Church of England to investigate Stephen Sizer over 9/11 Israel post

The Church of England is investigating one of its clergy after he posted a link on Facebook post to an article entitled "9-11/Israel did it".

In the week in which Prince Charles led commemorations at Holocaust Memorial Day mnarking 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Rev Stephen Sizer's link was condemned by the Church as "unacceptable" and a matter of "deep sorrow and shame".

The Diocese of Guilford, where Sizer is licensed, has begun an investigation. The Church said: "The diocese is aware of the seriousness of the matter and are also in touch with the Board of Deputies of British Jews."

The Board of Deputies of British Jews is also planning new action against him.

Last October, the Board condemned his participation at an antisemitic conference sponsored by the Iranian government. Iran does not recognise Israel's right to exist.

Jonathan Arkush, vice-president of the board, said at the time: "I am appalled that Rev Sizer participated in a conference of antisemites in Tehran, sponsored by the Iranian government, which ranks among the most vicious persecutors of Christians and others, and is sworn to the destruction of the State of Israel.

"Sizer's attendance and active role at such a hate-filled event is irreconcilable with his position as a minister in the Church of England. The board is currently considering all the information reaching it concerning the conference and is keeping all its options open regarding any future action. Meanwhile, the board anticipates that the Church of England will wish to conduct its own investigation into the matter."

When Jewish News contacted Sizer about the 9/11 link, he asked the weekly newspaper to show him articles refuting such claims.

The article he linked to attempted to make connections between wealthy American Jews and the 9/11 attacks. Sizer asked online: "Is this anti-Semitic?.. It raises so many questions."

Arkush, responding to this latest episode, called on Sizer to remove the link, which he did. Arkush said: "Posting, and giving approval to, an article which in effect accuses Jews of responsibility for the 9/11 atrocity is unquestionably anti-Semitic, just as it is beyond absurd."

In an email to the Jewish News, Sizer said: "I would welcome articles you can recommend refuting the allegations." Noting that many Americans feel 9/11 was "an inside job," Sizer added: "It is essential the public become convinced of what happened before and after 9/11. Inevitably the truth will upset many people if it is shown by further investigation that the official explanations are shown to be deficient."

He added: "Encouraging research and debate on all aspects of [9/11] is not anti-Semitic... Suppressing discussion on such grounds will fuel suspicion, not remove it." Arkush said he was "extremely concerned that a Church of England minister could possibly have considered it appropriate or becoming to his position to advertise such racist nonsense".

Sizer is vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water. In 2013, the board made a formal complaint against him under Church disciplinary rules. Sizer has always maintained he is not antisemitic but he is challenging Israeli policy towards Palestinians. The complaint was settled by conciliation, which included a code of conduct and independent checking.

Arkush told Jewish News his language was "very, very strongly offensive to Jews" and regarded as "anti-Semitic" by the community.

On his linked article, Jane Cledment, director of the Council of Christians and Jews, said: "We are appalled that these malicious conspiracy theories are still in circulation, and hope those in a position to do so take appropriate action."

Regarding the Facebook link, Arkush told Christian Today: "I am extremely concerned that a minister of the Church of England could possibly have considered it appropriate or becoming to his position to advertise such racist nonsense. I regard Mr Sizer as having breached the terms of his undertakings given to the Board of Deputies as a result of the disciplinary complaint against him. This is a very serious matter and the Board will be taking further action."