Disentangling Kairos Palestine


“Kairos Palestine” is a document produced by a group of Palestinian Christians and addressed to the global Christian Community.  At the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, the Middle East Study Committee requested that Kairos Palestine receive a formal endorsement. The request for broad endorsement was declined, and the Assembly instead declared that it “Commends for study the Kairos Palestine document, and endorses the document’s emphases on hope for liberation, non-violence, love of enemy, and reconciliation”.

 We think that this was the proper approach to take. A document of this type must be “disentangled” when developing a thoughtful response. There are Palestinian goals and aspirations expressed in Kairos Palestine that deserve broad support and are integral to long term peace. At the same time, there are assertions made in the document that lack factual accuracy, and will neither advance the cause of peace nor improve the welfare of the Palestinian people.

 The most widely embraced path to end the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the two-state solution based on “roadmap” or “quartet” principles, recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to freedom and self-determination. Improving the lives of ordinary Palestinians advances the peace process and benefits both parties. The goal is establishment of a peaceful and democratic Palestinian state, living alongside Israel as a neighbor.

 It is called a solution based on “roadmap/quartet” principles because it calls for more than simply the creation of a Palestinian state. It also respects the security of Israel, and the right of the people of Israel to live without fear of violence. It recognizes the reality of Palestinian factions committed to the destruction of Israel and unwilling to accept a solution based on peaceful coexistence. These factions must ultimately be disarmed, and rejected by the Palestinian people, in order for the peace process to reach fruition.

 Where Kairos Palestine fails is in it’s unwillingness to acknowledge these realities. Instead, the document effectively denies the existence of groups such as Hamas, which openly call for the destruction of Israel. The document states “if there were no occupation, there would be no resistance”. We are mystified by this statement, written by a group that is close enough to the facts to know it is not true. Even more disturbing, the document broadly labels the violence perpetrated by extremist Palestinian groups as “resistance”. Pursuing the destruction of an entire people is not “resistance”, nor is the intentional killing of innocent civilians. The use of this word for this activity is repugnant.

 The articles and commentary of this section of our website explore Kairos Palestine in great detail, and provide perspective from multiple viewpoints, including friends of Israel that deserve a forum for rebuttal to assertions made in Kairos Palestine. We hope you follow the suggestion of the last Presbyterian general assembly and study this document, and it’s critiques, carefully.

Presbyterians for Middle East Peace