“It is important as global citizens as part of the family of humanity, that we align ourselves with the truth and with peace and what makes for peace in any context.”
These were the words of St George's Anglican Cathedral dean Father Michael Weeder, who is currently on the 20th day of his Fast for a Free Palestine, which he started on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People last month.
“I fast from sunset to sunset and I drink water. I decided to do just one meal because I wanted to have a sharper awareness of what people are going through in Gaza at the moment.
“In the evening I have something light to eat, vegetables and fruits. My go-to is an avocado and lettuce. I love kale and a cup of ginger tea.”
According to Weeder, he decided to fast after pro-Palestinian protesters clashed with pro-Israel protesters at the Sea Point promenade last month, as “it was disheartening to see the theatre of war extending to Cape Town. Some people on both sides just looking for a fight”.
“The stronger our passion for an issue, the more tempting it becomes to perceive others as enemies and to believe our enemy is also an enemy of God,” he said.
Weeder described the devastation in Gaza as a genocide, “it’s not accidental, it’s calculated, to destroy,” he said.
“People (civilians) are living under siege. When you see the number of women and children (killed and injured), it’s disproportionate to the number of men. The ability to point a trigger at a paralysed person or push a button (bombing) sending others to their death, raises questions about our humanity and the fear that paralyses us from resisting such actions. The global polarisation reflects a mirror of our humanity,” said Weeder.
For some Christians, the tension surrounding their understanding of the conflict was partly due to “misreading” of the holy Bible, he said.
“Christians still work with the understanding of the Israelites led by Moses and the Zionists which is a secular, political ideology (being the same). Many of the founding fathers of Zionism are all male, they were atheists, making claims God has given but it is a God they don’t believe in. It is fake news of history.”
On the importance of South Africa standing with the people of Palestine, he said: “A lot of the people who align with the Palestinian solidarity cause, they came to a vigil of solidarity for a just peace and after that went straight to Elsies River for an anti-crime meeting.
Just to make the point for themselves, we don’t love our African selves less than our fellow human beings in Palestine.
“(We) can’t be committed to stand for justice in Gaza and be immune to what’s happening, the horror of criminality on the Cape Flats.”
“Our gateway to heaven is built here on earth, every good deed out of (the) right conviction starts clearing (the) way to paradise. Desmond Tutu said you will be surprised who you might find in heaven because God has very low standards. Our idea of heaven is very tribalistic.
“I pray for the Palestinian child, that they may be able to reclaim the dignity bombed out their lives.
I also pray every day for a family in Israel whose children are in the Israeli Defense Force.
“Sometimes you do something bad and can’t forgive yourself. With repentance and confession there needs to be penance.” Envisioning a way forward, he said first there needed to be a ceasefire.
“The bombing needs to stop, then a negotiated settlement but there needs to be one state, those who have influence in both camps will be talking to each other.”