Witnessing Gaza

Witnessing Gaza: Actions, Readings, Community, and Prayer

As we compose this newsletter a 72 hour cease fire is in effect. We pray that this latest outbreak of death and destruction has ceased. We also allow ourselves to hope that the horror and outrage expressed across the world will serve to move governments to act to pull Israel back from its self-destructive course and to finally bring to an end the oppression of the Palestinian people.

This is the opportune time, the urgent time, the moment of grace and opportunity, when God issues a challenge to decisive action. It is a time when prophets speak truth to power. Israeli historian Ilan Pappe speaks the truth in his essay, “To the family of the one thousandth victim of Israel’s genocidal slaughter in Gaza.” American journalist Chris Hedges speaks the truth in his 7-minute speech, “Gaza, the Broken Hearted.” Both challenge us to action: Pappe in his pledge to support nonviolent resistance, Hedges in his charge to Americans to call our government to account for providing the hardware for the ongoing abrogation of rights and the outright slaughter. Both modern prophets name not only the destruction of lives, but the profound damage to those who wield the power. Below under “Reading” are four additional articles, two that pertain specifically to the role of the churches in the struggle for justice.

Kairos USA continues in its mission to unite and mobilize U.S. Christians to respond faithfully and boldly to this theological imperative and this call to action. We will be providing information in the coming months about program offerings and resources in the pursuit of the mission. In the meantime, as this crisis continues, we will continue to provide information, pathways for action, and connection to the strengthening and healing power of community and prayer.


Call for an Arms Embargo

“When you have the capacity to halt genocide,” said Chris Hedges (yes, he uses the word, as does Pappe) “no matter who causes that genocide or who it is directed against, you are culpable.” Along with 48 other faith organizations, Kairos USA has signed a Call for an Arms Embargo on Israel, joining “the six Nobel Peace Laureates and thousands of others in endorsing the Palestinian call for an arms embargo on Israel. We will continue endorsing this call until the current bloodshed, blockade, occupation, and exile come to an end.” Click on the link to read the letter and for information on how your organization or church can become a signatory.

International Day of Action

Learn about the Palestinian call for an international day of gathering and protest on Saturday, August 9th. Events are planned for cities across the country.


In “Trying to Make Sense out of Gaza,” Colin Chapman, Evangelical Christian, member of Kairos Britain, consultant to Kairos USA, and foremost authority on Islam, provides excellent background on Gaza and on Hamas: “For all its failings and crimes, Hamas has been a consistent expression of Palestinian nationalism and anger.”

We’ve just received writer Ben Irwin’s excellent posting, “If you think ‘standing with Israel’ means never criticizing them, you’re going to have to get a new Bible.” Ben’s piece was circulated by our friends at Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding.

Kairos USA Board member Dr. Gary Burge has written a compelling essay for the Huffington Post entitled “But They Use Human Shields!” Burge argues powerfully and cogently that ethical principles trump Israel’s (and its defenders) justification for the bombing of civilians. This important article is in line with the New Testament scholar’s courageous and groundbreaking work in the cause for justice in the Holy Land.

Those who were present in Detroit to witness the historic vote of the Presbyterian Church (USA) at their General Assembly to divest from companies profiting from the the occupation of Palestine were struck by the testimony of one particular pastor from Ohio, Andries Coetzee. Last week, in response to the bombing and invasion of Gaza, Coetzee posted a piece entitled “With renewed violence in Gaza, Presbyterian Church’s Israel disinvestments are a nonviolent contribution to peace.” It was Coetzee’s experience growing up in apartheid South Africa that provided the moral platform for this pastor’s clarity and courage. Click on the link to see how clearly the lessons he draws from South Africa speak to us today. Don’t miss Pastor Coetzee’s direct and courageous responses to a number of challenging comments.


During these past weeks, many of us have felt overwhelmed by the news reports and the flood of information and opinion coming into our inboxes. We have struggled to know what to do, at times weighted down by the feeling of helplessness accompanying our outrage and our grief. In these times, what sustains us, what gives us, in the words of Kairos Palestine, “hope in the absence of all hope” is our growing community — in Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, the “church within the church,” rising up in the spirit of love to embrace this kairos moment. In that spirit, we close this newsletter in the spirit of our motto, “Calling Our Community,” a phrase coined in June on the occasion of the Kairos USA Pentecost gathering. Read Rev. Diane Dulin’s report on the Pentecost gatherings. Don’t miss the beautiful liturgy composed for the occasion.

Our Kairos Community is part of a global community of kairos organizations have emerged on every continent in response to the Palestinian call. See the reports in the left hand column on activities by several of our sister Kairos organizations. Today we bring you news from the Netherlands and Nigeria, with reports from other Kairos countries in coming newsletters.


Kairos USA has developed an observance liturgy for Gaza entitled “Hungry for Justice.” It begins:

In solidarity with Palestinian partners, neighbors and the people of Gaza,
Together with the global network of Kairos Palestine witness,
In partnership with interfaith friends, that they may not feel alone,
In respect for religious communities and holy places of the Holy Land, so often under attack,
In honor of those who resist evil and refuse to give up steadfast hope, and
In expression of our hunger to join closely with the people who suffer,
KairosUSA calls the Kairos community into a personal fast
of one meal each week on our individual holy days of observance.

We encourage you to download the entire liturgy and to make use of it in your church and community.


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