We missed the sunshine but not much else: Conference Summary
If you missed the Sabeel-Kairos Conference on Saturday the 30th June you really did miss out on a fantastic day – and if you were lucky enough to get a ticket to the sold out event, I bet you are still buzzing from what was a really great day!
Rev Chris Rose opened the day with a thoughtful and inspiring worship which left us all with lumps in our throats. We watched an MC Gaza Music Video filmed at the separation barrier in Gaza during the attacks, and heard the beautiful voice of Ledisi Sing ‘Take my Hand, Precious Lord’ and Chris read the moving poem Count on Me. See below for the links to all these resources.
We then heard form Daphna Baram, the Director of ICAHD UK, about the continuing Nakba in her hometown Jerusalem. Daphna, a British- Israeli, gave an impassioned and informative talk about how severe the policies have become to ethnically cleanse Jerusalem of its Palestinian populations. Daphna explained the different stages of the Zionist plan for Jerusalem, starting with the up-market brag of university professors living in ‘Arab Houses’, through to the economic settlers in East Jerusalem, through to the restrictive permit-system, and demolitions we see now. She said of the family unification policies; ‘When families can’t be unified between Jerusalem and the West Bank, they often just have to move abroad. Two Palestinians and their three children all gone. This is the Policy! They want them to leave. They are deliberately pushing Palestinians out!’
Rev Naim Ateek then gave a great talk on Palestinian Liberation Theology which had the whole audience silent in thought and alive with agreement and praise in equal measure. After a run-down of the global history of liberation theology, Rev Naim brought it all home with how it relates to Palestine. Rev Naim reminded us that ‘when we love, we do justice automatically’ and that we must ‘do justice and love mercy – not the other way around as so many do nowadays’. Rev Naim spoke of our individual duty to stand-up and do what we can, calling on us to act on Boycotts, Sanctions and Divestments as well as to engage in Morally Responsible Investment. He said that ‘the tragedy is when you know there is injustice but you are too afraid to do anything’, reminding us of the Palestinians’ call for costly solidarity. Rev Naim also talked about our specific collective duty as British people, and as Christians, as the UK’s part in the current situation was significant and that ‘Christian Zionism started in the UK, in the Anglican Church’. He rounded off his talk with his seven dimensions of Palestinian Liberation Theology;
- Justice linked to love
- Justice linked to Mercy
- Justice linked to Truth
- Justice linked to Security
- Justice linked to Non-violence
- Justice linked to Peace
- Justice linked to Reconciliation
While the queue formed around Rev Naim for book-signings and photographs, there was also a queue forming around the Lunch buffet which was a spectacular array of fresh fruits, vegetables, artisanal sandwiches, pies and salads – all looking and tasting delicious! There was such a buzz in the room as like-minded friends and strangers spoke and exchanged ideas and browsed the stalls buying books, Palestinian crafts, Zaytoun food, Nakba Dolls and wonderful embroidery and art-pieces.
Following lunch, Phoebe Rison, Sabeel-Kairos’ new temporary Advocacy Officer, gave a powerful personal account of her life experiences as a displaced Palestinian which had the hairs on our arms standing up in suspense. Phoebe then spoke about the Morally Responsible Investment Campaign, showing the conference the booklet and the calling on us to all ‘stand up for what is morally correct in our society, even it if is difficult and makes us unpopular. If we don’t say when we find something unacceptable, who will?’
Alys Estape from the BNC then gave a detailed talk on BDS: a Palestinian-led peaceful movement which rejects all forms of discrimination and calls for Palestinian rights to be respected. After taking us through some BDS campaigns and successes in Europe and the UK, Alys spoke about the recent visit by Prince William to Israel and also the War on Want Campaign to ‘Stop Arming Israel’ to show how we as individuals and within our groups and communities can take action to support Palestinian Human Rights.
Following all the talks of the day, we broke into smaller groups;
Ryvka Barnard from War on Want facilitated a Question Ceilidh giving activists tough questions to respond to about the campaign and our work on Palestinian rights giving them the opportunity to give and hear various responses. This was an animated session with lots of discussion and fun.
Karl Sabbagh facilitated a screening of his film ‘Palestine: The Reality’. This was a thought-provoking film, which spoke to our theme of Nakba, followed by an engaged discussion.
Jenny Richardson and Deborah Darnes led a session on setting up and running local groups. These two experienced Sabeel-Kairos Trustees led the group through an interesting session giving advice and hearing ideas.
Rev Naim and Rev Chris led a session on ‘Spiritualties that Liberate’.
We had a fun and fast-moving plenary session where panellists were challenged to give ‘messages of hope to Gaza’, respond to ‘where is the Palestinian Political Representation?’ and ‘what are your views on media coverage?’
The day finished with the AGM where Chair Rev Chris Rose impressed upon the conference the real financial need of the charity and to think creatively about how they could raise funds locally for Sabeel-Kairos or give more themselves. All the Minutes and Annual Accounts where agreed and accepted and a new trustee, Lynn McAllister, was nominated and voted in.
With our bags, tummies, minds and hearts, full we left into the sunshine having been stimulated, inspired, challenged and re-energised to continue to stand up for justice for our Palestinian brothers and sisters.
Many Thanks to our stall-holders;