It was a delight to support numerous Christian, Jewish and Muslim organisations campaigning for justice, peace and reconciliation in Israel-Palestine, marking the 75th anniversary of the Nakba at the National March in London held on Saturday 13th May. In particular, helping promote the work of Christian ministries, Pax Christi and Amos Trust, as well as the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).
This is entirely consistent with our charitable purpose of promoting religious harmony for the benefit of the public by promoting knowledge and mutual understanding and respect of the beliefs and practices of different religious faiths – as well as the Mark of Christian Mission “To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation.”
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.
“The very being of the church, the integrity of the Christian faith, and the credibility of the Gospel is at stake. We declare that support for the oppression of the Palestinian people, whether passive or active, through silence, word or deed, is a sin. We assert that Christian support for Zionism as a theology and an ideology that legitimize the right of one people to deny the human rights of another is incompatible with the Christian faith and a grave misuse of the Bible.” (2020 Kairos Palestine: ‘Cry of Hope’)
At the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) UK annual conference held at Amnesty International in May, Jeff Halper gave a presentation entitled “One Democratic State in Palestine/Israel- It’s time”. With the “Two-State” solution increasingly regarded as dead, the case for one democratic state with equal rights for Israeli Jews and Palestinians is gaining traction. The slides below summarise Jeff Halper’s presentation and basis for resolving the conflict peacefully and based on international law.