Monday, April 19, 2010

In The Name Of...

The Central Conference of American Rabbis has published a sharp and detailed deconstruction of the Kairos Palestine BDS document (December 2009) -- See here.

Excerpts of the CCAR document include:

"A close reading of Kairos reveals that it is anything but a document based on truth. Careful consideration of what it says and what it does not say, of the history it paints and the history it obfuscates, and of the moral yardstick it applies to Israel yet compromises in the face of Palestinian violence, reveals a morally inconsistent and theologically suspect document that speaks only part of the truth, and not always that.

Among its many failings, Kairos:

1. Echoes supersessionist language of the Christian past, since rejected by most mainstream Christian denominations, referring to the Torah absent Christian revelation as, in the words of the Christian Scriptures, “a dead letter.”3
2. While opposing and negating the applicability of scriptural texts, historical presence, and theological discourse to justify the existence of a Jewish state,4 does exactly that in making its case for a Palestinian State. 5
3. Consistently objects to “the Occupation,” without making clear that it is referring exclusively to lands occupied by Israel and in dispute since the Six-Day War of 1967. Ultimately, the document becomes clear, altogether rejecting the very notion of a Jewish State.6
4. Insists that the root cause of Palestinian resistance – both violent and non-violent - is ”the Occupation,”7obfuscating the historical truth of the Arab world’s militant rejection of the existence of a Jewish state pre-dating 1948, and the decades of war and terrorism, which, in 1967, prompted and necessitated the taking of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan heights.
5. Purports to promote non-violent resistance as the only legitimate Christian response to the Israeli occupation, yet expresses “respect” and “high esteem for those who have given their life for our nation,” thereby implicitly condoning, even praising, suicide bombers.8
6. Attempts to neutralize the concept of terrorism through the euphemistic reference to “terrorism,”9 implying that the deliberate Palestinian targeting of Israeli civilians with the aim of killing as many as possible in order to strike fear and terror is not terrorism at all, but a form of “legal resistance.”
7. Paints a compelling picture of the reality of Palestinians living under Israeli rule, but ignores the reality of Israelis forced to flee for their lives into bomb shelters, or in fear of being blown up while eating in a restaurant, celebrating a Passover Seder or dancing at a Bar Mitzvah Celebration.

The Kairos Document has been explicitly endorsed by a relative few Palestinian Christian leaders.10 However, the acceptance and endorsement of this document by certain other individuals and church groups with which we have enjoyed harmonious interfaith relations has been surprising, disturbing and profoundly disappointing.
For the contemporary Christian to ascribe to this supercesionist document would be saying to their Jewish neighbors and friends – indeed to the world – that Judaism has no validity as a covenant religion, that the pain and martyrdom endured by countless generations of Jews was for naught; that the world would have been better off without the religious, cultural, spiritual, social, scientific and educational contributions of Jewish people throughout ages; and that the God we worship and serve is no God at all. So many mainstream churches have rejected superscessionism, not only because of the centuries of persecution it has engendered, but because they believe it not to be true. In short, those who would associate themselves with this document and the religious foundation upon which it is based would be erasing years of Christian soul searching and repentance as if they had not been. We expect more from our interfaith partners. We are forced to wonder whether these Church organizations do not recognize the supersessionist and anti-Semitic nature of theKairos document or whether they no longer care to share interfaith dialogue with us.

Therefore, the Central Conference of American Rabbis:

Declares that Kairos is a factually, theologically and morally flawed document;
Insists that the document’s explicit supercessionism and inherent anti-Semitism prevent Kairos from providing a legitimate framework for interfaith dialogue and understanding;
Acknowledges with appreciation Kairos’ call to the Palestinian people to reject hate11 (as we all must do), to follow the Christian commandment to “love both enemies and friends” and to resist “through respect of life,” as required by cited Christian Scriptures;12
Challenges the authors of Kairos to be true to the love and respect of life they endorse and the very scriptures they quote by rejecting as immoral and un-Christian the indiscriminate and deliberately targeted murder of Israeli men, women and children;
Again insists that such acts of murder, either as acts of revenge or with the specious designation of “legal Palestinian resistance,”13 do indeed comprise terrorism, denounced by people of conscience throughout the world as an unacceptable tool for achieving political ends;
Asserts that the Jewish people’s right to national sovereignty in the Land of Israel is primarily established, not by subjective religious belief or fundamentalist reading of Hebrew Scriptures, but by a millennium of national existence and civilization there, followed, even in exile, by nearly two millennia of unbroken physical and spiritual support of and yearning for the Land;
Labels as theologically hypocritical and historically dishonest the assertion that the Palestinian people’s historic presence on the land establishes its right of return,14 but that the Jewish people’s historic presence, dating back 3000 years, does not establish that very same right;
Calls on Christians of good faith to recognize the complexity of the Israeli-Arab conflict, which is complicated by territorial dispute as well as competing allegiances to sacred land, Palestinian suffering and Palestinian terror; and which must not be reduced, as Kairos’ authors do, to an assertion that the Jewish people are in the wrong and that the Palestinian cause is fully just;
Calls on all who have endorsed Kairos to look deeply into its words and honestly into their own souls and to recognize and forswear the flawed and distorted picture of reality it paints;
Serves notice that the CCAR would require serious reflection before continuing our common cause with any Church body or organization that endorses or continues to endorse Kairos;
Re-affirms our commitment to our continuing interfaith cooperation with Christian groups that affirm the continuing, unique Covenant between God and the Jewish people; and
Recommits itself to all worthy and legitimate endeavors to bring an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people, to be achieved through negotiations to establish a Palestinian State adjacent to and in cooperation with a secure Jewish State of Israel.
Urges our members to educate themselves on this matter and to seek opportunities to share concerns about theKairos document with their local Christian colleagues and lay people.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

(1) The pushback is quite perceptive to hone in on the slippery way that the Kairos Document defines Occupation (surprisingly, it doesn't - it leaves open questions about the legitimacy of a Jewish State anywhere in Mandate-era Palestine)

(2) This is disappointing in that it doesn't say much about the Kairos Document's call for BDS. I'm not sure if the rabbis involved were afraid to come out against what they perceived to be a non-violent form of protest, but in any case we know that's not what BDS is about (as recent store "occupations" in the UK have pretty clearly illustrated)