By Tom Holmes
KAIROS PALESTINE 2009
A moment of truth: A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering.
We, a group of Christian Palestinians, after prayer, reflection and an exchange of opinion, cry out from within the suffering in our country, under the Israeli occupation, with a cry of hope in the absence of all hope. Inspired by the mystery of God's love for all. . .we proclaim our word based on our Christian faith and our sense of Palestinian belonging—a word of faith, hope and love.
The problem is not just a political one. It is a policy in which human beings are destroyed, and this must be of concern to the Church.
The reality on the ground. They say "peace, peace when there is no peace"(Jer.6:14). These days everyone is speaking about peace in the Middle East and the peace process. So far, however, these are simply words; the reality is one of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, deprivation of our freedom and all that results from this situation:
- The separation wall erected on Palestinian territory, a large part of which has been confiscated for this purpose, has turned our towns and villages into prisons.
- Israeli settlements ravage our land in the name of God and in the name of force, controlling our natural resources, including water and agricultural land. . .
- Reality is the daily humiliation to which we are subjected at the military checkpoints, as we make our way to jobs, schools or hospitals.
- Reality is the separation between members of the same family. . . .
- Religious liberty is severely restricted: the freedom of access to the holy places is denied under the pretext of security.
- Refugees are also part of our reality. Most of them are still living in camps under difficult circumstances.
- The thousands of prisoners languishing in Israeli prisons are part of our reality.
- Jerusalem continues to be emptied of its Palestinian citizens, Christians and Muslims. Their identity cards are confiscated, which means the loss of their right to reside in Jerusalem. Their homes are demolished or expropriated.
- Also part of this reality is the Israeli disregard of international law and international resolutions. . . .Human rights are violated and despite the various reports of local and international human rights' organizations, the injustice continues.
- Palestinians within the state of Israel, although they are citizens have the rights and obligations of citizenship, still suffer from discriminatory policies.
- The absence of any vision or spark of hope for peace and freedom pushes young people, both Muslim and Christian, to emigrate. Thus the land is deprived of its most important and richest resource—educated youth.
- In the face of this reality, Israel justifies its actions as self-defence, including occupation, collective punishment. In our opinion this vision is a reversal of reality. Yes, there is Palestinian resistance to the occupation. However, if there were no occupation, there would be no resistance, no fear and no insecurity.
- The Palestinian response to this reality was diverse. Some responded through negotiations. . .but it did not advance the peace process. Some political parties followed the way of armed resistance. Israel used this as a pretext to accuse the Palestinians of being terrorists and was able to distort the real nature of the conflict, presenting it as an Israeli war against terror, rather than an Israeli occupation faced by Palestinian legal resistance aiming at tending it.