A vicar allegedly shared “sickening” articles suggesting Israel was responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks, the tearful president of a group representing British Jews has told a tribunal.
The Rev. Dr Stephen Sizer is fighting 11 allegations from the Board of Deputies in a Church of England tribunal at St Andrew’s Court Room in Holborn, London.
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies, appeared emotional as she gave evidence at Dr Sizer’s tribunal, which started on Monday.
It is alleged Dr Sizer’s conduct between 2005 and 2018 was “unbecoming or inappropriate” in that he “provoked and/or engaged in antisemitic activity”, claims he denies.
He allegedly posted a link to an article entitled “The mother of all coincidences” in 2010 “promoting the idea” Israel was behind terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001, the tribunal heard.
Dr Sizer is also accused of posting a link to another article in January 2015, entitled “9/11/ Israel did it”, again allegedly suggesting Israel was to blame for the attacks.
Other allegations include that Dr Sizer, former vicar of the parish of Christ Church in Virginia Walter, Surrey, met Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, a “senior commander of Hezbollah forces”, in about 2006.
Hezbollah is a political entity in Lebanon which has won votes in legitimate elections and forms part of the Lebanese government, but the UK Government proscribed Hezbollah’s External Security Organisation in 2001 and added its military wing in 2008.
Dr Sizer is also accused of speaking at a conference in Indonesia in May 2006 alongside Fred Tobin, an alleged Holocaust-denier.
During cross-examination, Ms van der Zyl highlighted an alleged “pattern” of offensive behaviours, adding: “I think it would be hard to say there isn’t an antisemitic intent.
“Particularly harmful is the suggestion Israel is responsible for 9/11. It is really distressing. It is so shocking it comes from somebody in the Church of England.”
She said Dr Sizer’s alleged behaviour is “sickening” and a “disgrace” from “someone who is meant to represent the Church of England”.
She also said: “My grandfather was on the Kindertransport. It really hurts, you need to know that the pain of it, how it makes people feel, we are just Jews in the UK.”
She also questioned why he was allegedly “mixing” with people from Hezbollah.
Nicholas Leviseur, counsel for the designated officer, who was presenting the case, said: “Dr Sizer does not appear to deny that the 11 events that are set out occurred. He says in some cases what he said or did has been misunderstood or, indeed, misrepresented.
“He does not appear to deny the facts that are set out but he denies the inferences that could be drawn.”
Mr Leviseur also criticised Dr Sizer for giving the conspiracy theory that Israel is connected to 9/11, attacks carried out by the Al Qaeda terrorist group, “the oxygen of publicity”.
Steven Hofmeyr QC, for Sizer, said: “The impact of antisemitism on Jewish people is as profound as the impact of racism on black people, of this there is no doubt.
“His case is that he is not antisemitic and that his words and conduct have never been antisemitic. If, objectively, he is right, that would be an end to the matter.”
With regards to Dr Sizer’s meeting with Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, he added: “Did you know that Dr Sizer used the opportunity to intercede for the release of Israeli soldiers?”
He argued such “context” shows events in a different light but Ms van der Zyl said: “It doesn’t, that person is a militant commander of a terrorist organisation.”
With regards to Dr Sizer speaking at the same conference as Mr Tobin, Mr Hofmeyr said his client was asked to give a “Christian perspective” on how to solve conflict in the Middle East.
On hearing Mr Tobin was involved, Dr Sizer raised objections with organisers for the event, Mr Hofmeyr said.
Ms van der Zyl said: “There can be no excuse for sharing a platform or attending a conference with Holocaust-deniers.”
The tribunal continues on Tuesday.
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