The Rt Rev Christopher Hill
Bishop of Guildford
Dear Bishop Christopher,
I wanted to write to you about Rev Stephen Sizer as I gather complaints have been made about him accusing him of anti-Semitism. I am afraid these sort of charges are being levelled at people in order to silence them, and we have seen similar things happen to President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and particularly Judge Richard Goldstone who chaired the report on Gaza - he suffered particularly unpleasant attacks.
I have known Stephen since he was at University, and took him on his first visit to the Holy Land when we were both on the staff of St Saviour's in Guildford. Since then as you know he has become recognised as an expert on Christian pilgrimage in the Holy Land and also Christian Zionism. Stephen's motivation is working for peace and strangely those who are truly dedicated to a peace for both communities, ie Israeli and Palestinian, get heavily criticised by those who only want one viewpoint to be represented. But I believe, as do so many others who are working in this area, that peace cannot come if we ignore what is happening on the ground. So the latest UN report on Israel from the UN Human Rights Panel has caused Israel to sever ties with it and yet it is a call to address human rights, international law, and the Fourth Geneva Convention, particularly as it relates to the impact of settlements on the West Bank. In other words it is an attempt to call for a way forward that would bring equality and dignity to both communities.
In the end Stephen is a gentle but firm peacemaker, who lives out the Biblical mandate that all are made in the image of God, and I have never in anything he has done seen a hint of anti-Semitism. He has worked with Jewish peace activists and Rabbis, and has won their respect and also the respect of the Muslim community. I believe he has been a witness to the Christian values of peacemaking.
I appreciate that you have been a supporter of his and I am very grateful. I simply ask that with this current pressure you would maintain your generous and pastoral support of someone who has had a prophetic role in witnessing for peace in one of the most painful wounds of our world.
With very best wishes,
Canon Garth Hewitt
Founder, Amos Trust
All Hallows on the Wall
83 London Wall
Permission to publish this letter was obtained from the author and recipient.
See also letters from:
Dr Mark Braverman, Author of the Fatal Embrace
Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Lampeter University
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington North
Professor Scott Elias, Royal Holloway, University of London
Tony Greenstein, Founding Member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Professor Mary Grey, Patron, Friends of Sabeel UK
Dr Jeff Halper, Co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Canon Garth Hewitt, Founder of the Amos Trust
Dr Ghada Karmi, Exeter University
Venerable Michael Lawson, Rector of St Saviour’s, Guildford
Jeremy Moodey, Chief Executive, Biblelands
Professor Ilan Pappe, Exeter University
Rabbi Dr Stanley Howard Schwartz, Hospice Chaplain and retired Army Chaplain
Church Times: Vicar is not Anti-Semitic
Church Times: Rabbi Clears Vicar of Anti-Semitism
Jewish Chronicle: Bishop: anti-Zionist vicar ‘no antisemite’