Press release, 02.12.2012:
South African church delegation to the occupied territories of Palestine
From December 2 – 9 2012, the following Church leaders and members of the Christian church in South Africa will be in the occupied territories of Palestine to visit the Palestinian people, and particularly the Palestinian Christians:
- Bishop Zipho Siwa, head of the Methodist Church in Southern Africa
- Dr Braam Hanekom, Western Cape Moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church
- Dr Jerry Pillay, head of the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa
- Rev Moss Nthla, Secretary General of TEASA and Chairperson of Kairos SA
- Fr Michael Deeb, director of the Roman Catholic Justice and Peace Commission
- Fr Zweli Tom, Secretary General of the Nelson Mandela Bay Consultation of Christian Churches
- Dr Stiaan vd Merwe, Kairos Southern Africa
- Ms Marthie Momberg, Kairos Southern Africa
- Ms Nonhlanhla Shezi, Anglican youth leader
- Ms Theresa Ramphomane, SACC Women’s Desk
- Ms Nobuntu Madwe, Methodist Women’s and Children’s Desk
- Rev Sipho Mthetwa, Lutheran Church
- Nonqaba Esther Dlula, Eastern Cape Anglican Church
This visit is a response to an invitation by Palestinian Churches and Christians through Kairos Palestine (2009). They asked the world’s Churches to “come and see” the reality on the ground, to come “as pilgrims” and to pray together in the spirit of “peace, love and reconciliation[…] Our appeal is to reach a common vision, built on equality and sharing, not on superiority, negation of the other or aggression, using the pretext of fear and security. We say that love is possible and mutual trust is possible. Thus peace is possible and definitive reconciliation also. Thus, justice and security will be attained for all”. It is in this spirit that we come.
The delegation will also listen to various voices in the Occupied Palestinian territories. As South Africans we feel that we have a moral duty to listen to those who are systemically oppressed as our country was a recipient of the world’s solidarity during the struggle from apartheid – a crime against humanity. We can never forget how we benefitted from the world’s support when we cried out for help. Whilst we remain intensely and painfully aware of the weaknesses and the prevailing injustices in our own South African context, this delegation will also share with the Palestinians the Church in South Africa’s experience of opposing apartheid and our challenges in helping to build a reconciled democratic state. Moreover, we expect to learn from the Palestinian people and also to be re-inspired by them to work against injustices in this and in other contexts.
We also come with the understanding that all humans – Jews, Muslims, Christians and all others –are created in the image of God, and that, as phrased by the Palestinian Christians, “this dignity is one and the same in each and all of us. This means for us, here and now, in this land in particular, that God created us not so that we might engage in strife and conflict but rather that we might come and know and love one another, and together build up the land in love and mutual respect.” As Africans we in turn bring our understanding of the spiritual concept of “ubuntu” whereby a person is a person through others, thus recognising the interconnectivity between all which expresses the value and meaning of life and of relationships. As such we recognise the humanity and the dignity of both the oppressed and the oppressor. We resist fundamentalist, exclusivist theologies and ideologies, but we do not do so from a perspective of hatred, violence or separateness.
Finally, we look forward to join in the celebrations of the third anniversary of the launch of the Kairos Palestine document and to reflect together on the meaning of Christmas.
Kairos Southern Africa on 2 December 2012
For more details about this visit, please contact:
- Kairos Southern Africa:
Marthie Momberg, email@example.com (returning to South Africa on 10 December but available on email and via SMS 0832907742
- Kairos Palestine:
Rifat Kassis: firstname.lastname@example.org
 The occupied territories of Palestine consists of Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.