- Member of the Sabeel Ecumenical Center, a Palestinian Protestant religious group that demonizes Israel and is struggling to pry Evangelical Christians away from their support for the Jewish State
- The Sabeel Center (and Kattan) promotes Replacement Theology, the doctrine that Christians replaced Jews in God's plan and "inherited all of God's promises, including the land of Israel."
Palestinian Christian Diana Kattan is an attractive, articulate young woman who talks piously of love, Christianity, and human rights; she softly details Palestinian suffering and pleads for peace. But she is an active member of the Sabeel Ecumenical Center, a Palestinian Protestant religious group that demonizes Israel and is struggling to pry Evangelical Christians away from their support for the Jewish State. According to the Sabeel Center, "In 1948 a grievous injustice was committed by the Zionists (forerunners of the state of Israel) against the Palestinian people. The Zionists acquired by force 77% of the land of Palestine and displaced three quarters of a million Palestinians.”
Kattan crisscrossed the the U.S. in March and April 2005 in a tour organized by Partners for Peace [PFP], an American anti-Israel group. In this, its ninth annual tour, PFP followed its successful public relations strategy of selecting three women from the Holy Land -- a Palestinian Muslim, a Palestinian Christian, and a Jew -- to present “three perspectives” on the Arab-Israeli conflict. PFP proudly describes its strategy: “The theme of the tour was designed to attract media interest and also gave us a number of different ‘news pegs’ on which to hang our story. We used the ‘women angle,’ the ‘religious angle’ and the ‘foreign policy angle.’”
Though the tour is billed as “Three Women, Three Faiths: One Shared Vision,” PFP carefully vets applicants to ensure that those three perspectives will have only one political message. As one irate audience member wrote in 2005, "PFP is here not to advance peace, but rather to offer a veiled message of hate for Israel. The fact that one speaker is Israeli is intended to convince you that an Israeli or Jewish view is being presented."
As a Christian, Kattan is representative of a new strain of theology that tries to integrate Christianity with the most radical Palestinian narrative and political positions. She is affiliated with the Sabeel Center which promotes Replacement Theology, the doctrine that Christians replaced Jews in God’s plan and “inherited all of God’s promises, including the land of Israel.” The Center presents the conflict as a black-and-white morality play of almost Biblical proportions, with Israel always the evil-doer that must do penance, the Palestinians always the helpless victims.
Many critics contend that this theology in fact is a new form of “Jew-hatred” and anti-Semitism, a revival of prejudices that helped lead to the Holocaust. The Catholic Church adamantly repudiated Replacement Theology after the Holocaust, but Palestinian Christians have revived it.
Kattan subscribes to these views. They are the hidden assumptions behind her presentations in which she calls for peace and understanding. In some of her past travels, she has even sold the glass angels that Palestinians made from the glass broken in the Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem during the height of the armed conflict in April 2002 -- sentimental, purported proof that as much as Palestinians suffer, they can still transform destruction into beauty.
Kattan blames only Israel for the Mideast conflict. The context of Israel’s anti-terrorism actions are simply absent from her presentations. Nor does Kattan address Muslim persecution of Christians in the Palestinian Authority (PA). Rather, she focuses on the day-to-day sufferings of the Palestinians. Among the public statements she has made are the following:
- “Bethlehem is losing its Christian population because of Israel’s apartheid, oppressive policies.”
- “It is impossible to cross the checkpoints. They [Israelis] stop the mobility of [Palestinian] people and stop their lives.”
- "The separation wall was built directly opposite my home in East Jerusalem. I am now cut off from friends and family by the barrier.”
PFP reports in its promotional literature that Kattan's family lived in West Jerusalem during the 1948 War, and that their house was seized during the hostilities. Diana’s grandfather was able to buy back the family home, and presumably the family became Israeli citizens. Diana was born in West Jerusalem in the late 1970s and went on to attend Hebrew University, where she earned an MA in English Literature. These experiences do not seem to have diluted her animosity toward Israel.
Diana later moved to East Jerusalem, where she now resides. She is active with the Sabeel Ecumenical Center and is Director for the Martin Luther Community Center, which offers educational, vocational and recreational programs.
Because Kattan has not written much, her views can be gleaned primarily from her speeches and from her associations. She is closely allied with the Sabeel Center and undoubtedly with Pastor Mitri Raheb of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, a man who has become a prominent activist in the Palestinian Replacement Theology, as has Father Naim Ateek who heads the Sabeel Center.
It is likely that Diana shares Raheb’s and the Sabeel Center’s views. These men either minimize or excuse Palestinian terrorism. One would never learn from their work about the Palestinians’ organized terrorist infrastructure, the corruption and criminality of the PA, the savage terrorist war unleashed against Israel, or the relentless anti-Semitic incitement that pervades the whole Palestinian-Arab society. Nor do they mention the harassment and persecution that Palestinian Christians face from radical Islamic groups and from the PA, which declared itself an Islamic state that follows sharia law. When they do allude to these facts, they manipulate them to lay the blame on Israel. Hence, the steady emigration of Bethlehem’s Christian Arabs is blamed on Israel’s “occupation,” not on the PA or the Islamic dominance that has accelerated this centuries-long hemorrhage of Middle Eastern Christian Arabs.
This profile is adapted, with permission, from Stand4Facts.org.