Saturday, 22 December 2012

Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church USA on anti-Semitism allegations


Decemnber 21, 2012

Right Revd Christopher Hill
Willow Grange
Woking Road
Guildford
GU4 7QS - UK

Dear Bishop Christopher,

Advent greetings to you from the United States, in the name of the Child of Bethlehem. I write you on behalf of our entire mission network from all over our country to give support to our brother in Christ, the Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer.

Our network has a mandate from the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to advocate for Palestinian human rights and to teach Americans about the Palestinian plight and narrative. As you probably know, this is difficult work in a difficult environment. We know that without education, our congregations remain in the dark about the full story. In spite of our lopsided media coverage here, we are committed to educating Americans regarding what is really happening in the land where Jesus walked.

Rev. Sizer is a key voice in educating mainline protestant congregations because his work on Christian Zionism helpfully demonstrates how Zionism, a political ideology, has been adapted into a heretical theology. We rely on Stephen and his voice on the subject in order to educate our fellow Christians. As we, and many of our ecumenical and interfaith partners see it, it is not at all anti-Semitic to criticize the policies of the Israeli government. For Stephen to be harassed and vilified for his tireless and courageous peacemaking efforts is unfair and counterproductive.

As you know, Israel’s security goes hand-in-hand with justice for Palestine. To silence and censor the voices who criticize policies that violate human rights is not the way forward. We believe that as long as there is no justice for Palestine, Israel will feel insecure in its own neighborhood and attacks like those on Rev. Sizer will only increase.

How many peacemakers and prophetic voices will need to be silenced? Do we keep censoring more and more voices as they gain in numbers? Our Book of Confessions, quoted above, calls for speaking truth to the principalities of power. We believe Rev. Sizer’s courageous work, lives out Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

We pray that you will encourage open dialogue rather than censorship and expurgation. Let us move forward together, helping all the children of God who are struggling to live and find a better future in a land that has known so much strife.

In the name of the Prince of Peace,

Katherine Cunningham,

Moderator


See also letters from:

Right Revd Riah Abo El Assal, 13th Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem
Dr Mark Braverman, Author of the Fatal Embrace
Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Lampeter University
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington North
Katherine Cunningham, Moderator, IPMN, Presbyterian Church USA
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, Chairman, Church of England Evangelical Council
Jeremy Moodey, Chief Executive, Embrace the Middle East
Professor Ilan Pappe, Exeter University
Rabbi Dr Stanley Howard Schwartz, Hospice Chaplain and retired Army Chaplain
Revd Dr Donald Wagner, National Director, Friends of Sabeel North America
Revd John Woodger, Retired vicar of St Mary's Watford

Church of England Newspaper: Sizer complaint