This is a cross-post from Joseph Weissman
By publishing this post, perhaps I am risking another surreal visit. However, I have some news about Stephen Sizer and members of the American Far Right which I feel is important to share with you.
Our story begins in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Henry Herskovitz has protested outside the Beit Israel Congregation every Sabbath for the best part of eight years.
Here are some signs held up by Herskovitz’s allies in ‘Jewish Witnesses for Peace‘:
As you can see, there are casual references to Nazism on display alongside racial and religious baiting, as children enter into a house of worship. This style of protest is sadly reminiscent the sort of events that the English Defence League or “Stop the Islamisation of Europe” put on, where places of worship are targeted and their blameless parishioners terrified and vilified. It is a couple of steps away from Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church.
Watch Herskovitz justifying his approach on Youtube – and pay attention to his colleagues profiled on-screen as Herskovitz is speaking. From 1:10:
HH: “I’m very cognizant not only of the power of the Jewish community in Palestine but also the power of the Jewish community in the United States, which according to some whom I agree with is very much controlling the United States as far as foreign policy is concerned or worse, as Noam Chomsky said, manufacturing the consent of the people”
Interviewer: “What part of the United States would you say is free of Zionist control?”
HH: “There’s probably a few counties in Idaho but that’s about it, I think pretty much any metropolitan area has been dominated and saturated with the pro-Israeli, pro-Jewish voice. Everyone has sympathy for the Jews. No-one has sympathy for Palestinians or people of colour.”
Henry Herskovitz is widely admired on the American Far Right. Here he is recently with Holocaust denier Michael Hoffman (right) –
The crime against the Palestinian people is being committed by a Jewish state with Jewish soldiers using weapons displaying Jewish religious symbols, and with the full support and complicity of the overwhelming mass of organized Jews worldwide. But to name Jews as responsible for this crime seems impossible to do.
This may come as no surprise – Herskovitz is on the board of Deir Yassin Remembered where Eisen serves as director alongside Daniel MacGowan, who publicly defends Holocaust denial as legitimate in some ways. DYR have recently helped to promote the Holocaust denier Gilad Atzmon.
Sadly, it seems Herskovitz is a hero among such people for his tactic of picketing a house of worship in the name of “justice”.
Thankfully, the tactic of protesting outside synagogues has been roundly condemned by religious leaders and local councillors in Ann Arbor. In addition, there is an entire web project supported by local community leaders dedicated to curbing the influence of the pickets instigated by Herskovitz.
To these clergy, Herskovitz now has a response:
A much belated response to the infamous clergy letter of 2004, in which some benighted Ann Arbor religious leaders denounced our nonviolent vigils, went online this past Monday. We’re pleased to report that this independent effort is off to an auspicious start with the Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer having graciously and courageously agreed to provide the first signature on “Religious Leaders Support Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends” […] We thank the Rev. Dr. Sizer for his adding his good name to this effort and look forward to seeing the signatures of other religious leaders soon.
Following Sizer’s signature, Herskovitz’s JWPF protests have gained further support from Sister Elaine Kelley of Friends of Sabeel North America.
The key sentence in the petition is this:
We, the undersigned religious leaders, affirm the tactic of protesting outside a place of worship as appropriate and consistent with our prophetic and religious traditions.
For those aware of the history of the forced sermon and of Christian antagonism towards Jews and their synagogues, it is deeply concerning that an Anglican vicar is advocating these political protests outside of Jewish synagogues – Sabbath after Sabbath after Sabbath.
According to the interview, the United States are like the Biblical patriarch Jacob, favouring “one of the Semitic races over the others” – just as Jacob preferred Joseph.
One of the biggest mistakes that political and theological liberals can make is to think that Christian anti-Zionism has its origins in the Religious Left, as an alternative to fundamentalism. Instead, the most influential Christian anti-Zionist theology appears to have its origins in the American Far Right, at least as I understand it.
Indeed, the fruits of prejudice from the American Far Right are being processed through Stephen Sizer’s theological blender, and mainstream Christians are now tasting this bitter drink.
Surely this is cause for concern for Jewish-Christian relations in the UK.