Instead of Condemning the neo-Nazis Who Attack Christian Palestinians Justin Welby prefers to play the role of Pontius Pilate
To: Church of England
Support Revd. Dr. Stephen Sizer’s against his unjust victimisation
The Church of England doesn’t have a good record when it comes to fighting racism, including anti-Semitism. Cosmo Gordon Lang, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1928 to 1942, suggested to American diplomat James McDonald shortly before World War II that the Jews were responsible for their persecution by the Nazis.
Terence Tastard writes in his PhD thesis ‘The Response of the English Churches to the Nazi Persecution of the Jews 1933-1945’ that:
the response by Church of England leaders during the 1930s was fitful and issue-led. Despite his sudden eruption over the cartoon [in the Nazi paper Der Sturmer] , Lang had little to say about the situation of the Jews as the crisis in Germany deepened between 1934 and 1938.
In recent times, with the exception of Archbishops of Canterbury George Carey and Justin Welby, who both protected child-abusers within the Church, senior prelates like Robert Runcie and Rowan Williams have tended to the more liberal side of politics.
Archbishop Justin Welby
With the advent of Justin Welby to the Archbishopric of Canterbury things changed. Welby came from a deeply conservative family. Father Gavin stood for Parliament in the 1951 and 1955 general elections as a Conservative candidate. Welby, educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge was born to the ruling class.
Welby is the most reactionary Archbishop of Canterbury since Carey, who was appointed by Thatcher after his predecessor Robert Runcie had issued Faith in the City, which was ‘an indictment of Thatcher’s free-market policies.’ Almost immediately Chief Rabbi Jakobovits leapt to her defence with From Doom to Hope, arguing:
blacks should not look to the state but instead to themselves and take responsibility for their poverty. He argued that they should learn from the Jewish experience of working themselves out of poverty, educating themselves and building up a “trust in and respect for the police, realising that our security as a minority depended on law and order being maintained
leading Thatcher to remark
“Oh, how I wish our own [Anglican] church leaders would take a leaf out of your Chief Rabbi’s book.”
British Jewish hostility to socialism did not start with Corbyn!
It is inconceivable that Welby would author anything but the mildest rebuke of the government’s political and economic policies. He is a died-in-the-wool reactionary and so Zionism is second nature.
Welby worked for 11 years in the oil industry and in 1984 he became treasurer of Enterprise Oil. He also became a member of the Evangelical Anglican church of Holy Trinity in Brompton, London. He retired in 1989 and suddenly sensed a calling from God.
In July 2013, following a Parliamentary Report on Banking Standards, Welby leapt to the defence of bankers, warning against punishing by naming and shaming individual bankers, which he compared to the behaviour of a lynch mob. It was the behaviour of the bankers which led to the 2008/9 crash which led to over 300,000 deaths from austerity as the poor paid the price. Welby’s sympathies however were firmly with the bankers not the poor.
Welby also joined in the state’s Islamaphobia campaign that accompanied the ‘war against terror’ and the fight against ISIS. In November 2016 he was quoted as saying that
Claims that the atrocities of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have “nothing to do with Islam” are harming efforts to confront and combat extremism.
Isis did not exist before the US invasion of Iraq destroyed the existing society, killing a million people in the process. It was a war for oil masquerading as a war for democracy. By deliberately stoking up sectarian divisions in Iraq, the old divide and rule, the US created first Al Quaeda in Iraq and then ISIS. Welby of course kept silent because, as an oil trader, he benefited from the genocide in Iraq.
Welby was following in the footsteps of Carey, a Christian Zionist, in more ways than one. In February 2017, Welby had to apologise after allegations that barrister and evangelical Christian John Smyth beat boys in the late 1970s until their wounds bled and left permanent scars. Smyth was a senior member of Christian charity the Iwerne Trust in the 1970s and 1980s.
Welby was a dormitory officer at camps held in the Dorset village of Iwerne Minster. Smyth was described by Welby in 2017 as “charming” and “delightful.” They even swapped Christmas cards for some years. Andrew Atherstone in Risk Taker and Reconciler, described Welby as having been
involved in the camps as an undergraduate […] businessman and theological college student in the 1980s and early 1990s.
In 2012, a victim of Smyth reported the abuse to the CoE and Welby was informed in 2013. Welby maintained that this was the first he had heard of the abuse by his old friend. The New York Times on 14 October 2017 quoted a senior Church of England figure as saying that
“all senior members of the trust, including officers like Archbishop Welby, had been made aware of the allegations against Mr Smyth, even those who had been abroad”.
Questions have remained among Smyth victims as to when Welby first knew. Some have labelled the Archbishop an “observer“, a term denoting a person who knew about abuse but who did not report it.
None of this stopped Welby, on 30 January 2023 issuing a statement on Stephen Sizer. Hypocrisy is, after all, the tribute that vice pays to virtue. Welby pontificated that:
It is clear that the behaviour of Stephen Sizer has undermined Christian-Jewish relations, giving encouragement to conspiracy theories and tropes that have no place in public Christian ministry and the church. I renew my call for the highest possible standards among ordained ministers of the Church of England in combatting antisemitism of all kinds.”
Unfortunately Welby refused to take his own advice on ‘the highest possible standards’. Despite multiple calls he has refused to resign.
From 1997 to 2017 Sizer was the Vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water. Stephen was an expert on Christian Zionism.
Christian Zionism is a deeply racist, genocidal ideology that justifies the colonisation of Palestine because god ‘gave it’ to the Jews. It justifies persecution in the name of god. There is nothing that Jewish settlers or Israel do which it can’t justify in order to reach End Times.
Christian Zionism is a fundamentalist reading of the Bible that ignores context and even Jewish theology. The idea that colonists have the right to expel an indigenous people because ‘god’ gave them permission is by definition inherently racist.
God also blessed the American settlers as they exterminated the Native Indians. Likewise with the Spanish. This is the god that Welby prays to. The CoE was also an active participant in the slave trade
Upon the death of Christopher Codrington in 1710, his two estates were left to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. The plantations were reliant on regular supplies of new slaves from West Africa. Four out of every 10 slaves bought by the plantation in 1740 died within three years as it was cheaper to work them to death.
Whilst acknowledging that the CoE is ‘institutionally racist’ Welby has failed to recognise his own part in it. The establishment of a medieval church tribunal to try Sizer for ‘anti-Semitism’ allegations made by the Board of Deputies is an example of this racism.
The Racist Board of Deputies [BoD] of British Jews
There is a saying in law that “He Who Comes Into Equity Must Come With Clean Hands.” In other words you cannot accuse others of a crime if you are also guilty! So it is with the Board of Deputies.
The Board of Deputies is primarily an advocate and defender of Israeli Apartheid. It is riddled with Islamaphobes and racists.
Samuel Hayek, Chair of JNF UK agreed with the neo-Nazi White Replacement Theory in which Muslims are driving White people from Europe. Its anti-Semitic version has Jews behind it. Hayek declared that “Jews have no future in England”:
The evidence is the number of immigrants to England. The demographic of British society is changing.
Asked if he was referring to Muslims, he confirmed that was so:
Our problem in the West is that we do not understand Islam. In Islam there is not a term for ‘peace’.
Gary Mond, another JNF trustee and also Senior Vice-President of the BoD spoke of his “respect” for Hayek over the comments.
Mond also liked two tweets by Pamela Geller – a White Supremacist and fascist, who has been banned from entry to the UK. According to the Southern Poverty Law Centre
Geller has a long history of working with extremists and racists in the United States, Canada and Europe, including the Jewish Defense League, the English Defense League and the white nationalist group Bloc Identitaire, among others.
A Facebook post by Mond stated that
“We just have to hope that our leaders wake up to the fact that all civilisation-west and east… is at war with these evil bastards, and I have to say it at war with Islam. And, just as Islam has lost before in history, it will lose again.”
Mond was not alone. Three years ago the BoD suspended for 6 years Roslyn Pine for describing Arabs as “the vilest of animals.” Three years previously Pine had said that it was a pity that the pro-Palestinian Swedish foreign minister was “too old to be raped.”
This didn’t stop the BoD Executive ruling that Pine could return early from her suspension if she ‘apologised, showed contrition and expressed remorse’. Contrast that with the 12 year ban on Stephen Sizer for a concoction of tittle tattle and links made in error, as the BoD demanded its pound of flesh or the demand of the BoD that Labour members expelled for ‘anti-Semitism’ ‘will never be readmitted to membership’.
What was the reaction of Pine’s Finchley United Synagogue which she represented? The Jewish News reported that
Finchley Synagogue will look into the plight of its suspended deputy Roslyn Pine as a matter of “urgency”. (my emphasis)
Pine’s suspension has not prevented her from taking part in the ‘BoD caucus’ group, which attempted to remove Board President Marie van der Zyl in favour of far-right-winger Jonathan Neumann. Zyl only just won as Neumann gained 43.7%. According to the Jewish News
Leaked emails show Roslyn Pine has contributed to the online BoD-caucus group in recent weeks despite being removed from the Board in 2018 …
One post, made on the subscriber-only Google group on 18 March, lambasted the incumbent President Marie van der Zyl after the Board released a statement expressing solidarity with the traveller community and claiming a “shared history”.
Pine’s post included the claim: “The idea that traveller communities share a commonality with us is absurd.”
Board of Deputies Representative Robert Festenheim appears in Tommy Robinson Propaganda Video
If the Board were serious about getting rid of its racists it would have removed Robert Festenheim, the Prestwich Deputy, solicitor and advisor to Tommy Robinson and Robinson’s solicitor Daniel Berke.
In January 2022 Mond, who received the highest vote of the 3 Vice-Presidents, was forced to resign. Mond had written on Facebook and tweeted that ‘all civilization’ is ‘at war with Islam.’ Note the contrast with the Board’s fulminations against Stephen Sizer.
The tribunal ignored the fact that Section 3(d) of the Board’s Constitution states that the BoD shall:
(d) Take such appropriate action as lies within its power to advance Israel’s security, welfare and standing.
In her evidence Marie van der Zyl accepted
‘that part of the constitution refers to promoting a sympathetic understanding of Israel, nevertheless she maintained that, on occasions, the Board does criticise the state of Israel.’
In fact the Board never criticises the Israeli State. When Israeli snipers murdered 234 unarmed Palestinians who were demonstrating as part of the Great Return march, the Board defended the murders and criticised the victims. Arkush and Zyl, who both gave evidence to the tribunal, issued a press release stating:
“No state could allow its borders to be breached by those who openly wish harm to its civilians. Israel is defending its people from repeated violent attempts at mass invasion.
“The responsibility for the violence lies with Hamas, a terrorist organisation with the explicit stated aim of murdering Israeli civilians and the ultimate destruction of the State of Israel.
It was a lie from start to finish. Those who were murdered were unarmed civilians. Arkush and Zyl claimed that Israel’s border was breached (there is no border, it’s a fence) but even if it had been breached shooting down refugees in cold blood is still a war crime. Palestinians at a distance from the fence like 21 year old Palestinian medic Razan al Najar were shot dead and thousands were injured. The Board defended this and all Israel’s other crimes.
21 Year Old Palestinian Medic Razan al Najar was murdered by an Israeli soldier – she was considered a ‘terrorist’
Hundreds of British Jews signed a letter protesting at the BOD’s support for the murder of civilians. Yet the Tribunal preferred to accept the claim that the BoD represents British Jews at face value.
Nor has the BoD expressed even the slightest concern at the fact that the new Israeli government contains Jewish neo-Nazis as Ministers. Like the 3 wise monkeys the Board says, sees and hears nothing.
The BoD Complains Again About Stephen Sizer
If at first you don’t succeed try and try again. Especially if there is a new, racist Archbishop of Canterbury in place.
In January 2015 Arkush made another Complaint, this time to Bishop Andrew, the new Bishop of Guildford. On 30 January 2015, the Diocese published a press statement quoting Sizer:
“I have never believed Israel, or any other country was complicit in the terrorist atrocity of 9/11, and my sharing of this material was ill-considered and misguided.”
In a press statement of February 2015, Bishop Andrew said
“Having now met Stephen, in my brand-new role as Bishop of Guildford, I do not believe that his motives are anti-Semitic…”
‘Anti-Semitism’ was not why Arkush complained. His purpose was to silence a critic of Israel’s treatment of Christian Palestinians. This is why the witchhunt continued to its medieval conclusion.
Amazingly throughout this whole affair the BoD, the CCJ and the various Evangelical defamers, Howard et al. have not been able to produce one anti-Semitic word or phrase that Sizer has used.
The agenda of those persecuting Stephen Sizer was crystal clear and Welby was aware from the start what it was. The Church Tribunal under David Pittaway behaved in exactly the same way as the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith under the Inquisition.
At times the tribunal descended from comedy to farce, for example when Van der Zyl became hysterical and was rebuked by the Chair for refusing to answer questions under cross-examination or when Arkush suffered a senior moment when being reminded that a Subject Access Request to the CCJ had revealed that Nick Howard, (son of Michael Howard) a Messianic (Christian) Zionist had been drafting his crib sheets when he confronted Dr Sizer’s bishop.
What on earth was the President of the Board of Deputies doing relying on crib sheets prepared by Messianic Jews (who are not even recognised as Jews in Israel)? Because they even more Zionist than the Zionists. What would members of the BoD make of that?
And where were the prosecution witnesses? Could they not find a single person within the Jewish community who was offended by his Facebook posts or what he had written?
But embarrassing moments were shared equally between the Board of Deputies and the Church of England.
On the fourth day of the tribunal, we were convinced that the case had collapsed when the expert witness for the prosecution, Bishop Ipgrave, chair of CCJ, admitted under cross examination that he was not an expert witness and had either not read or just plain ignored the instructions given him about what to include and not include in his definition of antisemitism.
Exasperated, at that point, the Chair turned to the only expert witness left standing, Tony Lerman, and asked him to please help them out and provide a simple definition of antisemitism.
When Mr Lerman spelt out the blindingly obvious, namely that the discredited IHRA misdefinition of antisemitism (on which the entire case against Dr Sizer rested) fell at the first test of a definition, in being indefinite, it seemed clear that the complaint had collapsed.
Perhaps that is why the panel took six months to recover their composure before finally publishing their decision, which, surprise, surprise, included the entire wording of the aforementioned IHRA misdefinition. Perhaps they did so to placate the BoD (who had coerced the Archbishops to adopt it) and make the House of Bishops look less foolish for adopting the IHRA, (coincidentally within days of the complaint being lodged).
Was the shockingly disproportionate severity of the penalty in part because the panel were miffed at being contradicted by the former Bishop of Jerusalem? In his letter of support for Dr Sizer, Bishop Assal observed that they had clearly not consulted a Middle East bishop on the necessity of wearing clerical attire, in particular in a war zone like Southern Lebanon. The bishop pointed out that clergy were required to wear a clerical shirt at all times and NOT doing so would be regarded as irresponsible and ‘conduct unbecoming’.
In what was clearly a rebuke to the Anglican hierarchy, this feisty octogenarian, wished there were more courageous bishops and clergy like Dr Sizer willing to challenge Israeli apartheid and their Christian Zionist fan club. He insisted ‘western appeasement’ (read silence of the CoE) was leading to the extinction of Palestinian Christians in the Holy land. Not the legacy Welby might wish to be remembered for.
The Tribunal consisted of 5 members – The Worshipful David Pittaway KC (Chair), The Rev. Geoffrey Eze, The Rev. Canon Liz Hughes., Canon Andrew Halstead and Ms Gabrielle Higgins.
My first impression on reading the Decision was its superficiality. It was as if the tribunal found issues of racism, anti-Semitism and Zionism too difficult to comprehend. Where decisions were reached there was little or no explanation. It was intellectually lightweight.
Counsel for the Prosecution, Mr Leviseur argued that Stephen Sizer’s
‘course of conduct, taken collectively, provoked and offended the Jewish community’.
And sure enough, the tribunal at para. 95 of its decision, repeats this without even pausing for thought. They found that:
the question is not whether the Respondent intended to offend or provoke anyone nor whether the Tribunal is offended by his behaviour but whether the Jewish community was offended and provoked by his conduct
What if ‘the Jewish community’ (a non-existent entity) were offended? A tribunal with a slightly greater cerebral capacity would have asked whether you can have free speech if you don’t have the right to offend people?
In the case of Katherine Elizabeth Scottow v CPS the Court of Appeal ruled that the right to offend is an integral part of freedom of speech: “Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.” Not once in their decision did the tribunal even begin to appreciate that even had this mythical ‘Jewish community’ been offended by Sizer’s writings then that was the price of free speech.
In para. 91 of its decision the tribunal was reminded that Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights affirms the right of free speech. The tribunal in its decision simply ignored the submission.
In Handyside v. The United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights held that the right to freedom of expression in Article 10 of the ECHR protects not only expressions that are favorably received but also those that ‘offend, shock or disturb’.
The tribunal simply ignored case law finding (para. 117) that:
To the extent that it was submitted on behalf of the Respondent that any of the matters complained of come within section 8(3) of the CDM, namely that they were the consequence of lawful political opinions or activities, the Tribunal rejects that submission.
Again there was no reasoning. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the tribunal was out of its depth.
Racists are undoubtedly offended by anti-racism. Israeli Jews are offended by the idea that the Israeli state should be a democratic state of all its citizens. Should we bow to Jewish Supremacy?
Likewise the BoD wasn’t offended by Stephen Sizer’s ‘anti-Semitism’ but his persistent and consistent advocacy for the Palestinians. That and that alone has resulted in his being banned.
The tribunal indulged in mundane clichés. How do you offend a whole community? What evidence was there for such an assertion? 99.9% of British Jews have probably never read a word by Sizer. Opposition to Zionism and support for the Palestinians certainly offends the BoD because it is an aggressive pro-Israel lobby group.
The most cogent evidence was given by Frances Webber of the Institute for Race Relations. The accusations against Sizer had nothing to with either racism or anti-Semitism. ‘Causing offence’ was really about ‘thought policing’.
Webber emphasised that causing offence is not synonymous with racism. Racism is certainly offensive but not everything that is offensive is racist. The tribunal was incapable of moving beyond ‘giving offence’ to the BoD and asking why the knives were out for Sizer by an assortment of Zionist groups and individuals.
Summary of the Allegations Against Stephen Sizer
The first Board of Deputies complaint was made by Jonathan Arkush on 26 October 2012. It consisted of a series of trivialities such as inadvertently linking to anti-Semitic sites such as the Ugly Truth.
Another example of ‘anti-Semitism’ was posting photographs of the Israeli army under the title “Herod’s Soldiers Operating in Bethlehem Today” Arkush drew the conclusion that
Rev Sizer is therefore insinuating that Israeli soldiers are therefore both child killers and potential killers of Christ, or that any Jew in uniform becomes these two things.
What Arkush was saying was that these armed thugs should not be criticised because they were Jewish. The dishonesty in Arkush’s argument is plain to see. He elides Jews and the Israeli army into one. The Israeli army are child killers. Nearly 40 Palestinian children were killed out of over 230 murdered Palestinians in 2022. How can the truth be anti-Semitic? The tribunal didn’t say.
On 13th June 2011 Sizer gave a TV interview in which he claimed that the British far right and Zionists were forming an alliance because their common enemy were Muslims. But this is true but apparently still anti-Semitic! Was Tommy Robinson attending the Board’s own demonstration in support of Israel an illusion?
On 5th July 2011Sizer linked to an article in the Palestine Telegraph which accused Israel of killing scientists all over the world. Apparently that is anti-Semitic although it is true.
On 24th December 2011Sizer gave an interview to Qods News Agency. Qods News Agency is apparently a Holocaust denying website. Does that mean that Sizer is a holocaust denier?
On 31st December 2011Sizer’s blog linked to a piece by Uri Avnery on the Redress website. It is not immediately obvious that Redress has anti-Semitic content. Avnery was a former member of the Israeli Knesset and a founder of the Israeli peace camp. A more absurd accusation is difficult to imagine.
On 1st March 2012 Sizer posted a picture of American bases surrounding Iran on his blog. Because it came from the Veterans Today site it is also not kosher.
Later in March 2012 Sizer, in an interview with Arab radio, referred to the “power of the Zionist lobby” and recommended Al Manar TV which apparently hosted a programme on a global Jewish government. Was Sizer aware of this? Very unlikely.
Marie van der Zyl complained that Sizer had supported Raed Saleh, a Palestinian Israeli who is ‘known for spreading the blood libel claim against Jews and otherwise inciting antisemitism.’ But that was a lie. Raed Saleh was accused of this by the Home Office in 2011. The Upper Immigration Tribunal found that the allegations against him were false and that the evidence had been tampered with.
It is true that an Israeli court subsequently found him guilty of racial hatred but here’s the problem. In Israel Jews are never convicted of this offence even when they demonstrate chanting ‘Death to the Arabs’. It is only Palestinians who are ever found guilty of racism in Israel! See May warned of weak case against Sheikh Raed Salah. Mr Justice Ockelton ruled on the blood libel issue that:
“…there is no reliable evidence of [Salah] using words carrying a reference to the blood libel save in the single passage in a sermon delivered five years ago. … The absence of other evidence is striking … [Salah] is a prominent public figure and a prolific speaker. … his speeches are of interest to the authorties in Israel. … We think it can be fairly said that the evidence before us is not a sample, or ‘the tip of the iceberg’: it is simply all the evidence there is.”
Raed Saleh denied that he had referred to the blood libel but contrast that with van der Zyl’s statement that he was ‘known for spreading the blood libel claim against Jews’. Van der Zyl is a bad liar.
Jeff Halper and Stephen Sizer
There were many supporting statements, including my own, in the tribunal but because of procedural manoeuvring they were unable to be used because the Prosecution had a veto on which witnesses were called. I want to quote from just one supporting statement by Dr Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
No one in the world has stood with the besieged Christians of Palestine more than Dr Sizer. He has given voice to their distress when the Church of England has been silent. The fact that the Church has gone to the extreme of accusing Dr Sizer of anti-Semitism because he speaks up in defence of Palestinian Christians only compounds the sin. It is morally grotesque that the Church of England is submitting Dr Sizer to a medieval Tribunal (euphemistically called a “Clergy Discipline Measure”) at the instigation of the organized British Jewish community instead of examining its own role in facilitating Israel’s persecution of Palestine’s Christians. And it is equally outrageous that Jews even consider participating in religious Tribunals given what Jews experienced in the Inquisition. “Support for Israel,” it seems, is exposing the immorality and cynicism of the highest figures in our major religions.
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
The reality is that Justin Welby, who covered for child abuse, has allowed this Medieval Inquisition to take place because he is himself a Christian Zionist. In so doing he has deliberately turned a blind eye to the ongoing attacks on the Palestinian Christian community.
Palestinian Christians don’t suffer from taking offence at criticism. They suffer from arson at their churches, repeated vandalism in their graveyards, spitting on the streets of Jerusalem by Jewish nationalists, physical attacks by the Police and state. It’s not hurt feelings but attempts to drive them out altogether that they experience and in this Justin Welby is complicit because he refuses to condemn the racism of Zionism. Like all Christian Zionists he believes that Jews will ‘return’ to Palestine in order that the Battle of Armageddon can take place and then he and his fellows will rapture to heaven. Most Jews will perish but that is a small price to pay for everlasting salvation.
Below are just some of the headlines concerning, not fake ‘anti-Semitism’ or taking offence at criticism but real racist attacks:
Le Monde 4.2.23.
On the morning of Thursday, February 2, a man entered the Chapel of Flagellation in the Old City of Jerusalem, allegedly built on the site where Pontius Pilate handed over Jesus for execution, the first of the Stations of the Cross in the Catholic tradition. The vandal struck a wooden statue of Christ with a hammer….
This was the fifth attack in five weeks against Christians, their places of worship and their properties in the Holy Land, compared with 13 in the whole of 2020 and nine in 2021.
Statement on the Current Threat to the Christian Presence in the Holy Land December 14th, 2021
Since 2015, far-right Israeli activists have attacked several churches in Israel and Palestine.
Some Israeli figures close to the growing Religious Zionism political movement, which has four MPs, have been outspoken about banning Christmas and said that churches are places of worshipping idols, calling for their destruction.
The Church of the Multiplication on the Sea of Galilee suffered from an arson attack in 2015 at the hands of an Israeli far-right group.
Last December, an Israeli man attempted to set fire to East Jerusalem’s historic Gethsemane Church, also known as the Church of All Nations, before being arrested.
On Thursday evening, a group of settlers swarmed the Taboon Wine Barat the New Gate in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem. CCTV footage shows the group carrying banners and throwing chairs violently toward the restaurant and those seated inside.
Israeli police, who arrived an hour after a call had been made, ushered the crowd away but reportedly made no arrests.
Clergymen in the Armenian Church in Jerusalem say they are victims of harassment, from senior cardinals to priesthood students; when they do complain, the police don’t usually find the perpetrators.
Ultra-Orthodox young men curse and spit at Christian clergymen in the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City as a matter of routine. In most cases the clergymen ignore the attacks, but sometimes they strike back. Last week the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court quashed the indictment against an Armenian priesthood student who had punched the man who spat at him.
Instead of conducting an Inquisition and crucifying Stephen Sizer, Welby and the CoE would do well do address the racism of an Israeli state that the BoD has repeatedly defended. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the close monitoring of Stephen Sizer’s blog and social media output has nothing to do with anti-Semitism and everything to do with Israel and Zionism.
When Jewish neo-Nazis such as Itamar Ben Gvir, who even Israeli courts have convicted of racial incitement becomes Israel’s Police Minister and when proposals are being made to repeal a law preventing racist candidates standing election to the Knesset, it is obscene that the CoE and its Christian Zionist defenders are allowed to persecute a brave and fearless defender of the weak and oppressed.