Those involved in the Palestinian-Latin American conversation held Nov. 4-11 in Chile conclude discussions with recommendations for the work ahead
by conference participants | Special to Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — Representatives from Palestine, nations in Latin America and the Caribbean, 20 universities and academic institutions from four continents and several church bodies including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) convened in Santiago, Chile Nov. 4-11 to participate in a conference addressing the theme of Christian Zionism and religious, political and economic fundamentalisms.
The PC(USA) was among a half-dozen organizations convening the week-long conference, “Christian Zionism and Religious, Political and Economic Fundamentalisms: A Palestinian-Latin American Conversation.”
According to a statement released by conference participants, leaders of the indigenous Mapuche community offered a spiritual welcoming ceremony to open the conference.
Participants acknowledged that Christian Zionism “is no longer a phenomenon of the Global North, as it has increasingly spread across the Global South” as “a result of several expressions of coloniality and Anglo-Saxon empire,” according to the statement.
The conference looked at Christian Zionism from a geo-political perspective as “a Christian lobby in support of Israel settler colonialism of Palestinian land and people, weaponizing biblical texts and theological constructs,” according to the statement, which added that Christian Zionist ideas “are widespread in all Latin American countries combined with far-right political and theocratic movements and systems of exclusion.”
“Recognizing the pervasiveness of global apartheid,” the statement says, “participants reaffirmed their commitment to resist all forms of racism and exclusion.”
According to the statement, conference presentations focused on “how Israel settler colonialism swarms all aspects of Palestinian lives, imposing a system and laws of apartheid through dispossession of land and resources, demographic engineering and military occupation.” The conference comes about four months after the 225th General Assembly (2022) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted 266-116 in recognition “that the government of Israel’s laws, policies and practices regarding the Palestinian people fulfill the international legal definition of apartheid,” legally defined as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”
“It became clear,” the recent conference statement says, “how the State of Israel is not only supporting the spread of Christian Zionist ideologies, but is increasingly exporting military equipment and training, surveillance technology in Latin America and beyond.”
Participants discussed strategies for addressing the challenge of Christian Zionism, settler colonialism and militarization, formulating a set of recommendations including:
- Setting up geopolitical South-to-South interdisciplinary decolonial encounters and interfaith and intersectional solidarity alliances involving religious leaders and theologians, young people, emerging activists, feminists, artists and indigenous people
- Developing common Latin American and Palestinian networks and strategies
- Using next year’s 75th Nakba commemoration “to highlight the ongoing settler colonial project in Palestine and to engage in effective action.” That same recommendation includes these words: “In line with current world practice, impose political, economic and cultural sanctions on countries exercising illegal occupation.”
- Translating Palestinian and Latin American theological and academic work in respective languages, making them assessable as tools “to educate communities in both contexts.”
- Encouraging “decolonial and socially responsible” tourism to Palestine.
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