Defend Stephen Sizer 267

Stephen Sizer has been active for many years in areas of humanitarian concern for the Palestinian population. I was with him on my recent trip to Baghdad, and I am convinced he is a good man.

Stephen is a Church of England vicar. He is under huge pressure at the moment as he is under a formal complaint from the Board of Deputies of British Jews to the Church of England on a charge of anti-semitism. This is very serious indeed and could lead to the loss of both his job and his home.

The essence of the long complaint is that he has posted links on his website to other websites which contain anti-semitic material. It is not alleged that he has linked to material which is itself anti-semitic; but that elsewhere on websites linked to there is such material.

That may or may not be true. But in the real world, the idea that in posting a link to an article you are endorsing every other article (which in practice you cannot have seen) on a website is nonsensical and would make much current blogging practice impossible.

That Stepehn is not an anti-semite and has not knowingly endorsed anti-semitism, I have no doubt. But what worries me is the growing bravura with which all critics of Israel or supporters of the Palestinians are charged with the – rightfully – damning slur of anti-semitism.

Just as the government of Israel has lurched to the far right, so “official” Jewish institutions in the UK have abandoned their once notable liberalism. The Board of Deputies used to deserve high respect and be a pillar of reason. It is astonishing to me that it has launched this absolutely unfounded attack on an Anglican priest. The Jewish Chronicle has lurched so far to the right as to be off the scale. There seems to be such a disconnect now between these institutions and the views of the Jewish people I know that I hope this state of affairs cannot last.

A list of those who have written in support of Stephen Sizer can be found here.

The formal process in which Stephen is now enmeshed is not only extremely unpleasant, it is also extremely expensive. He has to employ lawyers for his formal defence. A cardinal rule of this blog is never to ask for money, but I ask you now to donate for the defence fund.

Electronic transfers can be made to account name J Moodey, Co-op Bank sort code 08-93-00, account number 80407856. Cheques should be made out to J Moodey and sent to Mr S Leah, c/o York PSC, PO Box 423, York YO24 4WP.

It is important that we do not allow the victimisation of those who try to defend the Palestinians to proceed apace. Please do donate anything you can; if you feel able to add a comment saying that you have done so, that might encourage others.

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267 thoughts on “Defend Stephen Sizer

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  • Fred

    “yes, he came out with that as a dramaturge. But think about it – wouldn’t it do, to some extent at least, for fear more generally?”

    Well it could if you want it to but I don’t think that’s what he was saying.

  • Habbabkuk

    to even things up today, congratulations, Mary, on getting that apology out of the BBC.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    It is being surmised that a key reason behind DOJ’s relentless pursuit and egregious penalties, is that they believed there was a connection to Assange.

    Asking for help here, from our excellent researchers. There is an Assange interview. Cannot find it.


  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Sorry…connection twixt Assange and Aaron Swarz.

  • Macky

    “I have no faith in the ‘justice’ system. Perhaps my actions today, and this letter, will send a stronger message to the public. Either way, I have lost control over this situation, and this is my only way to regain control.”

    “Remember,” he wrote, “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s whether I win or lose, and sitting in jail for 20, 10, or even 5 years for a crime I didn’t commit is not me winning. I die free.”

    No, not the words of Aaron Swarz, but of Jonathan James, a young computer hacker who killed himself in 2008 after being targetted by Stephen Heymann, the same overzealous Prosecutor who was after Aaron Swarz.

  • Mary

    How terrible Macky. I did not know.

    ‘Where-ever law ends, tyranny begins, if the law be transgressed to another’s harm; and whosoever in authority exceeds the power given him by the law, and makes use of the force he has under his command, to compass that upon the subject, which the law allows not, ceases in that to be a magistrate; and, acting without authority, may be opposed, as any other man, who by force invades the right of another.’ John Locke 1689

  • Kempe

    Jonathan James was suspected of being the person known as “J.J” who was part of a hackers group involved in the theft of dozens of credit card details and PIN numbers. No evidence was found and he was never charged although even his father thought he was guilty.

    If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

  • Mary

    Mr Pidgley, he of the 152 directorshipsm (why so many? inter-company activity?), the Tower at One St George Wharf, Berkeley Homes, and Tory donor, gave some of his time to help the United Jewish Israel Appeal, along with Gerald Ronson.

    UJIA Young Property Group an audience with…

    Thursday 24 November 2011

    Price: £400

    UJIA Young Property Group
    An audience with Gerald Ronson, Tony Pidgley & Stephen Hubbard
    Time: 7.00pm-10.00pm
    Tickets: £400 for a table or £45 a ticket
    There will be an appeal.
    This event has been kindly sponsored by Knight Frank and In London Properties

    Why they need his help is a mystery. They do after all have an income of over £12m according to the their Charity Commission entry. See the names

    and those running it in the UK

    PS Don’t mention Ronson’s £5m fine and spell in jail.

  • Mary

    Another shocking ‘Israel denies it’ from the BBC.

    From Medialens

    BBC refusing to cover killing of Palestinian

    Posted by junglefish on January 17, 2013, 1:12 pm

    I can’t quite believe the response I just got from the BBC…

    My complaint:

    Hi Despite my previous complaint two days ago BBC Online still has not covered the killing of Mustafa Abu Jarad, see articles below:

    Can you tell me please if you intend to cover this story and, if not, why not? Regards,

    The response:

    We mention this incident in this report
    The Israeli army has denied being involved in the death, which is unusual, so we are not prepared to go further than we have.
    Best regards,
    Middle East desk
    BBC News website

    Err.. what? I shall of course follow up…

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Thanks for the ‘unhandled’ link, Macky. It’s a treasure-trove of helpful links

  • Kempe

    “Empathy obviously not one of your strong points. ”

    Just stating the facts. For the record I don’t think he deserved to die but your post gave the impression he was an innocent victim whereas there’s a possibility, a strong possibility, he was involved in a large scale theft. I think if the hackers’ group he was said to be associated with had emptied your bank account you might find your empathy evaporating rather quickly too.

  • Macky

    “Just stating the facts, etc”

    A rather contradictory comment, from which I can infer, that so you don’t think he deserved to die, but that if it was your account then your empathy might evaporate rather quicky ?

    (and why the “too”, were you a victim of hackers ?)

    Anyhow, like I said, empathy definitely not one of your strong points.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    ” It’s not quite that bad here yet.”

    I see what you’re saying, there, Glenn. Hopefully, it’s not too subtle.

  • David


    “Just stating the facts”

    You’re not stating any facts; simply inventing lies.

    It’s always revealing that one invents lies to support a secondary position. It just means that you support the government’s objective of censorship without wishing to declare so openly.

    The only question then is why you support these objectives of government.

  • Mary

    Fifth sitting of Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly [PACE]
    Wednesday 23 January 2013 at 10 a.m.

    3. Free Debate:
    THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you.
    I give the floor to Mr Connarty.
    Mr CONNARTY (United Kingdom) – I want to speak about anti-sectarianism and the confusion that arises when distinguishing between people who criticise the Government of Israel and its behaviour and those who stand accused of anti-Semitism.
    I am against sectarianism of any kind, as is this Assembly. I am against anti-Christian statements and actions in Muslim states, against anti-Semitic statements and actions worldwide, and against Christian sects attacking other Christian sects. My life is blighted, as are the lives of many of my constituents, by sectarianism between Catholic and Protestant across Scotland and in many parts of the United Kingdom. I am against those things. As a humanist, although not an anti-religious person, I support and work with all people of faith, supporting the right to individual belief for all.
    I want to raise the case of Reverend Stephen Sizer, who is a Church of England priest and a humanitarian defender of the Palestinian people in Israel. He sent a link to an article criticising the Government of Israel, but it was not an anti-Semitic article. Unfortunately, the article was printed on a website that contained anti-Semitic statements made by others in the past, which Reverend Sizer did not know about. In fact, he has spoken very strongly against that, as a humanitarian and a person who is not anti-Semitic.
    Unfortunately, the Board of Deputies of British Jews raised a complaint against Reverend Sizer with the Church of England, which will end up in the courts. That could lose him his job and his livelihood and his ability to work in the job that he does at the moment across the world.
    This case has serious implications, particularly in respect of things we have discussed in the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media. In an internet age for all, are those who link to one article to be held liable for every article that is hosted on the website where that one article is contained?
    I support the right of the Board of Deputies of British Jews – and that of any of the hierarchies of the churches across the world – to take on and challenge those who put sectarian and anti-Semitic articles on to a website, and to take on those people who host such articles. Of course, that is who the Board of Deputies of British Jews should be taking on – not singling out a humanitarian person who has worked diligently for the last 15 years, to my knowledge, in a broad and non-anti-Semitic way, to raise questions about the behaviour of the Israeli Government, as I do myself in my Parliament.
    We have a question here. If people link to a website, are they liable for everything on the website? I hope that the Council of Europe will look at this through the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media and try to get some common sense into this debate.

  • Villager

    Macky, im almost certainly having an early night tonight. So if i don’t respond immediately will assert my best endeavours tomorrow. Look forward to it. all the best

  • Macky

    (@Villager, just ready to post & just seen your message; enjoy your early night, and for what it’s worth, here it is);

    @Villager, I think where we left off was you providing the links to the Bernard Levin link with Krishnamurti, and I gave you a couple of introductory links on Joseph Campbell. However first a little recap; originally you had a brief dialogue with Vronsky in which he said, that Religion gave people the confidence to go out and do what they have to do, secure in the belief that they are invulnerable. It seems to me, that Vronsky’s “invulnerability” is based on the apparent certainty of these people’s convictions in their particular religion/ belief/moral systems, and for me this is nothing more than delusional arrogance, although others, including K, emphasize that these convictions are actually derived from a conditioning of “desperate uncertainties”. Well I agree with the “desperate uncertainties”, which I would simply term as the Predicament of the Human Condition, ie we are intellectually capable of understanding that we can never understand or rationalize any of the big questions about Life, the Universe, Time, etc, etc. , so obviously we as a species in order to deal with this, have created religious & moral belief systems, that subconsciously act as metaphors for our psychological need to live without knowing why we live. In a way “desperate certainties” or “fears” as others have termed this needing metaphors factor, is not actually different from my “arrogant convictions”, as my description pertains to the conscious & material effects of this needing factor, whereas the other descriptions pertain to the subconscious forming reasons.

    Your first posting on K, the UN address, resonated with me because he was also saying that the self-inflicted problems that besets & keeps dividing us & causing conflicts , are exactly due to these belief systems, religions , ideologies, nationalisms, etc. Anyhow, nicely supplementing the more profound aspects that you were mentioning in your posts to me, was the K interview with Bernard Levin, which was very, very interesting; the notion that Thought itself is a barrier, along with language and words, that hinder awareness & direct insight, does make a lot of sense to me; Levin kept asking how to achieve enlightenment, how to break free from everyday worries, pressures , and K’s answer was effectively to state that awareness itself resolves all these problems & conflicts; just like there is no point chasing after happiness, because happiness is merely a side effect of the awareness of what one is. Another insight was his response to “ doing good”, where he questioned the parameters of the action of doing good, and said that the “right” action is independent of time, which reminded me of Plato’s theory of Eternal Forms; his emphasis on love, compassion, intelligence, the Sacred, were spot on for me, as was his practical advise to “revolt psychologically”, and to be” a light unto ones self”.

    This is my much delayed promised feedback iro of that great interview; I apologize that it’s a bit rushed but I did commit myself to posting something to you for tonight, just hope it makes some sort of sense, and provides fertile ground for continuing this conversation.

  • Villager

    Thank you Macky and yes it makes imminent sense. There is nothing in your summary that i disagree with. Only the brain gets tired by this time to add further vitality, which i promise to do, i hope tomorrow evening. It is a pleasure. Sleep in peace and see you soon.

  • Villager

    Macky, as well intentioned as I am in taking this further, the yawns have started and am beginning to unwind. Through awareness i am working to catch the first sleep-train these days so that i can get the best quality of sleep in sync with Nature. Because of our heavy conditioning and the state of aggregate human consciousness, we have moved further and further away from Nature and therefore also our own essential Nature. That leaves us in a state where we live in fleeting moments of awareness (rather than in a state of awareness) and for the rest of the time, the large part of our day and lives we live in conflict with the attendant fear, anxieties, insecurities, pursuit of pleasure and so on. Some moments of peace, and ‘happiness’ are incorporated into this daily life, but there is very little of real joy and the experience of a sacred love, what Einstein called a Cosmic Religious Feeling.

    So we live our lives in disorder and add fuel to the fire which is all the mischief, violence and conflict taking place in the world first at the level of our own relationships as well as in the abstract of Society, whatever level one cares to examine that at. We therefore live as fragmented human beings, rather than Whole (all one, indivisible sane individuals).

    In our seeking, we then turn to others to find a solution. Some get lost in alcoholic solutions, some turn to religion, some turn to gurus and meditation, some bury themselves in philosophies on n no of philosophers, some turn to voracious readers of fiction or whatever–every one of these is an escape from understanding life ourselves directly.

    When it comes to philosophy, there is zero original thinking involved–it is essentially a process of oh i like that bit and i reject the other. But if one is to be a light unto one’s self, one must put aside every preconception and even if it means taking guidance from another, like K, the process involves understanding the matter at its deepest level, well beyond the intellect of the brain, so that it actually becomes a part of oneself, a part of who i am, an understanding so profound that i can feel it in my heart, my bones, my blood, my cells so that it becomes a part of my DNA. At that time a mutation occurs in the brain and results in a change in the way one responds and actually lives, and actually relates with others and relates with our environment. There are many strands to this and to eventually become whole one needs to examine every aspect seriously and live the learning so that the two are intertwined in an ongoing process.

    Don’t know if i am making sense. Also can’t recall if i have pointed you to k’s ‘core of his teachings’–looks very simple but its the pin-point tip of the iceberg of the conditioned human animal that we are.

    Have started to watch a two-hour interview with Iris murdoch and lets see if one finds the time to absorb it tomorrow, else the weekend. You can find it on youtube.

    Good health and may the night rejuvenate you.

  • Macky

    ” so that i can get the best quality of sleep in sync with Nature”

    Unfortunately I’m cursed with bad sleep, as I haven’t had a really good sleep since childhood !

    Anyhow not ready for a discussion post yet, but instead just a couple of Medialens lens links that should interest you; in the first somebody actually quotes K (are you “Everyman” ?), & the second is a nice exploration of Ego, as part of the Media Lens Editors “cogitations”;

  • Villager

    Hi Macky, thanks for those links. Nope, not me.ut i’m ploughing through those links and other comments–very interesting and encouraging.

    I tend to avoid K quotes and use my own words so that i can be aware of my own understanding and separate intellect from intelligence. I link stuff happily as pointers should people be interested. I appreciated reading that quote though. In my next post i’ll tell you more about a conversation i had y’day though, arranged synchronically.

    I’m concerned re your sleep–let me see if i can help you if you would like. Please go to and using the online resource figure out your constitution type. I have a hunch but will share that with you later.

    a couple of things can help. “Planning” early in the evening for an early sleep,ie arranging your timing so that you are in bed by 10 with dinner done at least 2 hrs earlier and preferably no tv or computer screens in the last hour. meditation as in some form of silence at least 20-30mins daily–its a form of self-hypnosis (K talked of another level of meditation altogether but that comes thru self-study rather than a ‘practice’. Daily exercise: swimming is great, walking is next best say 30mins to 45m a day. Ayurveda says exercise to half your total ‘capacity’. The first half of your exercise releases energy, the next half uses it up.

    Talk again soon–shall we move to another thread easily accessible? U choose if there is a quiet one….

    Sleep in peace!

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