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.

267 thoughts on “Defend Stephen Sizer

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  • Fred

    “However, I think the idea of publically identifying UK politicians and high level civil servants who do have dual citizenship (whether Irish, Israeli, American or whatever) is an excellent one, which could only bring greater transparency to the political process. Most foreign countries would probably have no problem with this either, I imagine.”

    The problem here isn’t dual citizenship. The problem is the politicians who in their younger days were very ambitious and would do anything to get to the top so they went down the crossroads and signed the pact.

  • Habbabkuk

    @ Craig : thank you, I do appreciate your comment!

    @ A Node (12.01pm) : an excellent, ironically polite and above all elegant and intelligent post, which I recommend should become a kind of standard reply for future hasbara posts like Yomiryam’s. By the way, I very much agree with the notion that much of this hasbara is a question of bluster and attempted intimidation; although I’m not exactly holding my breath, it would be interesting to see the reaction if people (falsely) accused of anti-semitism were to respond with a cheerful “yes, absolutely, and I don’t have much time for the [ here you insert your own preferred nationality or religious group] either”. Who knows, if enough people reacted thus and in sufficiently ironical mode, whether the air wouldn’t go out of this anti-semitism balloon very quickly.

    Finally, re my comment on the declaration of dual nationality, in practice this could be done easily for MPs through the Register of Interests. How to apply it to high civil servants needs a little further thought.

  • Habbabkuk

    Saw yours after posting mine, Fred.

    Of course, you’re right, there’s all the others as well. But I do think that someone who actually holds another nationality (or fails to renounce another one) has somehow gone one step further – if only symbolically – in terms of commitment to that foreign country. The other – and surely wider – category referred to by Fred are mere mercenaries in comparison. And making dual nationality a matter of compulsory public declaration and knowledge would surely send a salutary signal to the individuals involved.

    PS – come to think about it, why not make it a legal requirement that a politician or high civil servant should NOT have dual nationality? Nobody forces someone to enter politics or the civil service, after all.

  • angrysoba

    Habbakuk: Recently a Hungarian politician (admittedly a far-right one) called for Hungarian politicians who also had Israeli citizenship to be publically identified. Naturally, this caused considerable indignation in the usual quarters.

    Yes, it is quite natural when people get outraged by fascist parties such as Jobbik zeroing in on Jews or Gyspies in Hungary. Of course, for people like Jobbik, Jews and Gypsies are not “real” Hungarians.

  • A Node

    Thanks, Habbabkuk. I’m an admirer of your style too, usually.
    When you comment on the issue of the day, you are generally right on the mark, i.e. I agree with you :), awesome in your debating skills, and witty with it.
    I encourage you to stay positive and resist the temptation to be sidetracked into personality duels.

  • Habbabkuk

    @ Angrysoba : I take note of your comment, but fear that it’s an attempt to deflect the argument…..or even tar is with the brush of …anti-semitism :))

    Whether or not Jobbik is a “fascist” party (some would say it’s a nationalist party) and whether or not it considers Jews and Roms to be “real” Hungarians (it would argue that the jews and Roms have self-defined themselves as nationalities and so cannot complain if some see them as not being of Hungarian nationality), the suggestion made by the politician in question was that politicians should, in the interests of transparency, declare whether they had a second nationality or not.

    Needless to say this was immediately distorted into “all politicians had to declare whether they were Jewish”.

    Not quite the same thing.

    So to stay with the substance of my post, does Angrysoba think that my suggestion(please read it again carefully and do not distort it) has merit or not?

  • Fred

    I don’t think it matters where someone was born, it’s where their loyalties are that matters.

    I would have no problems with someone who emigrated to Britain serving in the government so long as they were serving British interests.

    Someone born and bred in Britain who has sworn loyalty to another country is a different matter.

  • Habbabkuk

    @Fred – quite agree (cf Professor Lindemann to take one example from the many). But in the case of an immigrant, let him then renounce his original nationality (where he doesn’t lose it automatically) as en earnest of his new loyalties. As to someone British by birth, well, the positive act of going out and formally acquiring a second citizenship would seem to demonstrate, ipso facto, that loyalties were at best …divided.

    To be noted that we’re only taking about (national)politicians and high officials in the service of the state; by reason of his status, we are not interested in the number of nationalities held by the man in the street, which is none of our business.

  • Mary

    From Medialens

    Is Oscar-nominated 5 Broken Cameras an Israeli or a Palestinian film?
    Posted by The Editors on January 14, 2013, 2:22 pm

    Jonathan Cook comments via his Facebook page on the story below:

    It is in itself quite extraordinary that Israelis are getting so excited about the possibility of winning the Oscar for best documentary this year after claiming as Israeli two of the five final nominations (more on that below). Both offer savage indictments of systematic malfeasance by Israel in the occupied territories. Gideon Levy notes the chutzpah here:

    But equally outrageous is the fact that Israel is being allowed to take the credit for 5 Broken Cameras, a film shot exclusively by a Palestinian film-maker in his village in Palestine, as if it were a national product of Israel. We’ve been here before, with Israel selling felafel, humus and tabouleh to the US and Europe as Israeli dishes.

    The silver lining is that, if more people see 5 Broken Cameras as a result of thinking it is Israeli, it may reach the audiences who most need their prejudices being challenged. The downside is that that same audience may come away from the experience with the illusion reinforced that the making of such a documentary proves how democratic and tolerant Israel really is.

  • Richard Armbach

    The downside is that that same audience may come away from the experience with the illusion reinforced that the making of such a documentary proves how democratic and tolerant Israel really is.

    Except for the 5 broken cameras

  • doug scorgie

    Zona Norte, why did you choose the name of a Mexican brothel area in Tijuana known for not only adult but also child prostitution?

  • Komodo

    Thanks to Richard Armbach for the link to his “Hoffman Chronicled” page. In which he notes that Ise Liebler (intelligent version of and friend of Hoffman) is mentored by Jonathan Pollard, editor of the JC (which may explain the JC’s increasing hysteria))
    For your entertainment, Richard, if no-one else’s:

    (I hope there’s nothing antisemitic on that site or both Craig and I will be excommunicated)

  • Mary

    Sky News have just had a Dr Peter Neumann on justifying the ‘intervention’ in Mali. He also demonized the ‘islamists’ there. No mention that we are supporting a ragbag of their military who took their power in a coup d’etat.

    His CV.
    Enough said.

    This is an example of what happens under the existing regime.

  • macky

    @Richard Armbach, I see we share a sort of badge of honour re Harry’s Place; deeply ironic that they are do deluded that they like associating themselves with Orwell, and even more ludicrously ironic that they use his “”If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”, as their Site’s logo. ( I wonder if Angry Soba is still a regular there, as he strikes me as the sort of person who could never be banned from there !?)

    Anyhow perhaps I should have used “honest” instead of “rational” when referring to the problem of debating with Habbakuk, but for me it’s the same thing, because when a person continuously chooses to misunderstand or bizarrely distorts, it’s either a deliberate derailing tactic, or the person is unbelievably stupid, and it’s obvious to me, & at least four other regular Posters here (see the tail-ends of The Disappearance of Craig Murray & the The 3.2 Million Euro Lardon threads), that Habbakuk is not as stupid as he would like to appear.

    I note that on this thread Habbakuk is on his best behaviour so far, however I fear this is another shill debating tactic, which will soon revert back to usual troll mode, but I do honestly hope that I’m proved wrong.

    (Oh, yes Fred did come across as a bit irrational to me also, when I tried to debate the nature of “Hate” with him recently; apart from that, he seems like a nice guy !)

  • Richard Armbach

    Macky my experience here is recent and I note your greater experience of him. But we can only type as we see. Of course what we see can change o))

    And Fred is clearly on the sidw of the angels. I took his point.

    Harry’s Place is a racist cess pit coated with the flimsiest veneer of respectability.

  • Fred

    “(Oh, yes Fred did come across as a bit irrational to me also, when I tried to debate the nature of “Hate” with him recently; apart from that, he seems like a nice guy !)”

    So does it give you a feeling of superiority sitting there passing judgement on everyone?

    I’m starting to see why Habbakuk feels he has to tweak your tails now and again.

  • Richard Armbach

    @ komodo

    Ha Ha thanks. I visit Jewdas but missed that one. Those guys are a hoot. The funniest bit of that one was the editorial in which the first letter of each word spelt out ” I am sorry Desmond will you have me back. ” Though I guess folks would need to know a bit of Pollard history to get it.

    I think you will survive linking to Jewdas though several of them did get arrested a while back for a stunt they called ” The protocols of Hackney ”

    Here is one for you…inspired by Jewdas. I have dug it out from a lot of stuff we have hidden because we want to keep the site as clean as possible for the moment. Don’t want visitors to be distracted from the immediate task at hand if you get my drift.It will be visible til noon Tuesday.

  • macky

    Sorry Fred, but I always tell it as I see it; anybody giving a view on anything is passing judgement; that your defensive reflex has caused you to seemingly defend trolling is troubling; I repeat my last unanswered Post to you on the Hate topic, in a the hope that you can reverse my increasing unease that I may have been a bit premature in describing you as only just a ”bit” irrational:

    (@Fred, I’ve just remembered our little discussion on Hate which I rudely abandon due to New Year travels, and had completely forgotten about to now !

    “Well logically the ones that hated the Nazis feared the Nazis therefore they are probably expecting a knock on the door from the black shirts”

    Sorry, but that’s a cop-out; I repeat the scenario: in view of the likelihood of a campaign of threats & bribes aimed at those sheltering Jews, would you feel safer sheltering with those who professed to disliking the Nazis, or with those who were obviously filled with loathing & hatred for the Nazis ? In other words, who would be most likely to turn you in ?

    “If they hate Nazis chances are they hate Jews as well.”

    Very bizarre comment ! I thought that the opposite would be true !)

  • Fred

    “Sorry Fred, but I always tell it as I see it; anybody giving a view on anything is passing judgement; that your defensive reflex has caused you to seemingly defend trolling is troubling; ”

    We are here to pass comment on Craig’s blog entries not each other.

    In my book passing judgement on other users IS trolling.

  • macky

    @Fred, “In my book passing judgement on other users IS trolling”

    Really ?; is this a very rational view to hold iro a Public Blog where Posters naturally will interact with each others views ?!!

    On this very thread you posted “You get called a troll because you behave like a troll” (directed at Habbakuk), so would it be fair to call you hypocrite as well as a bit irrational ?

    Perhaps it would be better for you not to answer, as you only seem intent on self-incrimination !

  • Fred


    That’s right, Habbakuk acts like a troll when he’s slagging off other users and so do you.

    Do you understand yet because I don’t see how I can make it any simpler for you?

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Hey, don’t we have enough atavistic proto-humans to vent our spleen on? The word ‘troll’ is a semantic pit with plenty of offal to stew in it’s own juices. I guess it means what we want it to mean. Anger is a killer when it remains bottled up, so release it on worthy grudges. 🙂

    But, don’t quote me on that.

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