Africa has a long history of racism and colonialism, so it’s quite surprising to find many Africans who support Zionism – despite its racist roots. We dug into the root cause of this phenomenon by talking to an Anglican minister who is no stranger to the subject: Stephen Sizer. He is the author of “Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon?” He explains how foreign funding forces African churches to align their doctrines with Christian Zionist benefactors in the United States. Sizer also calls for a return to the authentic faith initiated by Jesus-that of peacemakers, not widowmakers. A faith that embraces all regardless of race, tribe, social status, or other criteria.
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The term “genocide” was formulated by the Jewish-Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin against the backdrop of the Holocaust. It was codified as a crime under international law in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Genocide Convention). The definition of genocide, as set out in Article 2 of the Convention, is simple and straightforward, its first three elements clearly reflecting Israeli policies and actions towards the Palestinian people since initiating its process of systematic genocide in 1947:
Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
My favorite hotel in all the world is the Walled Off in Bethlehem. Designed by Banksy, the anonymous British artist, it overlooks the Separation Wall. In bricks and mortar Banksy demonstrates how art can become an act of defiance against Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid. Tuesday this week, 29th August, was the anniversary of the assassination of Naji Al-Ali, the Palestinian political cartoonist and writer who drew the iconic image of the 10-year-old child Handala, which you often find drawn on the Apartheid Wall dividing the illegal Israeli colonies from the Palestinian ghettos. Appropriately therefore this week’s Kumi Now reflection, is entitled, ‘Art as Resistance’.
“Too often the Palestinian tragedy is portrayed as a humanitarian crisis rather than one that has to do with identity and self-determination. They believe art is a luxury that Palestinians cannot afford. That, instead, what they need is bread to eat, to fill their stomach, so they can think and live another day. But people “shall not live by bread alone” (Matthew 4:4). Art and culture instead feed the soul and allow it to thrive. It gives people the strength to refuse being on the receiving end, perceived as victims. It allows people to become actors instead of spectators. It gives them the long breath necessary to resist. For wherever there is occupation, there will be resistance. The question therefore is not whether to resist, but how to resist.”
A presentation on Christian martyrdom given at the Gulf Cultural Club, London. Watch the video here
“The early church’s theology of martyrdom was born not in synods or councils, but in sunlit, blood—drenched coliseums and catacombs, dark and still as death. The word martyr means “witness” and is used as such throughout the New Testament. However, as the Roman Empire became increasingly hostile toward Christianity, the distinctions between witnessing and suffering became blurred and finally nonexistent.” (William Bixler)
“When a miscarriage of justice happens to a friend. Sitting talking with a long time friend of mine this week, the Red Dr Stephen Sizer, brought home to me the pain that both Stephen and his wife Joanna have received at the hands of an Ecclesiastical Tribunal by the Church of England, in which they investigated an accusation of antisemitism brought against Stephen by the Jewish Board of Deputies. So this newsletter is going to be a little different to my usual, because I just want to look at this in some depth.I have known Stephen for over forty years, since he was a student. I have followed his growing passion for justice and peace in the Holy Land since those days. I am glad to say based on these many years of experience of him that Stephen is committed to International Law, the Fourth Geneva Convention, and human rights. In my experience Stephen is a gentle but firm peacemaker who lives out the Biblical mandate that all are made in the image of God. I’ve not ever during all our years of friendship and work together witnessed anything in his words or actions that reflects antisemitism. He has worked with Jewish peace activists and Rabbis and won their respect, and also the respect of the Muslim community. He has been a significant witness to the Christian value of peacemaking, and is admired by Middle Eastern Bishops and clergy…
In the Tribunal I was called as a witness. I had never been in a situation like this before and didn’t know what to expect. I had been asked to write an article in advance, but then when they questioned me in the Tribunal they never referred to what I had written at all, but simply referred to something Stephen had done some years back… After Antony Lerman (the expert witness) had spoken there seemed to be no case for Stephen to answer. And yet the Tribunal took 6 months to decide the outcome, keeping Stephen on edge, and then came up with their extraordinary conclusion banning him from ministry for twelve years. The words of criticism against Stephen that came from the Tribunal at that point sounded like it was a totally different Tribunal and completely discounted Antony Lerman’s contribution… I have to ask what the Ecclesiastical Tribunal thought they were doing in bringing this. This Anglican Priest who has served so faithfully for years both in this country and around the world, working with Christians, Jews and Muslims on situations of justice – why was he hung out to dry?…
The central message arising from the tribunal is that the Church has punished Stephen with a twelve year ban – despite Antony Lerman’s dismissal of the new charges and the fact that no evidence was provided to substantiate the charges in the first place. Which makes one wonder why Stephen and Joanna were put through all of this, when the Church are treating him as guilty despite their own “due process” proving otherwise.” Revd Canon Garth Hewitt, Founder Amos Trust.
Why then do we write about antisemitism? The answer is simple.
The foundations on which we struggle against Palestinian oppression are the same foundations on which we are committed to fighting against antisemitism. Furthermore, if it is wrong of the state of Israel to deny our full humanity, it is futile and unacceptable for us to do the same. There will be no peace in our land until all of us recognize the full humanity of all who live here – especially Palestinian refugees, forcibly exiled who wish to return and have been denied that right.