Kairos USA Statement of Support

“With the growing challenge to the theological justifications for the colonization and ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the counterattack by defenders of Zionism has intensified. Overwhelmingly, this has taken the form of charges of antisemitism. On Monday, January 30, a Disciplinary Tribunal of the Church of England imposed upon the Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer a 12-year ban on clergy activities, ruling that Sizer engaged in “conduct unbecoming the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders.” As covered in Jeff Wright’s Mondoweiss article, the charges of antisemitism were brought before the Church of England by Marie van der Zyl on behalf the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which describes itself as “the voice of the UK Jewish community.” Sizer is well known for his critique of Christian Zionism and his opposition to what many human rights organizations and others are now describing as Israeli apartheid.

Rev. Sizer’s ordeal lasted for four years from the lodging of the original complaint in late 2018. Over that period, support for him has poured in from colleagues from all over the world — Christian, Jewish, Muslim and secular, including over 50 witness testimonies and statements of support from individuals and organizations. These include that of Anthony Lerman, British Jewish writer and researcher, whose expert testimony stands as a landmark discussion of the debate on antisemitism today. See Lerman’s recent interview in Jewish Currents, “Interrogating the New Antisemitism.” 

Jeff Halper, Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, offered a stirring condemnation of the Church’s actions: 

“As an Israeli Jew I am appalled by the very thought of bringing anyone, let alone such a principled person as Stephen Sizer, before a religious Tribunal. Dr. Sizer has made a rational, well-researched case for his views… I respect his moral position on Israel. I certainly respect his academic work on Christian Zionism, one of the most insidious and antisemitic religious doctrines in modern history and profoundly anti-Israel (Israel exists to bring on the Christian End of Days in which virtually all Jews die or become Christians). I respect Dr. Sizer’s willingness to engage critically in an issue of central concern to us all: how to liberate the Palestinian people from the yoke of occupation and apartheid.”

The case of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Church England vs. Stephen Sizer illustrates the increasing threats of sectarianism and neocolonialism that are surfaced by the question of Palestine. Though barred from official duties as a Church of England vicar, Rev. Sizer will continue to pursue his ministry, bringing his deep understanding of the Bible to his human rights work, his writing and teaching, and his active collaboration with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim organizations throughout the world. His life and work serves as an example and an inspiration to all who put commitment to human rights and ethical behavior above personal advancement.”

Kairos USA

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