A reverend from Surrey who posted an article on Facebook claiming “Jews and international Zionists” were behind the 9/11 attacks has been allowed back on to social media – with the blessing of his bishop.
Rev. Stephen Sizer, who is vehemently anti-Israel, was banned from Twitter and Facebook for six months by superiors at the Diocese of Guildford, after he linked to the ‘Wikispooks’ article in an act his boss described as “appallingly poor judgement”.
The article sought to connect wealthy American Jews to the attacks, through their ownership of buildings, political affiliations or links to Israel. “Is this anti-Semitic?” Sizer had asked online. “It raises so many questions.”
This week, the Bishop of Guildford, Rt. Revd Andrew Watson, once again stood by Sizer, saying the Vicar of the Parish of Virginia Water was no anti-Semite.
“I have met Stephen in the past days for positive discussions, reaffirming his commitment and planning for his vital work as vicar, and I look forward to our continued work together in support of this,” said Watson.
“In accordance with the terms set out in his statement of 9 February 2015, the Bishop of Guildford has agreed that Revd. Dr Stephen Sizer’s usage of social media may now resume. The other agreements outlined in my statement of 9 February will remain in-place but, in all this, I would like to reiterate a point that I made in February, that I do not believe Stephen’s motivation to be anti-Semitic.”
Sizer has repeatedly provoked anger in the Jewish community by airing his views on Israel. In 2013, the Church instigated disciplinary proceedings following a formal complaint from the Board of Deputies. Sizer said his views were directed at Israeli policy towards Palestinians, not against Jews. Following the dispute, a conciliation agreement was drawn up, with a code of conduct and independent checking.