Anglican Dean supported following attacks for his pro-Palestine stance

Father Michael Weeder, Dean of St George’s Cathedral. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Father Michael Weeder, Dean of St George’s Cathedral. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 20, 2023


Cape Town - The Dean of St George’s Anglican Cathedral, Father Michael Weeder, has received hate messages from trolls on his Facebook page and on TikTok for his activism and stance on Israel’s war on Gaza, and for siding with the Palestinians.

Weeder said the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA), Thabo Makgoba, had also been under attack after the church declared Israel an apartheid state.

Makgoba said the criticism received regarding the church’s resolution to declare Israel an apartheid state, and its support of Palestinians through silent vigils, was to be expected.

“Criticism of our stand was to be expected. People are entitled to their views, and our Constitution guarantees their right to express them,” he said.

Weeder said the backlash was not from Jews, but from Christians.

Father Weeder had announced that the cathedral steps would be the site for a silent vigil to be held every Wednesday to express solidarity with Palestinians.

“The steps of the Cathedral are steps of freedom because under those trees, freedom fighters have stood for decades. And it's so symbolically important.There are many ways of saying I love you, one is the verbal way and the other is by action. And if you stand on those steps with the flags that you’re carrying, slogans that we are shouting ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine must be free’, we are shouting it out of hearts that love. Just being there is an expression of love.”

Weeder denied that he had received any death threats as was being shared.

“It's very angry, it's very rude and its attacks. It's not for conversation, it's not out of curiosity,” Weeder said.

“It's mainly from Christians who are either overtly Christian Zionists or people that act out of a certain limit and understanding of who Israelites are and equating the Israelites or the Biblical story with the Zionists who are a government at this very moment and it's also people that are thinking and responding ahistorically. They’ve got no idea or reference to 1948, what happened there and the role of the British and how actual terrorism of those Zionists is now filtering through into today.”

In 1948 and with the support of the British government for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, Zionist militia brutally drove out at least 750 000 Palestinians from their lands, destroyed over 500 Palestinian towns and villages, and murdered around 15 000 Palestinians.

The event known as Nakba or “Catastrophe” is solemnly commemorated annually.

When an offer to have a conversation on the matter is extended, none of this is accepted, he said. “We have to align ourselves on the side of the victim.”

Weeder said the attacks started when under the leadership of archbishop Makgoba, the church took a resolution to declare Israel an apartheid state.

Council wardens Nolundi Luwaya and Emma Arogundade said: “Council discussed this matter on Tuesday and are in support of the message from our Archbishop Makgoba and Bishop Joshua, as well as the longer term, considered and love-led call for peace from our Dean, to recognize the impact of this conflict on all, but especially the Palestinians.”

Pro-Palestine supporter and member of the National Assembly Mandla Mandela said: “We have known that many of us, like Father Michael, who have stood in the trenches, fighting for solidarity with the Palestinian brothers and sisters, have always been subjected to these kind of attacks. It is nothing new to us.”

Kairos Palestine SA Working Group member Dr Stiaan van der Merwe said: “The land that is called holy calls for it as it is in every situation of injustice. Let’s sit back and curate a different conversation, especially within the Christian community. The time for random fires of self-serving monologues are over for all of us. Like many others, I stand with Reverend Weeder and the Anglican Church.”