09 April 2012
Dear Bishop Christopher,
I am a Professor of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, and have been a member of Christ Church, Virginia Water since 2000. During the last decade I have been both a member of the PCC and PC secretary at Christ Church. I have come to know the Reverend Stephen Sizer quite well during my time there. I am writing to you to express my support for Stephen, in the face of attacks on his character by Pro-Israel groups. Their accusation that Stephen is anti-Semitic is both spurious and unfounded.
Stephen has worked tirelessly to bring peace and reconciliation between Jews and Palestinians in Israel and Palestine. He believes that the way forward is for Israel to dismantle the walls they have erected to separate themselves from the Palestinians, and for them to give back property they have taken from the Palestinians in recent decades. There are a great many Jews, both in Israel and elsewhere, who believe the same way, and espouse the same cause as Stephen Sizer, yet no one labels them as anti-Semitic.
Over the past twelve years I have held a great many conversations with Stephen concerning the situation in Israel/Palestine. Not once have I heard him voice any anti-Semitic opinions. In fact, quite the opposite is true. He has a real heart for the Jews. He just happens to believe that the only way the Jews can achieve a lasting peace with their neighbours is to dismantle the partitioning of the country, and to give the Palestinians a homeland they can truly call their own. He seeks peace and justice for all peoples of the Holy Land. Could there be a more Christian attitude to take?
Scott Elias, PhD
Royal Holloway University of London
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