An ABC platform for a well-known antisemitic crank

An ABC platform for a well-known antisemitic crank
Stephen Sizer

With special sensitivity and acumen, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation decided to kick off the Passover and Easter holidays, a time historically associated with anti-Jewish blood libels, by inviting the almost comically antisemitic Reverend Stephen Sizer, former Vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, Surrey, onto its Radio National “Breakfast” program on March 30 – Good Friday – to discuss Christian Zionism and Israel. His attitude towards Christian Zionism, as with anything relating to Israel, is rather negative. “In its extreme form, Christian Zionism… is very little different to ISIS or Al-Qaeda in terms of what it’s prepared to support,” he said in an interview with Iranian Press TV in 2014.

“Christian Zionists today say that Israel today are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and therefore the promises about the land and about blessing apply to the Jews today. I would say let’s slow down and look at what the Bible actually says,” Sizer told host David Rutledge during the ABC interview, rejecting even the theological legitimacy of Israel and its connection to Judaism. “God’s plan was always that the Jewish people were inclusive of other nationalities on the basis of faith, not race… That’s how as Christians we should think of Israel. It’s the inclusive people of God.”

“Let’s just pretend we’re dealing with the Golan, West Bank, and Gaza. It [Israel]wants all the land,” claimed Sizer. “It’s not a democracy.” The host did not push back on this or any of the other many false statements throughout the interview.

But these views alone are not the main source of  the outrage among the Jewish community, whose representatives have criticized the decision to have Sizer on and called on the ABC to apologise. Rather, far worse sins of omission transpired during the interview, relating to Sizer’s long-standing, well-documented antisemitism.

“I accept that you’re not an anti-Semite,” said Rutledge.

Why on earth would he publicly accept this, given the publicly available evidence? Or if he was not aware of it, he should not have expressed an opinion at all.

He did ask about Sizer’s participation in the rabidly antisemitic ‘New Horizons’ conference in Iran in 2014, and then allowed Sizer to state, dubiously, that “none of the speakers were criticized for being antisemitic.”  Sizer claims he was there to defend Christians and the Church, whose oppression in Iran he blames on “association with the West.”  The conference included such panels and discussions  as “9/11 and the Holocaust as pro-Zionist ‘Public Myths’” and “Mossad’s Role in the 9/11 Coup d’Etat.”

This seems to be a very popular theme for Sizer, and when Rutledge broached the subject of Sizer’s 2015 Facebook post – where he linked to an article entitled “9-11/Israel did it” with his comment “Is this antisemitic? If so no doubt I’ll be asked to remove it. It raises so many questions,” –  Sizer was unapologetic. “The particular article was a list of Israelis that had benefited from 9/11 and I simply put it out there and said ‘this is serious, It’s got to be considered,’” he responded. “So far, no one has come back to me and contradicted anything that was in the article.”

At the time, the Church of England prohibited him from speaking or writing on the Middle East and banned him from social media for at least six months, referring to the post as “a matter of deep sorrow and shame.”

And with good reason. The article in question was not a “a list of Israelis that had benefited from 9/11” as Sizer claimed on the ABC. It was a virtual encyclopedia  of antisemitic tropes. As British blogger  “Archbishop Cranmer”, aka Dr Adrian Hilton, has accurately described the article in question:

It talks of CIA/Mossad conspiracies; ‘key Zionist networks’; ‘WTC Security In Zionist Hands’; ‘Airport Security In Israeli Hands’; ‘shoe-bomber’ Richard Reid being a ‘Mossad Patsy’; al-Qaeda being ‘Mossad Playing Dress-Up’; ‘The US Military Knows Israel did it’; ‘9/11 Investigation in Zionist Hands’. But then it segues from anti-Israel frenzy to overt anti-Semitism, with allegations of a ‘Jewish Crime Network’ dominated by ‘Zionist Jews’, and the photos of every Jew are stamped with the Star of David, as if neo-Nazism were facilitating a virtual Shoah.

Sizer’s battle against Jews extends back the better part of a decade and involves  close association with and promotion of terrorists, far-right personalities, and Holocaust deniers. To list but a few examples, Sizer:

  1. Participated in the Islamic Human Rights Commission’s conference entitled “Towards a New Liberation Theology,” speaking on a panel about “The right to resist” alongside Hezbollah representative Rima Fakhry
  2. Accompanied and defended Islamic Movement leader Raed Salah in the UK. Salah is known for spreading the blood libel claim against Jews and otherwise inciting antisemitism, and is convicted of funding Hamas and working with Iranian intelligence agent Nabil Mahzouma
  3. Met with senior commander of Hezbollah forces in Southern Lebanon Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, as well as other Hezbollah operatives
  4. Spoke alongside Australian Holocaust denier Fred Tobin at a conference in Indonesia
  5. Posts links to websites so antisemitic that they seem satirical. This includes ‘The Ugly Truth’–– whose tagline is “Zionism, Jewish extremism and a few other nasty items making our world uninhabitable today” and hosts a wide variety of antisemitic images and articles, as well as linking to even worse websites––  and Veterans today, a website so antisemitic that defending Hitler is not even the worst thing on there.
  6. Cites holocaust deniers and far-right figures like Dale Crowley, who was deeply involved with the far-right publication The Barnes Review, which promoted white supremacy and defended Nazi Germany. Sizer refers to him merely as a “religious broadcaster.”
  7. Promoted Holocaust denier and antisemitic conspiracy theorist Michael Hoffman, , sending around his commentary approvingly on an AP article that included such passages as “Judaism considers western civilization to be Edom and despises it with far greater rancor than even Muslim fundamentalists. The current alliance between the West and the Israelis and rabbis, is very tenuous and temporary, predicated on …the transformation of an erstwhile Christian western civilization into a collective golem that bombs and fights Muslims for the benefit of the Israelis. When this proxy function is no longer needed, the Israelis will dump the West in Red China’s lap and proceed on their supremacist path as the self-appointed judge of the entire world. The reconstituted Sanhedrin court in Tiberias is one harbinger of this masterplan, aided and abetted by powerful ‘Christian’ allies like Senator McCain, President Bush and Supreme Court Justice Scalia, among tens of thousands of other ‘conservative’ golem in the top ranks of the American government, military, media, culture and business.”
  8. Inter-Varsity Press, a large Christian publisher in Britain, withdrew his books from its shelves and website after a litany of problems, ranging from racism and conspiracy to misrepresentation and outright falsehood, were pointed out to them.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of Sizer’s activities indicative of antisemitism, yet Rutledge accepts he’s not an antisemite. All the ABC had to say on the subject was that he was a “controversial figure with strongly contested views.” One commentator asserted, “The ABC is out of control” and mockingly noted, after a broad overview of Sizer’s positions and antics over the years, that this was  “Just the person the ABC would turn to for Passover.”

As Jonathan Arkush, Vice-President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, wrote in 2015: “It should not be left to the Jewish community to have to protest and be forced to take action from outside.” And yet here we are in precisely the same position in Australia.

Which brings us back to the question of what could possibly have induced the ABC to believe it was a good idea to give a platform on Good Friday and on the eve of Passover, or ever, to a scandal-ridden, antisemitic crank.