‘Kairos Palestine’ document published in Italian

Anti-Israel church book is presented at a Vatican synod accuses Israel of apartheid and calls for systematic boycott.

By LISA PALMIERI-BILLIG JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDE
October 24, 2010 01:30
3 minute read.
Screenshots of an anti-Israel Facebook group with

anti israel facebook group 58. (photo credit: screenshot)

ROME – An Italian edition of Kairos Palestine, a controversial document authored by representatives of Middle East Christian Churches and first presented in 2009, was launched in the Italian capital last week, on the sidelines of a Vatican synod.

The former Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, together with the Pax Christi and Franciscan “Terra Santa” publishers, presented the book at a conference center in a Vatican-owned building run by Pax Christi, Catholic Action and the Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land.

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Despite the semi-official setting, no other synod bishops attended the presentation, as if in unspoken agreement with the prevailing Vatican policy to keep politics away from the synod.

Signed by representatives and members of Christian churches in the Middle East, the document calls for “resistance” against Israeli occupation and has been strongly criticized on several points.

Among these are calls for “the beginning of a system of economic sanctions and boycott to be applied against Israel,” efforts defined as “tools of nonviolence,” accusations that Israel is guilty of “clear apartheid” and “racist separation,” ambiguous use of the word “resistance,” which seems to encompass terrorism in statements such as “if there were no occupation there would be no resistance...” and “we respect and have high esteem for all those who have given their life for our nation,” and, finally, criticism of the international community for not accepting “the outcome of democratic and legal elections” in Gaza that were won by Hamas.

Previously attributed to leaders of Middle East churches, the Kairos Palestine book was carefully presented in Rome as a document written by “lay people” and “some religious [people].” The publisher specified that this was “not an official document” and that the Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land, Rev.

Pierbattista Pizzaballa, “did not help write it.”

However, the semi-official nature of the Italian book is accentuated by the new preface written by the current Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, while Pizzaballa’s name appears at the beginning of the document in a list of “Patriarchs and heads of Churches in Jerusalem” who signed an acknowledgement that “We hear the cry of our children” and an expression of “support” for “the call to all our faithful as well as to the Israeli and Palestinian Leaders, to the international community and to the World churches, in order to accelerate the achievement of justice, peace and reconciliation in this Holy Land.”

“The document is a reflection by some Christians but not an official Church document.

All our names are always automatically inserted in statements we issue,” Pizzaballa told the Jerusalem Post. “Since Kairos Palestine is seen as somewhat political, I find it is not my duty to elaborate on it.”

In an Italian radio interview, he commented, “I am not Palestinian and don’t want to pass judgment, but as a religious [man], it makes me feel a bit uneasy.”

Following the book launch, a missionary press agency accused “Tel Aviv’s ambassador to the Holy See” of having pressured the Vatican regarding the document and organizing reprisals through increased Israeli denials of visa for priests.

Ambassador Mordechay Lewy replied that he did not want “to be dragged into a promotional tour of the anti-Israel propaganda booklet called Kairos Palestine” and that the “so-called retaliation of Israeli diplomacy and pressure is untrue.”

He also pointed out that his credential letters were sent from Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv.


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