Disciplinary tribunal for Church of England vicar accused of antisemitism begins

The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews said that the vicar’s opinions were “enough to make me sick forever.”

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

A Church of England cleric is facing expulsion after an internal tribunal heard of his involvement in pushing Holocaust denial, conspiracy theories related to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist atrocities and similar content rooted in antisemitic prejudice.

The Rev. Stephen Sizer, who was ordained in 1984, is the subject of a clergy disciplinary hearing examining 11 separate cases of antisemitic agitation between 2005 and 2018. The case, which is being heard in the courtroom of St Andrew’s Church in central London, is the first of its kind to be held in public.

The hearing was told on Monday that throughout the period under examination, Sizer had appeared on platforms alongside Holocaust deniers and shared antisemitic material on social media, including posting a link to an article titled “The Mother of All Coincidences,” which sought to blame Israel for the 9/11 attacks carried out by Al Qaeda in New York and Washington, DC, as well as another piece with the headline, “9-11: Israel did it.”

In 2014, The Algemeiner reported on Sizer’s presence at the so-called “New Horizons” conference hosted in Tehran by the Iranian regime.

Read  Israeli flag torched, flyers for captive Israelis trampled at anti-Israel rally in New York City

Also attending the same event were the French-Cameroonian provocateur and comedian, Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, the originator of the antisemitic “quenelle” gesture; Thierry Meyssan, the French author of a book claiming that the 9/11 atrocities were carried out not by Al Qaeda, but by the U.S. government; Ahmed Rami, a former Moroccan army officer who set up the violently antisemitic “Radio Islam” website based in Sweden; and Manuel Ochsenreiter, a German far-right activist.

On his return from Iran, Sizer angrily rebuked his critics, arguing that “Jesus called his followers to be ambassadors of reconciliation” and warning that those “who criticize this kind of conference must think very carefully of the consequences of their words for Jews and Christians in countries like Iran.”

Speaking at Monday’s tribunal, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which brought the complaint against Sizer, said that the vicar’s opinions were “enough to make me sick forever.”

“There is a whole series of behaviors in the complaint that you cannot say are not antisemitic,” Marie van der Zyl said. “It is so hurtful, especially the stuff about the Holocaust. It’s really awful.”

Defended by Jeremy Corbyn

In 2012, Sizer posted a link on his Facebook page, later deleted, to an article promoting Holocaust denial.

Read  Mothers of American college students band together to fight growing antisemitism on campus

Among those who rose to Sizer’s defense in this matter was the former leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, who claimed that the posting of the link was a “technical oversight,” and that Sizer’s critics were “intent on discrediting the excellent work that Stephen does in highlighting the injustices of the Palestinian-Israeli situation.”

Sizer’s conduct is alleged to have been “unbecoming or inappropriate to the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders.” The case against him states that he “provoked and offended the Jewish community and/or engaged in antisemitic behavior.”

Nicholas Leviseur, the barrister making the case against Sizer, argued that the vicar displayed “deliberate behavior which we say is difficult to characterize as anything other than antisemitic.”

Stephen Hofmeyr, who is representing Sizer, countered that the vicar had “written a book in which he says that racism is a sin and so is antisemitism, and both must be repudiated unequivocally.”

He also insisted that there was a clear distinction between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, asserting that “the former is directed against Jewish people, the latter is against the movement to establish a Jewish state in the Middle East.”

Hofmeyr added that if Sizer’s “words or conduct have been antisemitic, he accepts that will amount to misconduct.”