As we have pointed out numerous times, Stephen Sizer has a serious problem with antisemitism.
He has backed antisemites protesting outside synagogues on Jewish holy days. He has also recommended the writings of Holocaust deniers, cited Holocaust deniers in his academic work, accepted speaking invitations from Holocaust deniers, and shared platforms with Holocaust deniers to denounce the Jewish state. Sizer thinks that Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi was tied to the USA by Jewish blood, which stopped America from reining in Gaddafi from mass murder, because “blood is thicker than water”. He thinks it commendable to call for Jews to “get the hell out of Palestine“. He meets with Islamists in Hezbollah and in the Iranian government, who seek the destruction of the Jewish state.
For all this, Sizer is rightly the subject of a complaint from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, to the Bishop of Guildford.
Here is how Labour MP Michael Connarty has reacted:
I want to speak about anti-sectarianism and the confusion that arises when distinguishing between people who criticise the Government of Israel and its behaviour and those who stand accused of anti-Semitism.
I am against sectarianism of any kind, as is this Assembly. I am against anti-Christian statements and actions in Muslim states, against anti-Semitic statements and actions worldwide, and against Christian sects attacking other Christian sects. My life is blighted, as are the lives of many of my constituents, by sectarianism between Catholic and Protestant across Scotland and in many parts of the United Kingdom. I am against those things. As a humanist, although not an anti-religious person, I support and work with all people of faith, supporting the right to individual belief for all.
I want to raise the case of Reverend Stephen Sizer, who is a Church of England priest and a humanitarian defender of the Palestinian people in Israel. He sent a link to an article criticising the Government of Israel, but it was not an anti-Semitic article. Unfortunately, the article was printed on a website that contained anti-Semitic statements made by others in the past, which Reverend Sizer did not know about. In fact, he has spoken very strongly against that, as a humanitarian and a person who is not anti-Semitic.
Unfortunately, the Board of Deputies of British Jews raised a complaint against Reverend Sizer with the Church of England, which will end up in the courts. That could lose him his job and his livelihood and his ability to work in the job that he does at the moment across the world.
This case has serious implications, particularly in respect of things we have discussed in the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media. In an internet age for all, are those who link to one article to be held liable for every article that is hosted on the website where that one article is contained?
I support the right of the Board of Deputies of British Jews – and that of any of the hierarchies of the churches across the world – to take on and challenge those who put sectarian and anti-Semitic articles on to a website, and to take on those people who host such articles. Of course, that is who the Board of Deputies of British Jews should be taking on – not singling out a humanitarian person who has worked diligently for the last 15 years, to my knowledge, in a broad and non-anti-Semitic way, to raise questions about the behaviour of the Israeli Government, as I do myself in my Parliament.<
We have a question here. If people link to a website, are they liable for everything on the website? I hope that the Council of Europe will look at this through the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media and try to get some common sense into this debate.