Friday, 1 February 2013

Professor Philip Davies Responds to Anti-Semitism Allegations

Dear Bishop Christopher

I just wish to add a brief agreement with the many who have written to you in support of Stephen Sizer.

The danger of confounding criticism of the State of Israel with anti-Semitism is well-known by all who voice their concerns, and indeed especially among the many Jews who oppose Israeli policies, who often meet accusations of being 'self-hating Jews'.

Ironically, it was the Board of Deputies who once resisted Zionist proposals for settlement in Palestine on the grounds that this would bring British Jews into suspicion of having divided loyalties.

These fear have not been fulfilled, thankfully, but the Board of Deputies' opposition to Stephen's words and deeds is in danger of running that very danger. I am disappointed that they fail to acknowledge Israel's own violations of international conventions and his entirely and very Christian denunciation of their treatment of Palestinians. They are also letting down those many British Jews, perhaps even a majority, who while strong advocates of a secure State of Israel, deplore the manner in which in the name of security illegal and inhumane measures are being employed. They do not speak for Judaism, nor should Jews be smeared by association with these - unless they choose to associate themselves. It is rather for the Board to make its own position clear than to try and fudge the distinction between honest criticism of political policies and discrimination against, or hatred of, Jews.

It is frankly, well past the time for all of us to be honest in this regard.

Your sincerely,

Philip Davies

Emeritus Professor, Department of Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield
Joint founder with Professor Clines of the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
Executive Officer of the European Association of Biblical Studies
Editor of Equinox Publishing

Other 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
David Carter
, Director, Middle East Evangelical Concern
Anne Clayton, Coordinator, Friends of Sabeel UK
Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor Emeritus of Judaism, University of Wales
Michael Connarty MP, Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington North
Katherine Cunningham, Moderator, IPMN, Presbyterian Church USA
Dr Martin Davie, Theological Advisor to the House of Bishops
Professor Philip Davies, Department of Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield
Professor Scott Elias, Royal Holloway, University of London
Tony Greenstein, Founding Member, 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
Hank Hanegraaff, President, Christian Research Institute
Revd Phil Hill, Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary
Canon Garth Hewitt, Founder, 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
Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan
Diana Neslen, Ex-officio, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Professor Ilan Pappe, Director, 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, 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:

Jews for Justice for Palestinians One link does not equal antisemitism
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