We Support Anglican Priest, Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer, Accused of Anti-Semitism


Many of you know that in 1998-1999, I was a Fulbright Scholar working at the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies (RIIFS) under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal, King Hussein’s brother, in Amman, Jordan. In the ensuing years I was invited back three different times to give lectures to an audience of diplomats, scholars, expatriates, and others.

In June, 2006, Rev. Dr. Don Wagner, Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer, and I formed a panel at WOCMES-2, the World Congress of Middle Eastern Studies, hosted by HRH Prince Hassan and RIIFS. WOCMES is a gathering of scholars, researchers and others whose fields of study are the Middle East, North Africa, and the Muslim states of Central Asia. Over 1100 gathered in Amman from June 11-16 in Amman with over 40 sessions daily.

At that time, Don was a Professor of Theology at an evangelical university in Chicago, increasingly under fire from his superiors at the instigation of the Jewish Federation of Chicago. And Stephen was an Anglican parish priest in the UK, also consistently attacked by evangelical Anglicans as well as various groups of British Jews. And just the year prior, I had begun our Indiana Center for Middle East Peace in Fort Wayne. The focus of our session was “Christian Zionism.” While Don’s and Stephen’s presentations focused on its biblical, theological, and historical foundations, the title of my presentation was: “In the Beauty of the Lilies: Civil Religion, Manifest Destiny, and American Middle East Foreign Policy.”

In the few days we spent in Jerusalem before we headed to Amman, Don and Stephen introduced me to two of their friends who continue as our friends to this day: Rev. Garth Hewitt, the British troubadour for justice at whose consecration as Honorary Canon of St. George’s Anglican Cathedral we attended; and Dr. Jeff Halper, the Jewish anthropologist, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and founding Executive Director of the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD); I now serve as the co-chair of the ICAHD-USA Board.

We’ve hosted Don here twice (and I’ve co-led a trip with him to Palestine and Israel), as well as Stephen in 2011 and Jeff (2019). And both Garth and Jeff will be our ICMEP guests in Fort Wayne this fall – Garth will be In Concert for our International Peace Day celebration on Saturday, September 17; and Jeff, now co-chair, too, of the One Democratic State Campaign in Israel, will be here on Tuesday, October 11.


All this is background. I have known Stephen Sizer since 2004, introduced to me by Don Wagner. And while we approach the Bible and Christian tradition differently (Stephen would identify as an evangelical Anglican), we share completely our solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for justice from our Christian theological views. Stephen is a retired Anglican priest, a PhD in Theology, and founder of the UK charity, Peacemaker Trust. He has been a close friend of Rev. Naim Ateek and the Sabeel Palestinian Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, Bethlehem Bible College, and one of the founders/advisors of Christ at the Checkpoint, the bi-annual conference of evangelical Christians who stand in solidarity with their Palestinian Christian sisters and brothers. Stephen’s books and tapes on Christian Zionism are groundbreaking, and he has spoken to Christian and Muslim groups throughout the Arab World – Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, and more.

This week, May 23-27, Stephen will be the subject of a Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal of the Diocese of Winchester concerning a complaint made by the Board of Deputies of British Jews in 2018. This is not the first time that the Board of Deputies of British Jews have accused Stephen of antisemitism (2013). He is being tried because of his legitimate criticism of the State of Israel and its underlying Zionist foundation.



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.

The following statement of support comes from ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. It is written in a more personal way, however, by Dr. Jeff Halper, ICAHD’s Director, because he wanted to protest not only the politics, immorality, and illegality of trial-by-Tribune in the 21st Century, but to express his own outrage that Jews would be part of such a process, as if they learned nothing from their own trials-by-Tribune during the Inquisition.

The Statement

May 15, 2022

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *