Held at Wesley House, Centenary Methodist church in Leeson Park
WELCOME was extended to everyone by Geoffrey Corry who spoke about “Giving hope that non-violence will work. Where people have no reason to hope, they will resist and may resort to violence.”
Special welcome was made to Ahmad Abdelrazeh (Palestinian Ambassador), Fatin Al Tamimi (Chair IPSC), Asad Abu Shark (Association of Palestinian University Professors from Gaza), Justin Kilcullen (former Trocaire CEO), Fergus O’Ferrall (former Methodist Lay leader) and the Belfast Kairos group.
Presentations were given by
- Bill Shaw on his ‘epiphany’ moment at the Bethlehem wall of separation: “Now that you have seen this, you are now responsible.”
- John Parkin used photos to introduce the contents of the document. He pointed to the support in the Kairos Ireland document for the current ‘Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill’ and also called on RTE to boycott next year’s Eurovision Song Contest due to take place in Jerusalem. This is in accord with the non-violent pressure called for by Palestinian Church leaders in Kairos Palestine.
- The video message of goodwill from Rifat Kassis was shown. He spoke about, “Resistance from love and not from violence,” and of continuing hope.
- Elaine Daly of West Bank Tours encouraged Irish people to visit and interact with Palestinian and Israeli people, though she wondered at times if she was taking people to observe other peoples misery. Elaine has been awarded an honorary passport to Bethlehem in recognition of her work in promoting visits to the West Bank.
- Gerry Liston (Sadaka) spoke about the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill that he was involved in drafting and in monitoring its progress through the Seanad. This bill goes to the Dáil in the new year. Gerry described the bill as a modest measure, totally in line with international law.
- Gillian Kingston’s (Vice President of World Methodist Council) described her recent visit to the West Bank as part of an international Methodist Church delegation to award the annual Methodist Peace Prize to Daoud Nassar of the Tent of Nations. The Nassar family registered legal title to their land over a hundred years ago. Despite this they are under intense pressure from adjacent settlers and the state of Israel to leave their land. Their creative and non-violent violent resistance was being recognised. A slogan painted on a rock at the entrance to their farm declares that, ‘We refuse to be enemies’.
Dialogue and discussion led to a number of suggestions for further action including
- Send copies of the Kairos report to Irish politicians.
- Contact Irish Church leaders through the Irish Council of Churches and the Inter-Church Meeting.
- Establish small groups in the style of the British Kairos Groups.
- Hold a theological workshop for those who wish to explore biblical issues such as ‘land’ and ‘promise’ and mis-use of the scripture.
- Invite Palestinians to talk to Irish Church groups.
- Hold a Kairos conference in 2019.
- Emphasize that there is also opposition to the occupation from Jewish Israelis.
- Provide a list of resources for those who wish to learn more about the situation.
Some final thoughts were given by the Palestinian ambassador to Ireland and by Asad Abu Shark from Gaza. Ambassador Ahmad Abdelrazek said that he was encouraged that Palestinians are not alone. He supported the pilgrimages organised by Elaine. He said that Elaine should be worried about her concern about voyeurism. He said, ‘We want people to come and see the reality.’ He regretted the continuing decline of the Palestinian Christian community through emigration and economic strangulation. He applauded the Occupied Territories Bill, which if passed will be the first concrete step by any EU country against the illegal occupation. This could be a powerful example and other countries might follow Ireland’s lead.
A candle of hope was lit by Fatin Al Tamimi – for all who wait and work for justice and peace.
Finally concluding words of hope from Isaiah and Micah longing for renewal and peace were read by the Rev John Parkin and the Rev Vanessa Wyse Jackson.