There is much to be done to conscientious South Africa’s Christian community on the realities of life in occupied Palestine. So says Kairos South Africa member and activist Marthie Momberg, who says the organisation’s aim during this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is to create greater awareness among Christians on Palestine.
Kairos is an organization with its roots in Palestine, of Christians who deem Israel’s occupation of Palestine and its people as unjust.
“Unfortunately and to a great degree of disappointment South African Christians are still very naïve, and romanticize, about how they perceive Israel. And it biases them towards being misinformed on issues to do with Israel and the occupation; and places like Jerusalem and Bethlehem feature in the Bible and lots of people travel there as pilgrims. They completely ignore the fact that those places are actually in Palestine.”
She says many of those that travel as pilgrims blind themselves by buying into the Israeli agenda on holy sites.
“Most of these pilgrims that do get to go have Israeli guides, and they are completely cut off from the areas’ original peoples, some of them the descendants of the first Christians.”
Momberg explained that in South Africa many churches do have official statements on supporting the Palestinian cause and some are in surprising places, like in the Calvinist Dutch Reform Churches, in which, she says, some pastors have opened their parishes to the idea of supporting Palestine.
But she says even though many churches were openly anti-Apartheid during the struggle, the majority do not care or are ignorant to the plight of the Palestinian people.
“It’s wrong to assume that people that may have even suffered under Apartheid or fought the regime, across the colour spectrum that are actually calling on people to support Israel. And it doesn’t make sense that someone who suffered in that way should not recognize the Apartheid of the Palestinian people.” VOC (Andriques Che Petersen)