Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Tony Greenstein Responds to Allegations of Antisemitism

Church Times Letters
13-17 Long Lane

Dear Sir or Madam,

I read with interest the article 'Priest under fire for controversial web-site link' in last week's edition of the Church Times.

As a Jewish cofounder of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, I have never heard or read anything by Stephen Sizer that could possibly be construed as anti-Semitic. To accuse people of anti-Semitism when they evince not a whiff of racism is to let the real anti-Semites off the hook. Like the boy who cried wolf, such false accusations are of aid to the real wolves.

The fact that Stephen inadvertently posted a link on his blog to a web site which carried holocaust denial material is irrelevant. I have also posted links to sites that I have had to delete when their purpose and content became clear. I suspect many of Stephen’s accusers may have done likewise. Unfortunately the web is full of conspiracy sites, many of which are not obvious at first sight.

The real issue of racism which Stephen and many thousands of others address is the horrific discrimination faced by the Arabs of Israel and Palestine. Just this week Israel’s Supreme Court, in a shameful decision, decided that Israeli Arabs could not marry Arabs outside the country and continue to live in Israel. Contrast this with the position whereby I can move to Israel, any time I wish, living with whoever I wish to be my partner, without let or hindrance, and claim immediate citizenship. To this very day, half the Arab villages in Israel are ‘unrecognised’ and subject to demolition, as is happening to the Bedouin in the Negev. This, not anti-Semitism, is the real issue.

For too long the accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ has deterred people, especially Christians, from supporting the Palestinians. Christian anti-Semitism of the past is in danger of being repeated as the Church is being guilt-tripped into supporting Zionism. The real lesson is that we should not turn a blind eye to racism, whomsoever practices it and whomsoever is its victim.

Stephen Sizer is to be congratulated for the position he has taken. He has been subject to very considerable personal vilification. I would hope that prominent Anglican leaders, including Archbishop Rowan Williams, speak up in Stephen’s support and are not intimidated by these defamatory and false accusations of anti-Semitism.

Yours faithfully,

Tony Greenstein

Tony was a founding member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign

See also letters from:

Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok
Professor Ilan Pappe
Dr Jeff Halper
Dr Mark Braverman
Tony Greenstein
Rabbi Dr Stanley Howard Schwartz