What they want…and why they want it
So, what do the Board hope to get out of their pursuance of Rev. Sizer? The answer is clear from even the most peremptory reading of The Complaint. They hope to silence him . To, in effect, “take out of the game” one of the most energetic and thoughtful advocates of justice for ALL the people of the Holy Land, an idea the Board have explicitly rejected. (Board Plenary January 19th 2011). It goes even beyond this, as we shall see.
On November 1st 2012, Jonathan Arkush made a dramatic announcement on the BoD and Jewish Chronicle web sites informing readers that the complaint had been made. It included the following two statements.
“WE draw the line at making statements that WE regard as anti-Semitic “.
“The Jewish community should not have to stomach material that WE regard as crossing the line into anti-Semitism”.
The “WE’s” here are very important. It is all about what THEY, speaking their privatised hasbarafiosi language, regard as anti-Semitism. Not what the ordinary reasonable speakers of the natural language would regard as such. Not what would fall within the definition put forward by the dictionary compilers, arrived at by observation of the aggregate force of the uses of the expression. There is now no need for any antipathy toward Jews. No longer any need for any inclination to persecute or discriminate against Jews.
Between this private conception and THE concept, there is a vast gulf.
What is required of the Church with respect to Revd. Sizer goes beyond silencing him and amounts to a demand for control. They spell it out at the end of the complaint.
“We ask only one thing which is that effective measures are taken to prevent him from publishing or republishing material that WE find to be not merely offensive but anti-Semitic“
They go on to say
“We don’t think that is too much to ask“ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The tragedy is that they really don’t think it is too much to ask.
How would this work? Effective measures? What measures would be effective? The requirement is made of the Bishop of Guildford. Do they mean the Bishop should closely supervise Revd. Sizer’s words and writings? Does he have the time? But wait a moment. The requirement is not that effective measures are taken to prevent the publishing of material that HE (the Bishop) finds anti-Semitic, but material THEY find anti- Semitic. The Bishop will be able to judge this how? Does the Bishop know, for example, that using the expression “American Jewish Lobby“, even to deny its existence, is indicative of the “New anti-Semitism”? Does the Bishop know that ant-Zionism IS anti-Semitism? Does he know that criticism of a political entity is antipathy to a whole ethnic/religious group ? Does he know that those that were anti the Soviet Union were rabid racist anti Slavs? Does he even know about this “new anti-Semitism” thing that the great mass of humanity have never heard of and would laugh out of court if it had? It is no longer just anti-Semitism, or even anti-Semitism and new anti-Semitism, that the Bishop is going to have to look out for. We also now have anti-Semitic tropes, alibi anti- Semitism, theological anti-Semitism, borderline anti-Semitism and causal anti- Semitism (the latest arrival but watch this space).
UPDATE October 2013 courtesy of Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle. We now have “wiffs of anti-Semitism”.
It’s quite a minefield the Bishop would have to negotiate. Maybe they have plans to imprison him in the tower and subject him to an intensive residential training course. Of course, they would have to do it all over again when Bishop Hill leaves office and a new Bishop takes over.
The reality is that any energetic criticism of Israel will be regarded as “something the Jewish community shouldn’t have to stomach” and as “crossing the line into anti-Semitism”.
Put to them like this, they would deny it of course. But the fact that they FORBID themselves any criticism of Israel (see the page we have entitle OMERTA) and observation of the way they react when others do, is a clear indication that had they the power they would forbid the rest of us as well. They don’t have this power but they do have highly developed strategies of explicit and implied threats, intimidation, blackmail and vendetta.
Rather than burden the Bishop with the task of supervising Revd. Sizer, it is more like that they intend that he will, effectively, come under THEIR supervision, thereby ensuring that the job gets done properly. They would have themselves appointed as advisers directly to Revd. Sizer. They also would have him seek their advice before he publishes anything he has reason to suspect they may not like, particularly if it relates to Israel. In effect, for Rev. Sizer to be placed on probation and they appointed his probation officers.
Now you may think this is fanciful, that it is too far fetched and they couldn’t possibly imagine that the Church of England would ever put one of its priests in such a situation. That would be to gravely underestimate their arrogance and hubris. See here the jaw dropping letter before action sent to the University and College Union, which starkly illustrates where their muddled heads are capable of taking them.
Prior to legal action, Anthony Julius wrote a letter to the UCU demanding ‘the abrogation of Motion 70 of 2011 [which rejected the EUMC Working Definition of antisemitism – cf. p. 22], an open an[d] unqualified acknowledgement that the union had been guilty of institutional anti-Semitism coupled with a public apology, a commitment to abide by a code of conduct in respect of its Jewish members to be drawn up by a body comprising individuals approved by the claimant and a further commitment to sponsor a programme (for a minimum of 10 years and conducted by that same body) educating academics about the dangers of anti-Semitism, “with special reference to the relationship between anti-Semitism and what now passes for ‘anti-Zionism’”.
So, those “advising” Ronnie Fraser thought the union would be so afraid of a trial they would appoint Julius et al to supervise them, and this supervision would be exercised through their proxy, the emotionally erratic claimant himself.
For what actually happened, see Jeremy Golberg, QC, here..
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If it works for the Board of Deputies, it’ll work for us. ~Editor