This is a guest post by Joseph Weissman
I am the blogger at the centre of Sizergate, having had an unwelcome visit from the police at 10am on a Sunday morning when I was still in my pyjamas. You can read my story on the Index on Censorship or on BBC News.
I am a Christian strongly opposed to anti-Semitism, and I also support the continued existence of Israel. I attend an Anglican evangelical church occasionally, and also a neo-charismatic church more regularly. I hope for a just and peaceful solution to the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict that provides security for Israelis and Palestinians alike, as well as justice for both Jewish and Arab refugees from 1948.
A couple of years ago, I began reading up on Christian theology on the Middle East, and discovered the Rev Stephen Sizer and the Sabeel network. I read some of Rev Sizer’s theology, and looked through his papers on the internet, where I found out that he had given a talk in Iran at the invitation of the Khomeinist regime, to talk about the dangers of Christian Zionism. I thought it was ridiculous that Rev Sizer on the one hand was calling for an end to apocalyptic religious agitation from Christian Zionists, without mentioning anything of the apocalyptic religious agitation of his Khomeinist hosts! Where’s the ethics in that?
I reject the extreme positions taken by both Christian Zionists and anti-Zionists. These are political arguments which are not assisted by their confusion with theology.
I have also explored a number of potential expressions of hardcore Christian anti-Semitism and bigotry in general, leading me to contribute to the campaign against the BNP’s “Reverend” Robert West (who assures me that Nick Griffin and Simon Darby would be very interested to meet me), Hungary’s Jobbik theologian Lorant Hegedus Jr., Forza Nuova’s fascist-saluting SSPX priest Giulio Tam who also helps out Spanish Falangists, and Lega Nord’s Holocaust-denying SSPX priest Floriano Abrahamowicz – a priest of Jewish descent himself.
I have been left with more questions than answers, but I do know that Christians should in no way be encouraging conflict in Israel. Christians should neither support the radical Jewish settler movement (step forward Mike Huckabee) or rationalise Islamism and jihad against Israelis.
Jewishness is also a big part of my life, as I was born Jewish, I attend a Messianic fellowship, and will always identify as a Messianic Jew. I should stress that I am the third generation of my family to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. This is not some new-found faith for me, but a belief with deep roots. I have never been anything other than a believer in Christ.
In this capacity I have blogged as “Yeze”, drawing attention to the persecution of fellow Christians and Messianic Jews in Israel. That persecution is sometimes justified as “anti-missionary” activity, or by calling Jewish believers in Yeshua “idolators” and “not Jewish”. That is why I have been so interested in the more recent Messianism of the Chabad movement.
Again, I have more questions than answers. I want to think and write freely, to criticise those aspects of Christian and Jewish theology with which I disagree, while defending both Christians and Jews, and indeed any people who are suffering persecution. I don’t believe that I am on a special mission to convert Jews to Christianity. I do not subscribe to that sort of ‘End Times’ theorising. Of course, as a Christian, I believe that Yeshua’s teachings are beneficial for everyone, but I do not wish for clerics from any religion tradition to define my identity. I realise that two thousand years of both Christianity’s anti-Semitism and, indeed Judaism’s definition of Jewish identity in opposition to Christianity means the odds are somewhat stacked against me and my friends, but a bitter history doesn’t mean we can’t have a bright future.
If you disagree with anything I’ve said, fair enough. But please don’t call the cops!