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Statement by Jewish Network for Palestine (JNP) and the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), 3 February 2023. 

This updates our 5 January 2023 statement denouncing the Tribunal’s December decision.
The Church of England’s racist assumptions for punishing Reverend Dr Stephen Sizer
The Church of England has unjustly banned the Reverend Dr Stephen Sizer from serving as a vicar for 12 years.  This punishment implements its Tribunal’s judgement that he had engaged in ‘antisemitic activity’. Yet the Tribunal identified no antisemitic statements of his own. How, then, did it find him guilty of wrong-doing?
In brief, the Tribunal accepted his pro-Israel accusers’ two main narratives. First, they claimed to speak for all British Jews as strongly identifying with Israel and therefore offended by criticism. Second, the accusers treated such subjective ‘offence’ as evidence of ‘antisemitic behaviour’.  The CofE decision emphasised ‘the sensitivities of the Jewish race’ as regards Israel, thus associating all Jews with its institutionally racist regime.
For those reasons, the Tribunal’s decision had racist assumptions, as our analysis below explains in more detail.   Readers can also see the 6th December 2022
Decision by the Bishop's Disciplinary Tribunal for Winchester Diocese or a summary in Church Times.
Tribunal accepts the accusers’ racist narrative
As the political context for this Tribunal case, the allegations against Reverend Dr Sizer came from the Board of Deputies of British Jews (henceforth BoD). The BoD has consistently justified Israel’s numerous military attacks on Palestinian populations as self-defence. It has routinely denounced anti-Israel criticism as antisemitic. It makes such statements in the name of ‘the Jewish community’, thus associating all Jews with Israel’s institutionally racist regime, its war crimes and its political defence.
According to the BoD’s current and former Presidents, Reverend Dr Sizer had ‘provoked and offended the Jewish community and/or engaged in antisemitic behaviour’ through several actions in recent years. This vague accusation disconnects antisemitism from any objective criteria. Instead, it invokes a subjectively felt ‘offence’ and presumes such a widespread feeling as evidence of ‘antisemitic behaviour’.  The BoD’s accusatory document cited no witness statement from anyone about feeling offended or provoked.
BoD leaders had accused Reverend Dr Sizer of 11 specific acts that were offensive and/or antisemitic behaviour (see the
Decision, Annex A). The Tribunal eventually accepted four of those accusations as valid, in particular:
• meeting Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, a senior commander of Hezbollah forces, in 2006;
• posting a link to an article “The Mother of All Coincidences” in September 2010;
• posting a link to the article “9-11/Israel did it” that blamed Israel, in January 2015;
• defending the link that he had posted to the article blaming Israel for the 11 September 2011 attacks, in an Australian radio interview on 30 March 2018.
The Tribunal accepted ‘that neither the Respondent’s writings and statements express antisemitic views’ (Decision, page 30). And he had not endorsed the articles making dubious claims about Israel. In 2015 the Diocese published Sizer’s statement: “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.”
Nevertheless, the Tribunal said, posting the articles would predictably ‘provoke and offend the Jewish community’ and so constituted ‘antisemitic activity. It described Sizer as familiar with ‘sensitivities over criticism of the Jewish race’ (p.30 of the Decision). Thus the Tribunal homogenized Jews as a racial basis for closely identifying with Israel, and even projected its  own racist stereotype onto him.  In passing we note that Western antisemites have historically stereotyped Jews as a distinct ‘race’ who therefore belong elsewhere.
Anyone closely identifying with the Israeli regime will obviously feel offended by its critics and by any association with them. The BoD accusations treated a subjective ‘offence’ as adequate evidence that such feelings resulted from ‘antisemitic behaviour’. This false equation was accepted by the Church’s Tribunal. It likewise accepted a subjective ‘offence to Jews’ as adequate evidence that Reverend Dr Sizer had engaged in ‘antisemitic activity’ and thus inappropriate conduct. “There is regrettably a pattern of behaviour which falls short of the standard to which the Respondent should have aspired as an ordained minister” (p.25).
Role of IHRA Definition: attributing ‘offence’ to ‘antisemitic activity’
The IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism has provided a widespread means to conflate anti-Israel criticism with antisemitism, especially through four of its Israel examples.  At first sight, these examples have no obvious relevance to the case of the 9/11 attacks.  No Israel example was specifically cited to justify the Tribunal’s December 2022 judgement against Reverend Dr Sizer.
At the same time, it featured a lengthy discussion of the IHRA Definition. It included several quotes from
Bishop Ipgrave’s 2018 report, after which the CofE adopted the IHRA Definition.  As cited in the Tribunal’s decision, his report said:
… bearing in mind the general principle that perceptions by victims themselves of hostility or prejudice directed against them is a criterion for the identification of racial or religious hatred, it is clear that the perceptions of Jewish people themselves need to be taken very seriously in judging whether or not a person or group is thinking, speaking or behaving in an antisemitic way (page 7).  
This underlies the Tribunal’s decision to accept subjective ‘offence’ as adequate evidence that offensive comments indicate ‘antisemitic activity’.   In this case the supposed ‘victims’ are people who closely identify with an institutionally racist state.  They have only themselves to blame for feeling victimised. Yet their false accusations turn Israel’s critics into the real victims.  This case extends the pervasive role of the IHRA Definition as a political weapon for attributing ‘offence’ to antisemitism, as a basis to persecute the supposed offender, thus deterring potentially any criticism of Israel. 
Dr Reverend Sizer’s anti-racist activities
Over many years the BoD has made persistent efforts to target Reverend Dr Sizer with numerous false allegations of antisemitic behaviour. Why?  Here are three key reasons. Firstly, for many years he has critically analysed the racist character of the Zionist project, especially its antisemitic origins in Christian Zionism; see his 2007 book, Christian Zionism: Road-Map To Armageddon? Secondly, through the Peacemaker Trust, he has drawn together fellow Christian critics of Israel’s racist regime.
Third, he has been building interfaith connections on an anti-racist basis. For example, he spoke at a 2005 conference organised by the Islamic Human Rights Commission entitled "Towards a New Liberation Theology". The event had speakers from Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christianity, as well as diverse trends in Islam and Judaism. According to the BoD’s complaint to the CofE, a member of Hezbollah’s political wing was present, as grounds to regard Reverend Dr Sizer’s participation as antisemitic behaviour.
On the contrary, such events have pursued an anti-racist agenda to overcome ethnic and religious divisions, including Israel’s institutional racism. A durable, just peace in all of historic Palestine would require political equality for Jews, Muslims and Christians. Such a peaceful co-existence has a historical precedent in historic al-Andalus: which remains famous for its cultural, literary, artistic, architectural and scientific achievements. All faiths shared in communal life without the endemic Christian antisemitism and Islamophobia.
The Convivencia Alliance has been proposing such a peaceful, just and harmonious future. This seeks to undermine the destructive militaristic Zionism which has imposed a racist Apartheid, settler-colonial regime on historic Palestine, along with other injustices throughout the Middle East. The Alliance is currently chaired by Reverend Dr Sizer and has been endorsed by the Peacemaker Trust.
Conclusion: The Tribunal decision has caused great offence
In sum, the CofE Tribunal’s decision against Reverend Dr Sizer is based on a racist concept equating Jews with Israel.  This basis marginalises the many thousands of British Jews who oppose Israel’s settler-colonial regime, its militarised apartheid and brutal occupation.
The CofE decision may deter other CofE clergy from criticising Israel, ‘causing offence’ and thus being disciplined. Indeed, such deterrence was the aim of the BoD, perhaps also of the CofE.  This deterrent effect would protect the pro-Israel lobby, not Jews in general. 
The Tribunal’s decision extends a general pattern of false allegations since 2017.  Various disciplinary procedures have taken up a partisan subjective emotion, especially ‘offence to Jews’, in turn equated with anti-Israel criticism.  
Here our statement reverses the charge.  We feel offended and provoked by the Tribunal's racist decision, equating Jews with Israel and deferring to the pro-Israel lobby. Its decision should be revoked and abandoned.
Rather than accept false allegations against Reverend Dr Sizer, the CofE should apply Matthew’s maxim: “Blessed are the peacemakers”, i.e. those who oppose the Israeli war-mongers, their racist Jewish-supremacist agenda, and their many crimes against humanity.