Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Dr Mark Braverman Responds to CCJ Statement About Antisemitic Website

1st April 2012

Dear Bishop Christopher

My name is Mark Braverman.  I am a Jewish American, a friend and colleague of Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer, and the author of Fatal Embrace:  Christians, Jews, and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land.  I am trained as a clinical psychologist, but have spent the last half decade involved full-time in writing and lecturing about the Israel-Palestine situation, Zionism, post-Holocaust theology, and the function of Christian-Jewish relations in the current discourse and politics of this issue.  More information about my work can be found at www.markbraverman.org.

Rev. Sizer has informed me about the current claims that have been made that he is anti-Semitic, or that he has published anti-Semitic views.  I have known Rev Sizer for three years, have read his work, seen his video productions, and have heard him lecture on several occasions, on one occasion sharing the podium with him.  I wish to state in the strongest possible terms and unequivocally that these claims are groundless. I have never heard an anti-Jewish word from Rev. Sizer, in public or in private, nor have I detected a shred of anti Jewish feeling or opinion in his speech or writings, or for that matter, any hostility toward the State of Israel itself or its citizens.

In my opinion what you are hearing from the Anglican Friends of Israel and the Council of Christians and Jews are examples of the response of elements in the Jewish community as well as inside the churches to the growing awareness in the world that all is not right with the project to establish a Jewish homeland and refuge in historic Palestine.  This kind of ad hominem attack on voices such as that of Rev. Sizer, who challenge the dominant political narrative of an innocent Israel beset by implacable enemies motivated by anti-Semitism or a theological narrative that requires unqualified support for Israel’s expansionist policies is very familiar to me. I see it my own country, and I have encountered it in other countries where I have lectured, including South Africa, Germany, and the Netherlands. These attacks, whether made on political or theological grounds or both, are dangerous and must be confronted head-on.  I am happy to see that you agree  and have acted accordingly.

It is possible that the actions that have been taken to discredit and silence Rev. Sizer are being taken in good faith and with honorable intentions – I have no personal knowledge of the organizations and individuals involved. But do know that, given that the accusations are groundless, they do not serve the security or well-being of the State of Israel or its citizens, and are not friendly acts toward the Jewish people. I am not naïve about anti-Semitism – it remains strong and deeply-rooted in Western civilization. But I do not make the mistake of confusing responsible criticism of the State of Israel or scholarly, biblically-grounded inquiry into the validity or legitimacy of Zionism with anti-Judaism. 

As a people, we Jews are in great peril as a result of the past and current actions and policies of the State of Israel, actions that are in violation of our own tradition and values.  We must be called to account.  Rev. Sizer’s work on the theology that underlies and currently is being used to support illegal and sinful policies is a critical component of the growing international movement to bring these actions to an end – not only for the sake of the suffering Palestinian people, but in order to liberate the citizens of Israel from the consequences of being part of a regime that meets the international definition of apartheid. The church plays a leading role in this struggle, as it did in my country during the Civil Rights Movement, and as it did on a global basis to help bring an end to apartheid in South Africa,. The work and voice of Rev. Sizer has been and must continue to be a key asset in this struggle. 

I urge you to continue to support him in his courageous and urgently needed work in this area. 


Mark Braverman, Ph.D.

Permission to publish this letter was obtained from the author and recipient. 

See also letters from:

Dr Mark Braverman, Author of the Fatal Embrace
Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Lampeter University
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington North
Professor Scott Elias, Royal Holloway, University of London
Tony Greenstein, Founding Member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Professor Mary Grey, Patron, Friends of Sabeel UK
Dr Jeff Halper, Co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Canon Garth Hewitt, Founder of the Amos Trust
Dr Ghada Karmi, Exeter University
Venerable Michael Lawson, Rector of St Saviour’s, Guildford
Jeremy Moodey, Chief Executive, Biblelands
Professor Ilan Pappe, Exeter University
Rabbi Dr Stanley Howard Schwartz, Hospice Chaplain and retired Army Chaplain

Church Times: Vicar is not Anti-Semitic
Church Times: Rabbi Clears Vicar of Anti-Semitism
Jewish Chronicle: Bishop: anti-Zionist vicar ‘no antisemite’