Sunday, 30 December 2012

Friends of Sabeel on anti-Semitism allegations

Dear Bishop Christopher,

Ref. Rev. Stephen Sizer

We write respectfully concerning Stephen Sizer, whom you will know well as one of your diocesan clergy. As you aware, he is based at Christ Church, Virginia Water and is a high profile individual who has developed a considerable expertise on issues affecting the Israel – Palestine conflict.

In particular, Stephen has made it his speciality to study & inform the world about the phenomenon which we recognise as Christian Zionism, which manifests a theology upholding a privileged and exclusive “biblical” claim to a greater Israel & thus to the detriment of non Jewish residents of the lands. Stephen’s call is to Christians & the Christian churches to denounce any theology of privilege contrary to the Gospel, & its consequences.

We have become aware that Stephen is now the subject of concerted allegations of anti – Semitism & calls for disciplinary measures against him by the Church. On the basis of long acquaintance with Stephen, we are at pains to lay such allegations to rest.

We believe Stephen has demonstrated impeccable credentials in these matters. He has long working associations with Christians, Muslims & those Jews who also work hard in the field of Justice for both Palestinians & Israelis. We believe that those Jews with whom Stephen is associated would also support this point of view, refuting any accusation of anti –semitism.

It is in sorrow that we feel obliged to write such a letter, made necessary by forces determined to silence & destroy a vital prophetic voice, a true evangelist.

We are grateful for your support for Stephen.

Yours sincerely

Anne Clayton, Coordinator, Friends of Sabeel UK

David Toorawa, Chair, Friends of Sabeel UK Board

Friends of Sabeel UK
Watlington Rd

See also letters from:

Right Revd Riah Abo El Assal, 13th Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem
Dr Bishara Awad, Founder and President Emeritus, Bethlehem Bible College
Dr Mark Braverman, Author of the Fatal Embrace
Anne Clayton, Coordinator, Friends of Sabeel UK
Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Lampeter University
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington North
Katherine Cunningham, Moderator, IPMN, Presbyterian Church USA
Professor Scott Elias, Royal Holloway, University of London
Tony Greenstein, Founding Member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Professor Mary Grey, Patron, Friends of Sabeel UK
Dr Jeff Halper, Co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Revd Phil Hill, Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary
Canon Garth Hewitt, Founder of the Amos Trust
Dr Ghada Karmi, Exeter University
Manfred W. Kohl, Ambassador Overseas Council
Dr Attorney Jonathan Kuttab, Chairman of the Board, Bethlehem Bible College
Venerable Michael Lawson, Chairman, Church of England Evangelical Council
Jeremy Moodey, Chief Executive, Embrace the Middle East
Diana Neslen, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Professor Ilan Pappe, Exeter University
Revd Jack Sara, President, Bethlehem Bible College
Rabbi Dr Stanley Howard Schwartz, Hospice Chaplain and retired Army Chaplain
David Toorawa, Chair, Friends of Sabeel UK
Revd Dr Donald Wagner, National Director, Friends of Sabeel North America
Revd John Woodger, Retired vicar of St Mary's Watford

Anthony Julius is chairman of the London Consortium and a Visiting Professor at Birbeck College, University of London. His book Trials of the Diaspora, is a magisterial 800 page examination of the history of Anti-Semitism in England. In the final chapter which deals with the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, Julius writes,
"He has recently explained, however, that he 'categorically reject[s] any position that threatens the territorial integrity of Israel as a sovereign nation.... Stephen Sizer's work has the merit of clearly setting out the issues that divide the two sides, and furthermore doing so without the rancour or sheer nastiness of tone typical of the polemics in the conflict." (p.571)
And see also these articles from other news sources:

Phil Groom (member of CCJ): Jeremiah's Underpants
Phil Groom (member of CCJ): Dr Sizer is cleared
Church of England Newspaper: Sizer complaint
Church Times:  Vicar is not Anti-Semitic
Church Times:  Rabbi Clears Vicar of Anti-Semitism
Jewish Chronicle: Bishop: anti-Zionist vicar ‘no antisemite
Jewish Chronicle: Sizer: I am ready to meet the Board of Deputies any time