Antisemitism and the Trial of Stephen Sizer
On December 6, 2022, the Church of England officially convicted former vicar Dr. Stephen Sizer of antisemitic behavior and offending the Jewish community. We covered the details of the case and allegations in part one of this series.
In making its decision, the court used the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism––“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities”––along with its eleven examples of antisemitic behavior.
Upon examining Sizer’s actions in light of the IHRA’s definition, the court concluded the following:
The Tribunal is satisfied that in respect of allegations (B), (F), (H), and (J) . . . the Respondent’s conduct was unbecoming to the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders, in that he provoked and offended the Jewish community, and, in the case of allegation (H), his conduct was unbecoming, in that he engaged in antisemitic activity, all within section 8(1)(3) of the Clergy Discipline Measure.
Three of the four allegations involved blaming Israel for the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States. We at Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem applaud the Church of England for invoking church discipline in this matter, as antisemitism has no place within the church of Messiah Jesus. We also believe this case and its conviction presents a few important lessons for us as believers.
First, antisemitism is wrong, and we in the church need to hold other church members accountable for antisemitic rhetoric (Galatians 1:6). The church, sadly, has a long, ugly history of antisemitism. We encourage anyone unfamiliar with the church’s historic persecution of the Jewish people to read Dr. Michael Brown’s book, Our Hands Are Stained With Blood. The church must repent of antisemitism in all its forms. Those who espouse antisemitic rhetoric are not only disobeying Jesus’ command to love one’s neighbor (Mark 12:31) but are positioning themselves as enemies of God (Genesis 12:3; Zechariah 12:9–10).
Second, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). The apostle James wrote the tongue is “the very world of iniquity” (James 3:6), “set on fire by hell” (v. 6), “a restless evil” (v. 8), and “full of deadly poison” (v. 8). Instead of using our tongue to curse others “who have been made in the likeness of God” (v. 9), we ought to use it to bless others, especially the Jewish people. God promised to bless those who bless the Jewish people and to curse the one who curses them (Genesis 12:3).
Finally, criticism of Israel can easily cross over into antisemitism, as we discussed in part one. We believe the church needs to approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with wisdom and love toward both Israelis and Palestinians. We at Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem uphold the biblical truth of God’s enduring covenant with Israel while also maintaining a position of love and understanding toward Palestinians, as stated in our affirmations.
In light of the court’s recent decision, may we, as believers, keep these lessons in mind as we continue to pray for the peace of all who live in the Holy Land (Psalm 122:6).
by Jennifer Miles
 “What is Antisemitism?” International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, accessed December 9, 2022, https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/resources/working-definitions-charters/working-definition-antisemitism.
 “Participating in a conference run by the Islamic Human Rights Commission entitled ‘Towards a New Liberation Theology’ in 2005” as cited in George Conger, “Stephen Sizer Found Guilty of Conduct Unbecoming a Clerk in Holy Orders for Offending the Jewish Community,” December 6, 2022, 26, https://anglican.ink/2022/12/06/stephen-sizer-found-guilty-of-conduct-unbecoming-a-clerk-in-holy-orders-for-offending-the-jewish-community/.
 “In September 2010, he posted a link to an article entitled ‘The Mother of All Coincidences,’” as cited in Conger, 29.
 “Promoting the idea that Israel was behind the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 by posting a link in January 2015 to the article entitled ‘9-11/Israel did it’ that blamed Israel for the attacks,” as cited in Conger, 30.
 “In an interview on 30 March 2018 on Australian radio, by defending the link he posted to the article blaming Israel for the 11 September 2011 terrorist attacks,” as cited in Conger, 31.
 Ibid, 32–33.