Freedom of Expression

Sizer Responds

Here is a comment by The Rev Sizer on Don’t Get Fooled Again

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 [sic] on the SS blog have also been in correspondance [sic] 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 [sic] 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 [sic] of the UK government, EU, USA and UN – so hardly controversial, except in Zionist circles. I have written a couple of books on Chritian [sic] 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 [sic] to harrass [sic] 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.

A couple of comments.

First, I share Sizer’s goal of a secure Israel and viable independent Palestine. However, it is remarkable that Sizer has pursued this goal

(a) by (for example) speaking at conferences alongside terrorists and Holocaust deniers; and

(b) Then – astoundingly – arguing that to point this out amounts to “harrassment [sic] and incitement to religious hatred”.

Secondly, the police are consulting Sizer on “on extremist groups on the edge of the Christian community”. Huh? But what is stranger is the claim that the police actively encouraged him to report political criticism as ‘incitement to religious hatred’. That is extremely worrying, and deserves further investigation.

Thirdly, the first paragraph seems to me to be a carefully worded accusation that Joe is somehow connected to violent burglaries at Sizer’s house. If that is the meaning of the statement, then it is a pretty disgraceful thing to say. If he said it to the police, then perhaps that explains their conduct.

As a footnote to all that, a former Marine, who says that has converted from Judaism to Christianity, claims to have been hired asked by the Rev Sizer to tail Joe. A little research on the man suggests that his life fell apart after his wife’s death, that he ended up sleeping rough in a churchyard, and was rescued by the Rev Sizer.

I’d call that worrying.