In the beginning there was the Council of Christians and Jews….how it all came about
As we have said the campaign/vendetta(s) against Stephen Sizer has been long, intense and vicious. It reached a peak in January 2010 and that peak became a plateau. For most of the time it has been a hotch potch of hysterics by individuals, though not without varying degrees of coordination.
Here, we tell the story of how communal organisations i.e the Council of “Christians” and Jews and The Board of Deputies of British Jews came to formally join in. It is an extremely gruesome tale.
Stephen Sizer first came to the attention of the Hasbarafia in consequence of the juvenile antics of one Joseph Weismann, a third generation Messianic Jew and his mentor, one James Mendelsohn. This all seems to have begun in 2006. Weismann was, and doubtless remains, a flaky juvenile idiot that engagingly describes himself as “a gifted writer“. Perhaps the most telling comment about that is that his scribblings do seem to be appreciated at the meeting ground for Islamaphobes of all shades and hues known as Harry’s Place (recommended by the EDL).
Mendelsohn is a law lecturer at the University of Huddersfield and another emotionally fragile Jew for Jesus. He is a long standing activist in the Messianic Jewish Alliance of Great Britain, through whose ranks he rose, and whose President he eventually became. Weismann is/was a member of the same organisation and his relationship with Mendelsohn seems to have been one of something akin to hero worship.
Weismann’s campaign against Revd. Sizer, though full of juvenile idiocy, was certainly energetic. Using numerous aliases, establishing a website dedicated to the cause, and working it seemingly full time, he began a process of attrition that has had unfortunate consequences and his harassment of Revd. Sizer, his employers and his colleagues in real time, along with his internet campaign, must have caused Revd. Sizer’s family some discomfort. A (presumably) coincidental break-in of the Sizer family home contributed to this discomfort, for sure. The Hasbarafia cheered him on from the sidelines and then gleefully joined in. The moronic drama queen, Jonathan Hoffman, was moved to declare “We are all Joseph Weismann now”, after Revd. Sizer went to the police for relief, setting off an Habarafia blogosphere feeding frenzy condemning the action as an attempt to censor free speech.
However, while these two bottom feeders can be identified as the ultimate source of all the needless trouble they are not especially relevant to the aspect of it all that is the subject of this ditty. For that, we have to move on to a certain “Revd” Nick Howard, the Council of “Christians” and Jews and certain members of the Board of Deputies illuminati. Weismann and Mendelsohn are a story unto themselves and they will be revisited elsewhere.
THE ADVENTURES OF REVEREND NICK
Nick Howard is a case and a half. Not withstanding his Jewish lineage and upbringing, he converted to Christianity while a 15 year old Eton schoolboy on the back of attending one lecture. You could accuse young Nick of many things, but not of being indecisive. At the still tender age of 21 and a third year student at Oxford, he embarked on a rampage of attempted conversions of Jewish students. This caused quite a stir. Rabbi Shomley Boteach, who ran a society for Jewish students described his activities as “spiritual Nazism”, and complained to the Vice Chancellor. A Jewish Chronicle leader commiserated with his father, the former Home Secretary Michael Howard, for the embarrassment Nick had caused him.
Nick had explained that that so far as conversion was concerned, the Jews were a priority (our emphasis) but Nick’s “Christianity” soon conveniently “matured”. Within three years, he had moved on. In an interview with the Daily Mail he explained the urgency of bringing Muslims etc. to Christ, but Jews were not on the list. The Jews, who a very short time ago were a priority, now don’t even get a mention in this context. Presumably, “the Jewish Question” could be safely left until the Second Coming when their re-gathering in the Holy Land would be complete, and they would be given their final chance. Or, alternatively, “I’d better leave that lest I upset my grandmother and disgrace my father, yet again”.
On leaving Oxford, Nick went to Durham as a theology student with a view to ordination by the Church of England (funded by the Diocese of Oxford). His relationship with the College was a very difficult one. Essentially, the problem was that the College thought he was there as a student and Nick thought he was there to teach. During the course of his second year, Nick was warned that his attitude was not what was looked for in Anglican priests. For example, Nick is vehemently opposed to the ordination of women, which is fair enough. He is not alone in that. However, Nick flatly refused to discuss and debate this and other issues. Further, he flatly refused to take communion with his tutors and fellow students because, by and large, they held opinions that differed from his own. Inevitably at the end of his “studies”, the College recommended that he not be ordained and he duly wasn’t.
The next few years were an extremely miserable time for Nick. He felt increasingly irrelevant and unfulfilled, making a desultory attempt to keep body and soul together giving talks on behalf of the Association of Evangelists, to anyone that would listen and offer him a cup of tea and a biscuit, in return. Along with these feelings, festered the important ones, so far as this story is concerned. Anger and bitterness at the Church that, as he sees it, treated him so cruelly, set in. Eventually, he went off to America where anyone can buy an ordination online for fifty bucks.
Nick managed to do a little better than that and succeeded in getting himself ordained by the Convocation of Anglicans of North America in November, 2010. Who???? Well, it is a kind of obscure purpose built home for Episcopal disaffects. Along with this came a job as assistant pastor at a CANA church in New York. Attempting to reinvent himself, Nick became Bernard. So, he’s Nick in London, and Bernard in NYC.
But this was not much comfort for Nick, and the festerings festered on. Sometime between Nov. 2010 and Nov. 2011, Revd. Sizer came onto his radar, probably as a result of Nick’s observation of the vendetta(s) being conducted by the Hasbarafia. Nick joined in and eventually, as we shall see, took it to another level. It seems that all of Nick’s hate and bitterness toward the Church, the Church he regards as “going rotten from the inside”, crystallised around the person of Revd. Sizer who was everything he wanted to be, and yet whose theology and attitude to the Holy Land diametrically opposed his.
At 22.05 hours on 16th November 2011 Nick emailed Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford and opened as follows……
I am writing to you to appeal to you to suspend Rev Sizer from his position as Vicar of Christ Church Virginia water…………
Yes really. That is how he opened.
He then went into the now familiar diatribe about anti-Semitism, linking to web sites blah blah blah, la di da.
A Diocese official immediately called it for what it was…. “mischief making“, and on 22nd November, the Bishop responded, saying that differing political opinions are definitely exempted from disciplinary proceedings in the Church of England and that he sees nothing that would merit disciplinary matters.
But Nick is irrepressible. The festering festered on and eventually, on 27th December, in desperation, he resorted to making a “guest post” on Harry’s Place (recommended by the EDL) entitled…
“The Church of England must take action against Rev Stephen Sizer“
This is a long meandering regurgitation of the same old, same old that probably made Nick feel better for a while, but only a short while. The depression will have set in again very quickly. Then, for probably the first and only time in his life, Nick had a brilliant idea. Maybe daddy could help…..
THE MARCH BLITZ KREIG
Daddy, Michael ” something of the night” Howard, indeed could and would help.
In an eyebrow raising move, the Council of “Christians” and Jews had co-opted Michael Howard onto its Board of Trustees. This had provoked considerable puzzlement. Even the high Church, high Tory blogger calling himself Archbishop Cranmer mused about it, pointing out that Howard was a strange bedfellow for an organisation allegedly devoted to working for understanding and dialogue.
“He is not noted for his diplomacy and dialogue, has never written about his faith, is not noted for his work in the promotion of religious and cultural understanding between Christianity and Judaism.”
The explanation is to be found in the fact that the CCJ had moved on from its original laudable mission of fostering understanding between Christians and Jews, one that it had followed for most of its long existence, and had become politicised. Many now say that a more descriptively appropriate name would be Christian and Jewish Zionists For The Occupation. The confirmation of the reason for the co-opting of Howard is to be found in David Giffords’ response to the criticism.
“ ….has a lot of ideas and is very vocal. …….the Board’s new focus will be tackling anti-Semitism BIG TIME” (our emphasis)
So there you have it. The CCJ confirms it is no longer in the dialogue and understanding business but has moved into the anti-Semitism business. By anti-Semitism of course, they don’t mean concerning themselves with Jewish children being baited on the school bus and other mundane things like that. Once again, IT IS ALL ABOUT ISRAEL, and the BoD’s political agenda. In essence, they have left the dialogue and understanding business and gone into the Hasbarafia business. Obviously, this is going to involve some sleeves rolled up street fighting and nobody loves a good brawl and a good vendetta more than Howard. In that sense at least, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. In this light, the co-option makes perfect sense.
When Nick went to Daddy with the Sizer issue, he (Howard Sr.) adopted it as a mission, partly from personal conviction, partly from a simple, primitive love of a good fight and, partly as a way of giving his loser son a leg up in the self-esteem stakes. He found enthusiastic allies in “Christians”, Nigel McCulloch and David Gifford.
Nigel McCulloch is an extremely unpleasant character. A committed Christian Zionist and a lover of plots and intrigue, he is perhaps most famous for campaigning for the ordination of women and then promptly ordaining his own wife. More particularly in this context, he loathes Revd. Sizer, to the extent that he is given to referring to him as “Mr.” Sizer. He has respectful options like “Revd. Sizer“, “Dr. Sizer“ and “Stephen Sizer“ but he prefers the, in the context of a senior priest, dismissive, “Mr.“ The exception is those formal times when he deems it more prudent to be polite. Then he holds his nose and manages to type “Stephen“. It is all very, very personal and very, very political.
Howard’s role was to raise the matter with the Trustees and with the help of McCulloch, get an agreement that “something must be done about Sizer“ and in effect, give McCulloch and Gifford the green light to get that something done. A little dickie bird, not directly involved in the business but close to it, tells us that Howard threatened to resign as a trustee if didn’t get his way on this. We are not able to corroborate this but it is consistent with Howard’s character, or lack of it, and with the development of the story at this point. Howard then sat back and kept a brooding, menacing eye on things, being “copied“ and “informed“. Nick took it upon himself to keep prodding everyone concerned, making sure there was no falling down on the job.
McCulloch and Gifford put together plans for THE MARCH BLITZKREIG, liaising with the Board of Deputies (Jon Benjamin).
Revd. Sizer is to be attacked simultaneously on four fronts: the press, the police, his Bishop, and Lambeth Palace. Of course Nick can be trusted to put in his two pennyworth on the blogosphere.
A press release was prepared denouncing Revd. Sizer, and at the same time, a complaint to the police was put together charging Revd. Sizer with fomenting racial hatred. Lambeth Palace was kept informed, much to the discomfort of the Palace official Toby Howarth, who clearly wasn’t buying this bullchit. Meanwhile, David Gifford arranged for the Board of Deputies to meet with the Bishop of Guildford. McCulloch was anxious that the timing of the press release be carefully managed to ensure maximum impact and in particular, that it reached The Church Times and the Jewish Chronicle as soon as possible.
Two considered and conscious decisions were taken, the first, by McCulloch and the second, by Gifford.
1) The Bishop of Guildford is not to be supplied with a copy of the press release.
2) The flat refusal of the Board to meet with Rev. Sizer and discuss their concerns with him is not to be made public, but to remain confidential. ( make of that what you will )
The press release appeared March 13th, the charge of hate speech was deposited with the police around the same time and on the 15th March, TWO articles appeared on Harry’s Place (recommended by the EDL) smearing and abusing Revd. Sizer, one by Nick, and one by Joseph Weismann. Nick and Weismann seemingly have unfettered access to the outlet.
Throughout this build up and beyond, Nick was writing the scripts for both the CCJ and the Board.
For example, the Board readily accepted Nick’s offer to write their briefing for the meeting with Bishop Hill and their crib sheets for use in the meeting.
Yes, the venerable Board of Deputies of British Jews went to a meeting with a Church of England Bishop with crib sheets provided by Nick Howard.
Get your head around that, if you possibly can.
At the same time, Nick was drafting letters for Gifford, who merely signed them.
Inevitably, it all went belly up.
We have no record of the meeting between the Bishop and the Board, but subsequent events tell us that the Board didn’t get anywhere near what they seem to have wanted. Nick and Joe’s huffing and puffing on Harry’s Place (recommended by the EDL) produced the usual histrionics from the crazies that infest that sad and sorry location, but to no real effect, just more preaching to the choir. Lambeth Palace seems to have maintained its jaw dropped “can’t believe these idiots are doing this“ posture. Then in April, the police more or less told them to quit playing silly buggers.
THE RETREAT FROM MOSCOW
At this stage McCulloch wanted out. He had previously held that having received a serious complaint (omitting to mention it was from the nut job Nick, the son of his most influential trustee), the CCJ had a responsibility to act. He now advised his trustees that this responsibility was discharged.
The CCJ Trustees were not unanimous in their belief in the wisdom of this enterprise. Some of them were emphatic that Revd. Sizer was not anti-Semitic and over the coming weeks, more cautious voices gradually came to prevail. The CCJ had shown itself for what it had become, a highly politicised BoD propaganda machine, albeit a highly incompetent one. It had embarked on a nasty vendetta that made it look petty and ridiculous, and stood to be regarded as a laughing stock. It had allowed itself to be used by the Board to do its (the Board’s) dirty work with disastrous results.
McCulloch was no ingénue here. He knew he was being used by the Board, but he was ok with that. He was fully aware that it was the reputation of the CCJ that was on the line, not that of the Board, and he worried, lest the Board left the CCJ isolated. In short, he knew there was no honour among felons and didn’t seem to trust the Board as far as he could throw them. Yet, he was willing to risk the well being and reputation of his organisation in pursuit of the gratification of a personal obsession – the humbling of an influential anti Christian Zionist Vicar.
There had been a not inconsiderable back lash from the CCJ grass roots. Many members were horrified by the action that had been taken and had made their feelings clear, including in the blogosphere. The failure of the actions on every front fuelled the discontent.
McCulloch embarked on some pretty dismal and pathetic damage limitation. To be fair, he didn’t have much to work with. TheMarch 13th statement refers to the CCJ’s “ …. drawing of the attention of the Surrey police to what they claim was an action tantamount to encouraging race hatred.” That is, they TOLD the police Revd. Sizer was encouraging race hatred. Following the police response, a document appeared on the CCJ website designed to pacify the discontent in the ranks. This said “We sought the advice of the Surrey police to ascertain the nature and the content of the website to which Mr Sizer provided a link”.
So TELLING the police and charging Revd. Sizer with stirring up race hatred becomes SEEKING THE ADVICE OF THE POLICE, on the nature of the content of a website, when they had already made up their minds on this. McCulloch had already declared Revd. Sizer’s linking to an innocuous article on the site which discussed the window of time available to Israel for attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities a “disgrace to his calling.”
The police response declared unequivocally that there was nothing unlawful in Revd. Sizer’s behaviour. Yet, everywhere McCulloch refers to the response, he inserts the word ACTUAL. That is, there had been no ACTUAL criminality, implying there had been something close. Sigh.
You will not be surprised to learn that both these documents have been disappeared and can no longer be found on the CCJ website.
Nick of course, didn’t go away. He kept poking at the trustees and getting the occasional half-hearted response. He teamed up with James Mendelsohn to write an open letter to the South East Gospel Partnership demanding that they discontinue fellowship with Revd. Sizer AND Christ Church, Virginia Water. No prizes for guessing how many fingers were employed in the response. Further, he has never been able to wean himself off the habit of harassing Revd. Sizer’s staff. The degree to which the BoD encourages and cooperates with this outrageous behaviour, we’re not at liberty to reveal yet.
By now, the CCJ had had more than enough, particularly as McCulloch himself, was the subject of a formal complaint to the Archbishop of York under the same Clergy Disciplinary Measure under which the Board are now pursuing Revd. Sizer. The charge was conduct unbecoming and was in reference to McCulloch’s manipulation of the police response. The charge was eventually dismissed on the grounds that the complainant had insufficient personal interest.
So the CCJ drew the line. Not under any involvement, but under their publicly leading the charge. The Board had assumed that the CCJ led offensive would bring the desired result. After realising that it was not to be, they hit upon the idea of the CDM complaint. The CCJ were careful not to publicly go anywhere near this, but encouraged the Board, made supportive noises in private and passed on to them Nick’s pearls of wisdom. In early October 2012, Gifford supplied the Board with a link to a piece on Cranmer”s blog which they felt the Board would find helpful (presumably on a tip off from Nick), and expressed his Trustees’ frustration at the slow progress in the CDM enterprise.
In October 2012, the Board asked the CCJ for support in their CDM complaint against Revd. Sizer, in the form of their adding an appendix to the charge sheet containing evidence of their own. The then layout of the charge sheet had a space for the CCJ contribution. However, no appendix or other visible support was forthcoming. This time, it was the Board that had been left isolated. Once bitten, twice shy.
All in all, it has to be said that McCulloch’s behaviour has been outrageous to a degree that invites the suspicion that as well as “fixing” Revd. Sizer, he was motivated by a wish to humiliate Bishop Hill. It is a well established and accepted church norm that one Diocese does not interfere in the affairs of another, particularly with respect to the Bishop’s pastoral responsibilities towards his priests. Also, he knew that the Bishop had made a public statement of support. Yet months later, without any consultation with Bishop Hill, he issued a press statement charging one of Bishop Hill’s priests with racism and claiming to the police that he was guilty of stirring up racial hatred, and instructing that Bishop Hill not be provided with a copy of the statement.
Conduct unbecoming ?
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If it works for the Board of Deputies, it’ll work for us. ~Editor