A pro-Palestinian Christian priest is facing a Church of England tribunal this week after an antisemitism complaint by the pro-Israel Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Reverend Stephen Sizer is accused of making public statements that fall foul of the IHRA definition of antisemitism that the Church of England has adopted. The definition equates harsh criticism of Israel with antisemitism.
The Board of Deputies President Marie Van Der Zyl testified in the London tribunal, which will last all week, on Monday. She accused Reverend Sizer of a pattern of antisemitic behaviour and of associating with antisemities.
This is the second time that Dr. Sizer has faced a religious tribunal after a complaint by the Board of Deputies. A previous complaint was resolved by conciliation in 2013, although Dr Sizer agreed not to post about Palestine on social media for a period of time.
Dr Sizer is an expert on and critic of Christian Zionism who has written extensively on the issue and supported Palestinian Christians.
The Islamic Human Rights Commission, which is supporting Dr Sizer, says he is a lifelong campaigner for Palestinian rights and other anti-racist causes.
“It is a matter of shame that the Church of England is not only failing in its moral duty to oppose apartheid but is actively persecuting those within its own house who do so,” said the IHRC.
“Like many others we find it repulsive that the Church of England is using the stick of anti-Semitism to beat Dr. Sizer for speaking out against Israeli injustices when in fact it should be reflecting on its own role in perpetuating Palestinian suffering. We stand alongside Dr. Sizer in his hour of need.”
In 2018 the bishops of the Church of England formally adopted the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.
They also issued a call to everyone in public life to reject any language or actions which could cause “prejudice, stigma or hatred towards people on the grounds of their religion, culture, origins, identity or beliefs.”
Pro Palestine groups have consistently attacked the definition saying that its aim is to silence critics of Israel by labelling them antisemites.