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Comment from Reverend Sizer

with 7 comments

I’m grateful to Reverend Stephen Sizer for getting back to me (having initially chosen not to comment) with a detailed clarification of his position in the recent “Seismic Shock” controversy, which I am reproducing below. Again I have no position on the original argument but having given space to one side of the dispute, I felt it was important that Stephen Sizer have the opportunity to give his side of the story. He says:

I approached the police because I felt my life was put in danger by his defamatory statements. In the last year we have had a rather violent break in to our home, had computers and cameras stolen, then my car has been vandalised and more recently broken into and possessions stolen. I receive anonymous phone calls and very nasty emails on a regular basis. Other academics, journalists and clergy targetted on the SS blog have also been in correspondance with the police.

In the last 18 months SS (I think he chose the name as a play on my name so it was very personal) has associated me with holocaust deniers, white supremists, antisemites, islamists, terrorists, suicide bombers, and the 7.7 bombers, on a weekly if not daily basis. He used anonimity to do so. I repudiate racism and anti-semitism as well as his allegations unequivocally. I believe my occasional blog articles as well as published writings give evidence of this. I feel no need to clarify or justify my theological views further which are entirely consistent with mainstream conservative evangelicalism.

Politically, I uphold the rule of international law, I want to see the Arab-Israeli conflict resolved peacefully and diplomatically with a secure Israel and viable independent Palestine – the postion of the UK government, EU, USA and UN – so hardly controversial, except in Zionist circles.  I have written a couple of books on Chritian Zionism and US fundamentalism, which I regard as a threat to the security of Israel as well as future of Palestine, so I understand why SS and his friends do not like me.

The police initially consulted me for advice (not the other way round) on extremist groups on the edge of the Christian community. On their advice I approached the local police to investigate whether the articles posted on the SS blog constituted harrassment and incitement to religious hatred.

Their investigations led to the identification of the individual. Apparently he agreed to remove certain material and apologised. I was asked to inform them if it happened again. The police have given me and my family a measure of additional protection. I do not know his name but believe he is a Christian living in Leeds. It makes me sad that a Christian would use anonimity to harrass other Christians in this way.

I don’t plan to respond to him personally. He has many friends who have already expressed their opinions quite plainly and explicitly this week. The invitation I made to him a year ago to meet and talk through our differences personally remains open. I am happy now to leave the matter in the hands of the police.

Comment: In “Don’t Get Fooled Again” I lambast the tendency of the UK media to assume that “balanced” reporting entails giving equal weight to two opposing views, while remaining stubbornly neutral about the actual merits of those views. In my view commentators should not only present information, but also be up-front about what they believe that information points to.

On the basis of what I’ve seen so far, I do not believe that Reverend Sizer is a racist or an anti-semite, and can well understand why he would take exception to any such claim. But neither do I believe that Joseph Weissman (aka Seismic Shock) would be guilty of “harrassment” – a criminal offence – if he had made such a defamatory claim on his blog, however many times it happened. Clearly if Reverend Sizer has had his home and car attacked and received threatening phone calls, then this is a serious problem for which Police involvement is quite justified. But I have not seen any evidence that Weissman or his blog are in any way responsible for those crimes.

There does, however, seem to be evidence that “harrassment” has been dangerously vaguely defined under the current version of the law, and that as a result the police are getting involved in disputes that should, at most, be problems for the civil courts to deal with.

Written by Richard Wilson

January 31, 2010 at 8:06 am

7 Responses

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  1. […] 6 comments Update – Having initially chosen not comment, Reverend Sizer has got back to me in some detail, for which I’m very […]

  2. […] Update 5 – 31/1/10 I’m pleased to say that Reverend Sizer has now got back to me with a detailed response. […]

  3. http://livingjourney.wordpress.com/2010/01/15/theres-a-change-in-the-air/#comment-23443

    “Stephen Sizer says:

    January 16, 2010 at 5:45 PM

    Dear Vee,

    You must take a little more care who you brand as anti-semitic otherwise you too will be receiving a caution from the police as the young former student of Leeds did recently. One more reference to me and you will be reported.

    Blessings
    Stephen”

  4. Sizer is a highly educated man with excellent writing skills, so when he says something, there’s little doubt he a specific intent:

    >> I approached the police because I felt my life was put in danger by his defamatory statements. In the last year we have had a rather violent break in to our home, had computers and cameras stolen, then my car has been vandalised and more recently broken into and possessions stolen. I receive anonymous phone calls and very nasty emails on a regular basis.

    This for instance. If he has evidence that Weissman is party to this – and it’s not from unconnected individuals who have read his *publicly* available writings – he should provide it. Recall also that the Police did not charge Weissman (or even caution him, as a remark on another from someone claiming to be Sizer claimed). So, they felt no crime had been committed.

    >> Other academics, journalists and clergy targetted on the SS blog have also been in correspondance with the police.

    I’m aware of only Anthony McRoy, former National Front member who has linked the non-violence of Christianity and William Wilberforce to the attacks on and murder of Israeli soldiers and civilians by Hezbollah. Who are the others?

    I assume Sizer is now going to call on the Police to investigate an ex National Front leader who’s claiming he was in communication with Sizer.

    http://modernityblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/ex-national-front-leader-and-rev-stephen-sizer/

    Sizer comes across as what Richard may call a false skeptic. Immediately credulous of any critic/enemy of Israeli policy, but demanding of impossible levels of verification when challenged.

    >> I don’t plan to respond to him personally.

    This is an academic committed to debate, right? And all he can do is issue polemics, such as this? Sorry, he’s coming across as an arrogant demagogue who doesn’t believe he should explain himself. This is the extremist mentality – disagreement ain’t just wrong, it’s inconceivable (see also the sinister signing off with “blessings” after a thread as I linked to above).

    Same goes for Richard Pearse, with his preoccupation with anonymity, who proceeds to delete critical comments from Francis Sedgemore and theological PhD student Zachary Esterson.

    >> He has many friends who have already expressed their opinions quite plainly and explicitly this week.

    As I said, Sizer is an intelligent man. The great many of Weissman’s supporters never have *met* him. They/we are not his “friends”. But, we know which group which stands in the shadows has “friends”, don’t we?

    >> I repudiate racism and anti-semitism as well as his allegations unequivocally. I believe my
    Again, Sizer is intelligent, so it strikes as odd that he doesn’t know not to hyphenate antisemitism.

    >> occasional blog articles as well as published writings give evidence of this.

    Apart from the ones in which Christian Zionists are compared to supporters of the Children of Hagar (Galatians 4:21/6) and Jews are suggested to have forfeited Israel for disobedience to God, of course.

    http://www.cc-vw.org/articles/czema.htm

    Alec

    January 31, 2010 at 12:41 pm

  5. PS I’ll thank Richard for hosting this on his blog.

    Alec

    January 31, 2010 at 12:51 pm

  6. Also, is it just me, or is Sizer calling Weismann/Zionists a bunch of Nazis (cf. SS blog)?

    Well, he should know what Nazis look like!

    Alec

    January 31, 2010 at 3:03 pm

  7. Sizer’s asserting that a peaceful, two state solution is ‘hardly controversial’ except in ‘Zionist circles’ (what about some anti-Zionist circles) is fairly clear incitement against ‘Zionists’ in general, Jewish and Christian. It is defining ‘Zionist’ and ‘Zionism’ as extremely as possible, which is precisely what Sizer does in his work on ‘Christian Zionism’, to serve his pro-Palestinian Christian and Muslim national political agenda.

    If that is how Sizer defines ‘Zionism’, why should the British police trust his definition of ‘Christian Zionism’?

    ‘extremist groups on the edge of the Christian community’?

    The only expertise Sizer has, and highly hostile to the object of his investigation, is ‘Christian Zionism’, which Sizer selectively defines as suits his pro-Palestinian Christian and Muslim nationalist agenda.

    Which means the Police were consulting him about what? British ‘Christian Zionists’? Who, exactly? What list did Sizer give them? Who else? Messianic Jews, or Jews for Jesus?

    To what end? Why were the police consulting about them? Was there evidence of a threat to the realm, or the breaking of criminal law?

    So Sizer just happened to slip Seismic Shock into the conversation?

    Ecclesial premises are often broken into, because of relative lack of security due to their open nature. This happened often where I live, where computers were stolen on more than one occasion. Likewise my brother’s Hebrew school was robbed of its computers, for the same reason.

    Sizer may feel no need to defend his views, but many intellectuals and academics can engage in public discussion about their. Joseph Weissman was entitled to do that about Sizer’s, including argue they were antisemitic, if he thought they were. Sizer cannot use the police to silence him.

    As for ‘associating with antisemites, holocaust deniers etc’, all Weissman showed how was Sizer managed to do that, whether intentionally or no, all by himself. Again, Weissman broke no laws in so doing, and Sizer can’t use the police to cover for his gaffes.

    zkharya

    January 31, 2010 at 3:51 pm


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