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Vicar faces expulsion from the Church of England after being accused of publishing anti-Semitic material

A vicar is facing expulsion from the Church of England over allegations that he posted anti-Semitic articles online and promoted and shared platforms with Holocaust deniers.

The Rev. Stephen Sizer, 68, denies that his actions were anti-Semitic, arguing that they were political and directed at the state of Israel, not the Jewish people.

In a clergy disciplinary move, the first of its kind to be conducted in public, the Rev Sizer faces claims of 11 separate instances of anti-Semitism, beginning in 2005 when he participated in a conference organized by the Islamic Human Rights Commission called Towards a New liberation theology. .

He also spoke at a conference in Indonesia in 2008 alongside Holocaust denier Fredrick Töben and in the same year promoted Michael Hoffman, another alleged Holocaust denier and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist.

Vicar faces expulsion from the Church of England after being

The Rev. Stephen Sizer, 68, denies that his actions were anti-Semitic and argues that they were political and directed at the state of Israel, not the Jewish people.

Nicholas Leviseur, presenting the case, said:

Nicholas Leviseur, introducing the case, said: “Dr. Sizer faces three separate indictments, each relating to activities between 2005 and 2018.” Pictured: Rev Sizer in 2014

In 2006, he met with Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, a senior Hezbollah commander.

In 2016, he attended an event presided over by Baroness Tonge in breach of an agreement with the Bishop of Guildford that prohibited him from speaking or writing on any subject related to the situation in the Middle East and its historical context.

The vicar is also accused of posting antisemitic material online, including posting a link to an article in 2010 called “The Mother of All Coincidences” that sought to blame Israel for the 9/11 attacks in New York.

He later defended this post on Australian radio.

Five years later, he posted a link to another article on the same subject titled ‘911/Israel did it’.

An article was also posted on his Facebook page in August 2018 suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn was a victim of the hidden hand of Zionists.

Nicholas Leviseur, introducing the case, said: “Dr. Sizer faces three separate indictments, each relating to activities between 2005 and 2018.

‘The first charge is that Dr. Sizer’s actions were improper or inappropriate for the position of clergyman, that he provoked and offended the Jewish community.

‘The second is engaging in anti-Semitic activities.’

A third indictment says the Reverend Sizer broke the code of the Church of England and caused “a righteous offense to others”.

The vicar, who was ordained in 1984 and has a doctorate in Christian Zionism, does not deny the facts but denies that his behavior was anti-Semitic.

The complaint has been filed by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and two prominent members, President Marie van der Zyl and former President Jonathan Arkush have been called to testify.

Leviseur also said that along with the publication of an article accusing Israel of masterminding the 9/11 attacks, Reverend Sizer asked: ‘Is this anti-Semitic? If so, they will certainly ask me to remove it. It raises so many questions.

Mr. Leviseur added: ‘That is not a rhetorical question because of the content of the article. There was only one answer, yes it is.

Representing Reverend Sizer, Stephen Hofmeyr asked the court to consider the context of his actions in attending conferences and speaking with Hezbollah members.

‘You will have to consider the purpose of that meeting and what was discussed. Once you know the facts, the meeting takes on a very different look.

He also said that Rev Sizer has long been a vocal critic of the state of Israel and Christian Zionism, which he says furthers the idea that Jews who have a home will help bring about the coming of the messiah.

‘There is a distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. The first is directed against the Jewish people, the second is against the movement to establish a Jewish state in the Middle East.

‘The first is directed against people, the second in a movement or institution.

‘If your words or conduct have been anti-Semitic, you accept that it will amount to misconduct.

‘His case is that he has not been anti-Semitic and his words and conduct never have been.

That is the question of fact that you will have to resolve after hearing the evidence.

A leading member of Britain’s Jewish community said the views of a Church of England vicar accused of anti-Semitism were “enough to make me sick forever”.

Chairman of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, made the comment at a Clergy Disciplinary Action in Holborn, central London, the first of its kind to be held in public.

He also spoke at a conference in Indonesia in 2008 alongside Holocaust denier Fredrick Töben and in the same year promoted Michael Hoffman, another alleged Holocaust denier and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist.

He also spoke at a conference in Indonesia in 2008 alongside Holocaust denier Fredrick Töben and in the same year promoted Michael Hoffman, another alleged Holocaust denier and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist.

Ms van der Zyl told the hearing that her organization is the ‘democratic representative of British Jewry’ and works to promote a ‘comprehensive understanding of Israel’.

“We don’t represent all Jews because some are going to have a different opinion, but it represents the majority of the general opinion.”

Stephen Hofmeyr, representing Sizer, said: “Hundreds of young people sent a letter saying that the Board of Deputies risks becoming irrelevant to younger British Jews.”

‘The younger generation is increasingly restless about the Zionist project in Israel.’

He also referred to the Board of Deputies as a defender of Israel.

Ms. van der Zyl responded: “I think it is offensive to call the State of Israel a Zionist project.

‘We are not afraid to criticize Israel and I don’t know what you are trying to imply because we have younger people on the Board of Deputies.

‘He is not a spokesman for Israel. Of course I love Israel and I am a Zionist, but we criticize Israel.

‘We have no influence with respect to Israel. We don’t have any part of our organization that has to do with that.

“We’ve criticized them and you can look that up on the internet.”

In a testy exchange, Hofmeyr repeatedly asked van der Zyl to answer yes or no to his questions.

He said, ‘I would really like you to answer the questions.’

‘I am, but you’re repeating yourself.’

I have to because you’re arguing instead of answering questions.

Ms van der Zyl replied: “I think he’s just trying to score points.”

Discussing the allegations against the Reverend Sizer, he said: “There is a whole series of behaviors in the complaint that you cannot say are not anti-Semitic.”

‘It’s all really distressing. And to think this came from someone in the Church of England.

It’s very painful, especially the holocaust. It’s really awful.

‘If my grandfather could see this.’

He also said in his witness statement that Revd Sizer promotes anti-Semitism on every platform he has access to.

The complaint has been filed by the British Jewish Board of Deputies and two prominent members, President Marie van der Zyl (pictured) and former President Jonathan Arkush have been called to testify.

The complaint has been filed by the British Jewish Board of Deputies and two prominent members, President Marie van der Zyl (pictured) and former President Jonathan Arkush have been called to testify.

“We have suffered from anti-Semitism and you are trying to make believe that we are some kind of outpost for Israel. That is just delusional.

‘Publishing that the holocaust didn’t happen can’t go much lower than that. A priest!

‘I never imagined that a priest could do such things.’

Hofmeyr also asked about the first indictment in which Revd Sizer attended a SOAS University conference in 2005, where he spoke alongside a Hezbollah representative.

‘You did not attend the conference, you do not know what was said. You can’t give us first-hand evidence of what happened, can you?

Ms van der Zyl said: ‘He spoke alongside Hezbollah, a terrorist organization. I don’t think it matters what was said.

‘These are the people you chose to share platform with. Like Jeremy Corbyn, he too shared platforms with terrorists. It’s the company he keeps.

Hofmeyr said that Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, a Hezbollah military commander with whom Reverend Sizer met in the summer of 2006, once spoke in the UK Parliament.

That would mean that anyone who speaks in Parliament would be anti-Semite by association, wouldn’t it?

He added: ‘Did you know he helped negotiate the release of the Israeli soldiers? That puts that meeting in quite a different light, doesn’t it?

Ms van der Zyl said: “I find it absolutely ridiculous.”

The Bishop of Winchester, in whose diocese Reverend Sizer’s church is located, suspended the Anglican priest from his ministry in 2018 pending the outcome of this hearing.

Reverend Sizer denies 11 charges of anti-Semitic behavior, including attending conferences and accompanying Holocaust deniers.

He is also accused of accompanying and defending the leader of the Islamic Movement, Raed Salah, in June 2011.

The hearing continues tomorrow.

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