Group says Church of England vicar anti-Semitic
Formal complaint documents Rev. Stephen Sizer’s offensive anti-Semitic statements and "deep hostility to Zionism."
The Church of England General Synod [file photo] Photo: Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters
LONDON – Britain’s Jewish community representative organization has taken the
unprecedented step of lodging a formal complaint to the Church of England, the
country’s officially established Christian church, accusing one of its clergyman
The Board of Deputies of British Jews has accused Rev.
Stephen Sizer, the vicar of Virginia Water Church in Surrey and an ardent
anti-Israel campaigner, of making anti-Semitic statements and republishing
The action comes at a time when the relationship
between the Jewish community and the Church of England has taken a downward
turn, following its decision in July to strengthen ties with an anti-Israel
According to the board’s vice-president, Jonathan Arkush, Sizer
has made statements that the board and most of the Jewish community find utterly
offensive, to the point of crossing the line into anti- Semitism.
representative organization lodged the complaint under the Church of England’s
disciplinary process, an act of parliament known as the Clergy Discipline
Submitting the complaint on behalf of the board, Arkush
said, “The evidence disclosed indicates that Rev. Sizer spends time trawling
dark and extreme corners of the Internet.”
“Rev. Sizer republishes items
to support the target of his polemical writing, while at the same time
introducing his readers to the racist and anti-Semitic websites from where he
draws his material,” he added.
The complaint cites numerous examples over
an 11-month period showing a clear and consistent pattern of activity that “can
no longer go unchallenged.”
In October 2011, the Church of England
minister posted a link to his Facebook page from an anti-Semitic website called
“The Ugly Truth: Zionism, Jewish extremism and a few other nasty items making
our world uninhabitable today.”
Sizer removed the link three months later
only after numerous complaints.
Bishop of Manchester Rt. Rev. Nigel
McCulloch, who is also the chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews, said
at the time that “the content and delay in removing the link from Mr. Sizer’s
Facebook page was disgraceful and unbecoming for a clergyman of the Church of
England to promote.”
In March, Sizer linked a picture of US bases
surrounding Iran from the “Veterans Today” website, which publishes articles
defending Hitler, and promotes Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and the anti-
Semitic musician Gilad Atzmon.
“Its home page quickly discloses articles
displaying hatred of Jews and Israel. Rev.
Sizer could not have missed
these when searching the site for material to post on his blog,” the board
In May, four months after removing the controversial link,
Sizer acknowledged that the “Ugly Truth” contained offensive material and said
that he had “no wish” to be associated with it.
“I have on many occasions
condemned all forms of anti-Semitism and will continue so to do because it is
abhorrent to me,” Sizer maintained.
However, only a month later, he again
linked his blog to another anti-Semitic website. The homepage “Window into
Palestine” displays a Nazi flag with a swastika superimposed on a Star of David
and carries a copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, describing it as an
The charge sheet questions the sincerity of Sizer’s
condemnation of anti-Semitism.
“Any visitor to ‘Window into Palestine’
would see immediately that it is racist and anti-Semitic. Rev. Sizer posted a
link to this website exactly one month after telling the Council of Christians
and Jews that he condemned all forms of anti-Semitism.
Arkush said that
Sizer displays an obsession with Israel and opposes its identity as a Jewish
“Rev. Sizer displays a deep hostility to Zionism, which he writes
about as if it was a term of abuse. It is not difficult to come across his
views, as he is an enthusiastic self-publicist who proclaims his preoccupation
with Israel on his website, blog and Facebook and Flickr pages.”
said that Sizer has few qualms about the company he keeps.
“He has shared
a platform with and quoted from Holocaust-deniers; goes on trips to Iran as the
guest of the NEDA Institute, which contributes to global efforts to deny the
Holocaust and gave an interview with Quds News Agency, a Holocaust- denying
website. Sizer is also a speaker at the provocatively named Christ at the
Checkpoint conference, which features a theology called supersessionism which
has anti-Semitic overtones.”
Writing in March 2011, Sizer said that Saif
Gaddafi made a surprise visit to Israel to buy more weapons for his father, the
late ruler of Libya.
“He goes to Israel regularly because, according to a
senior Middle East Ecclesiastical source, both his mother and aunt are Jewish
and live in Israel.
“Blood is indeed thicker than water. Perhaps this is
why the US is reluctant to impose a ‘no-fly’ zone over Libya,” Sizer
It emerged that Sizer subsequently modified his post and removed
the last line.
In June 2011, Sizer gave an interview to a Malaysian
television program in which he claimed that “the Zionists” and the Far- Right in
Britain were forming an alliance.
“It’s ironic that the very people who
favored the work of Hitler are now working with the Zionists against the Muslims
because they view them as a threat,” he said.
The complaint will now be
considered by Bishop Christopher Hill, the bishop of Guildford, which is the
jurisdictional area under which Sizer’s church falls.