An anti-Israel cleric has been accused of reneging on an agreement reached between the Church of England and the Jewish community in 2012, after he went to Iran to talk about the “Israel lobby” in the UK.
Senior community leaders said Rev. Stephen Sizer’s appearance at the gathering of anti-Semites in Tehran was “irreconcilable with his position as a minister of the Church of England”.
A spokesman for the Community Security Trust (CST) also questioned whether he was serious about “honouring the spirit” of his 2012 conciliation deal after addressing an audience in Tehran.
According to Press TV, the conference was to “unveil the secrets behind the dominance of the Zionist lobby over US and EU politics”.
However critics have said it is simply anti-Semitic, pointing to conference sections such as “Mossad’s Role in the 9/11 Coup d’Etat,” with agenda items including ‘Zionist fingerprints on the 9/11 cover-up”.
Sizer’s contribution came in a discussion about the “mechanisms of the Israeli lobby and its effect in Western capitals”. With a dozen speakers each discussing a different country, Sizer spoke about the UK.
Sizer is the Vicar of Christ Church in Virginia Water in Surrey and is a patron of ICAHD UK, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, and Sedaka, the Ireland Palestine Alliance.
Two years ago the Board of Deputies complained that his statements were “utterly offensive, to the point of crossing the line into anti-Semitism” and that he was posting links to articles on racist and anti-Semitic websites “where scurrilous views against Jews and others are published”.
An agreement was reached in which Sizer admitted “causing offence” and said he “cares passionately about safety of the Jewish people and the right of Israel to exist,” adding that he had “always opposed racism, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial”.
Dave Rich of the CST said: “Sizer’s presence brings into question whether he is honouring the spirit of this Conciliation Agreement in good faith.”
He added: “It is inevitable that an Iranian conference on ‘the Zionist lobby’ would feature anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers and conspiracy theorists. The fact that it also featured a Church of England vicar is utterly shameful.”
Board of Deputies’ Vice President Jonathan Arkush said: “I am appalled that Rev. Sizer participated in a conference of anti-Semites in Tehran, sponsored by the Iranian government, which ranks among the most vicious persecutors of Christians and others, and is sworn to the destruction of the State of Israel.”
He added: “Rev Sizer’s attendance and active role at such a hate-filled event is irreconcilable with his position as a minister in the Church of England… The Board is is keeping all its options open regarding any future action.”