I came to know the Palestine BDS call in 2016 during my visit to Palestine. I understood that this call is essential for a couple of reasons:
To my knowledge, most Indians and the civil society at large do not know the BDS call, except for a very few Muslim organizations who are already involved in this issue. Among Christians, it is not shared widely either by the Church or by Christian organizations. This has been my experience and understanding.
I understand that a South Asian office has recently opened in Delhi and is vibrant in trying to share about this BDS movement in civil society and in certain other movements. This office is active in the campaigns against HP, Cemax and Neflix—agricultural products—and also voicing against the arms deal between India and Israel.
In India, Dalits and Dalit Christians can lead this struggle in collaboration with Muslims and Indigenous People, as they too face similar oppressions from inside and outside. The Church needs to use its Prophetic Voice, and Human Rights organizations can play the role of leading whistle blowers to condemn the authoritative voices of Zionists and Hindutva Forces, who are Fascists.
We need more than Europe or the Northern Americas. Tangible interventions on this issue need to be done in Asia, Africa and Latin America where similar kinds of oppressed communities exist. There also is a need for a global coalition among such peoples and communities to highlight this issue as affecting a large number of people.
In India, Dalits and Dalit Christians can lead this struggle in collaboration with Muslims and Indigenous People, as they too face similar oppressions from inside and outside. The Church needs to use its Prophetic Voice...
India has had a chequered relationship with Palestine from being one of the first non-Arab nations in the world to recognize the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1988 to Israel now having become India’s major source for the import of armaments and security equipment. The relationship is now based on pragmatic vested interests of the Indian government, with little or no consideration of the impact of these economic deals with the Israeli government.
In India, Palestinian support groups have been sporadic in their responses and actions perhaps because it has been hard to draw them together with movements such as the Dalit Liberation Movement and to recognize the potential for greater solidarity. The BDS movement has therefore not been successful in India—that sounds like a pessimistic assessment, but it is an assessment that has to be made, however disappointing that may be.
I believe the BDS movement can work when we recognize that the Palestinian struggles for their land, their selfhood, and dignity are not unlike the struggles of the Dalits and other Indigenous groups in India. Here too, people all over India have been dispossessed of their land and livelihood—if only they could find the Palestinians as partners in their struggles.
I am not sure I could or should advise the Global Kairos movement, but Justice is at the heart of my faith (Christianity). I would only appeal to them to encourage more and more Dalit and other oppressed peoples in India to be able to engage with the free Palestine movements and contribute to the dismantling of apartheid-like conditions in Palestine and other parts of the world.
Palestinian liberation theologians have so much to teach us and yet our students are taught (except for a few amazing Indian theologians) by traditional theologians to read the Bible still with a pro-Israel stance. Any liberal re-reading of the text is rejected as being anti-Semitic.
My life changed when I was immersed in the life and struggles of Palestinians. That the Indian Churches still continue to send groups of pastors and others on “tours of the Holy Land” where they visit the Garden of Gethsemane, as well as the spot where Jesus was purportedly born, etc., they come back fulfilled that they have been to the Holy Land, but the fact that it is such a partial view of the condition of Christians is not made apparent.
We have a long way in our quest to walk with the Kairos movement, but I firmly believe that we must keep walking forward because our liberation as Christians in India is closely linked to that of the Palestinians. It is time that their struggles for justice and peace found fruition!
We have a long way in our quest to walk with the Kairos movement, but I firmly believe that we must keep walking forward because our liberation as Christians in India is closely linked to that of the Palestinians.