June 19, 2020
Our struggles are one.

The empire we face is not restricted by geography, tribe, language or economy. Empire is an ideology of domination and subjugation, fueled by violence, fed by fear and deception. It manifests itself especially in racial, economic, cultural, patriarchal, sexual, and ecological oppression.

These words are from a international conference held five years ago in Johannesburg South Africa. Entitled " Dangerous Memory and Hope for the Future," it was a gathering of theologians, activists and church leaders honoring the 30 th Anniversary of the South Africa Kairos “Challenge to the Church: A Theological Comment on the Political Crisis in South Africa. " The title of the conference was taken from Catholic theologian Jean Baptist Metz's concept of the "dangerous memory of the gospel." Metz saw identification and solidarity with suffering peoples as the core of Christian faith and practice. The Dangerous Memory conference statement describes the Palestinian struggle as " a microcosm of global empire, a critical site of reflection that can bring experiences in other locales into sharper focus."

"We must lament the violence in our world today," writes Rev Munther Isaac of Bethlehem, because "it leads us to change the reality that we lament." On the eve of the Poor Peoples' Campaign March and Digital Gathering on Saturday June 20th, we devote this Palestine Portal newsletter to the cry of lament embodied in the eruption of protest, rage and grief that has captured the streets and hearts of people the w orld over in a commitment to change and local struggle.
“Go out into the streets and lament loud ly!"
On Sunday June 14, Rev. William Barber II delivered a historic sermon at the National Cathedral in Washington DC. Injustice leads to death, declared Rev Barber, and "accepting death is no longer an option." Delivering a powerful indictment of American society's history of murderous racism, Rev. Barber delivered a stirring call for change, building the sermon around the words of the prophet Amos from The Message translation, words that ring true as never before:

“Go out into the streets and lament loudly!
    Fill the malls and shops with cries of doom!
Weep loudly, ‘Not me! Not us, Not now!’
    Empty offices, stores, factories, workplaces.
Enlist everyone in the general lament.
    I want to hear it loud and clear when I make my visit.”

Hate evil and love good,
    then work it out in the public square.
Maybe God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    will notice your remnant and be gracious.

Do you know what I want?
    I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
    That’s what I want. That’s  all  I want.

Let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Our struggles are one: Palestinians respond to killing of George Floyd in U.S.A.
"We also cannot breathe," writes Palestinian pastor and theologian Munther Isaac from Bethlehem. "The wall, the colonies and checkpoints suffocate us. They took the land, water and air from us, and with covetousness they still want even more. They make the laws and are the rulers and executioners of them."

Isaac continues with a profound reflection of the meaning of George Floyd's suffering and death, the suffering and deaths of Palestinians, and of people everywhere " suffering under the yoke of sin and darkness:"

"Last Sunday we celebrated Pentecost: the anniversary of the founding of the Church and the advent of the Holy Spirit. The early church offered an alternative vision for our world which is suffering under the yoke of sin and darkness. It was a church that proclaimed the good news that God is love and that He loves the world–the whole world–without discrimination. On Pentecost, we see Jerusalem in its most beautiful form: the Capital of Peoples. It is a totally different picture than Jerusalem we know today. God’s spirit removed all kinds of barriers, including ethnic and national barriers!

Rev. Isaac issues a powerful call to the church:
"The Church must embody a reality that is different from our current one – a world where mercy, truth, love and real freedom prevail. I feel sad when I see the Church living away from these ideals, justifying racism, absolving the strong and the rich, losing their empathy for the suffering, and neglecting the gift of lamentation. On the other hand, I find a great deal of solace when I see the Church preoccupied with the work of the Kingdom...calling for truth, protecting the weak and embodying equality. This is our call: to proclaim the gospel, and to reflect it with our words, our behavior, and our ministries."

Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Jerusalem Issues Statement In Solidarity with the Anti-Racism Movement In America
“The fight against racism is universal,” writes Theodosios Atallah Hanna, Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.  “We – your brothers and sisters in Palestine, through this message, not only express our solidarity and condemnation of this crime but also affirm that we have a common suffering from the forces of evil and oppression in all its fascist forms whether religious, social, political and economic apartheid."

"From Jerusalem, the City of Peace, and from Palestine the Land of Love and Tolerance, we – the Palestinians – fight shoulder to shoulder with our African American brothers and sisters to end racism everywhere. We stand firm, in solidarity and support, with the peaceful demonstrators who are fighting to end racism, prejudice, and police brutality all over the United States and around the world."
Finally, this prayer from Palestinian human rights scholar and activist Jack Munayer of Jerusalem. Feeling the knee of the occupier upon his neck and the necks of his fellow Palestinians, Munayer stood at the First Station of the Cross, addressing an unnamed Palestinian of today. In the moment depicted in the First Station Jesus stood alone, yet his suffering and death gave birth to a community of resistance and hope that is called to renew itself in every historical moment.

See Jack's slide presentation "Occupation and Annexation" at the recent Christ at the Checkpoint webinar, which closes with this prayer. It offers an excellent analysis of the current situation in Palestine and the implications for events in the United States and elsewhere.
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