Category Archives: Human Rights

Pure Joy in Trials of Many Kinds

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (James 1:2)

In October 2018, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, made a formal complaint against me under the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM). The then Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Timothy Dakin, referred the complaint to an Ecclesiastical Tribunal which was eventually held in May 2022. The Tribunal panel decision was handed down on 6 December 2022. If you wish to read my witness statement, the expert witness report, the statements of witnesses, the tribunal decision and my response to the Tribunal decision, please follow the hyperlinks below: 

My Witness Statement

Expert Witness Report: Antony Lerman

Antony Lerman is a Senior Fellow at the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue in Vienna, Honorary Fellow of the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations at the University of Southampton and Associate Editor of Patterns of Prejudice. He was founding director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (1996-99, and 2006-09), one of the founders of Independent Jewish Voices and a member of the Advisory Committee of the Holocaust Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum. He was founding editor of Antisemitism World Report (1992-98) and Editor of the Jewish Quarterly (1964-85). He is the author of The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist: A Personal and Political Journey (London, 2012), editor of Do I Belong? Reflections from Europe (London, 2017), co-author of Bad News for Labour: Antisemitism, the Party and Public Belief (London, 2019) – and Whatever Happened to Antisemitism? Redefinition and the Myth of the ‘Collective Jew’ (London, 2022).

Tribunal Witnesses:

Tanas Alqassis, Regional Manager, Europe, Middle East & North Africa, CMS
Canon Dr Mike Butterworth, retired Principal of the St Albans & Oxford Ministry Course
Revd Colin Chapman former lecturer in Islamic Studies, Near East School of Theology, Beirut
Robert Cohen, author and trustee for Amos Trust and adviser to Sabeel-Kairos UK.
Professor Mary Grey, St Mary’s University College, Twickenham
Revd Canon Garth Hewitt, founder Amos Trust
Rt Revd Michael Langrish, retired Bishop of Exeter
Anne Martin, Secretary of Peacemaker Trust
Revd Jeremy Moodey, CEO, Clergy Support Trust
Diana Neslen, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Professor Ilan Pappe,  College of Social Sciences & International Studies, University of Exeter
Miranda Pinch, film producer, From Balfour to Banksy
Revd Canon John Salter, President, Garden Tomb Association
Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor Emeritus of Judaism University of Wales
Professor Tim Unwin, UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, and Emeritus Professor of Geography, Royal Holloway

Additional Witnesses:

The Most Revd Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis, Archbishop of Province of Alexandria
Rt Revd Riah Abu El Assal,retired Bishop of Jerusalem
Revd Alex Awad, Director, Shepherds Society
Amos Trust Trustees (Revd Chris Rose, Director Amos Trust)
Revd Dr Andrew Ashdown, Partnership Coordinator for Africa, Methodist Church
Dr Mark Braverman, Executive Director of Kairos USA
Dr Gary Burge, Professor, Calvin Theological Seminary, USA
Ian Curtis, former VP World Vision International and chair International Needs Australia
Professor Scott Elias, retired professor, Royal Holloway University 
Rt Revd John Ellison, former bishop of Paraguay (deceased)
Tony Gratrex, former member of Christ Church, Virginia Water
Tony Greenstein, co-founder of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Steven Haas, former VP World Vision USA
Ibrahim Hewitt, Director, Interpal
Revd Philip Hill, Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary
Revd Dr Manfred Kohl, Ambassador for Overseas Council International 
Revd Canon David MacInnes, retired Rector St Aldates, Oxford
Revd Dr Duncan Macpherson, retired Lecturer in Theology, Saint Mary’s University
Rt Revd Bill Musk, retired Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Egypt & North Africa
Ismail Patel, Founder Friends of Al Aqsa & Visiting Research Fellow, Leeds University
Revd David Smith, former Vicar of Holy Trinity, Dulwich Hill, Sydney, Australia 
Revd Dr Jozef Strengholt, former dean of East Cairo & Director of Nile Valley Project 
Revd Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans 
Dr David Toorawa, Trustee, Living Stones of the Holy Land Trust
Revd Dr Donald Wagner, Former director, Middle East Studies, North Park University
Revd John Woodger, retired vicar of St Mary’s Watford

Tribunal Decision

Tribunal Decision

Statement by Stephen Sizer on the Tribunal Decision

Statement by Stephen Sizer

Zionism and Apartheid

Sabeel-Kairos UK are hosting a four week series of bible studies entitled Apartheid in Advent.

Watch again the first in our series ‘Challenging Apartheid in Advent’ featuring Antony Lerman and Revd. Dr. Stephen Sizer speaking on the issue of Zionism and its contribution to Israel’s apartheid practices. This video includes both speakers’ presentations. If you would like the bible study to accompany the week, please head over to https://www.sabeel-kairos.org.uk/apar… to download it.

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Christian Support for the State of Israel: Is it Biblical?

For Christians who believe that all are created in the image of God, with equal worth and dignity, what are we called to do for the people of the Holy Land? How can we be faithful and faith-filled peacemakers and justice-seekers? A presentation given during a recent webinar hosted by Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA).

In this conference, we considered how we can respond to Christian Zionist theology and bring love-inspired, biblically based teaching and action to our congregations and communities.

A summary of my presentation is accessible here

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Jeff Halper on Inquisitions (Religious Tribunals)

As an Israeli Jew and the head of an Israeli human rights organization – ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – I am appalled by the very thought of bringing anyone, let alone such a principled person as Stephen Sizer, before a religious Tribunal. What, are we back to the Medieval days of the Inquisition? I can’t speak for the Church of England, but Jews, the British Board of Deputies, participating in a religious Tribunal?! The very thought is appalling. What has happened to us, Jews and Christians together? Are we willing to return to the dark processes of Tribunals with no legal underpinnings, no genuine evidence or testimony, conducted solely against people whose views we don’t like – besmirch and destroy people’s lives – just to prevent criticism of Israel? Is it really so easy, in the 21st Century, to persecute people for their religious and political views? Savonarola meets Trump?

The charges against Dr. Sizer are untrue and trumped-up – and you all know it. Antisemitism?! How do you possibly defend yourself against such a charge? In the intellectual and democratic world in which most of us live, Dr. Sizer has made a rational, well-researched case for his views and analysis presented in articles, books and lectures based firmly on academic research and religious history. But that is exactly the type of person for which Tribunals are necessary, since analyses like Dr. Sizer presents, unpopular in some partisan circles as they may be, cannot be dismissed in academic circles or barred in courts of law. They must be denounced in Tribunals with no moral, legal or intellectual authority, and as in all religious Tribunals, the person maligned and destroyed in order to somehow delegitimize his or her views. I am embarrassed for all of you – and downright angry at the Jews who participate in the dark proceeding of religious Tribunals.

Let me say this as plainly as I can. I have known Dr. Sizer for over twenty years. I respect his moral position on Israel. I certainly respect his academic work on Christian Zionism, one of the most insidious and antisemitic religious doctrines in modern history and profoundly anti-Israel (Israel exists to bring on the Christian End of Days in which virtually all Jews die or become Christians). I respect Dr. Sizer’s willingness to go beyond the comforts of parish life to engage critically in an issue of central concern to us all: how to prevent Israel from becoming the next apartheid South Africa, how to prevent Jews from becoming Afrikaners, and how to liberate the Palestinian people from the yoke of occupation and apartheid – causes Christians and Jews should be engaged with rather than outdated and discredited Tribunals. And while I don’t use Dr. Sizer’s faith-based language, I have never heard him utter a word that I would consider antisemitic. To accuse or “convict” him of such is truly medieval. It is all the more outrageous if you and your Tribunal are basing your judgement on the false and tendentious position represented by the IHRA assertion that any criticism of Israel is de facto antisemitic – a position disavowed by Kenneth Stern, who drafted the IHRA paper (only intended as a “working definition”), as well as by dozens of prominent Jewish and Israeli scholars and progressive Jewish and Israeli organizations.

Not only should Stephen Sizer be “acquitted” of such ridiculous charges, he should not have been brought before a Tribunal at all. I would have advised him to disassociate from this entire inquisitorial process completely – and I urge you to do so as well. Especially the Jews, for God’s sake!

In solidarity (with Stephen),

Dr Jeff Halper

ICAHD Statement of Support

A Dossier on Israeli Apartheid

A Dossier on Israeli Apartheid: A Pressing Call to Churches Around the World. Prepared by: Kairos Palestine and Global Kairos for Justice 2022

Sisters and brothers in Christ,

We, members of Kairos Palestine and Global Kairos for Justice, have created a theological study for Christians and other civil society organizations who want to learn more about the crime of apartheid and why Palestinians and a growing number of churches and human rights organizations are using the word to describe Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

In this guide, you will find: a clear description of apartheid and how Israel’s laws, policies and practices meet theinternational definition; a Biblical/theological reflection describing the sin of apartheid; a heartfelt call to the global church to hear the pleas of Palestinian Christians; and a list of recommended actions. Also included are brief summaries of and links to many of the reports cited above, statements made by churches, faith groups, and international leaders (including prominent Israeli Jews), and a short book list.

We call upon the churches around the world to receive and study this Dossier and respond to the evidence and the call to do justice. It is our hope that this study will equip the global church to rise up and join Palestinian Christians as we work to end Israel’s apartheid regime for the sake of all who live in the Holy Land.

+ Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah Chair of Kairos Palestine

Rifat Kassis
General Coordinator: Global Kairos for Justice Coalition

Download the dossier here: https://www.kairospalestine.ps/images/kp-a-dossier-on-israeli-apartheid-main.pdf

Statements of Support from Sabeel-Kairos UK & Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)

Sabeel-Kairos UK unequivocally stands in support and solidarity with the Revd. Dr. Stephen Sizer as he defends himself in a Bishops Disciplinary Tribunal this month. As a trustee of Sabeel-Kairos UK we have no evidence or reason to believe in the accusations of antisemitism brought against Stephen. As an organization we stand against any form of racism, be that antisemitism, Islamophobia or otherwise, and believe firmly that Stephen holds to these principles too.

We share Stephen’s concern and desire to see justice and equality become a reality in the Holy Land. These accusations of antisemitism raise significant concerns for us about the use of the IHRA definition to silence genuine concern and criticism of the Israeli government’s policies of oppression of the Palestinian people, now clearly evidenced as crimes of apartheid under international law, by respected international human rights organisations.

We sincerely hope that justice prevails in this trial, that Stephen’s name is cleared, and he receives adequate recompense for the distress he has endured.

Sabeel-Kairos UK Board of Trustees and staff members, May 2022.

Source: Sabeel-Kairos UK


#StandWithStephen

Our dear friend Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer is facing spurious accusations, yet again, in response to his tireless advocacy for Palestinian human rights and brilliant scholarship on the historical and theological influence of Christian Zionism.

His very future as an Anglican vicar is at stake, as he is set to face a Church of England tribunal (held Monday 23 – Friday 27 May 2022) arising from a complaint made by the Board of Deputies of British Jews against Stephen in 2018. The Tribunal will be held at St. Andrew’s Church Centre Holborn, Central London.

In the words of Dr. Gary M. Burge: “Stephen, you have single handedly done more to change this conversation about Christian Zionism than anyone I know.”

The truth is that while Stephen has been somewhat of a lightning rod for cynical accusations of anti-Semitism, this could be any of us. As such, we must not shrink from such accusations as they come, but stand together in solidarity for truth and justice. 

Source: Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)

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Palestinians and Israelis: A Short History of Conflict – A Review

Michael Scott-Baumann’s book on the history of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is the most useful I have read in a very long while. The book is a literary equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife. In 258 pages, broken up into ten easy to read chapters, the author provides much more than a concise history of the conflict. The value of the book is enhanced significantly by the inclusion of an index, a helpful glossary of key terms and people, a chronological time line and a bibliography for further study. The book will also prove useful for interactive group discussion as each chapter begins with key questions answered and concludes with personal testimonies to illustrate the human impact of the conflict. 

Over seventy years old, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is now the longest unresolved dispute in the hands of the United Nations. It is also the subject of more UN Resolutions than any other dispute in the world. Michael Scott-Baumann’s book explains the reasons why and puts in context the futile attempts at resolving the conflict, or indeed to diffuse the simmering tensions which all too frequently erupt in violence and death, invariably of Palestinian civilians.

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Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal for the Diocese of Winchester: The Revd Dr Stephen Sizer

The above Tribunal will be held Monday 23 – Friday 27 May 2022 arising from a complaint made by the Board of Deputies of British Jews against the Revd Dr Stephen Sizer in 2018. The Tribunal will be held at St Andrew’s Church Centre Holborn, Central London. If you wish to attend for one day or more, please RSVP to Mr Darren Oliver, the Registrar of Tribunals, as seating is limited. His email address is: doliver@wslaw.co.uk

A previous complaint by the Board of Deputies was resolved by conciliation in 2013. See below for further information about the previous complaint and its resolution:

Response to the Complaint of Misconduct from Stephen Sizer
Letters of Support
Conciliation Agreement

Southampton Peace Vigil for Ukraine Videos

Many people in Southampton joined together at the Peace Vigil for Ukraine in Guildhall Square last Friday evening, 11th March, which was addressed by religious and civic community leaders.

The Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Alex Houghton welcomed people and said “it’s truly humbling to see how the people of Southampton, including those with Polish, Ukrainian and Russian connections, have come together to help the people of Ukraine.”

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