explained to them what was said about him in all of the scriptures" (Lk 24:27).

2-2-2 Our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world proclaiming that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. He started a revolution in the life and beliefs of all humanity. He brought "a new teaching " with (Mk 1:27), which shed new light on the Old Testament, on issues relating to our Christian faith and daily life, such as the promises, the election, the people of God and the land. We believe that the Word of God is a living word that sheds a new light on every epoch of history, and that reveals to Christian believers what God says to us here and now, and not just what God said in the distant past may have. That is why the word of God must not be turned into stone letters that distort the love of God and His care in the life of peoples and every single person. The fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible, which brings us death and destruction when the word of God petrifies and is handed down from one generation to the other as a dead letter, succumbs to this error. This dead letter is used in our current history as a weapon to rob us of our rights and our land.

Our country has a universal mission

2-3 We believe that our country has a universal mission. In this universality the meaning of the promises, the land, the election and the people of God expands and includes all humanity - beginning with all the peoples who dwell in this land. In the light of the teachings of Scripture, the promise of the land was at no time a political program, but rather the prelude to full universal salvation. It was the beginning of the completion of the kingdom of God on earth.

2-3-1 God sent the patriarchs, prophets and apostles to this land with a universal mission for the world. Today we have three religions in this country - Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Our country, like all countries in the world, is God's country. It is holy because God is present in it, for God alone is holy and God alone sanctifies. We who live here have a duty to do God's will for this country. We have a duty to rid it of the evils of war. It is God's land, and therefore it must be a land of reconciliation, peace and love. And that is also possible. God has put us here as two peoples, and God gives us, if we only sincerely want it, the strength to live together and to create justice and peace, to truly transform the country into God's land: "The earth is the Lord and what is in it, the earth and those who dwell on it" (Ps 24, 1).

2-3-2 Our presence in this country as Christian and Muslim Palestinians is no coincidence, but is deeply rooted in the history and geography of this country and connects us to this country as every people is connected to the country in that it lives. It was wrong that we were driven out of the country. The West tried to redress the injustice suffered by Jews in the countries of Europe, but that redress was at our expense in our country. Wrong should be corrected; the result was new injustice.

2-3-3 We also know that certain theologians in the West try to biblically and theologically legitimize the injustice that has been inflicted on us. In this way, God's promises to us, when interpreted, become a threat to our very existence. The "good news" of the gospel has become "a harbinger of death" for us. We appeal to these theologians to reflect even more thoroughly on the Word of God and to correct their interpretation so that they can recognize in the Word of God a source of life for all peoples.

2-3-4 Our attachment to this country is not a mere ideological or theological issue, but a natural right. It is a matter of life and death. It is possible that some people disagree with us and call us enemies just because we say that we want to live as a free people in our country. Since we are Palestinians, we suffer from occupation, and since we Christians are Christians, we suffer from the misinterpretations of some theologians. In view of this, it is our task to defend the word of God as the source of life and not of death, so that "the good news" remains what it is, "good news" for us and for all. In the face of those who use the Bible to threaten our existence as Christian and Muslim Palestinians, we reaffirm our belief in the Bible because we know that the Word of God cannot be the source of our destruction.

2-4 We therefore declare that any use of the Bible to legitimize or support political options and positions based on injustice and imposed on people by people and peoples of other peoples will transform religion into a human ideology and the Word of God to deprive of its holiness, its universality and its truth.

2-5 We further declare that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is a sin against God and the people because it deprives the Palestinians of the basic human rights that God has given them. It distorts the image of God in the Israeli who has become the occupier, and it distorts the image of God in the Palestinian who has to live under the occupation. We declare that any theology that justifies the occupation and claims to be based on the Bible or on faith or history is removed from Christian doctrine because it calls for violence and holy war in the name of Almighty God and subordinate to God temporary human interests; in doing so she disfigures the face of God in people who have to live under political and theological injustice.

3. Hope

3-1 Although there is no glimmer of positive development, our hope remains strong. The current situation does not promise a quick solution and no end to the occupation that has been forced upon us. Certainly the initiatives, the conferences, the visits and the negotiations have multiplied, but they have not changed our situation or our suffering. Not even the new US stance announced by President Obama with the clear desire to end the fateful situation could change anything in our situation. The clear Israeli answer, which refuses any solution, leaves no room for positive expectations. Yet our hope remains strong because it comes from God. God alone is good, almighty and full of love, and his goodness will one day triumph over the evil to which we are now at the mercy. Paul says: "Is God for us, who can be against us? (...) Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Tribulation or fear or persecution or hunger or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written, 'For your sake we are all killed Day;' (...) Because I am certain that (nothing in all of creation) can separate us from the love of God " (Rom 8, 31; 35; 36; 39).

What does hope mean?

3-2 The hope that is in us means first and foremost our belief in God and secondly our expectation of a better future, in spite of everything. Third, hope does not mean chasing illusions - we understand that liberation is not imminent. Hope is the ability to recognize God in the midst of tribulation and to be collaborators with the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. From this point of view we gain the strength to remain steadfast and firm and to work towards a change in our present reality. Hope does not mean giving in to evil, but rather revolting against it and holding on to resistance. We see nothing now and for the future but decline and annihilation. We see that the strong and growing focus on racial segregation and the imposition of laws that make us struggle for our existence and dignity has gained the upper hand. We see confusion and division in the Palestinian stance. If, despite all this, we oppose this reality today and work intensively, then the annihilation that threatens on the horizon may not come upon us after all.

Sign of hope

3-3 The Church in our country - her leadership and her believers - despite her weaknesses and divisions, show certain signs of hope. Our local churches are vibrant and their young people are active apostles of justice and peace. In addition to the commitment of individuals, the various church institutions also help to ensure that our faith is actively and presently expressed in service, prayer and love.

3-3-1 Signs of hope include local theological centers devoted to religious and social issues, and there are many of them in our various churches. Even if it is still a little cautious, the ecumenical spirit is increasingly evident at the meetings of our various church families.

3-3-2 In addition, there are the numerous meetings for interreligious dialogue, the dialogue between Christians and Muslims, in which church leaders as well as part of the people participate. Without a doubt, the dialogue is a lengthy process; but it is completed by daily exertion, because we all experience the same suffering and have the same expectations. There is also a dialogue between the three religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - and various dialogue conferences take place on an academic or social level. They all strive to tear down the walls that the occupation has placed upon us and to oppose a distorted perception of people in the hearts of their brothers and sisters.

3-3-3 One of the most important signs of hope is the perseverance of the generations, their belief in the justice of their cause and the perpetuation of memories that will not allow the "nakba" (catastrophe) and its meaning to be forgotten. Equally important are the growing awareness in many churches around the world and their desire to know the truth about what is happening here.

3-3-4 Adding to all that we have mentioned, we see a determination in many people to overcome the hatred of the past and be ready for reconciliation once justice is restored. The public is becoming increasingly aware that the political rights of the Palestinians must be restored, and there are Jewish and Israeli voices who support these demands with the consent of the international community. These forces, which work for justice and reconciliation, have not yet succeeded in changing the unjust situation, but they have some influence and can possibly shorten the period of suffering and allow the time of reconciliation to begin earlier.

The mission of the church

3-4 Our church is a church of people who pray and serve. Your prayer and service are prophetic; they carry the voice of God into the present and into the future. Everything that happens in our country, everyone who lives here, all sufferings and hopes, all injustices and all efforts to end injustice are important concerns of the prayers of our church and the service of all of its institutions. Thank God that our church raises its voice against injustice, although some people would prefer it if it were silent and devoted itself to its religious practices alone.

3-4-1 The church has a prophetic mission, namely to speak courageously, honestly and lovingly the word of God in its respective environment and in the midst of daily events. If she takes sides, her place is by the side of the oppressed, as Christ our Lord stood by every poor person and every sinner, calling them to repentance, life and the restoration of the dignity bestowed on them by God and which nobody is allowed to take away from them.

3-4-2 The church is commissioned to proclaim the kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice, peace and human dignity. As a living Church we are called to bear witness of the goodness of God and of the dignity of man. We are called to pray and speak out loud as we announce a new society in which people trust in their own dignity and the dignity of their adversaries. We live under an occupying power and demand that our adversaries put an end to the injustice they cause, but at the same time we recognize in them people to whom God has bestowed dignity as well as us, which comes from God's dignity.

3-4-3 Our church points to the kingdom, which cannot be tied to any earthly kingdom. Jesus said in front of Pilate that he was actually king, but "My kingdom is out of this world" (Jn 18, 36). And Paul says: "The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 14, 17). Therefore, no religion should favor or support an unjust political system, but rather it must promote justice, truth and human dignity. It must do everything possible to bring political systems that suffer injustice and violate human dignity back on the right track. The kingdom of God on earth is not tied to any political orientation because it is larger and more comprehensive than individual political systems.

3-4-4 Jesus Christ says: "The kingdom of God is among you" (Luk 17, 21). This kingdom, which is among us and within us, is the further development of the mystery of salvation. It is the presence of God among us and our perception of that presence in everything we do and say. In this divine presence we must do all we can to bring justice to this land.

3-4-5 The harsh conditions in which the Palestinian Church lived and still lives have forced the Church to reassure itself of its faith and to see more clearly its calling. We have carefully studied our vocation and have become more aware of it in the midst of suffering and pain: today we witness the power of love instead of vengeance, a culture of life instead of a culture of death. It is a source of hope for us, for the Church and for the world.

3-5 The resurrection is the source of our hope. Just as Christ was resurrected and triumphed over death and evil, so can we, every single person who lives in this land, overcome the evil of war. We will remain a professing, steadfast, and active Church in the land of the resurrection.

4. Love

The love command

4-1 Christ our Lord says: "Love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 13:34). He showed us how to love and deal with our enemies: "You have heard that it was said: 'You shall love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he leaves its sun rises on the evil and the good and makes it rain on the just and the unjust. (...) Therefore you shall be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect " (Mt 5, 43-48). With Paul it says: "Do not retaliate evil for evil" (Rom 12, 17). And Peter says: "Do not retaliate evil with evil or reproach with reproach, but rather bless because you are called to inherit the blessing" (1. Petr 3, 9).


4-2 These words are clear. Love is the commandment of Christ our Lord to us, and it applies to friends as well as enemies. This must be clear, as we are in a position where we must face all kinds of evil.

4-2-1 Love recognizes the face of God in every person. Everyone is my brother or sister. However, recognizing the face of God in everyone does not mean accepting the evil or aggression of the other. Rather, love seeks to correct evil and put a stop to aggression. The injustice under which the Palestinian people live, i.e. the Israeli occupation, is an evil and a sin that must be confronted and removed. The responsibility for this rests first and foremost on the Palestinians themselves, who live under the occupation. Because Christian love urges us to resist the occupation. However, love overcomes evil by following the path of righteousness. But the world community is also responsible, because today international law regulates relations among peoples. After all, it is the responsibility of those who do wrong to resolve themselves from the evil that is within them and from the injustice they do to others.

4-2-2 If we look at the history of nations, we see a lot of wars and a lot of armed resistance to war, a lot of violent resistance to violence. The Palestinian people followed the same path as other peoples, especially in the early stages of their struggle against the Israeli occupation. But it also fought a peaceful struggle, especially during the first Intifada. We are aware that all peoples must find a new way to relate to one another and to resolve their conflicts. The ways of violence must give way to the ways of peace. This is especially true for those peoples who are militarily strong and powerful enough to impose their injustice on the weaker.

4-2-3 We believe that as Christians we must resist the Israeli occupation. Resistance is a right and a duty for Christians, but the basic principle of their resistance is love. It must therefore be a question of creative resistance, that is, human ways must be found that speak to the humanity of the enemy. To see the dignity of God in the face of the enemy and to allow only those positions in active resistance that reflect this vision is the most effective way to end the oppression and to force the oppressor to give up his aggression; in this way the desired goal can be achieved: regaining the country, freedom, dignity and independence.

4-2-4 Christ our Lord has set us an example to be followed. We must resist evil; but he also taught us that we should not oppose evil with evil. That is a difficult command, especially if the opponent is determined to get his way and deny our right to stay in this country. It is a difficult command, but it must absolutely be obeyed, also in view of the clear declarations of the occupation authorities that deny us our right to exist and the various attempts at justification by these authorities who want to maintain their occupation regime over us.

4-2-5 The resistance to the evil of occupation is thus embedded in Christian love, which rejects and makes amends for evil. She resists evil in all its forms using methods that conform to the principle of love and sets all forces in motion to bring peace. We can also resist through civil disobedience. We should not resist by bringing death, but rather by protecting life.We have great respect for all who gave their lives for our nation and say that every citizen must be ready to save his life, his freedom and to defend his country.

4-2-6 The civil organizations of the Palestinians, but also the international organizations, the non-governmental organizations and a number of religious institutions appeal to individuals, societies and states to support the withdrawal of investment and boycott measures of the economy and trade against all to use goods manufactured by the crew. We see in this the adherence to the principle of peaceful resistance. These advocacy campaigns must be courageously pursued, openly and sincerely declaring that their aim is not revenge, but the eradication of existing evil and the liberation of the perpetrators and victims of injustice. The aim is to free both peoples from the extremist positions of the various Israeli governments and to achieve justice and reconciliation for both sides. In this spirit and with this aim we may perhaps achieve the long-awaited solution to our problems; this has, after all, been achieved in South Africa and by many other liberation movements around the world.

4-3 With our love we will overcome injustice and lay the foundation for a new society for ourselves and for our opponents. Our and their future belong together. Either the cycle of violence will destroy both sides or peace will benefit both sides. We appeal to Israel to let go of its injustice against us and no longer distort the reality of the occupation under the pretext that it is a fight against terrorism. "Terrorism" has its roots in the human injustice done to us and the evils of the occupation. Both must stop if the honest intention is to eradicate "terrorism". We appeal to the people of Israel to be our partners in our endeavors for peace and not in the never-ending cycle of violence. Let us together resist the evil, the evil of the occupation and the diabolical cycle of violence!

5. Our word to our brothers and sisters

5-1 We are all on a blocked path and face a future that only promises suffering. Our word to all of our Christian brothers and sisters is one of hope, patience, steadfastness and striving for a better future. Our word is: We all have a message to deliver in this country and will continue to deliver it, despite the thorns, the blood and the daily difficulties. We place our hopes in God who will grant us deliverance in His time. At the same time, we will continue to work in harmony with God and with God's will to build, to resist evil, and to bring the day of justice and peace closer.

5-2 We say to our Christian brothers and sisters, this is a time of repentance. Repentance brings us back to the communion of love with all who suffer, with the prisoners, with the wounded, with those with temporary or permanent disabilities, with children who are deprived of their childhood, with those who are loved ones People cry. The community of love says in spirit and in truth to every believer: If my brother is trapped, then I am trapped too; if his house is destroyed, my house will also be destroyed; if my brother is killed, then I will be killed too. We face the same challenges and share with each other everything that is happening and what will happen. Perhaps we, as individuals or as heads of our church, have remained silent where we should have raised our voices, condemned injustice and shared the suffering. This is a time of penance for our silence, for our indifference, for our lack of community, because we have not remained true to our mission in this country and betrayed it, or because we have not thought or done enough to create a new, holistic vision to find. So we've stayed separate, denied our testimony, and weakened our word. It is a time of penance for our undue concern for the very existence of our own institution, sometimes even at the expense of our mandate, with the result that the prophetic voice given by the Spirit to the churches has remained silent.

5-3 We appeal to Christians to stand the test of this time, as we have done through the centuries as states and governments came and went. Be patient, steadfast, and hopeful so that you may fill the hearts of all of our brothers and sisters who are undergoing the same trial with hope. "Be ready at all times to answer to everyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you" (1. Petr 3, 15). Take action, and if it is compatible with love, partake of the sacrifices the resistance demands of you in order to overcome your present trials.

5-4 We're few, but we have a strong and important message. Our country desperately needs love. Our love is a message to Muslims and Jews, but also to the whole world.

5-4-1 Our message to Muslims is a message of love and for living together, an appeal to renounce fanaticism and extremism. It is also a message to the world that Muslims must not be labeled as enemies or caricatured as terrorists, but that one should live in peace with them and seek dialogue with them.

5-4-2 Our message to the Jews is: We fought and fight against each other today, but we can also love and live together. We can organize our political life, in all its complexity, on the basic principle of love and its power, once the occupation ends and justice is restored.

5-4-3 The word of faith tells everyone who is politically active: People were not created to hate. Hate is not allowed, and neither is killing or being killed. The culture of love is the culture of accepting one another. Through this we perfect ourselves and through this we lay the foundations of society.

6. Our word to the churches of the world

6-1 Our word to the churches of the world is first of all a word of thanks for the solidarity that they show us in words, deeds and in their presence among us. It is a word of appreciation for the many churches and Christians who support our demand for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. It is a message of solidarity with Christians and churches who suffer because they stand up for law and justice.

But it is also a call to repent, to correct fundamentalist theological positions that support certain unjust political options with regard to the Palestinian people. It is a call to stand by the side of the oppressed and to keep the word of God as good news for all, instead of turning it into a weapon with which to kill the oppressed. The word of God is a word of love for all of His creation. God is not the ally of one side against another, nor is one the opponent of one against the other. God is Lord of all, he loves everyone, he demands justice from everyone and gave us all the same commandments. We ask our sister churches not to offer any theological cover for the injustice we suffer or the sin of occupation that has been forced upon us. Our question to our brothers and sisters in the churches today is: Can you help us regain our freedom? Because that is the only way to help both peoples to justice, peace, security and love.

6-2 In order to awaken understanding of our reality, we say to the churches: Come and see! We will do our job and tell you the truth about our reality and we will receive you as pilgrims who come to us to pray and who bring a message of peace, love and reconciliation. You will get to know the reality and the people of this country, Palestinians and Israelis alike.

6-3 We condemn all forms of racism, whether religious or ethnic, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and we appeal to you to condemn and oppose it as well, wherever and in whatever form it occurs. At the same time, we appeal to you to speak a word of truth about the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and to base your position on the truth. As we have said before, we consider boycotts and investment withdrawals to be peaceful tools to achieve justice, peace and security for all.

7. Our word to the international community

7-1 Our word to the world community is: Put an end to the "double standards" and insist that the international resolutions on the question of Palestine apply to all parties. The selective application of international law runs the risk of abandoning us to the law of the jungle. It legitimizes the demands of certain armed groups and suggests that the international community alone understands the logic of violence. That is why, as already mentioned, we are calling for a response to what the civil and religious institutions have proposed: namely, the introduction of a system of economic sanctions and boycott measures against Israel at last. We repeat again: this is not revenge, but rather a serious step towards the realization of a just and lasting peace, which aims to end the occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories by Israel and to ensure security and peace for all.

8. To the Jewish and Muslim religious leaders

8. Finally, we appeal to the Jewish and Muslim religious and spiritual leaders with whom we share the vision that every human being is created by God and has been given equal human dignity. This places an obligation on all of us to defend the oppressed and the dignity that God has given them. Let us try together to leave behind the political positions that have failed so far and that will lead us again and again on the path of failure and suffering.

9. An appeal to our Palestinian people and to the Israelis

9-1 It is the appeal to recognize the face of God in each of your creatures and to overcome the barriers of fear or race in order to initiate a constructive dialogue and to get out of the vicious circle of never-ending maneuvers aimed at the status quo to obtain. We call for a common vision that is based on equality and sharing and not on claims to superiority, on the negation of the other or on aggression under the pretext of fear and security. We say: love and mutual trust are possible. That is why there is also peace, and final reconciliation is possible. In this way, justice and security can be achieved for all sides.

9-2 Education is of great importance. Educational programs need to help get to know one another properly, rather than just looking at one another through the prism of conflict, enmity, or religious fanaticism. Today's educational programs are poisoned with enmity. "You don't know us and we don't know you," Israelis and Palestinians alike could say to each other. The time has come for a new educational work which enables us to see the face of God in the other and which makes it clear to us that we are able to love one another and to build together for a future in peace and security.

9-3 The attempt to turn the state into a religious - Jewish or Islamic - state deprives it of its freedom of movement, forces it into narrow boundaries and transforms it into a state that practices discrimination and exclusion and that is open to its citizens privileged others. We appeal to both religious Jews and religious Muslims: Make the state a state for all its citizens, which is based on respect for religion, but also on equality, justice, freedom and respect for pluralism , and not on the rule of any religion or a numerical majority.

9-4 We say to Palestinian leaders: The current divisions are weakening us all and causing additional suffering. Nothing can justify these divisions. For the good of the people, which is more important than that of the political parties, the split must come to an end. We appeal to the world community to support this unification process and to respect the will of the Palestinian people expressed in freedom

9-5 The foundation of our vision and all of our lives is Jerusalem. God has given this city a very special meaning in human history. All people are on their way to this city - where they will come together in friendship and love and in the presence of the one God according to the vision of the prophet Isaiah: "In the last days the mountain, where the Lord's house is, will stand firm, higher than all mountains and above all hills, and all nations will run up to it they will make their swords into plowshares and their spears into sickles. For no nation will raise swords against another, and they will no longer learn to wage war " (Isa 2, 2-5). Any political solution must be based on this prophetic vision and on the international resolutions regarding Jerusalem, in which two peoples and three religions live today. This question must be the first point of negotiation, because the recognition of Jerusalem as a holy city and its message will be a source of inspiration for the solution of the overall problem, which is largely a problem of mutual trust and the ability to create a new land in this land of God .

10. Hope and Faith in God

10-1 Though there is no hope, we cry out our hope. We believe in God, in the good and just God. We believe that in the end, His goodness will prevail over the evils of hatred and death that still reign in our land. We will discover "a new land" and "a new person" who is able to arise in a spirit of love for all his brothers and sisters.

Please visit www.kairospalestine.ps for information on the authors and signatories of this document.