Resolution Adopted by the CCAR
CCAR Resolution on the 2009 Kairos Document
Adopted by the Board of Trustees
April 15, 2010
The ongoing struggle of Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side in the land sacred to both is one of the greatest tragedies of our time. People of good will, whatever their faith or background, have beheld twin horrors: Israel’s existential struggle in the face of massive invasions and years of indiscriminate bombings and murderous terrorism, along with the horrible suffering and indignities experienced on a daily basis by Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Israel and the Palestinians desperately need a peaceful settlement that brings about an end to the occupation of Palestinians lands1 and that provides dignity and self-rule to the Palestinians and security to Israelis in a Jewish and democratic state. Such a solution is a moral and practical necessity in the interest of all. This moment in history calls for sober, honest, and nuanced voices coming especially from involved religious leaders who understand the necessity of compromise and who can speak truth to power on both sides. The cause of peace is not served by pronouncements which vindicate one side while demonizing the other, but by the courage of moral clarity and respect for truth.
In December, 2009, a document known as “Kairos / A Moment of Truth: A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering” was issued and signed by nine Palestinians members of the Christian Clergy and six Palestinian Christian laypersons.
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.
Sadly, this document also rejects or ignores more than a half a century of Jewish-Christian rapprochement and takes its place among other Christian documents which, throughout history, have intended to delegitimize the Jewish people’s continuing Covenant with God, particularly by arguing that our Covenant has been superseded by Jesus and Christianity. Too often, such Church documents have been utilized as pretexts for our persecution, our expulsion, and even our attempted annihilation. Since the Shoah and World War II, and particularly beginning with Vatican II, the Jewish people has come to expect better from our Christian brothers and sisters.
Like the Kairos authors, the Central Conference of American Rabbis is deeply concerned about the welfare of the Palestinian people, as our record indicates.2 Our strenuous objections to Kairos do not diminish our commitment to a two-state solution as the only avenue to achieve a just and lasting peace, preserving a secure Jewish State of Israel and facilitating for the first time the realization of the Palestinian people’s nationhood.
Among its many failings, Kairos:
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 the Kairos document or whether they no longer care to share interfaith dialogue with us.
Therefore, the Central Conference of American Rabbis:
1 We define such “Palestinian lands” as land in Israel’s hands since the Six-Day War of 1967 that was not part of Israel before that time and which has not been annexed by Israel. We also recognize that the exact boundaries of such land may be altered in the course of negotiations.
2 See “Where We Stand on Israel,” 2002 and 2003; Resolution on Peace in Israel, 2001 inter alia,; Resolution on Gaza and the West Bank, 2006; Resolution on Building a Defensive Barrier between Israel and Palestinian Communities, 2004; Resolution on Discriminatory Home Demolitions in Israel, 2005; and countless others.
3 Kairos 2.2.2
4 Kairos 2.2.2
5 Kairos 2.3.1
6 Kairos 9.3
7 Kairos 1.4
8 Kairos 4.2.5
9 Kairos 4.3
10 On its website, the Kairos Document purports itself to be endorsed by thirteen Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem. And yet, that supposed statement of endorsement makes no allusion to the contents of the document nor does it endorse nor make reference to the contents of the Kairos document itself. It is instructive to note that the original Kairos document listed Bishop Dr. Munib Younan, head of the "Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land.," as one of the sixteen signers, the only one who held a position other than pastor at that time; but that Bishop Younan’s name was subsequently removed from the list of signatories
11 Kairos 5.4.3
12 Kairos 4.1.
13 Kairos 1.5
14 Kairos 2.3.2; 2.3.4