Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Canon Dr Mike Butterworth on anti-Semitism allegations

31st December 2012

Dear Bishop Christopher

Stephen Sizer

I write in support of Stephen Sizer as one who has known him for more than 16 years. I was his supervisor when he began his research into Christian Zionism for a degree with Middlesex University (beginning as a Master’s Degree and transferring to a Doctorate, as required by the University’s regulations) via Oak Hill College. When I left Oak Hill in 1997, Stephen was supervised by Martin Davie and then Alan Storkey, both of whom are excellent scholars and well aware of the need to avoid anti-Semitism. I have kept in touch with Stephen since that time and have read a good deal of what he has written.

At no time has he shown any signs of anti-Semitism and I am convinced that he has a deep respect and concern for the Jewish people. I believe that I am sensitive to the way that what is not said can give a wrong impression, and I read books about Zionism and anti-Zionism with an awareness of how this might come across to friends in the Southgate Progressive Synagogue, which I attended fairly regularly for about 17 years, and with which I have maintained contact. I have occasionally written to Stephen to suggest that he might be thought to be too pro-Palestinian and have always been reassured by his response.Even in these cases, with writings taken out of context, it would be impossible to build a genuine case for anti-Semitism.

I believe Stephen to be a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people and am sure that the charges brought are baseless.

I hope that this is a helpful contribution to the evidence.

Yours sincerely

Mike Butterworth

Canon Dr; formerly Academic Registrar of Oak Hill College.

See also letters from:

Right Revd Riah Abo El Assal, 13th Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem
Dr Bishara Awad, Founder and President Emeritus, Bethlehem Bible College
Dr Mark Braverman, Author of the Fatal Embrace
Canon Dr Mike Butterworth, former Academic Registrar, Oak Hill College
Anne Clayton, Coordinator, Friends of Sabeel UK
Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor Emeritus of Judaism at the University of Wales
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington North
Katherine Cunningham, Moderator, IPMN, Presbyterian Church USA
Professor Scott EliasProfessor of Quaternary Science, Royal Holloway University of London
Tony Greenstein, Founding Member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Professor Mary Grey, Emeritus Professor of Theology, University of Wales
Dr Jeff Halper, Co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Revd Phil Hill, Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary
Canon Garth Hewitt, Founder of the Amos Trust
Dr Ghada Karmi, Fellow of the Institute of Arab & Islamic Studies, Exeter University
Manfred W. Kohl, Ambassador Overseas Council
Dr Attorney Jonathan Kuttab, Chairman of the Board, Bethlehem Bible College
Venerable Michael Lawson, Chairman, Church of England Evangelical Council
Jeremy Moodey, Chief Executive, Embrace the Middle East
Diana Neslen, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Professor Ilan Pappe, Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies, Exeter University
Revd Jack Sara, President, Bethlehem Bible College
Rabbi Dr Stanley Howard Schwartz, Hospice Chaplain and retired Army Chaplain
David Toorawa, Chair, Friends of Sabeel UK
Revd Dr Donald Wagner, National Director, Friends of Sabeel North America
Revd John Woodger, Retired vicar of St Mary's Watford

Anthony Julius is chairman of the London Consortium and a Visiting Professor at Birbeck College, University of London. His book Trials of the Diaspora, is a magisterial 800 page examination of the history of Anti-Semitism in England. In the final chapter which deals with the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, Julius writes,
"He has recently explained, however, that he 'categorically reject[s] any position that threatens the territorial integrity of Israel as a sovereign nation.... Stephen Sizer's work has the merit of clearly setting out the issues that divide the two sides, and furthermore doing so without the rancour or sheer nastiness of tone typical of the polemics in the conflict." (p.571)
And see also these articles from other news sources:

Phil Groom (member of CCJ): Jeremiah's Underpants
Phil Groom (member of CCJ): Dr Sizer is cleared
Church of England Newspaper: Sizer complaint
Church Times:  Vicar is not Anti-Semitic
Church Times:  Rabbi Clears Vicar of Anti-Semitism
Jewish Chronicle: Bishop: anti-Zionist vicar ‘no antisemite'
Jewish Chronicle: Sizer: I am ready to meet the Board of Deputies any time