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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  • macky

    @Fred, I’m actually persevering with this because a) we seem to mostly agree on topics, b) I don’t think you are a troll, but perhaps somewhat “confused”; so I feel a brief recap is needed; we recently had a little debate about the nature of Hate, here are the last few of the exchanges;

    _________________________________________________________________________________________
    Macky: “I rather suspect that those who successfully fought against Apartheid in South Africa, were acting from more than just a feeling of dislike.”

    Fred: “No doubt they were but that doesn’t mean that the feelings extended to hatred”

    Macky: “Let’s examine your absolutist position on this further: Say you were a Jew in Germany during the Nazi period, and you needed to go into hiding by seeking shelter with one of your German neighbours; those on the left, you know don’t actually like the Nazis, but the one on the right, you know for a fact detest & passionately hate the Nazis: who would you choose to protect you the most if the Nazis started to threaten or entice people to turn hidden Jews over ?”

    Fred: “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. The safest place would be with the neighbours who just didn’t like the Nazis, less likely they will get a knock on the door and if they aren’t scared of them they have no reason to give you away.
    Avoid people who hate, they are emotionally unstable, no telling what they will do. If they hate Nazis chances are they hate Jews as well.”

    Macky: “@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 !”
    _________________________________________________________________________________________

    Now on the basis on your replies, I thought that your reasoning was a bit irrational, and rather evasive, especially as you never replied following my last post.

    Fast forward to this thread, and somebody (Richard Armbach) posting to me, makes an aside with a jokey “irrational” comment directed at you, & in replying to this person on the main point, I also add as an aside that on the strength on a recent debate between us, to me you also came across “as a bit irrational” but also added “he seems like a nice guy”. Your surprising reaction to this was to accuse me of acting “superior” & “passing judgement on everybody”, and suggesting that somebody that you have just previously judged as a troll (Habbakuk), was justified in his trolling !! And now you are equating me on par with Habbakuk and calling me a troll !

    Your over the top reaction reminds me of your “Avoid people who hate, they are emotionally unstable”, except that you seem to have proven that it’s irrational people that are emotionally unstable !

    I really don’t wish to take-up too much space on this thread discussing this, and although you may not think you are the slightest bit irrational, unstable or hypocritical, the record is here in black & white for anybody interested enough to examine it.

  • Villager

    Anti-semantic or something?

    Glenn you really do have a way with words. That’s my laugh for the evening!

    I was feeling pretty grim after watching the video Mary linked earlier (Animals!)–thank you Mary.

    Still a bit sombre but was good to have a laugh.

  • Villager

    Macky, at the risk of, as someone said, “re-importing” old conversations, my recent experience with Fred is that he is very stubborn and when confronted with hard logic will be deflective. So don’t waste your time. Some of us like to close arguments and, ideally, reach agreement but for that to happen ego needs to be set aside. If even one out of twenty of us could actually do that, we could change human consciousness.

    And have heaven on earth rather than finding it in some afterlife as all organised religions would have us do.

    I wonder how useful blogs like this are that give us the illusion that we could collectively change something when the change has to come from within. It doesn’t cease to surprise me how much conflict gets created in this microcosm and so little agreement. But that seems the way of the world and the society WE have created.

  • Fred

    “Macky, at the risk of, as someone said, “re-importing” old conversations, my recent experience with Fred is that he is very stubborn and when confronted with hard logic will be deflective.”

    Well at least I don’t have to resort to slagging off other users.

    But if you lot don’t stop talking about me I’m going to start, ever seen a flame war? You wouldn’t last two minutes.

  • mike

    Well, the muscular (let’s be kind to it) brand of Israeli nationalism is losing the argument, that much is obvious. You can’t argue with overwhelming firepower and hundreds of dead children. It’s kinda hard to put a counterveiling spin on that one. And so sympathy for Israel is melting like snow off a dyke, as they say in certain parts, even among its allies.

    The lesson that you don’t shit where you eat seems lost on them. Why can’t they see the pointlessness of what they’re doing? Why can’t they stop the manifest oppression, the control-freakery, and the destabilsing of other powers? Come to peace, for fuck sake, and stop snarling at your neighbours.

  • La Zona Norte Respetable

    @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?”

    Anti-semitism is all anyone talks about here…..

    Actually, I am coming to you live from a well-off suburb north of Buenos Aires.

    Yours sincerely,

    The poster formerly known as “Zona Norte”

  • Villager

    ” But if you lot don’t stop talking about me I’m going to start, ever seen a flame war? You wouldn’t last two minutes.”

    Super-stylish. Was one right about the ego? Hit the e-spot?

    Well Field Marshal Fred, you didn’t really ‘listen’ to my complete comment, perhaps because you’re more used to speaking than listening, a finer, more sensitive art. My comment above makes it clear one doesn’t like conflict. Manage your ‘self’ as you will, its ‘your’ shoddy little affair.

  • macky

    @Villager, yes the Ego & Religion seem to have a lot in common, the need to believe in being right, in knowing best, or that that my righteousness is not just self-righteousness but the ultimate pure righteousness etc… reminds me of the brief dialogue you had with Vronsky on the Church of Fear thread, in which to paraphrased what he said, that Religion gives people the confidence to go out and do what they have to do, secure in the belief that they are invulnerable. Vronsky’s “invulnerability” is presumably 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. I respect people’s right to hold religious/moral beliefs, only because I know that the most devote, are truly enlighten, and so when pressed enough will ultimately acknowledge that actually there is no certainty, devote Christians will speak of the Divine Mystery, for devote Muslims it’s expressed as the Will of Allah, both basically admitting that no human can ever know the mind of God, which I think is exactly what Socrates meant when he stated “I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance”, in other worlds it is beyond our human comprehension to understand the mystery of the Human Condition. Those who cannot accept this fact, and insist that they know the Truth,and/or they are right, are the ones to be most feared

  • La Zona Norte Respetable

    @Mike:

    Israel is a spoiled, immature, and aggressive nation. Things got immensely worse after 9/11 when the United States fell lock, stock and barrel into the trap of believing that she and Israel shared the same enemies. Israel has learned that there are no real consequences for stealing anyone’s land or defying the UN. I suspect that at a political level, no one really likes Israel but there is so much residual guilt from WWII preventing Western leaders from speaking the truth about Israel’s appalling behaviour. Our leaders are great at bombing the hell out of defenseless nations like Serbia, Iraq and Afghanistan but are as meek as doormice when it comes to confronting Israeli collective punishment.

    So here we are, nearly 65 years after the creation of the state of Israel and as far away as ever from a just solution for the Palestinians. For me anyway, the creation of the state of Israel will go down in history as one of the biggest diplomatic blunders ever.

  • mike

    You gotta laugh. Syria is off the menu, for the time being, so all of a sudden Mali is a “serious concern” for UK Ltd’s blue managers, while the French are already in there doing a Libya. Without US involvement, taking out Syria ain’t on the cards so the entente diabolique has turned to a medium-sized turkey-shoot meal bucket instead. It doesn’t matter who’s in charge -Blair/Sarkosy/Obama/Hollande/Cameron – the main course is the same.
    What is it good for? Absolutely nothing (except shareholder profit).
    “Why do I lie to myself?”
    Bring on the drones…

  • mike

    Possibly La Zona. But it exists, and it isn’t going to go away. You can’t change the past, only the future. Hopefully, Israel will change.
    You gotta hope, right?
    Hope?

  • La Zona Norte Respetable

    @Mike

    I think we are beyond any kind of peaceful solution. I regret to say that I see a disastrous ending for Israel. Can you see the removal of 400,000 illegal settlers in the West Bank (and growing) without which there is no hope for any peace. The stupid United States is praying that Palestinians will one day just accept “the facts on the ground” but every indication is that the Palestinians and their allies are becoming more not less militant. Israel’s nuclear arsenal is an irrelevance because the so-called Samson option will result in the mother-of-all conflagrations. Even if Israel manages to annihilate several Arabs capitals it sure as hell won’t feel like victory, of that I am sure.

  • La Zona Norte Respetable

    @Habbabkuk:

    Good article.

    – Following the Israeli raid, that point was made eloquently by Mohammed Khatib, one of the organisers. “In establishing Bab al-Shams, we declare that we have had enough of demanding our rights from the occupier — from now on we shall seize them ourselves.” –

    Good on them!! These protesters are under no illusions about US so-called even-handedness which is the sickest joke of all. To hell with the rubbish “Peace Process”. Mass non-violent action such as this is the only thing the Palestinians have left but it may already be too late.

  • Villager

    Macky, i stand on the line between the Known and the Unknown.

    And now as i turn out my light perhaps a little visit to the latter. Who knows?

    More tomorrow. Wish you all a good rest.

  • glenn_uk

    Villager: ” It doesn’t cease to surprise me how much conflict gets created in this microcosm and so little agreement.”

    I know, and it’s enough to make one despair. But at least site/blog this doesn’t solely consist of the mindless splat-stick/ slanging-match/ insult and idle threat trading that makes up the content of most online “debate” these days, a competition of attaining sides and putting down or frightening off adversaries. It’s not quite that bad here yet. In truth, it’s remarkably civil and reasonable (my best efforts aside).

    *

  • Elizabeth Morley

    Thank you, Craig, for giving us an opportunity to donate to Stephen Sizer’s defence fund. I have been anxiously wondering what is happening to him. My cheque is on its way.

  • Lemon Puffs

    “but there is so much residual guilt from WWII preventing Western leaders from speaking the truth about Israel’s appalling behaviour.”

    A convenient nonsense.

  • Fred

    “Well Field Marshal Fred, you didn’t really ‘listen’ to my complete comment, perhaps because you’re more used to speaking than listening, a finer, more sensitive art. My comment above makes it clear one doesn’t like conflict. Manage your ‘self’ as you will, its ‘your’ shoddy little affair.”

    Well they say every village has one and it looks like you’re it.

  • Richard Armbach

    Well done Elizabeth

    Don’t misunderstand me I am not getting ” holier than thou” and not claiming that I am above all this. I enjoy a good bicker as much as the next man. But Craig has pointed us in the direction of a way we can actually do something effective and make a difference, which might make a difference and which in turn might make a difference.

    There is an immediate job at hand maybe we might focus on it ? And there is much that can be done in addition to helping the funding or in lieu of helping the funding.

  • Komodo

    LOL @ Richard Armbach (above). Some of the Honathan Joffman piece went straight over my head, but enough survived…thanks.

    Yo, Ben. Been having a break from politics, and right now not in the mood for a Fred/Mackie catfight. Laters.

  • Villager

    Right Said Fred:

    “Well they say every village has one and it looks like you’re it.”

    As if your lack of originality was required to be proved. Your ‘they say(s)’ prove you are a second-hand human being.

  • Je

    La Zona Norte Respetable – the Israeli plan is to Annex Area C in the West Bank. They are putting that plan into action as we speak.

    Beyond that, they may hope for a final solution to the Palestinian problem as they see it. That may be a formal arrangement for the Palestinian ghettos that will comprise the less than 10% of Palestine that remains, encouraged emmigration, an expulsion to neighbouring countries, or just the de facto continuation of how things are.

    But removing hundreds of thousands of “settlers” is not their agenda – its clearly (look at all the facts on the ground) – Annex Area C.

  • Komodo

    @ Mary – thanks for the Electronic Intifada link. In which the words (Israel)”has managed to inoculate itself against financial crises” occur. Really?

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-30/fischer-battling-israel-s-housing-bubble-mortgages.html

    Further developments in Ha’aretz…stormy waters here:
    http://www.haaretz.com/business/israel-s-100-most-influential-people-the-tiring-king-stanley-fischer-1.465236

    Sadly Ha’aretz’ paywall and the apparent lack of any other coverage restrict access to more recent details of Israel’s economic triumphs, but a little digging might reveal the usual capitalist clusterfuck.

    Housing bubble: pump or *pop*? We feel your pain, Fischer.

  • Fred

    “You’ve received a lot of criticism for your comments, but I for one would like to give you a big thank you.”

    Well let’s not forget she does have a point to some extent. Just as she is wrong to say that all criticism of Israel is down to anti Semitism the converse is also true. Let’s face it, there are some people in the world who just hate Jews.

    It would be nice to think everyone is motivated by the same sense of natural justice and humanity but when I see people on this very blog arguing in favour of things like hatred and the taking of human life I have to wonder.

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