This is a guest post by Joseph Weissman
According to the website of the new film on Christian Zionism With God on Our Side – heavily featuring Rev Stephen Sizer and also Ben White – the film is being shown in Holyrood and Stormont later this month.
It is absurd that such a film should get a screening in any national parliament.
Why are politicians attending this screening?
Stephen Sizer is not just any vicar. He has:
- shared a platform with an Australian Holocaust denier to denounce Israel (http://tiny.cc/16p61),
- forwarded emails from American Holocaust deniers (http://tiny.cc/73nn6),
- given an interview to radio hosts on the American Far Right (http://tiny.cc/aupbg),
- approvingly cited a US Holocaust denier on Iranian TV – and indeed in his published book – as a credible source (http://tiny.cc/ydd7h),
- gone to Iran on the invitation of the NEDA Institute, which contributes to global efforts to deny the Holocaust (http://tiny.cc/wzrvt)
I shared my concerns with the film director, Porter Speakman Jr. on his blog.
This is what I wrote:
Dear Mr Speakman Jr,
It is very interesting how you are providing people with an opportunity to approach the Middle East conflict from a new angle, and as I understand it, your concern is that Christians who hold a very Israel-centric theology may be aggressive or passive-aggressive towards Palestinians. I think it is fair enough to hold this concern and to present it to the public for wider viewing.
However, I think that touring around with Rev Sizer may also lead people to ask critical questions of your project. This is not a bad thing as we should all be progressing towards more well-rounded opinions, particularly on this most tricky question of Palestine-Israel.
When you have a chance, perhaps you could ask Stephen Sizer why he has:
- shared a platform with Holocaust denier Fred Tobin in Indonesia,
- met with Hezbollah clerics in southern Lebanon,
- been on a trip to Iran sponsored by Zahra Mostafavi – whose NEDA Institute contributes to approvingly forwarded emails from Holocaust deniers regarding Jews,
- given an interview to Far Right radio host Mark Dankof (whose colleague is Klu-Klux-Klan-fan Hesham Tillawi),
- defended Helen Thomas (who opines that Jews in Israel should “go back” to Poland),
- supported pickets of Jewish synagogues in Michigan,
- and hosted articles by Far Right writer Israel Shamir on his website
- – all whilst publicly stressing his opposition to anti-Semitism.
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I think it’s best you ask Stephen these questions yourself. I spoke with Stephen this morning and he mentioned that he has offered to meet with you in person in the past to address some of your concerns and I think that is always the best way to understand where someone is coming from. I encourage you to contact him directly.
As far as touring with him. It has been a pleasure to get to know him and I think Stephen has some very well rounded opinions on the Israeli / Palestinian conflict and the approach of many Western Christians to this issue.
All the best –
My further response has not yet appeared on Speakman’s blog as my comments were thrown into moderation and have not re-emerged:
Thankyou very much for your speedy and amicable reply.
I’m not sure whether meeting Rev Sizer would necessarily change any of the above facts. Imagine if you took your concerns about John Hagee to those Christians who decided to work with him. We would hope they would deal in a proactive way by actively challenging him on these points.
Such is my hope for Christians who decide to work alongside Rev Sizer despite his having forwarded emailsfrom, given interviews to, approvingly cited and spoken alongside assorted Holocaust deniers and Far Right activists.
I think all Christians really need to take a step back and consider where they are getting their theology from, and if our theology leads them to make questionable political decisions, we should probably reconsider it.
No reply yet.
Now have a look at the Study Guide compiled by Sizer, to complement the film, with replacement theology themes running through it – see Section 3 especially for ample evidence of this.
Given Sizer’s notorious associations with the Far Right, it is a matter of concern that his mix of Israel-centric theology and politics are not being examined as rigorously as those of the Christian Zionists he regularly criticises.
It is simply not true that Christians who support Israel do so, in the main, because they subscribe to an apocalyptic theology. Most Christians separate their religious perspectives on Jews and Israel with a pragmatic approach to conflict resolution in the region. They support Israel, because they’re naturally concerned about Jews losing their country, and being murdered by their genocidal enemies.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Christian supporters of Israel are not supportive of a sovereign Palestine – I support both Jewish and Arab self determination, for example.
Of course the real irony of Sizer’s approach is that it attempts to overlay a political theory about the position of Jews in relation to God, and Israel, which is premised on a particular reading of the New Testament. That is exactly the fault which he finds in the Christian Zionists he attacks.
So quite why politicians should wish to attend a screening of a film which features Sizer’s worldview so prominently remains a mystery.