View the interview with David Scott here
An Open Letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York
Dear Archbishops Welby and Cottrell
We write as supporters of an organisation called CAMPAIN, a group that challenges misrepresentation and misinformation in public affairs and the news media. It is a non-partisan body with members belonging to all political parties and none, and members of the Christian faith, other faiths and none. The instigators of this letter are Christian (including Ordained Priests). However, whether Christian or not, most people in the UK expect the established church and its leaders to be a beacon of hope in the dark areas of this world that will publicly stand up for the rights of ALL people – not just those who claim a faith.
We note that the Church of England sets out its role in the world in its Five Marks of Mission. All signatories of this letter share a commitment to the fourth Mark which is “to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation”.
A Sabeel Reflection on Antisemitism
Why then do we write about antisemitism? The answer is simple.
The foundations on which we struggle against Palestinian oppression are the same foundations on which we are committed to fighting against antisemitism. Furthermore, if it is wrong of the state of Israel to deny our full humanity, it is futile and unacceptable for us to do the same. There will be no peace in our land until all of us recognize the full humanity of all who live here – especially Palestinian refugees, forcibly exiled who wish to return and have been denied that right.
Download a PDF copy of This is Where We Stand for $20 from Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)
From the Preface
As Christians, we believe – with our Jewish brothers and sisters – that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. As human beings, we endorse the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the human rights conventions based upon it.9
It is wrong for the state of Israel to discriminate against, dispossess, and displace us, because we are as human as Israeli Jews are. Equally, it is wrong for anyone anywhere to hate, discriminate against, or seek to destroy Jews, because Jews – Israeli or not – are as human as we are.
There is another reason.
If it is wrong of the state of Israel to deny our full humanity, it is futile and unacceptable for us to do the same. There will be no peace in our land until all of us recognize the full humanity of all who live here – especially Palestinian refugees, forcibly exiled who wish to return and have been denied that right.
Already this book has been of value to the Sabeel community. Writing it has helped us to examine how antisemitism may arise in ourselves, our organization, and our communities in the context of Palestine and Israel.
We recognize the need for internal reflection on the way we speak, act, and write. To allow an “us and them” mentality to infect our work for justice both violates the tenets of our faith and hurts the cause of liberation.
We offer this book as a first statement, open to revision, of where we stand. We offer it for study and discussion, and we welcome feedback in the form of constructive criticism or other comment.
The text was written by a small team over many years. Many people from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and secular backgrounds took time to read the various drafts and supply academic, theological, and editorial comments. Sabeel is grateful to all who helped; they are, of course, not responsible for our conclusions.
We do not claim to speak here for our Jewish, Muslim, or secular friends, nor, indeed, for the Christian community.
We speak to our Christian brothers and sisters in the first place here in Palestine. Likewise, we speak to the others with respect. We trust that our words will be heard with the same goodwill with which we say them.
This book is the first in a series of education tools we are planning to publish to help Sabeel and our friends identify where we may be caught up in prejudice or discrimination. We plan similar books on discrimination against Islam and against Christianity in the context of the struggle between Palestine and Israel.
We hope that all who read this book will use it not just as an educational resource, but also as a tool for self-reflection and transformation. We invite our local and international partners, as well as the larger community, to examine their rhetoric, action, organizing, and strategy to ensure that the movement for Palestinian liberation is grounded firmly in the values of human rights for all.
Sabeel is a center for Palestinian liberation theology based in both occupied Palestine and Israel. Our aim is to stand with those who are on the margins of society, and to use theology to liberate those who are oppressed. Sabeel strives to free theology from those who would wish to use it as a weapon against others. We seek to understand our situation and our struggle in the light of the Christian faith.
To buy the PDF version of the book please click here.
To buy a hardcopy of the book please click here.
This is Where We Stand
You are invited to the online book launch
When: Apr 19, 2023 07:00 PM Jerusalem
Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Dr Antony Lerman “Whatever Happened to Antisemitism?”
Dr Antony Lerman on “Whatever Happened to Antisemitism? Redefinition and the Myth of the ‘Collective Jew’“, a webinar organised by the Jewish Network for Palestine based on his new book published by Pluto Press.
Antisemitism is one of the most controversial topics of our time. The public, academics, journalists, activists and Jewish people themselves are divided over its meaning. Antony Lerman shows that this is a result of a 30-year process of redefinition of the phenomenon, casting Israel, problematically defined as the ‘persecuted collective Jew’ among the nations, as one of its main targets.
This political project has taken the notion of the ‘new antisemitism’ and codified it in the flawed International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s ‘working definition’ of antisemitism. This text is the glue holding together an international network comprising the Israeli government, pro-Israel advocacy groups, Zionist organisations, Jewish communal defence bodies and sympathetic governments fighting a war against those who would criticise Israeli Apartheid.Continue reading
Dr Jeff Halper (ICAHD) on Religious Tribunals
As an Israeli Jew and the head of an Israeli human rights organization – ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – I am appalled by the very thought of bringing anyone, let alone such a principled person as Stephen Sizer, before a religious Tribunal. What, are we back to the Medieval days of the Inquisition? I can’t speak for the Church of England, but Jews, the British Board of Deputies, participating in a religious Tribunal?! The very thought is appalling. What has happened to us, Jews and Christians together? Are we willing to return to the dark processes of Tribunals with no legal underpinnings, no genuine evidence or testimony, conducted solely against people whose views we don’t like – besmirch and destroy people’s lives – just to prevent criticism of Israel? Is it really so easy, in the 21st Century, to persecute people for their religious and political views? Savonarola meets Trump?
The charges against Dr. Sizer are untrue and trumped-up – and you all know it. Antisemitism?! How do you possibly defend yourself against such a charge? In the intellectual and democratic world in which most of us live, Dr. Sizer has made a rational, well-researched case for his views and analysis presented in articles, books and lectures based firmly on academic research and religious history. But that is exactly the type of person for which Tribunals are necessary, since analyses like Dr. Sizer presents, unpopular in some partisan circles as they may be, cannot be dismissed in academic circles or barred in courts of law. They must be denounced in Tribunals with no moral, legal or intellectual authority, and as in all religious Tribunals, the person maligned and destroyed in order to somehow delegitimize his or her views. I am embarrassed for all of you – and downright angry at the Jews who participate in the dark proceeding of religious Tribunals.Continue reading
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.”
For the record, over the years, on my blog I have:
- repudiated holocaust deniers here, here, here and here.
- repudiated anti-Semitism here, here 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 here, here 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.
Jonathan Kuttab on antisemitism and anti-Zionism
In this short interview Jonathan Kuttab explains the difference between antisemitism and anti-Zionism.Continue reading