31 March 2011
Dear Bishop Christopher
I was shocked to read the very recent allegations made against Revd. Dr Stephen Sizer – a recent wave in a never ending campaign to try and silence a human Christian voice. As someone who is a victim of a similar campaign, indeed by the very same people, I am only too familiar with the potential damage such a sinister enterprise can cause in the long run.
I have read all of Stephen’s works and participated with him in numerous panels and seminars. Quite often in churches and community centres all over the country. The audience was always mixed: people of all religions and persuasions were present on such occasions. If there was a dividing line it was between the humane, peaceful and inclusive message of Stephen and those who sought to challenge him in the name of religious, national or ethnic eccentricity and false purity.
There was not a hint of anti-Semitism in anything Stephen wrote or spoke about. On the contrary, the message was always clear – a concern that some of Israel’s policies and ideologies can create a misguided association of Judaism with dispossession, colonisation and discrimination. This is why there are always many Jews, like myself, who work in close association and collaboration with Stephen for the sake of a universal goal of bringing peace and justice to Israel and Palestine. This is also why many progressive Jews read and rely on Stephen’s scholarly work and come in great numbers to attend his talks.
I hope this thuggish attempt to silence a voice of reason and justice, which brings credit and confidence in what Church leaders in this country can do for global peace, will be brushed aside, as it should be, as malicious and deplorable.
Professor Ilan Pappe
University of Exeter
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’