A reverend in the Anglican Church in Cape Town and an active member of the Action Forum for Palestine has embarked on a hunger strike in Zonnebloem. Reverend June Major claims she was fired by the church for her ardent support of Palestine and she is now unable to find work. VOC reporters visited her on Tuesday night to find her sitting on a chair in the cold outside the Anglican Diocesan offices in lower Cambridge Road, outside the Zonnebloem primary school. Passers-by assisted her by bringing blankets and offering to charge her phone. She has refused any food or water.
Speaking to VOC, Major said she wanted to highlight the reaction to Palestinian oppression within the Christian church community of South Africa, which she says ejected her from the church due to her continued support for Palestine.
The hunger strike is in response to gender discrimination within the church and is an extension of her support for the Palestinian cause.
“My bishop made a comment to a reporter and said that I am an embarrassment to the church because I stand side by side with Muslims and I support Muslims,” she told VOC News.
She said that her bishop has refused to release documents to her, without which she is unable to apply for work within the church.
She affirmed that despite her alienation within the church, she will not forgo her support of the Palestinian people.
“I will not keep quiet about Palestine. It is a reality, it is genocide, it is murder, and it is not right in the sight of God. I am not going to change my views for a bishop or anyone else.”
Her decision to conduct a hunger strike was motivated by the murder of her friend in the Trojan Horse Massacre in the 1980’s – a day on which she says she pledged to fight injustice.
“The St. George Anglican Cathedral was the place where activists would observe hunger strikes. This very church, which was vital in fighting apartheid, is now forcing this upon me. So I will sit here night and day until I am heard,” Major said.
She further noted that since Christians within South Africa are raised with the ideology of the “promised land” they are, therefore, unable to acknowledge the atrocities of the Israeli authorities.
“The biblical Israel is not the Israel of today. God does not want people to be killed and have land stolen,” Major said.
Due to her unabated support for the cause, Major has been criticised by her colleagues of all denominations within the church, who say that she has been cursed by God for turning her back on “God’s chosen people.”
“I have been spat at, my leg has been slashed, and I have been verbally insulted,” she alleged.
Major said that her experiences are nothing compared to the suffering of Palestinians. She will, therefore, continue to advocate against Israeli atrocities.
“I will not be silent. I am going on this hunger strike for people in Palestine, for women in Palestine and South Africa and saying that we have a right to choose what is right. This is just another bullying tactic of Zionists. This is not a religious issue, an injustice is an injustice – I speak for all religions,” Major said.
In light of the approaching Nakba day on May 15, Major explained that many Christians have fled the occupied lands in search of a better life.
“We remember 700 000 who fled the country or were expelled and who do not have the right of return, which is not acceptable.”
Despite continued alienation by her church community, she said that numerous community members have visited her in support of her protest; one individual extended his support by pitching a tent as shelter for Major.
On Tuesday, Major was scheduled to meet with her bishop in the presence of three reporters. She explained that the bishop, however, sent his secretary to meet with her.
She further noted that the while two media houses intended to cover the story, the bishop threatened legal action.
Major is, therefore, encouraging community members to visit her during her protest and to take to social media and spread the word about the hunger strike in order to further educate South Africans about the Palestinian cause.
VOC News contacted the office of the Diocese of Cape Town and was informed that the bishop did not wish to comment.
Major is observing her hunger strike in lower Cambridge Street, Zonnebloem. VOC