November 24, 2020
Breaking News:
Global Kairos for Justice Releases the BDS Toolkit
An exciting new resource has arrived. The BDS Toolkit was developed by Global Kairos for Justice, a global network that emerged from the 2018 Kairos Palestine conference. The toolkit is exceptionally well crafted and offers a wide range of information and tools.
Visit to explore its many features, including: the theological foundations for BDS (includes an excellent overview of the challenge of Christian Zionism), BDS stories from around the world, FAQs, and a complete "How to" guide, understanding and dealing with the anti-Semitism charge.
The toolkit also provides an excellent glossary covering Zionism, settler colonialism, government and corporate complicity, investment screens and more, with links for further reading, a review of relevant legal issues, including international law, a comprehensive list of organizational resources, and the best collection of short videos about BDS we have ever seen.
In the words of the toolkit: "The BDS Movement is an invitation to accompaniment and solidarity. It is a call to walk as Jesus walked, to demonstrate costly solidarity with Palestinians in their struggle for justice and freedom." Make the BDS Toolkit your go-to resource for educational and organizing work in your community, congregation, or campus. Spread it widely through your networks.

Call to Solidarity: News from the Global Kairos Community
The release of "Cry for Hope: a Call to Urgent Action" from Global Kairos for Justice has spurred grassroots action at local and national levels. In this issue we bring you reports from three countries. The reports demonstrate the impact of the Palestinian call on churches and Christian institutions throughout the world. It has produced the kind of struggle today that has enlivened and renewed the churches in years past -- prompting the churches to confront Christian Zionism, understand the relationship of the Palestinian struggle with other human rights causes, and reconcile standing for justice in Palestine with the church's effort to come to terms with its history of anti-Judaism.
GERMANY: Contrasting responses to Cry for Hope
Nowhere have the ecclesial, theological, and political issues raised by the Palestinian call been more acute than in Germany. After the release of "Cry for Hope," a country-wide network of church activists in Germany issued bold challenges to church and civil society leaders at local, regional and national levels. Here is their report:

"On June 26, 2020, the Kairos Palestine Solidarity Network in Germany organized 20 vigils in order to personally hand over “Cry for Hope: A Call to Decisive Action” to the regional leaders of the Evangelical (Lutheran) church in Germany and the leaders of the Catholic churches. The feedback we received (19 were negative, 3 were supportive) illustrate on the one hand the challenge faced by the Kairos movement to move the churches to action, and, on the other hand, the deep and abiding spirit of the church to stand for justice, even when such action threatens to disturb institutionally-held beliefs and norms. The response of the Bishop of the church of Kurhessen-Waldeck disturbed us and illustrates the challenge: She rejected the arguments of “Cry for Hope” because (1) it is unacceptable to compare Israel with Apartheid South Africa, (2) it blames Israel alone for the conflict, (3) by supporting BDS it triggers anti-Semitism, and (4) its reference to Empire evokes the concept of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy.

In contrast, the reply of Bishop Cornelius-Bundschuh of the Church in Baden reads: “As Protestant Christians in Germany, for theological reasons and against the background of our catastrophic history of anti-Judaism, our turn toward reconciling with the Jewish people has been of essential importance to us. As a result we have often not perceived the situation of our Palestinian brothers and sisters with appropriate clarity, fervor and commitment.” The Bishop emphasized that the Bible must not be used to legitimize dispossession and oppression, and affirmed the legitimacy of boycott as resistance. The letter concluded with a commitment to bring “Cry for Hope” and its seven action steps to the next meeting of the Regional Synod. 

Solidarity from the Church of Norway:
Statement on Christian Zionism
The report from Germany vividly illustrates the power of the grassroots to move the churches to grapple with the theological, biblical and ecclesial issues raised by Palestine. It shows how the timeworn arguments against the cry of the dispossessed Palestinians are beginning to give way as more and more churches at national and denominational levels put on the mantle of the true church in response to the Palestinian call. Although it does not do so explicitly, the letter from the Bishop of the Baden church touches directly on the issue of Christian Zionism. The theological challenge presented by Christian Zionism is a key theme of "Cry for Hope" and a fundamental theological point in the Kairos document of 2009.

A letter from the Church of Norway is groundbreaking as the official statement of a state church taking direct aim at Christian Zionism. In its October 30 statement on Christian Zionism, the Church of Norway Bishops Conference declares that "Christian Zionism is theologically unacceptable and incompatible with human rights.” Describing some groups that are "particularly large in the United States, but are also found in Norway," the statement continues: "They practice a political theology that ignores international law and human rights. Directly or indirectly, they oppose attempts to create a just peace."

"There is disagreement about how the land promises in the Bible should be interpreted. But we find it unacceptable to interpret the Bible without regard to the ethical consequences. It is problematic to read ancient prophecies so that all political events today are predetermined by God...Christian Zionism complicates the situation for the churches in Palestine and Israel. This calls for solidarity from the Church of Norway." 

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Voices from the Global South: India and Asia-Pacific
At critical junctures in recent history, the global South (not strictly a geographical descriptor -- effectively "the global South" refers to the formerly colonized nations of the world) has led the way in opposing racism and oppression. Historically, the churches of these nations have played a decisive role in raising awareness of the interconnectivity of all liberation struggles and of the indivisibility of opposition to racism and tyranny and the heart of the gospel. We bring you reports from emerging organizations of church groups in the Indian subcontinent in collaboration with counterparts in Asia-Pacific nations.
The National Council of Churches in India, the Student Christian Movement of India, the Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society, and the National Dalit Christian Watch sponsored a webinar in September linking the Palestinian struggle with the struggle of Dalits against racism and discrimination. Rev Dr. Gnanavaram of the Tamilnadu Theological Seminary enumerated commonalities in the oppression of Palestinians and Dalits: occupation and denial of right to land; oppressive ideologies (Zionism and Sanadhana Dharma); slavery/servitude; denigration by birth; separate places of habitation; division within their own communities; political powerlessness; poverty. 

Mr. Paul Divakar of the Global Forum on Discrimination highlighted similarities in the Palestinian and Dalit narratives in the concepts of purity-pollution, displacement, gross inequalities, and victimization. Dr. Ruth Manorama pointed out that women are under subjugation in any community, but they always remain at center stage of any struggle, including the Palestinian. 

Rev. Asir Ebenezer, General Secretary of NCCI, reviewed recent webinars jointly sponsored by NCCI, CISRS, SCMI, NDCW, YMCA, and YWCA in response to "Cry for Hope" and the World Week of Prayer for Peace in Palestine and Israel, which featured the participation of kairos leaders from Palestine, Germany and the United Kingdom. He referenced BDS and urged all to raise their voices for Palestinian rights.
An upcoming webinar organized by four organizations, including the the Indo-Palestine Solitarity Network and Global Kairos Asia Pacific Solidarity for Palestine, entitled "Christian Zionism: A Threat to Christian Muslim Relations" will take place on December 9th. Click here or on the thumbnail below for details.
From the invitation: "Conversations among progressive religious groups and civil society have become an imperative to counter the deadly designs of Christian Zionism in Asian churches and in global society at large. Relationships between evangelical groups and Zionist organizations have opened pathways to exert political pressure that shields Israel from accountability in its continued violations of international law. We are also experiencing what we may call ‘Muslim Zionism,’ based on a distorted religious and political discourse that rationalizes normalizations of relations with Israel at the expense of Palestinian rights."
Palestine Portal is a program of Kairos USA.

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