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Board of Deputies: a vendetta too far (FUCU Redux)

Bishop Nigel McCulloch
Stephen Sizer
Jonathan Arkush
Learning nothing from the Fraser/UCU ( FUCU ) debacle,  the Board of Deputies blunders on with its vicious campaign against Rev Stephen Sizer, not withstanding that its case against him makes Fraser’s case against the UCU look good.
Stephen Sizer is vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water in the Diocese of Guildford.  He has been the subject of a whole series of vendettas over a period of years, almost unimaginable in their width, length, depth and intensity.  Willing participants have included Zionist lunatic fringers, Christian Zionist crazies, Messianic Jews and some mainstream Jews and Christians that you might have hoped would be above such nonsense.  These vendettas culminated in October last with a formal complaint by the Board of Deputies to the Bishop of Guildford, Christopher Hill.  This is not a mere whinge and whine, it is a formal charge under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, established by Act of Parliament and enshrined as part of Church Law.  Failing all else the issue could ultimately be decided by Tribunal hearing and the range of penalties is wide including loss of ministry, job and home.
To put it at its simplest and bluntest, the charge is anti-Semitism.
Nobody familiar with the wide ranging, thoughtful and detailed work of Rev. Sizer could take such a charge seriously, and the alleged “evidence“ is, to be frank, pathetic.
Rev. Sizer is an energetic, widely read and widely traveled man who makes a valuable and unique contribution to the debate about the various issues that relate to the problems in and around the Middle East.  His perspectives are grounded in both his theological position and in the concerns of a clearly extremely humane man devoted to the concept of service. You don’t have to agree with his detailed opinions or even the broad gist of them to be appreciative of the value of his contribution.
Rev. Sizer is a severe critic of the policies of The State of Israel and one who is committed to the  the well being and future of ALL the people of the Holy Land. He also is given to pointing out the misconceptions and dangers of Christian Zionism.  His crime seems to be that for him, “people“ is inclusive of the Palestinians.  Yet this man, who day in and day out, speaks of and demonstrates his affection and concern for, ALL the people of the region, is charged with anti-Semitism.  Only those who have given up speaking English in favour of a private language and who are fueled by a malicious agenda could propose such a thing.
The reality is that the whole business is nothing more and nothing less than an attempt to silence Rev. Sizer.  It is a classic example of the Hasbarafia machine in action.  The Board inadvertently spill the beans on this one when they carelessly tell us (in their complaint) what they want.
This is an important issue.  It is obviously of supreme importance to one man and his family, but it is important in a much wider context.   As well as the usual bullying and the “anti –Semitic“ blackmail there is an additional issue .  We are in the realm of  “inter faith relations”, and we all know how important those are don’t we ?  So there is an additional blackmail here in that by not acting against Rev. Sizer the Church damages its relations with the Jewish community. Be in no doubt. This is an attack on, and part of, an ongoing concerted attempt to secure influence over, the Church of England’s attitude to the political entity we know as The State of Israel. It is part of a campaign to help strengthen the Christian Zionist lobby within the Church.
For the Board, interfaith relations always has to be on their terms.  ”Do as we say vis a vis Israel or we will go into a big sulk and take our bat home.  And doubtless as we go we will turn our heads back and scream anti-Semites !!! at you.”
The lesson of the FUCU case is how badly their shrill hysterics play among reasonable, sensible people when the Hasbarafia leave their private language bubble and engage with the real world.  Could there really be among 250 plus deputies none that grasp the absurdity and iniquity of trying to brand as racist, a man who has never uttered or written a single solitary word indicative of antipathy to the Jewish people?  We don’t think so.  There will be some, but they are cravenly keeping their heads down. Will none of them stand up to be counted ?

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If it works for the Board of Deputies, it’ll work for us.  ~Editor

  1. Andy Hay permalink

    when did we lose the right to free speech when it is not hate speech but only that some people don’t want the truth of evil being done that they support… surely this complaint should have been thrown out at the first stage unless the Church of England is running scared, where is their back bone, Jesus didn’t compromise because Jewish religious leaders of His day didn’t like what he said and Anglican Church leaders should follow His example and support one of their own, not subject him to abuse of a complaints system to try and silence the truth. Shame on them and may they now do what is right and chuck this out and give him their full support to continue to speak out as he sees it. It isn’t about whether you agree with him, it is about not allowing bullying and abuse to triumph.

  2. mrsc1948 permalink

    I fully agree. As someone who has had a heart for justice to be done in israel/Palestine since the early 70’s, I’ve benefitted from the wisdom of Stephen Sizer, and have been blessed by his graciousness and compassion.

  3. Tanas Alqassis permalink

    As a Palestinian Christian, it breaks my heart the church is silence, scared and willing to punish its own people for the same of pleasing a pressure group. It looks like if anyone speaks about the wrong doing of the Israeli government, then he/she is labeled as ant-semantic. We are not stupid and we are not ignorant, stop using it to justify all the wrong doing that Israel is doing to the Palestinians. Maybe the church need to read Matthew 28 and Luke 4.

  4. Daniel Simonson permalink

    This bullying by the BoD has to be killed stone dead.

  5. Really worrying that the Board of Deputies (on which my grandfather Meyer Goldstein served) is still in denial when we in Israel need all the help we can get to stop this settler government from making our future suicidal, with no alternative other than a failed 2-state solution or a full fledged apartheid state. They’ll pluck up courage, I fear, when it’s way too late, if not already. History will probably judge them harshly: as spiritual leaders shouldn’t they be leading the way, not running away? Or shooting the messenger!

  6. realzionist permalink

    Angela this whole thing is an initiative of a small committee, the Board Defence Division. In turn this committee is dominated by a handful of people who, to put it at its very kindest, are inclined to be somewhat over emotional, and who have a long track record of harassing and trying to silence Stephen Sizer. One of them ( Arkush ) is on record as saying that no Jew should EVER be publicly critical of the Israeli government. It has never been discussed at plenary, though, of course, all the deputies are fully aware of what is going on. If the rank and file deputies could bring themselves to face up to their responsibilities in this affair we could hope that they might be able to do likewise in respect of the wider issues that you refer to .

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