Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Church's apathy on antisemitism

    In the past fortnight the police and the FA have convinced many that they are facing up to racism with the seriousness it deserves. Yet at the same time the Church of England has given the opposite impression.

    In October Reverend Stephen Sizer posted a link on his Facebook page to an antisemitic site called "The Ugly Truth" which featured images of blood-sucking Jewish vampires and Nazi-style caricatures of Jewish men. Three months later, Rev Sizer took down the link.

    The Diocese of Guildford claimed, on behalf of Bishop Christopher Hill - Rev Sizer's local bishop - that the reverend withdrew the link "when the nature of other articles on that site was drawn to his attention". The particular article that he'd recommended hadn't itself been antisemitic, so a potentially damaging "racist vicar" story became one of a "naïve vicar". But the bishop's statement was untrue.

    I emailed Bishop Hill on November 16, expressing my concern, and pointing out that in 2010 a bishop was suspended for inappropriate use of Facebook (posting unpleasant remarks about the royal wedding). Bishop Hill replied that week, promising to speak to Rev Sizer "about his use of Facebook". But six weeks passed before the link was removed. It was only taken down then because the JC was looking into the story.

    The Church comes out looking blithely unconcerned about racism. Perhaps Bishop Hill forgot to inform Rev Sizer that his Facebook page was a portal to a Jew-hating website, showing how little he cares about antisemitism. Perhaps he did inform Rev Sizer, but was ignored, in which case the reverend would be confirmed as an antisemite and the bishop would again show himself to be apathetic about racism.

    Sizer has a track record of such behaviour

    Rev Sizer has a long track record of arguably antisemitic behaviour, so the Church could hardly have been encouraged to give him the benefit of the doubt. He's described IDF members as "Herod's soldiers operating in Bethlehem today" (King Herod ordered his troops to kill all the baby boys in and around Bethlehem, in the hope of murdering Christ). He's promoted boycotts of McDonalds, Coca-Cola, L'Oréal and Nestlé on the basis that they "channel their profits to the Zionist agenda". He has alleged Israeli complicity in 9/11, and argued that Israel's actions towards the Palestinians mean "the Holocaust has been perpetuated over the past 40 or 50 years". His associates include Palestinian activist Raed Salah; Zahra Mostafavi, the Ayatollah Khomeini's daughter; and Israel Shamir, who warns of "Jewish mind control on a world scale".

    The MacPherson report into Stephen Lawrence's death defined institutional racism as "the collective failure of an organisation" regarding "colour, culture, or ethnic origin". The Diocese of Guildford has fallen foul of that.

    It's worth noting the Church's utterly unethical handling of the media. To stifle a negative story, the Diocese of Guildford issued a deliberately misleading statement. Even if the bishop forgot to speak to Rev Sizer in November, he was certainly informed about the matter on December 27, when an article about it was posted on the blog "Harry's Place". Yet Sizer only removed the link a week later, under duress. Not only does this episode raise the question of why the Church wants to protect a man like Rev Sizer, it raises the issue of how the Diocese of Guildford can justify intentionally misleading the media.

    One would hope that the Church would set a moral example to organisations like the Met and the FA. Sadly, it seems it's the other way round.

Leaders

The JC leader: On Corbyn, and on Arkush

The JC Leader

Friday, January 20, 2017

The JC leader: On Corbyn, and on Arkush
Comment

10 resolutions for anxious liberals

Edie Friedman

Friday, December 30, 2016

10 resolutions for anxious liberals
Uk News

Commission criticised over inquiry into 'antisemitic' charity

Daniel Sugarman

Monday, December 5, 2016

Commission criticised over inquiry into 'antisemitic' charity
Education features

Allegations of anti-Semitism Oxford University Labour Club

Baroness Jan Royall

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Allegations of anti-Semitism Oxford University Labour Club
Comment

Year in review: USA 2016

Jonathan Cummings

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Year in review: USA 2016
World

'Jews should pay for their own security' say Swiss

Daniel Sugarman

Sunday, December 4, 2016

'Jews should pay for their own security' say Swiss
Comment

Breaking out of the bubble in India

Eli Baigel

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Breaking out of the bubble in India
Features

Year in review: the arts 2016

Keren David

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Year in review: the arts 2016
Comment

When it comes to rabbis, who is really in charge?

Miriam Shaviv

Thursday, December 1, 2016

When it comes to rabbis, who is really in charge?