Premier Christian News Apologises for Offending Article

“On 14th August 2021 Premier Christian News (PCN) published an article entitled:

Conspiracy theory’ vicar’s new charity receives thousands from his former church

After discussion with Reverend Dr Sizer PCN recognises that elements of the content and tone of the article did not meet the standards to which we hold ourselves to and we accept that parts of the article were inappropriate and sensational.

PCN acknowledges that Dr Sizer has publicly repudiated antisemitism and holocaust denial and conspiracy theories concerning Israel on numerous occasions. We also recognise that there were elements of the article which are contested by Dr Sizer and we should have provided him an opportunity to respond.

PCN apologises unreservedly to Dr Sizer and the trustees of Peacemaker Trust and regrets any distress caused.

PCN extends the same apology to the Rev Dr Simon Vibert, vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, and their Parochial Church Council, who were also referenced in the article.”

Stephen Sizer statement

For the record, over the years, on my blog I have:

  • repudiated holocaust deniers hereherehere and here.
  • repudiated anti-Semitism herehere and here.
  • repudiated racism and the British National Party (BNP) here.
  • distinguished anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism here. 
  • advocated for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by peaceful means based on the implementation of international law herehere and here .

To clarify my position in my book Zion’s Christian Soldiers, I wrote the following:

It is true that at various times in the past, churches and church leaders have tolerated or incited anti-Semitism and even attacks on Jewish people. Racism is a sin and without excuse. Anti-Semitism must be repudiated unequivocally. However, we must not confuse apples and oranges. Anti-Zionism is not the same thing as anti-Semitism despite attempts to broaden the definition. Criticising a political system as racist is not necessarily racist. Judaism is a religious system. Israel is a sovereign nation. Zionism is a political system. These three are not synonymous. I respect Judaism, repudiate anti-Semitism, encourage interfaith dialogue and defend Israel’s right to exist within borders recognised by the international community and agreed with her neighbours. But like many Jews, I disagree with a political system which gives preference to expatriate Jews born elsewhere in the world, while denying the same rights to the Arab Palestinians born in the country itself.”

I take seriously the Apostle Paul’s injunction that Christians should not take fellow believers before the secular courts in 1 Corinthians 6. For that reason I am content with the retraction and apology from Premier. 

However, my forbearance does not extend to secular or other religious media who persist in making these allegations, nor those who wilfully and knowingly continue to defame with the intent to cause reputational damage and further their racist political agendas.

I concur wholeheartedly with John Stott. In a sermon entitled The Place of Israel, which he graciously allowed me to include in my book, Zion’s Christian Soldiers, he said, 

“Away then with anti-Semitism! It has been an appalling scandal in the history of Europe, and even the Christian church has been implicated. Christians should be ‘pro-Semitic’, in the sense that we recognize how the people of Israel have been highly favoured by God. We Gentiles are their debtors, Paul wrote (Romans 15:27). We owe them a huge spiritual debt, especially in their bequest to the world of both the Scriptures and the Christ.”

Jewish Network for Palestine: Convivencia

The Jewish Network for Palestine recently invited me to give a short presentation on ‘Convivencia’ or coexistence at their 2021 annual meeting.

Convivencia simply means ‘coexistence’. It is an academic hypothesis, first proposed by the Spanish philologist Américo Castro, regarding the coexistence of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities during the period of Spanish history from the Muslim Umayyad conquest of Hispania in the early eighth century until the expulsion of the Jews in 1492.

By extension the term can describe the contemporary religious and cultural interaction and exchange fostered by such proximity as a way to challenge the various forms of ethno-supremacism and exclusive religious nationalisms emerging in different parts of the world.