by Stu Littlewood, VT Scotland
First published … May 30, 2022
Rev. Stephen Sizer has been hauled up before a Church of England tribunal on trumped up charges of anti-Semitism cobbled together by the British Board of Deputies, an organization claiming to represent British Jewry.
Of course, this is not the first time the pro-Israel hardcore have taken a pop at this unruly priest.
Back in 2015 I was writing how Sizer had been sent to the naughty corner and Christian principles sacrificed for the sake of his bishop’s anxiety not to offend.
Stephen Sizer has a long history of standing against the Israeli regime, its policies and its sheer nastiness.
In 2012-13 the Church of England agreed to a “process of conciliation” between Sizer and the Board of Deputies, then fuming over his remarks and continuing to do so to this day.
In 2014, the BoD demanded an investigation by the Church into why Sizer attended a conference in Iran which included the showing of a video of the anti-Zionist French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala. Jonathan Arkush, Vice-President of the BoD, said:
“His appearance at a conference sponsored by a regime that actively persecutes Christians and other minorities is inexplicable…”
I love the cheeky accusation that Iran persecutes Christians etc, as if Arkush’s beloved Israel is squeaky clean on that score….. “The Iranian government denies the holocaust and openly calls for the destruction of Israel, which is tantamount to bringing about another holocaust,” Arkush continued.
“Rev. Sizer’s participation might be seen as lending pseudo credence to an event whose premise is clear from its programme: to lay blame on Israel and Jews for the world’s ills, including, it would seem, 9/11. The Church of England should investigate why one of its ministers deemed it appropriate to take part in an anti-Semitic hate-fest.”
Why the Church didn’t tell the BoD, politely, to mind their own business isn’t explained.
Regarding the current attack on Sizer and the CofE’s appeasing tribunal, I’ve just received a report on proceedings from Dr Swee Ang. Malaysian-born Swee is the first female Orthopaedic Consultant appointed to St Bartholomew (‘Barts’) and the Royal London Hospitals. What does she know about Israel’s nauseating conduct, you may wonder?
In the 1980s and 1990s Swee worked as trauma and orthopaedics consultant in the refugee camps of Lebanon and later for the United Nations in Gaza, and the World Health Organisation in the West Bank and Gaza. She is Founder and Patron of the British charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).
She is the co-author of ‘War Surgery and Acute Care of the War Wounded’, and also wrote ‘From Beirut to Jerusalem’ documenting her experience in the Palestinian Refugee Camps in Lebanon and Gaza.
And she was aboard the Al-Awda sailing for Gaza with urgently needed medical supplies when the vessel was violently assaulted and hijacked in international waters and taken to an Israeli port. Passengers and crew were roughed up (some seriously injured) and abused, thrown in an Israeli jail and had their possessions and money stolen.
‘The tribunal recognised the IHRA definition to be of no use whatsoever in determining what is and is not anti-Semitism’
It seems the tribunal may have backfired on the BoD and the cowards in the CofE. Here’s what Dr Swee says:
The tribunal is over but the decision may not be known for another 6 weeks or more
The reason for the delay is because the tribunal panel must consider a number of factors including the right to free speech, double jeopardy, what constitutes antisemitism, the views of the Jewish community in the UK and also what does and does not constitute appropriate conduct for Anglican clergy.
However, because it was heard in open court, it has already been reported that based on the findings of the expert witness, Tony Lerman, the tribunal recognised the IHRA definition to be of no use whatsoever in determining what is and is not antisemitism, least of all in a legal context.
This ruling, if recorded in the tribunal report, will create a precedent which may be the most significant and lasting outcome, not just for the Church of England but other contexts where the IHRA definition is being used to silence criticism of Israeli policies and practices.
Furthermore barrister, Stephen Hofmeyr QC is quoted even in the Daily Mail as saying, ”It is significant that not one word or statement from Dr Sizer has been shown to be anti-semitic. There are none.”
As you may know there have been several encouraging statements of support from Sabeel, IHRC (Islamic Human Rights Commission) and ICAHD.
Back to Medieval days….
In ICAHD’s response to the harassing of Stephen Sizer, its director Jeff Halper said: “As an Israeli Jew and the head of an Israeli human rights organization – ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – I am appalled by the very thought of bringing anyone, let alone such a principled person as Stephen Sizer, before a religious Tribunal. What, are we back to the Medieval days of the Inquisition?”
Swee reports a second ICAHD statement, which goes as follows: “A member of the ICAHD UK Executive Committee attended the Tribunal throughout the week and commended Hofmeyr for his brilliantly precise, forensic and humane dismantling of all accusations levied against Stephen; and Stephen’s witnesses (Tony Lerman, Diana Neslen, Prof Ilan Pappe, Canon Garth Hewitt, Rev Jeremy Moody, amongst others) as dignified, honourable experts in their field. Throughout it, Stephen Sizer was gentle, open, articulate and gracious: a man who builds bridges.”
She rounds off her report by saying:
The decision from the five-members of the tribunal panel is due in July and the full proceedings should be available to the public upon request.
These are the weighty issues of law the tribunal must decide on:
1. Freedom of speech under European human rights legislation
2. Double jeopardy as some of the complaints have been dealt with previously
3. The panel rejected the IHRA definition of Antisemitism and must agree on another by which to evaluate the allegations.
4. The representative nature of the BoD and the fact that five of the witnesses were Jewish and reject the allegation that he has offended the Jewish community.
5. The nature of social media.
6. They must also decide in the light of all the above whether his conduct is consistent with what is expected of clergy or is considered unbecoming.
29 May 2022
After working on jet fighters in the RAF Stuart became an industrial marketing specialist with manufacturing companies and consultancy firms. He also “indulged himself” as a newspaper columnist. In politics, he served as a Cambridgeshire county councilor and member of the Police Authority. Now retired he campaigns on various issues and contributes to several online news & opinion sites. An Associate of the Royal Photographic Society, he has produced two photo-documentary books – Paperturn-view.com.
Also, check out Stuart’s book Radio Free Palestine, with Foreword by Jeff Halper. It tells the plight of the Palestinians under brutal occupation and explains to me why the Zionists who control Israel should be brought before the International Criminal Court.