New Palestine

Bethlehem looking across Manger Square

Looking across Manger Square in Bethlehem. Photo: KAIROS

This reflection was prepared by the Rev. Paul Gehrs, Current Member and Past Chair of the KAIROS Board. Paul is currently in Bethlehem representing KAIROS  at the 5th Anniversary Conference celebrating the “Kairos Palestine” document.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil, thousands of homeless people have occupied land in order to have a place to live. They call their community “New Palestine.” Rev. Dr. Nancy Cardoso shared a bit of their story with us at the “Life with Dignity” conference celebrating the 5th anniversary of Kairos Palestine, explaining that the community draws inspiration from the Palestinian struggle for land, rights and justice. Another landless group called itself “New Gaza.”

My sense is that few people in Canada know enough about the story of the Palestinian people to draw inspiration from it. We hear of bombings and peace talks and Holy Land tours. But for the most part we ignore the complexity, history and dynamics of the issues. Yet in Sao Paulo, a community with not much has recognized the faith, hope and love that lives in the spirit of the Palestinian People.

Pastor Cardoso went on to reflect on the meaning of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a giant statue in Daniel chapter 2.

“This statue was huge, its brilliance extraordinary; it was standing before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of that statue was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.” (Dan 2:31-33)

She invited us to notice that the metals were not just about wealth, but also about power and control: “Who has the metals? Who controls the metals What are they used for? Perhaps weapons and force? Where did the metals come from? Who mined them? At what cost?”

She also drew our attention to the reality that the feet of the statue are made of clay. “Eventually, all empires fall and all projects of oppression fail.”

There is much discussion here of land, occupation, settlements, colonialism, and justice. The long, ongoing, often difficult history of relationships between Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in Turtle Island / Canada keeps coming to my mind.

As I consider how to promote justice for, and solidarity with, Palestine and Israel from the Canadian context, I have this feeling that important questions will arise regarding how we promote peace based on justice in our context.

Perceptions, inclinations and patterns of behaviour come from places deep inside. It will be hard work to understand myself and to implement change. And I am confident that God will help us find a way of true peace together.

Surely God’s salvation is at hand for those who fear God,
that divine glory may dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
and righteousness will look down from the sky.
The LORD will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.

Psalm 85:9-12


Filed in: Ecological Justice, Spirited Reflections


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