“The central message arising from the tribunal is that the well-documented accusations of repeated antisemitic behaviour made over more than a decade have been dismissed! Only one allegation of antisemitism has been found to have substance – but that was dealt with quickly and effectively [in 2015] at the time by the Bishop of Guildford (as Jonathan Arkush accepts), Stephen apologising for his actions, recognising the deep hurt his actions had caused and stating publicly that his sharing of the material was ill-considered and misguided and that he “never believed Israel, or any other country was complicity in the terrorist atrocity of 9/11.”
“It is significant that not one word or statement from Dr Sizer has been shown to be antisemitic. There are none.” Stephen Hofmeyr KC
“This disgraceful miscarriage of justice against someone who has never uttered a word of hate against Jews will be a permanent stain on the Church of England and Board of Deputies.” Antony Lerman (the Expert Witness called by the Tribunal)
If you wish to read my witness statement, the expert witness report, the statements of witnesses, please follow the hyperlinks below:
Expert Witness: Antony Lerman
Antony Lerman was the sole expert witness at my Ecclesiastical Tribunal. His expert opinion demolished attempts by the prosecution to use the discredited IHRA working definition of antisemitism.
Antony Lerman is a Senior Fellow at the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue in Vienna, Honorary Fellow of the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations at the University of Southampton and Associate Editor of Patterns of Prejudice. He was founding director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (1996-99, and 2006-09), one of the founders of Independent Jewish Voices and a member of the Advisory Committee of the Holocaust Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum. He was founding editor of Antisemitism World Report (1992-98) and Editor of the Jewish Quarterly (1964-85). He is the author of The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist: A Personal and Political Journey (London, 2012), editor of Do I Belong? Reflections from Europe (London, 2017), co-author of Bad News for Labour: Antisemitism, the Party and Public Belief (London, 2019) – and Whatever Happened to Antisemitism? Redefinition and the Myth of the ‘Collective Jew’ (London, 2022).
Statements of Support
“I am quite clear in my own mind that Stephen is not anti-Semitic, nor has he said or written anything that could possibly be construed to be anti- Semitic. Thus the central thrust of the Board of Deputies’ complaint – that Stephen has made anti-Semitic statements and/or republished the anti- Semitic sentiment of others – simply does not stand up to scrutiny. I would appeal to you to dismiss the CDM complaint, which from my perspective – and indeed the perspective of many others – has no basis whatsoever. This will allow Stephen to concentrate on his ministry, including his prophetic writings and balanced teaching on Christian Zionism and the biblical call to justice, peace and reconciliation, which we all work for in the Anglican Communion.” The Most Revered Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis, Archbishop of the Province of Alexandria, Egypt
“I am deeply shocked by this further attempt by the Board of Deputies of British Jews to accuse The Revd Dr Stephen Sizer of antisemitic statements, behaviour and beliefs. From my knowledge of, and acquaintance with, Dr Sizer over twenty years I have never known him to express a single antisemitic view or sentiment. He has certainly very carefully critiqued expressions of political and religious Zionism and the impact of these, particularly in the context of the Middle East, where he has also shown himself to be aware of, and sensitive to, how these have negatively impacted ancient Jewish communities as well as others. He has also exercised the right of any citizen in a democracy to be critical of the actions of the current government of another country when these have compromised prospects for justice and peace. This he has done both courageously and responsibly in his advocacy for peace and justice in the Middle East. None of this constitutes antisemitism, something that I have frequently heard him explicitly condemn, along with other forms of racial and religious discrimination.
I am horrified that this attempt to make such a charge stick is supported by evidence already considered at the time of an earlier complaint brought under CDM by the Board. This material was carefully considered at the time and taken into account when the then Bishop of Guildford reached his conclusions. There can be no case for reconsidering the same material now. I am also both shocked and saddened that despite the undertaking given during the earlier reconciliation process that should they have further concerns, the Board of Deputies would raise these directly with Dr Sizer, in a spirit of dialogue and a search for mutual understanding, this they have failed to do. It is difficult not to feel that this latest action itself constitutes harassment and an attempt to close down fair comment on matters of vital importance in the context of today’s Middle East, and the broader global geopolitical scene. My experience of Stephen is of a godly, prayerful minister of the gospel, a faithful teacher and pastor of God’s people, who seeks only to serve to the best of the ability his Lord, His Church and His Kingdom. This he has done as a loyal minister in the Church of England for the past 38 years. The suggestion by the complainant that Dr Sizer was forced to resign from the parish of Virginia Water because of his writing and speaking has no basis in fact. As a member of the International Board of Reference of the Peacemaker Trust I can testify to the fact that conversation had been going on with Stephen Sizer over a considerable period of time about the possibility of his leaving parish ministry to concentrate fully on the work that now forms the purpose of the Trust. The Vision of the Trust is of a world reconciled to God and where its people are at peace with one another. Those who support it and Dr Sizer’s work aspire to be catalysts for peace-making, especially where minorities are persecuted, where justice is denied, human rights are suppressed or reconciliation is needed. In the words of the prophet Micah – “They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” (Micah 4:3). This sums up not merely the aim of his work, but the character of the man.” The Right Revd Michael Langrish, retired Bishop of Exeter
“I write to you today in regard to the unwarranted and groundless attacks on the good name of one of your committed and faithful priests, the Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer, who has powerfully and consistently raised awareness of the plight of our fellow Palestinian and Israeli brothers and sisters, as have many others. He continues to remind us of our Christian duty, to uphold Human Rights, a vital step if, Israel and Palestine are to take committed steps towards a lasting peace. In his opinion, and I share this with him, that a road map of compassion is sorely needed by both sides to end decade long conflict through the fulcrum of peaceful negotiations. I have known Stephen for over thirty years. I know him as a man of integrity and forthright views with the courage to express those views. He has always been measured, and his message is, and has been, one of Christian faith and the love of truth. His books and his articles are suffused with objective discipline. There is nothing in them, or him, that could be remotely construed as anti-Jewish, anti-Jew, anti-Semite or even anti-Israel as a state. We have worked together on many occasions, and he has always shown the utmost respect for the adherents of different faiths, in particular to Jews and Moslems, while advocating for Christian presence in the Land of the Holy One, Israel and Palestine, and campaigning for Palestinian human rights. wish that more servants of Christ, bishops and clergy, were as courageous as Stephen in challenging the destructive effects of Israeli apartheid and Christian Zionism on both Jews and Palestinians. Sadly, as a consequence of what I can only call western appeasement, Palestinian Christians became an endangered species in the birth place of our faith, and the Church at large in the Holy Land is close to extinction. Turning to the penalty, I would kindly ask you to show grace for if my life, or probably yours, were exposed to the same level of intense scrutiny Stephen has had to endure for more than 15 years, I am sure our critics would find much to condemn us for, however unfairly.”
“Like many Anglicans I was totally shocked to hear the outcome of the Church Tribunal. This in my opinion, in present day times, is worse than the medieval inquisition. A whole family is being punished. A priest is denied his pastoral role. May God have mercy.” The Right Revd Riah Abu El Assal, former Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem and the Middle East
“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? I can’t speak for the Church of England, but Jews, the British Board of Deputies, participating in a religious Tribunal?! The very thought is appalling. What has happened to us, Jews and Christians together? Are we willing to return to the dark processes of Tribunals with no legal underpinnings, no genuine evidence or testimony, conducted solely against people whose views we don’t like – besmirch and destroy people’s lives – just to prevent criticism of Israel? Is it really so easy, in the 21st Century, to persecute people for their religious and political views? Savonarola meets Trump?
The charges against Dr. Sizer are untrue and trumped-up – and you all know it. Antisemitism?! How do you possibly defend yourself against such a charge? In the intellectual and democratic world in which most of us live, Dr. Sizer has made a rational, well-researched case for his views and analysis presented in articles, books and lectures based firmly on academic research and religious history. But that is exactly the type of person for which Tribunals are necessary, since analyses like Dr. Sizer presents, unpopular in some partisan circles as they may be, cannot be dismissed in academic circles or barred in courts of law. They must be denounced in Tribunals with no moral, legal or intellectual authority, and as in all religious Tribunals, the person maligned and destroyed in order to somehow delegitimize his or her views. I am embarrassed for all of you – and downright angry at the Jews who participate in the dark proceeding of religious Tribunals.
Let me say this as plainly as I can. I have known Dr. Sizer for over twenty years. I respect his moral position on Israel. I certainly respect his academic work on Christian Zionism, one of the most insidious and antisemitic religious doctrines in modern history and profoundly anti-Israel (Israel exists to bring on the Christian End of Days in which virtually all Jews die or become Christians). I respect Dr. Sizer’s willingness to go beyond the comforts of parish life to engage critically in an issue of central concern to us all: how to prevent Israel from becoming the next apartheid South Africa, how to prevent Jews from becoming Afrikaners, and how to liberate the Palestinian people from the yoke of occupation and apartheid – causes Christians and Jews should be engaged with rather than outdated and discredited Tribunals. And while I don’t use Dr. Sizer’s faith-based language, I have never heard him utter a word that I would consider antisemitic. To accuse or “convict” him of such is truly medieval. It is all the more outrageous if you and your Tribunal are basing your judgement on the false and tendentious position represented by the IHRA assertion that any criticism of Israel is de facto antisemitic – a position disavowed by Kenneth Stern, who drafted the IHRA paper (only intended as a “working definition”), as well as by dozens of prominent Jewish and Israeli scholars and progressive Jewish and Israeli organizations.Not only should Stephen Sizer be “acquitted” of such ridiculous charges, he should not have been brought before a Tribunal at all. I would have advised him to disassociate from this entire inquisitorial process completely – and I urge you to do so as well. Especially the Jews, for God’s sake! In solidarity (with Stephen), Dr Jeff Halper, author and director of Israeli Campaign Against House Demolitions. See here for a fuller statement
“When a miscarriage of justice happens to a friend. Sitting talking with a long time friend of mine this week, the Red Dr Stephen Sizer, brought home to me the pain that both Stephen and his wife Joanna have received at the hands of an Ecclesiastical Tribunal by the Church of England, in which they investigated an accusation of antisemitism brought against Stephen by the Jewish Board of Deputies. So this newsletter is going to be a little different to my usual, because I just want to look at this in some depth.
I have known Stephen for over forty years, since he was a student. I have followed his growing passion for justice and peace in the Holy Land since those days. I am glad to say based on these many years of experience of him that Stephen is committed to International Law, the Fourth Geneva Convention, and human rights. In my experience Stephen is a gentle but firm peacemaker who lives out the Biblical mandate that all are made in the image of God. I’ve not ever during all our years of friendship and work together witnessed anything in his words or actions that reflects antisemitism. He has worked with Jewish peace activists and Rabbis and won their respect, and also the respect of the Muslim community. He has been a significant witness to the Christian value of peacemaking, and is admired by Middle Eastern Bishops and clergy…
In the Tribunal I was called as a witness. I had never been in a situation like this before and didn’t know what to expect. I had been asked to write an article in advance, but then when they questioned me in the Tribunal they never referred to what I had written at all, but simply referred to something Stephen had done some years back… After Antony Lerman (the expert witness) had spoken there seemed to be no case for Stephen to answer. And yet the Tribunal took 6 months to decide the outcome, keeping Stephen on edge, and then came up with their extraordinary conclusion banning him from ministry for twelve years. The words of criticism against Stephen that came from the Tribunal at that point sounded like it was a totally different Tribunal and completely discounted Antony Lerman’s contribution… I have to ask what the Ecclesiastical Tribunal thought they were doing in bringing this. This Anglican Priest who has served so faithfully for years both in this country and around the world, working with Christians, Jews and Muslims on situations of justice – why was he hung out to dry?… The central message arising from the tribunal is that the Church has punished Stephen with a twelve year ban – despite Antony Lerman’s dismissal of the new charges and the fact that no evidence was provided to substantiate the charges in the first place. Which makes one wonder why Stephen and Joanna were put through all of this, when the Church are treating him as guilty despite their own “due process” proving otherwise.” Revd Canon Garth Hewitt, Founder Amos Trust. Read Garth Hewitt’s complete article
“Stephen, I am greatly distressed by the findings of the tribunal and the manifestly excessive penalty that has been placed upon you. A penalty of 1 year would have been excessive, but the longer penalty speaks more of vindictiveness than justice and is totally unjust. I also found the Archbishop’s statement to say more about submissiveness to the Israeli lobby than anything to do with true justice. My heart aches for the once great Church of England to see it losing its prophetic responsibility and putting principle aside in this way to bow at the feet of a secular nation.
In all the time I have known you I have never heard a single anti-Semitic word come from you; indeed, exactly the opposite as you have denounced racism of all varieties. Whilst those who oppose you, both inside and outside of the church, have tried to silence you, they cannot silence your books which have meant so much to so many people. I am thrilled to hear of the founding of the new Institute [for the Study of Christian Zionism] and will be praying God’s blessing upon this new venture. Justified criticism of Israel as a nation cannot be allowed to be interpreted as antisemitic, and the work of your Institute will fill a huge void in helping Christians everywhere to understand the reality of Scripture as regards the Holy land. Having seen injustice there with my own eyes I am fully aware of the need for such understanding to be more widely available.” Ian Curtis, former Vice President for Governance and Accountability with World Vision International, Chair of International Needs Australia and member of the Peacemaker Trust International Board of Reference.
“I am a British Jew brought up in the Movement for Reform Judaism where I was inspired by Hebrew scripture and my study of Jewish history to value the importance of building a just society and working to ‘repair the fractured world’ in which we live… I believe it’s impossible to understand the motivation of the Board, in regard to my own work and Revd. Sizer’s, without recognising the Board’s strong conviction that Zionism is now integral to Jewish identity and indeed central to the expression of Judaism today. So any criticisms of Zionism, or even particular actions by governments of the State of Israel, are seen as an attack on Jews and Judaism and therefore must be considered expressions of antisemitism… The Board has adopted a position of uncritical support for Israel to the point where its interfaith and public affairs work can only be understood as part of a wider pro-Israel lobby in the U.K which includes many other U.K. Jewish organisations. I don’t see this as in anyway conspiratorial or nefarious. It’s how politics works on many issues. However, it means that the Board’s allegations against Revd. Sizer should be seen as taking place within a highly political context.
Revd. Sizer, as you know, has become an important and authoritative voice in helping Christians to understand the roots of Christian Zionism, which is quite different to the Jewish idea of Zionism but hugely influential in generating uncritical support for Israel and considerable hostility towards the Palestinian people. Revd. Sizer has been a firm advocate for equality for all who call the Holy Land home. In addition, he has consistently spoken out against antisemitism and against Holocaust denial. However, as a high profile figure, the Board view his writing as threat to its own ability to influence Christian denominations in their thinking about Israel and Zionism. Revd. Sizer has already comprehensively refuted past allegations made against him by the Board and the latest allegations are equally spurious and have been equally refuted. I find it very disturbing that the Board is willing to conduct a character assassination of a good man doing good work in the name of justice and inspired by his Christian faith. Robert Cohen, author and trustee for Amos Trust and adviser to Sabeel-Kairos UK.
“I was shocked to read the very recent allegations made against Revd. Dr Stephen Sizer – a recent wave in a never ending campaign to try and silence a human Christian voice. As someone who is a victim of a similar campaign, indeed by the very same people, I am only too familiar with the potential damage such a sinister enterprise can cause in the long run. I have read all of Stephen’s works and participated with him in numerous panels and seminars. Quite often in churches and community centres all over the country. The audience was always mixed: people of all religions and persuasions were present on such occasions. If there was a dividing line it was between the humane, peaceful and inclusive message of Stephen and those who sought to challenge him in the name of religious, national or ethnic eccentricity and false purity. There was not a hint of anti-Semitism in anything Stephen wrote or spoke about. On the contrary, the message was always clear – a concern that some of Israel’s policies and ideologies can create a misguided association of Judaism with dispossession, colonisation and discrimination. This is why there are always many Jews, like myself, who work in close association and collaboration with Stephen for the sake of a universal goal of bringing peace and justice to Israel and Palestine. This is also why many progressive Jews read and rely on Stephen’s scholarly work and come in great numbers to attend his talks. I hope this thuggish attempt to silence a voice of reason and justice, which brings credit and confidence in what Church leaders in this country can do for global peace, will be brushed aside, as it should be, as malicious and deplorable. Professor Ilan Pappe, College of Social Sciences & International Studies, University of Exeter
“Rev. Stephen Sizer is another person targeted by the Israel Lobby, and the church pressured to discipline its pastor. Rev. Sizer has been a vocal voice for Palestinian rights and against the settler colonial ideology of Christian Zionism.” Revd Dr Mitri Raheb, Founder and President of Dar al-Kalima University in Bethlehem
“I would like to express my support to my friend Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer. I have known him over the years as a man of integrity and principles. I have seen his work for the Gospel through his church in the UK and beyond. I am also grateful for his solidarity with the Palestinian people and his desire and work for a just peace in our land. He is a man of strong convictions and a true advocate for justice. I do not seek to defend every action or every social media post he made. But I can say this: Behind closed doors, he always spoke respectfully of the Jews and Judaism and made clear distinctions between his political views on Israel and Zionism and his attitudes towards Jews and the Jewish people – even when we talked in closed circles with Palestinians only. Over the years, he has suffered so many attacks and attempts to delegitimize him and impute his reputation and there were often baseless accusations that clearly showed a spirit of delegitimization rather than actual honest criticism of his stated views. There is no doubt that he has upset the official Jewish leadership in Britain. I suspect that this is mainly because of their position on Israel and Zionism and not because of any hostility to the Jewish community or Jewish faith. The fact that many respected Jewish leaders and organizations in the UK and beyond supported him is a clear indication to this.” Revd Dr Munther Isaac, Senior Pastor, The Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church Bethlehem Palestine and Assistant Professor, Bethlehem Bible College.
“All support and solidarity with Reverend Dr Stephen Sizer; a friend of justice and truth and friend of Palestine, whom the Anglican Church court in England denied him from practicing his priesthood for 12 years after being falsely accused of antisemitism by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.” Rifat Kassis, Director of Kairos Palestine
“Dr. Sizer is… an international authority on Christian Zionism and this has not only led to his important academic contributions, but this has made him highly visible to those who promote Zionism as a matter of orthodox Christian belief. He has also been public about his criticism of Israel’s domestic policies with regard to Palestinians living in the country. The present set of complaints therefore fit into a pattern that many of us have seen countless times. Dr. Sizer is saying nothing that has not been said before by both Jews and Christians. And his writing is not anti- Semitic. Simply put, public criticism of Israel is not a form of anti- Judaism. It is simply a form of political discourse that can be heard about any country today. But for some, his success at winning an audience has made his views intolerable.” Dr Gary Burge, Professor, Calvin Theological Seminary, USA
“I have known Stephen Sizer for over 30 years, read all of his major books, and worked with him – most recently on an international forum for Muslim-Christian dialogue. I have always been impressed with the rigour of his research in his doctoral work on Christian Zionism. He has always demonstrated to me a very clear grasp of the many biblical, theological and political issues involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I have admired his willingness to engage with these issues in the public sphere where they are so hotly contested. It is hardly surprising that his view on these complex and sensitive issues have been so strongly criticised and attacked… As an ordained Anglican priest myself, and as someone who has written on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I find it hard to understand how Stephen Sizer’s writing and his advocacy on this issue show any evidence of anti- semitism. His statement seems to me to provide a very courteous, detailed and convincing response to the complaint made against him, and I find it hard to see how his work could ever be described as ‘unbecoming or inappropriate to the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders. If the Church of England prides itself on being a church that is broad enough to hold together people with different views on sexuality and a whole variety of other ethical, social and political issues, one would expect it to be broad enough to hold together people who have different approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I would suggest that the issues which Sizer raises – and the particular viewpoint which he brings – need to be openly discussed both within the church and in the context of Jewish-Christian relations” Colin Chapman, former lecturer in Islamic Studies, Near East School of Theology, Beirut
“I have known Stephen for over forty years, since he was a student. I have followed his growing passion for justice and peace in the Holy Land since those days. I am glad to say based on these many years of experience of him that Stephen is committed to International Law, the Fourth Geneva Convention, and human rights. In my experience Stephen is a gentle but firm peacemaker who lives out the Biblical mandate that all are made in the image of God. I’ve not ever during all our years of friendship and work together witnessed anything in his words or actions that reflects antisemitism. He has worked with Jewish peace activists and Rabbis and won their respect, and also the respect of the Muslim community. He has been a significant witness to the Christian value of peacemaking, and is admired by Middle Eastern Bishops and clergy…I have to ask what the Ecclesiastical Tribunal thought they were doing in bringing this. This Anglican Priest who has served so faithfully for years both in this country and around the world, working with Christians, Jews and Muslims on situations of justice – why was he hung out to dry?” Revd Canon Garth Hewitt, founder, Amos Trust
“At all the meetings I have attended where he has been present, or giving a lecture, I have never heard an anti-Judaistic/anti-Semitic statement. Indeed I have heard him criticise violence on both sides. Like all of us who work for peace, Stephen Sizer walks the dangerous tightrope that in criticising the unjust actions of the Zionist government, (actions which have frequently been condemned by the United Nations) he will be called anti Semitic. Such is his commitment to justice and peace that he is willing to walk this tightrope. But there is a question as to how long a person can endure such persecution. I would like to recall to you Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun, (a reform Jewish Journal) who lives in San Francisco. He similarly takes a strong stance against the Israeli occupation –and pays the price that his house is frequently vandalised. Stephen’s case is similar. There are many people who cannot envisage the case on both sides of the divide. Rather than make Rev Stephen Sizer suffer further, should we not, Jews and Christians join together in a struggle for truth and justice – and bring an end to this oppressive state of affairs while affirming the need for Jews and Christians, Israelis and Palestinians, to live together in peace?”: Professor Mary Grey, St Mary’s University College, Twickenham
“I am writing on behalf of Amos Trust to voice our concern over the accusations made against Stephen Sizer of anti-Semitism. As you know, Amos Trust is a small creative Christian human rights organisation that was named after the call of the prophet Amos: ‘Let justice flow like rivers and righteousness like a never ending stream’. We have worked closely with Stephen for many years. I have heard him speak on numerous occasions and read his written works and I have no doubt that Stephen is driven by a commitment to justice, peace, non-violence and above all reconciliation. He is motivated by the cry of Palestinian Christians for justice and solidarity, in the sure belief that this will also provide the best hope for security and peace for Israelis. The allegations against him are not only unfounded but are a deliberate attempt to try to prevent church leaders from speaking out in a prophetic manner on the situation facing Palestinians.” Revd Chris Rose, Director, Amos Trust.
“In 2012 I had occasion to support the Reverend Stephen Sizer who was under attack for ‘antisemitism’. It was clear to me then as it is now that the Revered Sizer is no antisemite. In fact he is a strong antiracist who challenges oppression wherever he finds it. I have no reason to change the views that I set out in 2012. In fact I am dismayed that the Board of Deputies has dredged this tired canard up again and are trying heartlessly to destroy Stephen’s livelihood. The Board of Deputies does not speak for all Jews and it should be noted that in their unceasing advocacy for Israel they have encouraged many Jews to distance themselves from their organisation. I have now read the two added complaints that Ms Van Zyl has made about the Reverend Sizer and can find nothing antisemitic in them. Israel is a state and must make its own arguments in defence of its egregious actions. It does no one any good for Israel and its supporters to defend themselves by abusing the very important issue of antisemitism which all of us recognise is sadly on the rise again.” Diana Neslen, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
“My heart ached when reading the false accusations targeting Stephen Sizer. I know from private conversations and from hearing Stephen speak in Bethlehem, in England and in the USA and from reading his books and articles that he has always advocated for peace and justice for all the people who live in Israel and in Palestine. Certainly Stephen has called for the end of Israeli occupation of Palestinians due to the brutality of that occupation and its harm on both the occupied and the occupier. Had it been the other way around, I know that Stephen would, with the same dedication and energy, called for the end of Palestinian occupation of Israelis. Those who accuse Stephen of anti-Semitism do harm to the real victims of anti-Semitism. Intelligent people should easily differentiate between criticizing Israel due to acts of brutality against the Palestinian population and unfounded acts of anti-Semitism. I can sincerely testify from years of interaction with Stephen and his writings that he is not only clear of anti-Semitism but that he also abhors it.” Revd Alex Awad, Former Pastor, East Jerusalem Baptist Church & Director, Shepherds Society
“It is simply untrue that Rev Sizer has ever been anti-Semitic in his speeches or his writing. I fear that he is being falsely accused for telling the truth by the same people who have shown me and my fellow Palestinians such hostility. It seems as everyone knows the truth about what Israel is doing to the Palestinian and about the occupation but not many have the courage to speak about it. Criticizing the evil work of the Israeli government, like the occupation, house demolitions, restriction Palestinian freedom of travel, imprisoning children and others without any cause, is not anti-sematic, it is purely showing the reality of the situation, Please go and visit yourself and you will see that reality. The Board of Deputies have one goal and one goal only and that is to silence anyone who speaks the truth about the state of Israel. I wish they can see the speck in their own eyes before they talk about the others. I have talked to Stephen on many occasions and he has a gentle loving heart, he is kind and seeks peace and reconciliation. I hope that you will realize the truth and know that Stephen is not guilty of anything expect telling the truth and reality of the Palestinian people.” Dr Tanas Alqassis, Regional Manager, Europe, Middle East & North Africa, CMS
“It is true that some critics of Israel hate Jews—I have dealt with this at length in my book Antisemitism in relation to the emergence of modern Arab antisemitism. However, it is simply not the case that all critics of Israel are Jew-haters. Certainly, it is the case that Stephen Sizer is highly critical of some Israeli policies. Nonetheless I do not believe that he hates Jews. Possibly I should add a final note. Stephen Sizer is currently facing considerable anguish. His wife has stage 4 lung cancer. As Jews we pride ourselves on giving our ethical traditions to the world. It is not in accord with those traditions to hound a man unjustifiably when he is facing personal tragedy.” Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor Emeritus of Judaism University of Wales
“The Zionists have lost the argument about Israel. That’s why they smear people like Rev Sizer with accusations of anti-Semitism. Jesus spoke truth to power but the Archbishop of Canterbury failed to do so. The Church of England is backing oppression.” Chris Williamson, MP for Derby North (2017-2019) and former Labour Shadow Minister
“I wish to state in the strongest possible terms and unequivocally that these claims are groundless. I have never heard an anti-Jewish word from Rev. Sizer, in public or in private, nor have I detected a shred of anti-Jewish feeling or opinion in his speech or writings, or for that matter, any hostility toward the State of Israel itself or its citizens This kind of ad hominem attack on voices such as that of Rev. Sizer, who challenge the dominant political narrative of an innocent Israel beset by implacable enemies motivated by anti- Semitism or a theological narrative that requires unqualified support for Israel’s expansionist policies is very familiar to me. I see it my own country, and I have encountered it in other countries where I have lectured, including South Africa, Germany, and the Netherlands. These attacks, whether made on political or theological grounds or both, are dangerous and must be confronted head-on…I am not naïve about anti- Semitism – it remains strong and deeply-rooted in Western civilization. But I do not make the mistake of confusing responsible criticism of the State of Israel or scholarly, biblically- grounded inquiry into the validity or legitimacy of Zionism with anti-Judaism. As a people, we Jews are in great peril as a result of the past and current actions and policies of the State of Israel, actions that are in violation of our own tradition and values. We must be called to account. Rev. Sizer’s work on the theology that underlies and currently is being used to support illegal and sinful policies is a critical component of the growing international movement to bring these actions to an end – not only for the sake of the suffering Palestinian people, but in order to liberate the citizens of Israel from the consequences of being part of a regime that meets the international definition of apartheid. The church plays a leading role in this struggle, as it did in my country during the Civil Rights Movement, and as it did on a global basis to help bring an end to apartheid in South Africa, The work and voice of Rev. Sizer has been and must continue to be a key asset in this struggle.” Dr Mark Braverman, Director of Kairos USA and author of Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land
Dr Stephen Sizer is, “in my view a living embodiment of a martyr. He has sacrificed his career, his status in the church. And he has been our friend here on this [Gulf Cultural Club-Abrar House] platform for many, many years… He is a living embodiment of a martyr.” Shabbir Razvi Managing Director at International Finance Solutions Associates
Dr Tanas Alqassis, Regional Manager, Europe, Middle East & North Africa, CMS
Canon Dr Mike Butterworth, retired Principal of the St Albans & Oxford Ministry Course
Revd Colin Chapman former lecturer in Islamic Studies, Near East School of Theology, Beirut
Robert Cohen, author and trustee for Amos Trust and adviser to Sabeel-Kairos UK.
Professor Mary Grey, St Mary’s University College, Twickenham
Revd Canon Garth Hewitt, founder Amos Trust
Rt Revd Michael Langrish, retired Bishop of Exeter
Anne Martin, Secretary of Peacemaker Trust
Revd Jeremy Moodey, former CEO, Clergy Support Trust
Diana Neslen, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Professor Ilan Pappe, College of Social Sciences & International Studies, University of Exeter
Miranda Pinch, film producer, From Balfour to Banksy
Revd Canon John Salter, President, Garden Tomb Association
Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor Emeritus of Judaism University of Wales
Professor Tim Unwin, UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, and Emeritus Professor of Geography, Royal Holloway
The Most Revd Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis, Archbishop of the Province of Alexandria, Egypt
Rt Revd Riah Abu El Assal, retired Episcopal Bishop of Jerusalem
Revd Alex Awad, Former Pastor, East Jerusalem Baptist Church & Director, Shepherds Society
Amos Trust Trustees (Revd Chris Rose, Director Amos Trust)
Revd Dr Andrew Ashdown, Partnership Coordinator for Africa, Methodist Church
Dr Mark Braverman, Executive Director of Kairos USA
Dr Gary Burge, Professor, Calvin Theological Seminary, USA
Ian Curtis, former VP World Vision International and chair International Needs Australia
Professor Scott Elias, retired professor, Royal Holloway University
Rt Revd John Ellison, former bishop of Paraguay (deceased)
Tony Gratrex, former member of Christ Church, Virginia Water
Tony Greenstein, co-founder of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Steven Haas, former VP World Vision USA
Ibrahim Hewitt, Director, Interpal
Revd Philip Hill, Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary
Revd Dr Manfred Kohl, Ambassador for Overseas Council International
Revd Canon David MacInnes, retired Rector St Aldates, Oxford
Revd Dr Duncan Macpherson, retired Lecturer in Theology, Saint Mary’s University
Rt Revd Bill Musk, retired Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Egypt & North Africa
Ismail Patel, Founder Friends of Al Aqsa & Visiting Research Fellow, Leeds University
Revd David Smith, former Vicar of Holy Trinity, Dulwich Hill, Sydney, Australia
Revd Dr Jozef Strengholt, former dean of East Cairo & Director of Nile Valley Project
Revd Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans
Dr David Toorawa, Trustee, Living Stones of the Holy Land Trust
Revd Dr Donald Wagner, Former director, Middle East Studies, North Park University
Revd John Woodger, retired vicar of St Mary’s Watford
Revd Canon Garth Hewitt When a Miscarriage of Justice Happens to a Friend
Kairos USA: Statement of Support
Jewish Network for Palestine & Islamic Human Rights Commission: The Church of England’s racist assumptions for punishing Reverend Dr Stephen Sizer
Jewish Voice for Labour: The Ten Year Vendetta
Convivencia Alliance: Support Revd Dr Stephen Sizer against his unjust victimisation
Middle East Monitor: Church of England bars pro-Palestine priest for 12 years over alleged anti-Semitism
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions: ICAHD Supports Rev Stephen Sizer, Accused of Anti-Semitism
Islamic Human Rights Commission: IHRC condemns CofE decision to ban ex-vicar for offending Zionists
Islamic Human Rights Commission: Tribunal Rejects Antisemitism Allegations
Jewish Network for Palestine: Support Revd Dr Sizer
Convivencia Alliance: Support Revd Dr Stephen Sizer against his unjust victimisation
Previous Statements of Support
“I have followed your career and ministry for many years now and by all standards it has been blessed, brave and controversial! I have not always agreed with your take on Israel but am prepared to accept your right to speak out freely. That is why I believe the imposition of silence on you to be wrong.” The Rt Revd and Rt Hon The Lord Carey of Clifton, retired Archbishop of Canterbury.
“Reverend Stephen Sizer seems to have come under attack by certain individuals intent on discrediting the excellent work that Stephen does in highlighting the injustices of the Palestinian Israeli situation, in particular by his very thorough analysis of “Christian Zionism”. Might I suggest that such criticism is part of a wider pattern of demonising those who dare to stand up and speak out against Zionism, a philosophy that precludes the existence of the state of Palestine? … Active and well informed individuals such as Reverend Stephen Sizer, withstand a considerable amount of inappropriate criticism. Indeed many MPs and Peers are also attacked… I do admire the excellent work that he does and personally, I would give no credence at all to any claims that he is anti-Semitic.” The Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party and Memberof Parliament for Islington North.
“I am quite clear in my own mind that Stephen is not anti-Semitic, nor has he said or written anything that could possibly be construed to be anti-Semitic. Thus the central thrust of the Board of Deputies’ complaint – that Stephen has made anti-Semitic statements and/or republished the anti-Semitic sentiment of others –simply does not stand up to scrutiny.” The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa and President Bishop of the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East
“Stephen has devoted a great deal of his intellectual and theological gifts to resisting every endeavour to provide a religious and specifically Biblical justification for Zionism. Holding such a view is not and should not be treated as anti-Semitic. His target includes those Christians who believe the Bible supports the Zionist vision. Stephen has sought to de-construct any religious/theological wall preventing us facing the difficult questions of justice for Palestinian people in the Holy Land. This important, if controversial work, has the support of some key Jewish thinkers and activists. These strongly held views have not prevented Stephen from a clear commitment to the peace and well-being of all the people in the Holy Land and of all whatever their ethnic and political identity. He may be a controversial figure but he is a courageous and godly man.” The Right Revd John Gladwin, retired Bishop of Guildford
“I have known Stephen for over thirty years. I know him as a man of integrity and forthright views with the courage to express those views. He has always been measured , and his message is, and has been, one of Christian faith and the love of truth. His books and his articles are suffused with objective discipline. There is nothing in them, or him, that could be remotely construed as anti-Jewish, anti-Jew, anti-Semite or even anti Israel as a state.” The Right Revd Riah Abu El Assal, retired Bishop of Jerusalem.
“No doubt Stephen Sizer’s detractors are acting in good faith, and I agree with them that antisemitism must be confronted. But they are regrettably misguided in their allegations about Stephen Sizer. He is in no sense antisemitic, and instead is fully in sympathy with those who seek to eradicate all forms of Jew-hatred in the modern world… Having worked with the Counter Terrorist Agency of the Crown Prosecution Service, I am fully in agreement with such sentiments. We in the Jewish community must be vigilant to insure that our community does not suffer from attack. But it would be a travesty of justice to construe Stephen Sizer’s mistake in linking an offensive website to his Facebook and not removing it immediately as a deliberate attempt to encourage racial hatred.” Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor Emeritus of Judaism, University of Wales.
“Stephen you have single handedly done more to change this conversation about Christian Zionism than anyone I know. I think there have been about a dozen of us in the West (fewer?) who have raised this alarm. But you have been in the lead.” Dr Gary M. Burge, Professor of New Testament, Wheaton College and Graduate School.
“There was not a hint of anti-Semitism in anything Stephen wrote or spoke about. On the contrary, the message was always clear – a concern that some of Israel’s policies and ideologies can create a misguided association of Judaism with dispossession, colonisation and discrimination. This is why there are always many Jews, like myself, who work in close association and collaboration with Stephen for the sake of a universal goal of bringing peace and justice to Israel and Palestine. This is also why many progressive Jews read and rely on Stephen’s scholarly work and come in great numbers to attend his talks.”, Dr Ilan Pappe, Director, European Centre for Palestine Studies, Exeter University.
“I await your vindication. You are a messenger just like Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela. Unlike them you may find that in this life you will not be accepted except by a few but in years to come the world will realize you were a champion of justice and human rights. Do what is right in God’s eyes. May the Holy Spirit give you strength. Keep your roots and values in God’s word in a loving relationship with Jesus. You are always in my thoughts and prayers. Len Rodgers, Director Emeritus of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding, Founder/President-Emeritus Venture International, Founder of World Vision Middle East
“I am astonished at the fact that this charge has been made when it has been so clear from former investigations that he has done nothing to warrant it. I suppose that the disturbing thing is the way that the moment a person questions the policies or actions of Zionists, they are accused of being anti-semitic. My grandfather experienced that as Bishop of Jerusalem in the post first world war period when he supported some of the Rabbis who were questioning the philosophy of Zionism. He was immediately branded as anti-semitic. It has been my own experience, on the occasions when I have challenged the biblical interpretation of the Christian Zionists, that there has been an unreasoning and often almost violent reaction, so I have sympathy with the situation in which Stephen finds himself.” Revd Canon David MacInnes, former Rector, St Aldates, Oxford.
“I have read with great sadness the complaint which came to you through the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Stephen’s response. I am afraid there is a pattern across many sectors of society of mobilising such complaints against people who criticise Israeli policy… Stephen is not in the least way anti Semitic. This is a disgraceful and completely false allegation and those who have made it should be held to account for their wickedness.” Clare Short, Former Secretary of State for International Development.
Antisemitic? We don’t think so either
Tanas Alqassis, Chairman, Arab Vision International
The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis, Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East
Revd Andrew Ashdown, Enham Team Rector & Trustee of Embrace the Middle East
Right Revd Riah Abo El Assal, 13th Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem
Fr Robert Assaly, Priest in the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa
Dr Bishara Awad, Founder and President Emeritus, Bethlehem Bible College
Dr Mark Braverman, Author of the Fatal Embrace
Canon Dr Mike Butterworth, former Academic Registrar, Oak Hill College
David Carter, Director, Middle East Evangelical Concern
Anne Clayton, Coordinator, Friends of Sabeel UK
Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor Emeritus of Judaism, University of Wales
Michael Connarty MP, Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington North
Katherine Cunningham, Moderator, IPMN, Presbyterian Church USA
Dr Martin Davie, Theological Advisor to the House of Bishops
Professor Philip Davies, Department of Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield
Professor Scott Elias, Royal Holloway, University of London
Adam Estle, Executive Director of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding
Right Revd John Gladwin, former Bishop of Guildford and Chairman of Citizens Advice
Anthony Gratrex, member of Christ Church, Virginia Water
Tony Greenstein, Founding Member, Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Professor Mary Grey, Emeritus Professor of Theology, University of Wales
Dr Jeff Halper, Co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Hank Hanegraaff, President, Christian Research Institute
Catherine Hestletine, CEO, Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK
Revd Phil Hill, Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary
Canon Garth Hewitt, Founder, Amos Trust
Revd Dr Stuart Jennings, Free Church Chaplain, University of Warwick
Lawrence Jones, former member of Christ Church, Virginia Water
Dr Ghada Karmi, Fellow of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, 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
Revd Canon David MacInnes, Former Rector of St Aldates, Oxford
Anne Martin, member of Christ Church, Virginia Water
Jeremy Moodey, Chief Executive, Embrace the Middle East
Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan
Diana Neslen, Ex-officio, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Professor Ilan Pappe, Director, European Centre for Palestine Studies, Exeter University
Len Rodgers, Founder of World Vision Middle East, Founder Venture International
Revd Chris Rose, Director of the Amos Trust
Canon John Salter, Vice Chair, Garden Tomb Association
Revd Jack Sara, President, Bethlehem Bible College
Clare Short, Former Secretary of State for International Development
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, Former vicar, St Mary’s Watford
David Zarecky, University of Calgary
Channel 4: Are Jews still persecuted in Britain today?
Church of England Newspaper: Sizer complaint
Church Times: Conciliation ends anti-Semitism Row
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
Jews for Justice for Palestinians Digging for dirt: the campaign against Stephen Sizer
Phil Groom (member of CCJ): Jeremiah’s Underpants
Phil Groom (member of CCJ): Dr Sizer is cleared
“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). Anthony Julius, 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.
“I am glad to commend Stephen Sizer’s ground-breaking critique of Christian Zionism. His comprehensive overview of its roots, its theological basis and its political consequences is very timely. I myself believe that Zionism, both political and Christian, is incompatible with biblical faith. Stephen’s book has helped to reinforce this conviction.” John Stott, (deceased) former Rector Emeritus, All Soul’s, Langham Place, London, the principal framer of the Lausanne Covenant (1974) and founder of the Langham Partnership International.
“This is a very fine and important book. All Christians who believe that Jesus favoured peacemakers, should read it and realise what terrible harm is being done in the name of Christianity. And all who are concerned about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict should read it to understand how Christian Zionism disables the US as fair minded mediator. European foreign policy thinkers should read it,because this distortion of US political space, puts a greater responsibility on European governments to stand up for justice and international law” Clare Short, former British Secretary of State for International Development
For the record, over the years, on this blog I have:
- lamented the suffering of Christians under Islamic rule here and here.
- repudiated suicide bombers and terrorism here and here.
- repudiated holocaust deniers here, here, here and here.
- repudiated anti-Semitism here, here and here.
- repudiated racism and the British National Party (BNP) here.
- distinguished anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism here.
- advocated a diplomatic solution to resolving tensions with Iran here and here.
- advocated for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by peaceful means based on the implementation of international law here, here and here .
To clarify my position in my book Zion’s Christian Soldiers, I wrote the following:
“It is true that at various times in the past, churches and church leaders have tolerated or incited anti-Semitism and even attacks on Jewish people. Racism is a sin and without excuse. Anti-Semitism must be repudiated unequivocally. However, we must not confuse apples and oranges. Anti-Zionism is not the same thing as anti-Semitism despite attempts to broaden the definition. Criticising a political system as racist is not necessarily racist. Judaism is a religious system. Israel is a sovereign nation. Zionism is a political system. These three are not synonymous. I respect Judaism, repudiate anti-Semitism, encourage interfaith dialogue and defend Israel’s right to exist within borders recognised by the international community and agreed with her neighbours. But like many Jews, I disagree with a political system which gives preference to expatriate Jews born elsewhere in the world, while denying the same rights to the Arab Palestinians born in the country itself.”