Vicar faces expulsion from Church of England after being accused of publishing anti-Semitic material

A vicar faces expulsion from the Church of England over accusations he posted anti-Semitic articles online and promoted and shared platforms with Holocaust deniers.

The Reverend Stephen Sizer, 68, denies his actions were anti-Semitic, saying they were political and aimed at the State of Israel, not the Jewish people.

In clergy disciplinary action, the first of its kind to be held in public, Reverend Sizer faces allegations of 11 separate cases of anti-Semitism, starting in 2005 when he attended a conference organized by the Commission Islamic human rights entitled Towards a new theology of liberation. .

He also spoke at a conference in Indonesia in 2008 alongside Holocaust denier Fredrick Töben, and in the same year promoted Michael Hoffman, another alleged Holocaust denier and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist.

Reverend Stephen Sizer, 68, denies his actions were anti-Semitic, saying they were political and aimed at the State of Israel, not the Jewish people

Nicholas Leviseur, presenting the case, said:

Nicholas Leviseur, presenting the case, said: “Dr Sizer faces three separate allegations, each relating to activities between 2005 and 2018.” Pictured: Rev Sizer in 2014

In 2006, he met Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, a senior Hezbollah commander.

He attended an event in 2016 chaired by Baroness Tonge in breach of an agreement with the Bishop of Guildford prohibiting him from speaking or writing on any topic relating to the situation in the Middle East and its historical context.

The vicar is also accused of posting anti-Semitic material online, including posting a link to a 2010 article titled “The Mother of All Coincidences” that sought to blame Israel for the 911 attacks in New York.

He then defended this position on Australian radio.

Five years later, he posted a link to another article on the same topic titled “911/Israel did it.”

There was also a post on his Facebook page in August 2018 which suggested that Jeremy Corbyn had fallen victim to the hidden hand of the Zionists.

Nicholas Leviseur, presenting the case, said: “Dr Sizer faces three separate allegations, each relating to activities between 2005 and 2018.

“The first allegation is that Dr. Sizer’s actions were unbecoming or inappropriate to the office of a clergyman, that he provoked and offended the Jewish community.

“The second is to engage in anti-Semitic activity.”

A third allegation states that the Reverend Sizer breached Church of England code and caused “just offense to others”.

The vicar, ordained a priest in 1984 and holder of a doctorate in Christian Zionism, does not deny the facts but denies that his behavior was anti-Semitic.

The complaint was brought by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and two prominent members, Speaker Marie van der Zyl and former Speaker Jonathan Arkush were called to give evidence.

Mr. Leviseur also said that in addition to publishing an article accusing Israel of plotting the September 11 attacks, Reverend Sizer asked, “Is that anti-Semitic? If so, I’ll probably be asked to remove it. This raises so many questions.

Mr Leviseur added: ‘This is not a rhetorical question because of the content of the article. There was only one answer, yes.

Representing the Reverend Sizer, Stephen Hofmeyr, asked the court to examine the context of his actions by attending conferences and speaking with members of Hezbollah.

“You will have to consider the purpose of this meeting and what was discussed. Once you know the facts, it gives a very different tone to this meeting.

He also said Reverend Sizer has long been an outspoken critic of the State of Israel and Christian Zionism, which he said promotes the idea that Jews with homes will help in the coming of the messiah.

“There is a distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. The first is directed against the Jewish people, the second is against the movement to establish a Jewish state in the Middle East.

“The first is directed against people, the second against a movement or an institution.

“If his words or behavior were anti-Semitic, he accepts that will constitute misconduct.”

“His case is that he was not anti-Semitic and his words and conduct never were.

“That is the question of fact that you will have to resolve after hearing the evidence.”

A prominent member of Britain’s Jewish community has said the views of a Church of England vicar accused of anti-Semitism were ‘enough to make me sick forever’.

The chairwoman of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, made the comment during a clergy disciplinary action in Holborn, central London, the first of its kind to be held in public.

He also spoke at a conference in Indonesia in 2008 alongside Holocaust denier Fredrick Töben, and in the same year promoted Michael Hoffman, another alleged Holocaust denier and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist.

He also spoke at a conference in Indonesia in 2008 alongside Holocaust denier Fredrick Töben, and in the same year promoted Michael Hoffman, another alleged Holocaust denier and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist.

Ms van der Zyl told the hearing that her organization is the “democratic representative of British Jewry” and works to promote a “benevolent understanding of Israel”.

“We don’t represent all Jews because some will have a different opinion, but it represents the majority of the prevailing opinion.”

Stephen Hofmeyr, representing Sizer, said: “There was a letter sent by hundreds of young people saying that the Board of Deputies was in danger of becoming irrelevant to young British Jews.

“The younger generation is increasingly uncomfortable with the Zionist project in Israel.

He also called the Council of Deputies a defender of Israel.

Ms van der Zyl replied: “I think it is offensive to call the State of Israel a Zionist project.

“We are not afraid to criticize Israel and I don’t know what you are trying to imply because we have young people in the Council of Deputies.

“He is not a spokesperson for Israel. Of course, I love Israel and I am a Zionist, but we criticize Israel.

“We have no influence with regard to Israel. We don’t have any part of our organization related to that.

“We critiqued them and you can look that up on the internet.”

In a heated exchange, Mr. Hofmeyr repeatedly asked Ms. van der Zyl to answer yes or no to his questions.

He said, “I would really like you to answer the questions.”

“I am, but you are repeating yourself. »

“I have to because you guys are arguing instead of answering questions.”

Ms van der Zyl fired back: ‘I believe you are just trying to score points.

Discussing the allegations against Reverend Sizer, she said: ‘There’s a whole host of behavior in the complaint that you can’t say isn’t anti-Semitic.

“All of this is really distressing. And to think it was from someone in the Church of England.

“It’s so hurtful, especially the Holocaust stuff. It’s really awful.

“If my grandfather could see that.

She also said in her witness statement that Reverend Sizer promotes anti-Semitism on every platform he has access to.

The complaint was brought by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and two prominent members, Speaker Marie van der Zyl (pictured) and former Speaker Jonathan Arkush were called to give evidence

The complaint was brought by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and two prominent members, Speaker Marie van der Zyl (pictured) and former Speaker Jonathan Arkush were called to give evidence

“We suffered from anti-Semitism and you try to make it look like we are some sort of outpost for Israel. It’s just illusory.

‘By posting that the holocaust didn’t happen, you can’t go much lower than that. A priest!

“I never imagined a priest could do such things.

Mr. Hofmeyr also asked about the first allegation that Rev. Sizer attended a conference at SOAS University in 2005 where he spoke alongside a Hezbollah representative.

“You didn’t attend the conference, you don’t know what was said there. You can’t give us first-hand evidence of what happened, can you?

Ms van der Zyl said: “He spoke alongside Hezbollah, a terrorist organisation. I don’t think it matters what was said.

“These are the people he chose to share a platform with. Just like Jeremy Corbyn, he also shared platforms with terrorists. It’s the company he keeps.

Mr Hofmeyr said Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, a Hezbollah military commander whom Reverend Sizer met in the summer of 2006, has already spoken in the British Parliament.

“That would mean that anyone who speaks in Parliament would be an anti-Semite by association, wouldn’t it?”

He added: “Did you know that he helped negotiate the release of Israeli soldiers. That puts this meeting in a whole different light, doesn’t it?

Ms van der Zyl said: ‘I find that absolutely outlandish.

The Bishop of Winchester, in whose diocese Reverend Sizer’s church is located, suspended the Anglican priest from his ministry in 2018 pending the outcome of that hearing.

Reverend Sizer denies 11 allegations of anti-Semitic behavior, including attending conferences and accompanying Holocaust deniers.

He is also accused of having accompanied and defended a leader of the Islamic movement Raed Salah in June 2011.

The hearing continues tomorrow.

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