An interview with Garth Hewitt on what is happening in Gaza, his numerous visits to Gaza and the context for his song ‘The Broken Heart of Gaza’ which has now been revised to include the word genocide.
Garth was inspired to write the song by Father Manuel Musallam, the Parish Priest of Gaza, who had written to the wider Church of God. His letter was made public in January 2009.
‘Father Musallam’s letter inspired me with its great beauty and reminds me so strongly of a New Testament Epistle’ Garth Hewitt
“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.
“It is a revolution of peacemaking, of following Jesus the peacemaker. It is a revolution that rejects violence as a solution, rejects greed, and embraces justice for all, sharing with all and welcoming the forgotten. It is a rejection of past ways of mistreating people and is a call for equality. It also recognises the responsibility for the care of the planet. It is a revolution of hope.” Garth Hewitt