John Telford, the 2015 JAEC Facebook page, and Stephen Sizer

Rev John Telford was a member of the board of Church Society between 2012 and 2018

In 2020, Rev Telford sought to excuse Church Society’s silence regarding Stephen Sizer’s antisemitism on the grounds that “Neither he nor his work crossed our radar”

However, John Telford had participated, at least twice, in a Facebook discussion about Stephen Sizer in the Facebook group of the Junior Anglican Evangelical Conference in January 2015, as shown below. (Some personal information at the end of the first sentence of the first image has been redacted.)

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Lee Gatiss, the 2015 JAEC Facebook page, and Stephen Sizer

In July 2020, in a Church Society blog post, Church Society Director Lee Gatiss wrote this regarding his knowledge of Stephen Sizer’s antisemitic conduct:

“I personally find many of the things now pointed out in his social media and other engagements to be offensive and sometimes ridiculous. I don’t follow him on social media so had not seen these before, or had them pointed out to me as far as I can recall.”

In fact, Lee Gatiss knew about Stephen Sizer’s antisemitic conduct earlier, as this post will demonstrate. 

On 30 January 2015, when Stephen Sizer was in the headlines for (not for the first time) making the antisemitic suggestion that Israel had been complicit in the 9/11 terror attacks, the following was posted in the Junior Anglican Evangelical Conference Facebook group. 

The following comment was posted below it on the same date. Lee Gatiss “liked” it, as shown by the two screenshots below, which show his “like” in different formats: 

The full comment is below: it is posted in two “chunks”, side by side, owing to the difficulty of fitting it all into a single screenshot.

The full text of the comment that Lee Gatiss “liked” is as follows:

What is clear from that Cranmer blog is that Sizer has a history of linking to things that are on the edge of what is acceptable and a number of times he has been called to account and has accepted that he has (apparently unwittingly linked to things on websites that are associated with racism. It is not that he has linked directly to racist material as far as I can see, merely that the same websites also contained racist material – a second degree association. Furthermore, it should be noted that his FB post is set to ‘Friends’ not ‘Public’. 

My biggest issue is that Cranmer’s penultimate paragraph is completely wrong: “The Church of England no longer tolerates membership of the racist BNP. If an ordained minister had linked to BNP websites, musing that they raise legitimate questions of truth and contending that he is “encouraging research and debate on all aspects” of immigration, he would swiftly forfeit his Licence to Preach.”

I can accept synod’s decision that membership of BNP is conduct unbecoming of a minister, but highlighting a webpage is not. That is not what synod agreed and I would be very disappointed if bishops started extending what synod agreed.

Whilst I think Sizer was foolish and wrong to suggest that Israel were linked with 9/11, I stand by his right as both a citizen and a minister to ask these questions and make these suggestions. Would we all be acting differently if it was Iran rather than Israel? Yes the timing is deeply insensitive, but I deeply dislike the curtailment of feedom of speech and Twitter mob justice that is spreading across the society at the moment. 

Or am I totally missing the point?

(Disclaimer: like a number in this group, I am friends with Nick Howard who was quoted by Cranmer. I did not feel able to support his complaint at the time.)

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The shameful case of anti-Semitism in British politics

Faithroots

The EHRC report on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has now been published.[1] The headline summary is that:

“The Party is responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act (2010) relating to:

  • political interference in antisemitism complaints
  • failure to provide adequate training to those handling antisemitism complaints
  • harassment”[2]

Before I go on with further comment about the specific issue here I would like to make a general comment about anti-Semitism and racism more broadly.  Over the years I’ve had a lot of contact with people involved in politics. I was involved in student politics at a senior level for another national party whilst at University. Sadly, in my experience anti-Semitism (and this is going back over 25 years) has been present across the political spectrum as have other forms of racism and prejudice.  I also have to say that even more sadly I have witnessed racism and anti-Semitism…

View original post 595 more words

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Gay Times

Originally posted on Football: Wherever it may be:
Friday 2nd March 2007 ko 19.45 League 2 SHREWSBURY TOWN 0 Asomoah missed penalty 90 BRISTOL ROVERS 0 Hinton sent off (2nd booking) 90 Att 4,227 at Gay Meadow, Shrewsbury Entry £15…

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Christ Church Virginia Water’s support for Stephen Sizer

Christ Church Virginia Water (CCVW) stood by Stephen Sizer throughout his years of notoriety and provided significant support for his international activities outside the church. It has continued to do so since he stopped being its vicar.

Most of the following information is taken from the church’s annual accounts, which are publicly available on the Charity Commission website.

CCVW’s accounts for 2014 are available here. This extract from page 8 indicates that, during 2014, CCVW allocated £6,000 to support Stephen Sizer’s work overseas. (Click to enlarge.)

CCVW’S accounts for 2015 are available here. During 2015, CCVW again allocated £6,000 to support Stephen Sizer’s work overseas. (Click to enlarge.)

CCVW’s accounts for 2016 are available here. This extract from page 9 indicates that, during 2016, CCVW again allocated £6,000 to support Stephen Sizer’s work overseas. (Click to enlarge.)

Dr Sizer retired from parish ministry in April 2017. He subsequently  launched a new charity, initially called Peacemaker Mediators. CCVW was the venue for the launch event. Peacemaker Mediators was subsequently renamed Peacemaker Trust.

CCVW’s accounts for 2017 are available here. This extract, from page 24, indicates that, during 2017, Dr Sizer himself received £5,523 to support his work overseas, whilst a further £4,200 was granted to Peacemaker Mediators.

CCVW 2017 p24

CCVW accounts 2017 p24

Since then, CCVW has continued to provide financial support to Rev Sizer’s new charity.

CCVW’s accounts for 2018 are available here. This extract from page 24 indicates that CCVW gave £6,600 to Peacemaker Mediators during 2018, and also that a member of CCVW’s PCC is one of the charity’s trustees. (Click to enlarge.)

CCVW’s accounts for 2019 are available here. This extract from page 24 indicates that CCVW gave £5,250 to Peacemaker Mediators during 2019. The same PCC member remains a trustee. (Click to enlarge.)

CCVW accounts 2019

Peacemaker Trust is also supported in other ways by CCVW.

In March 2019, CCVW focused on Peacemaker Trust as its “Mission of the Month”. As well as receiving financial support, this means that Stephen Sizer’s charity is specifically represented by a member of CCVW’s “Mission Coordination Team” and is linked to one of the church’s “Home Groups”.

According to CCVW’s “Connection” magazine, Peacemaker Trust was again the church’s designated “Mission of the Month” for January 2020.

 

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Stephen Sizer and the 9/11 libel – Part II

(For Part I, see here)

In a 2015 Facebook post, Stephen Sizer insinuated Israeli responsibility for the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the USA , leading to a complaint against him by the Board of Deputies of British Jews [1]. His source was a conspiracy theory website called Wikispooks.

Why is this antisemitic?

First things first – it is obviously false. It’s a conspiracy theory. Fifteen of the sixteen 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals. Saudi Arabia is a state that is officially at war with Israel. The USA is Israel’s key ally (a point that Stephen Sizer himself emphasises repeatedly). Of course Israel was not complicit in the 9/11 attacks.

Rather than being truthful, it is a libel. Is it an anti-Israel libel or an antisemitic one (or both)? Well, throughout the ages, Jews have been accused of being behind everything bad in the world: the Black Death; the French Revolution; the American Revolution; the Russian Revolution; the Great Depression; World War One; World War Two; too much rain; too little rain; England losing on penalties; etc etc. If you were to accuse “the Jews” of being complicit in 9/11, it would undoubtedly be antisemitic. It does not become any less antisemitic if “the Jews” is replaced with “Israel”.

Which is why, unsurprisingly, you normally find this suggestion on racist websites which talk about “Jewish Criminal Power“.

Implications

When Stephen Sizer insinuated – for the second time – that Israel was complicit in 9/11, this was not “legitimate criticism of Israel”.

The insinuation was antisemitic.

References:

[1] Dearden, L, “Vicar investigated over Facebook post linking to ‘anti-Semitic’ article ‘9/11 Israel did it’”, The Independent, 30 January 2015, <https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/vicar-investigated-over-facebook-post-linking-to-anti-semitic-article-911-israel-did-it-10012794.html&gt; (accessed 17 June 2020)

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Stephen Sizer and the abuse of Holocaust memory Part II

(Part I is here)

Press TV is the official, Holocaust-denying propaganda channel of the Holocaust-denying Iranian regime. In an  interview on Press TV in November 2008, Stephen Sizer said,

“The Holocaust has been perpetuated over the last 40 or 50 years, it’s the Palestinians who are going through their Nakba now” [1].

(“Nakba” is the name the Palestinians give to the loss of their homeland during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Sizer elongates it to describe a much longer period of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians.)

In other words, Stephen Sizer directly compared Israeli policies towards the Palestinians, with the Nazi genocide of the Jews.

Isn’t he just expressing legitimate criticism of Israel?

No.

It should be pretty clear that comparing Israeli policies with the Holocaust goes way beyond simply “criticising Israel”. In case it isn’t clear, this is what the journalist Jonathan Freedland wrote about such comparisons in 2006 (emphasis added):

“First, they are hyperbolic: no matter how bad Israel is, it is not the Third Reich. Second, they seem designed to cancel out the world’s empathy for Jewish suffering in the 1930s and 1940s: under this logic, the Holocaust has now been ‘matched’ by Israeli misbehaviour, therefore the Jews have forfeited any claim they might once have had to special understanding. The world and the Jews are now ‘even’. Third, and worse, the Nazi-Zionist equation does not merely neutralise memories of the Holocaust – it puts Jews on the wrong side of them… Jews end up with the gravest hour in their history first taken from them – and then returned, with themselves recast as villains rather than victims. If anti-Zionists wonder why Jews find this antisemitic, perhaps they should imagine the black reaction if the civil rights movement – or any other vehicle of black liberation – was constantly equated with the white slave traders of old. It feels like a deliberate attempt to find a people’s rawest spot – and tear away at it.”

Implications

It would have been perfectly possible for Stephen Sizer to criticise Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians without using Holocaust comparisons. (In the same way as it is perfectly possible to criticise aspects of the Black Lives Matter movement, without comparing it to the slave trade.)

By making such a comparison, Sizer went far beyond simply making “legitimate criticisms of the Israeli government”.

The comparison was antisemitic.

References:

[1] The whole interview is available at: Alan Hart, 6 November 2008, Hart of the Matter #5: Reverend Dr. Stephen Robert Sizer, viewed 20 July 2020, <http://www.alanhart.net/hart-of-the-matter-5-reverend-dr-stephen-robert-sizer/>. The extract in question is at 17:40-18:00.

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Stephen Sizer conciliation agreement

This is the Conciliation Agreement reached between Stephen Sizer and the Board of Deputies of British Jews in October 2013.

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Stephen Sizer and Christianity Explored Ministries

This document, compiled by Rev Bernard Nicholas (“Nick”) Howard, was sent to Christianity Explored Ministries in September 2014.

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Stephen Sizer and the repudiation of antisemitism

Set out below is page 261 of Stephen Sizer’s 2004 book, Christian Zionism: Roadmap to Armageddon? [1]

sizer repudiate 1

 

This is similar to what Stephen Sizer wrote near the end of his 2002 PhD thesis [2] which was conducted under the auspices of Middlesex University and Oak Hill Theological College:

 

sizer repudiate 2

These sources are significant, because they show that one of Stephen Sizer’s stated aims, was to repudiate and reject antisemitism.

Whether he achieved this aim – whether in his PhD thesis, his 2004 book, or elsewhere – is highly questionable.

What is not in doubt, however, is that he conducted doctoral-level research on the topic, for which he was awarded a PhD. It therefore follows logically that he knows what antisemitism is; indeed, that he has a considerably better knowledge of it, than the person on the street. And from that, in turn, it also follows logically that if any of his output has nonetheless been antisemitic, he does not have the excuse of ignorance.

References:

[1] Sizer, S, 2004, Christian Zionism. Road Map to Armageddon, Inter Varsity Press, London

[2] Sizer, S, 2002, The promised land: a critical investigation of Evangelical Christian Zionism in Britain and the United States of America since 1800 (PhD thesis, Middlesex University)

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