Reverend Stephen Sizer said he did not condone the article’s accusations
Lizzie Dearden – 30 January 2015
The Church of England is investigating a vicar over a Facebook post linking to an article accusing Israel of involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks through a “Zionist” conspiracy.
Reverend Stephen Sizer’s post was called “unquestionably anti-Semitic” by the Board of Deputies of British Jews but he has denied the charge.
He has deleted the post, which linked to an article called “9/11: Israel did it”, adding: “Is this anti-Semitic? If so no doubt I’ll be asked to remove it. It raises so many questions.”
Dr Sizer, who is the vicar of Christ Church in Virginia Water, Surrey, has a history of disputes with the Board of Deputies over his blog posts and comments on Israel, Palestine and Zionism.
Vice president Jonathan Arkush, who pushed for the link to be taken down, told the Jewish News: “Posting, and giving approval to, an article which in effect accuses Jews of responsibility for the 9/11 atrocity is unquestionably anti-Semitic, just as it is beyond absurd.”
The article, on the WikiSpooks conspiracy site, claims to present evidence that Israel was behind the attacks that killed 2,996 people in 2001, calling al-Qaeda “Mossad playing dress up”.
A spokesperson for the Church of England noted the timing of the post on Thursday, two days after Holocaust Memorial Day.
“Our attention has been drawn to comments by the Rev Stephen Sizer made on social media. In those comments Rev Sizer linked to an article entitled ‘9/11 Israel did it’, he added.
“These comments would rightly be seen as unacceptable whenever they were posted. It is a matter of deep sorrow and shame that they have been posted in this week of all weeks.
“The Diocese of Guildford, where the Rev Sizer is licensed, is taking immediate steps to investigate. The diocese is aware of the seriousness of the matter and are also in touch with the Board of Deputies of British Jews.”
On his website, Dr Sizer describes himself as a patron of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, member of the Advisory Council of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding and founding member of the Institute for the Study of Christian Zionism.
Among his three books are works on “Christian Zionism” including one titled Zion’s Christian Soldiers: The Bible, Israel and the Church.
After another complaint from the Board of Deputies in 2013, over Dr Sizer’s writings on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was resolved through a meeting convened by the Church of England’s clergy discipline measure, he denied prejudice against Jews. In pictures: Israel-Gaza protest in London
“I care passionately about the safety of the Jewish people and the right of Israel to exist within internationally agreed borders,” he wrote on his website.
“I have always opposed racism, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial as well as Islamophobia and the denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination and will continue to do so.”
Dr Sizer defended his latest post by saying he was “encouraging debate” and was not condoning the article’s findings.
“With hindsight I wouldn’t have put it on [Facebook] if I had known it was going to happen,” he told the Telegraph.