I welcome the news from Surrey Police and CPS that, having "carried out a thorough and extensive review of the material in question" they have concluded that "no criminal offences have been committed. The matter has now been closed and no further action is being taken," a conclusion which will come as no surprise to those who know and work with me.
On 4 October 2011, I posted a link to an essay Israel's Window to Bomb Iran, by Ray McGovern, an ex-CIA analyst, commenting on circumstances in which Israel might attack Iran. Regrettably the link that I used was not to the original website but to a different website which I now know contained scurrilous and offensive material.
I was made aware of this on 3 January 2012 as a result of an enquiry by the Jewish Chronicle. I could not find the link and assumed, wrongly, that I had removed it. I found it on 4 January 2012 and removed it immediately. I have no wish to be associated with or to encourage anyone to read some of the things that I found on the site. I have on many occasions in my ministry condemned all forms of anti-Semitism and will continue so to do because it is abhorrent to me.
Some ten weeks later, on 13 March 2012, the Council for Christians and Jews posted an article on its website entitled CCJ Statement About Antisemitic Website. The CCJ had “drawn the attention of the Surrey police to what they claim was an action tantamount to encouraging race ‘hatred’.” The CCJ said that I was “alerted to the anti-Semitic nature of the website in November and again in December, but only removed the link in January when contacted by the Jewish Chronicle.”
The article does not identify the alleged circumstances in which I was alleged to have been alerted to the link. Whatever the CCJ might think has happened I have explained here how and when the link came to my attention. It did not come to my attention before then.
Surrey Police have told me that they are not going to prosecute me because there is no evidence that I have committed any crime, which I have not.
It might have been helpful if the CCJ had asked me for an explanation before writing about me on their website but they did not.
On 23rd April, CCJ issued a second statement CCJ Statement re Rev Stephen Sizer saying “The Council of Christians and Jews has now received the advice of the Surrey Police, together with that of the appropriate legal authorities”.
The CCJ is a venerable organisation with many distinguished supporters. I hoped that, having accused me of serious criminal conduct, it would want to make it clear that the police investigation has revealed no evidence to support my prosecution. So far the CCJ has not done that.
I did not commit any criminal offence when I posted a link to Ray McGovern’s article. I therefore have no intention of resigning my living or altering my ministry in any way.
If the CCJ does not feel able to make it clear that its allegations were ill founded it will, I hope, reflect on the reliability of its informants and think very hard before naming people who might in the future be the innocent victims of ill-considered complaints.
Revd Dr Stephen Sizer
1st May 2012
And for the record, over the years, I have:
- lamented the suffering of Christians under Islamic rule here and here.
- repudiated suicide bombers and terrorism here and here.
- repudiated holocaust deniers here, here, here and here.
- repudiated anti-Semitism here, here and here.
- repudiated racism and the British National Party (BNP) here and here.
- exposed the faith hatred of the English Defence League (EDL) here.
- distinguished anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism here.
- advocated a diplomatic solution to resolving tensions with Iran here and here.
- advocated for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by
peaceful means based on the implementation of international law here, here and here .
"It is true that at various times in the past, churches and church leaders have tolerated or incited anti-Semitism and even attacks on Jewish people. Racism is a sin and without excuse. Anti-Semitism must be repudiated unequivocally. However, we must not confuse apples and oranges. Anti-Zionism is not the same thing as anti-Semitism despite attempts to broaden the definition. Criticising a political system as racist is not necessarily racist. Judaism is a religious system. Israel is a sovereign nation. Zionism is a political system. These three are not synonymous. I respect Judaism, repudiate anti-Semitism, encourage interfaith dialogue and defend Israel’s right to exist within borders recognised by the international community and agreed with her neighbours. But like many Jews, I disagree with a political system which gives preference to expatriate Jews born elsewhere in the world, while denying the same rights to the Arab Palestinians born in the country itself."I concur wholeheartedly with John Stott who once said,
“Away then with anti-Semitism! It has been an appalling scandal in the history of Europe, and even the Christian church has been implicated. Christians should be ‘pro-Semitic’, in the sense that we recognize how the people of Israel have been highly favoured by God. We Gentiles are their debtors, Paul wrote (Romans 15:27). We owe them a huge spiritual debt, especially in their bequest to the world of both the Scriptures and the Christ."See these earlier blog articles:
Jewish Rabbis, Professors, Academics, Clergy and Activists Challenge CCJ Statement
The Ugly Truth Exposed
A Sheep in Sheep's Clothing?
Palestine Solidarity Campaign: AGM Repudiates Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial
The Jewish Chronicle and the BNP