Download The Evangelical Intifada and see how Stephen Sizer and Anthony McRoy have allied themselves with Iran, and their Mahdist campaign, which is anti-Christian and anti-Semitic at heart.
Category Archives: Ahmadinejad's Christian soldiers?
This past week, ABC News reported the arrest of Ayatollah Khomeini’s granddaughter Zahra Eshraghi, along with reformist husband Mohamed Reza Khatami.
In direct relation to this news, illustrated with a photo of Hassan Khomeini guarding a copy his book on Christian Zionism, Stephen Sizer comments:
Two years ago I took part in a lecture tour of Iranian universities at the invitation of Dr Zahra Mostafavi, the daughter of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Predictably, I was accused by Zionists of siding with the Iranian regime, with holocaust deniers, and those who allegedly want to ‘wipe Israel off the map’, etc, etc. I am glad that what I always knew but could not say at the time has been made public – that they are part of the opposition movement to the Iranian regime. The picture is of Khomeini’s grandson, Hassan Khomeini.
Lara Setrakian, writing for ABC News, logged this story a few days ago.
I have several points to make in response to this.
1. Stephen Sizer presents this arrest as allowing him to finally reveal the secret of Khomeini family members in opposition to the Ahmadinejad regime.
Eshraghi and her husband are open supporters of Mousavi and have officially endorsed him through their party; both were arrested a day after the election. In another interview ten days before the election, Zahra said, “Mousavi was one of the very few people trusted by my grandfather.”
2. Zahra Mostafavi’s public support for Moussavi – also reported by TNR in August 2009 – is no secret either, and is not something Rev Sizer is revealing to the world just now.
3. Zahra Eshraghi, grand-daughter of Khomeini, is not the same woman as Zahra Mostafavi, Khomeini’s daughter. Both are active in women’s politics, but whereas Eshraghi actively opposes the chador (Islamic veil) being forced on women, Mostafavi sees wearing the hijab as divine law and therefore not up for debate. There is a clear difference, and Sizer had nothing to do with Eshraghi during his visit to Iran. Sizer was invited by Zahra Mostafavi.
4. In July 2006, Zahra Mostafavi wrote a letter to Hassan Nasrallah in praise of Hezbollah, imploring children to become suicide bombers. Not good.
5. Zahra Mostafavi did not invite Stephen Sizer to Iran in a personal capacity or even on behalf of her family. This was a tour organised by the NEDA Institute. Indeed, Sizer himself wrote in a report on his website:
In October 2007, she [Dr Zahra Mostafavi] invited me to give a series of lectures on the impact of Christian Zionism on the Middle East. The tour was arranged and facilitated by Dr Jawad Shabarf of the NEDA Institute for Scientific Research in Tehran.
In January 2006, Dr Jawad Shabarf wrote to Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson on behalf of the NEDA Institute. You can read Shabarf’s corresponse with Faurisson on a Google Cache of the neo-Nazi Zundelsite.
Rev Sizer’s acceptance of an invitation from the NEDA Institute is still inexcusable. It is not justified because Zahra Mostafavi’s niece is a reformer.
6. Hassan Khomeini, depicted in Rev Sizer’s blog, clearly supports terrorist activity against Israeli civilians.
From Payvand’s Iran News:
Hassan Khomeini, grandson of the father of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, said in a July 18 letter to Hizballah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah that he is ready to go to Lebanon to fight the “enemies of Islam and humanity,” Iranian state television reported. Khomeini met with Nasrallah during a July 2 visit to Damascus, IRNA reported.
7. If Rev Sizer’s visit was genuinely out of concern for the opposition to Ahmadinejad, why did he spend his time criticising apocalyptic Christian Zionist theology without even mentioning Ahmadinejad’s apocalyptic Mahdist theology?
9. If Rev Sizer was politically opposed to the Ahmadinejad regime in 2007, why did he appear at a political conference in 2008 alongside representatives from Hamas and Hezbollah, both of which are armed and funded by the Ahmadinejad regime? (Holocaust denier Frederick Tobin was also in attendance, as were Neturei Karta reps).
10. Why was Rev Sizer happy to allow his book on Christian Zionism to be translated into Farsi by Zahra Mostafavi for open usage – despite knowing full well how the Iranian regime treats its Christians?
I do not believe that the very sad arrest of Zahra Eshraghi and Mohamed Reza Khatami justifies or negates Rev Sizer’s political alliances in any way.
For Christians interest in peace and justice who respect Rev Sizer’s writings, these developments may seem disconcerting.
Stephen Sizer’s output is focused on what he sees as the violent outworking of bad theology. Emploring Christians to embrace the Biblical quest for peace and justice, Reverend Sizer presents himself as a moral leader for how Christians should engage in politics.
Perhaps he too has some learning to do.
From Shiraz Socialist:
I’m not going to delve through the works of the Rev Stephen Sizer in order to pronounce on his anti-Semitism, but going by his behaviour towards Seismic and his threatening letter to an Australian blogger he is an authoritarian little shit with crappy ideas of what political debate is and one to give his religion a bad name.
Rev Sizer would have been bad enough if he had got lawyers to write letters to Seismic and his service provider in order to shut him up. Getting the police involved and then using them as a threat to shut up other bloggers about his political activities is how a cowardly louse behaves, and it’s outrageous that the police didn’t tell him that that wasn’t their job to harass bloggers.
Seismic seems unsure of his rights in this case. It is evident that this government has extended the powers of the police, the police are taking advantage of it, and getting into the mindset where they poke around blogs for speech and writing crimes. Using the anti-terrorism laws, they have been stopping and searching photographers for taking photographs. Photographers held a mass demonstration against this yesterday.
The political history of this country is of the government extending its powers, the people pushing back. A mass repetition of Seismic’s story on all blogs would be one small shove
This is cross-posted from Calvin L. Smith
Since its launch in 2007 a number of Christians have appeared on Press TV, including one I chatted with some time later who appeared a little embarrassed for having done so. Why, exactly? Well, especially since the Iranian elections there has been a flurry of allegations by various commentators in the media and elsewhere concerning the channel’s agenda and methods, while it seems a number of politicians, analysts and experts wishing to be taken seriously are increasingly doubtful about the wisdom of appearing on Press TV. Thus, in light of these perceptions of the channel and what it represents, the question of whether or not a Christian should appear on Press TV is an important one for believers contemplating how best to engage with the public square.
But first some background on Press TV, which is a 24-hour, English-language, Iranian news and current affairs channel set up by Tehran with the express aim of promoting the regime’s perspective. As such, accusations of bias, selective reporting, even misrepresentation, abound. In its broadcasting Press TV has little time for the US and Western governments, though much of its vitriol is especially reserved for Tehran’s nemesis, Israel and international Zionism (whatever that is), while the channel has also been accused of anti-Semitism. Moreover, several of its presenters include British politicians on the hard left, for example, George Galloway and Jeremy Corbyn, who are deeply critical of Western governments and Israel. Further comment on Press TV can be found in a piece by The Times and The Independent columnist Dominic Lawson, who publishes a comment on the channel in the The Times newspaper here, while Jeremy Paxman on the BBC’s Newsnight interviews a Press spokesman here (the bit I enjoyed the most is about 5 minutes in, when the Press TV guy challenges a fellow guest to provide him examples of propaganda on the channel, whereupon the other guest, much to the chagrin of the channel’s representative who somehow thought he had caught out his opponent, begins to list example after example in a staccato monotone).
Anyway, getting back to the original question, should a Christian appear on Press TV? (I mean, of course, specifically appearing as a presenter or guest invited to comment in a particular programme or debate, rather than being asked an impromptu question by a journalist in the street.) I believe Christians should not appear on the channel at all, for several reasons. First, Press TV (set up and financed by Iran) is quite clearly a mouthpiece of a brutal regime which has exported terrorism to various countries, brutally suppresses peaceful opposition protests in its own streets, has repeatedly called for the annihilation of another country, and significantly from a Christian perspective, has brutally persecuted Christians (there are various documented cases, including executions for converting from Islam to Christianity). I suggest, then, that appearing on a channel aimed at portraying Tehran in a positive light, as well as promoting the regime’s agenda and values, merely serves to lend the regime credibility and legitimacy.
Some may well argue that if Christians don’t appear on the channel, then their point will go unmade, so better to argue from within than without. Actually I have some sympathy with this argument, but only to a degree. I am not for one minute suggesting Christians should not engage the public square except through media outlets which are completely unbiased, otherwise they would never appear on anything. But there is a big difference appearing on, say, a news channel like Al Jazeera, which specifically seeks to offer an Arab (and generally Muslim) perspective but which nonetheless also airs various alternative views (including views from Israel, so often denied to everyday Arabs in some autocratic states), and appearing on Press TV which is a financed propaganda instrument of the Iranian regime. “Oh, but Press TV does air various views contrary to Tehran” some will say. Indeed, but I suggest on this particular channel the odds are always stacked against the holders of those alternative views: their positions will be routinely misrepresented or only partially heard, while the debate will be skewed so that Tehran’s view always – always– comes out on top. For those of you who watch the channel, do you ever recall watching a Press TV debate when this was not the case?
This leads to my second reason for suggesting Christians should not appear on the channel. Because Press TV is biased towards the regime’s values and worldview, so that both sides of an argument are not aired appropriately (for example, see this story of Ofcom’s criticism of George Galloway’s one-sided presentation of the Gaza war), how can Christians appearing on Press TV be sure what they say will not also be misrepresented? Or even that just appearing on the channel will not be abused in some way to counter accusations of Iran’s persecution of Christians? Just as Dominic Lawson points out in his comment (see above) that British presenters are in danger of becoming Iran’s stooges, isn’t there also a danger of Christians becoming unwitting stooges or pawns in the regime’s greater propaganda battle? I can think of at least one British Christian who, by appearing on Press TV several times, has lost credibility by appearing to sympathetise with the regime.
Which leads me to my third point. Just as appearing on Press TV helps give credibility to the regime in the eyes of some, conversely it arguably causes considerable damage to the credibility of those Christians appearing on it in the eyes of others. It associates them (albeit unwittingly) with a regime which is anti-West, brutally suppresses opposition in its own country, and calls for Israel’s destruction. Besides, how can appearing on a channel which seems to be obsessed with international Zionism and Zionist conspiracies be taken seriously, especially if they are Christians who are there with the express purpose of condemning Christian Zionism?.As the Newsnight video clip above demonstrates, serious journalists are distancing themselves from Press TV for fear of damaging their credibility. Christians might want to consider doing the same.
So what made me bring up this issue? It is not, contrary to what some people may believe (especially in light of my penultimate sentence in that last paragraph), a desire to attack Christians who take a different theological view from me on Israel and have appeared on Press TV to criticise Christian Zionism (though I do find it deeply troubling that some Christians’ intense dislike of Israel is such that they will speak against fellow Christians on a channel funded by a regime which maltreats Christians). Rather, this brief comment is a direct response to the hypocrisy of Press TV’s announcements last week promising to expose the “truth” about Israeli war crimes in the Gaza war, this during the very same week both the regime brutally suppressed peaceful protests against Tehran and the channel suppressed the truth about these actions by this regime. In short, if this channel can’t be trusted with this truth why should it be trusted with any other “truth”? Moreover, how can Christians who stand for and preach a message of Truth appear in all good conscience on a channel which blatantly spouts propaganda? I can accept past appearances might have been done in ignorance, but it is quite another thing to continue working with this channel when even journalists and other commentators have become deeply uneasy and are distancing themselves from Press TV.
This said, Press TV does offer one very important source of information. Not its claims to promote a distinctly Iranian perspective on regional and world issues, of course. The beatings on the streets demonstrate this is far from the case. But Press TV does reflect how the current Iranian regime thinks, providing valuable insight into its mindset and worldview. And after watching it for a little while you’ll see it’s somewhat scary. No need for Western governments to whip up hysteria and scare us about the bogeyman (as the hard left claim)… watching this channel will do it all for them.
Wondering “Will Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Make Aliyah to Israel?” he argues that Mahmoud’s Ahmadinejad’s Jewishness is ‘clearly an inconvenient truth if Ahmadinejad were to exercise his ‘right’ as a Jew to make Aliyah and emigrate to Israel.’
But what what would happen if Ahmadinejad did exercise that right?
Let’s find out:
Last month I blogged about Anthony McRoy’s sermon on Islam at Cheam Baptist Church, in which McRoy preached that Islam is inadequate to Christianity, arguing that the Islamic concept of heaven is sensual. I contrasted this sermon with a paper McRoy gave in Iran, in which he claimed that just as Jesus inspired Christians like William Wilberforce to fight against slavery, so too the Mahdi inspired Hezbollah to commit suicide bombings in their fight against Israelis. Now it appears that Cheam Baptist Church have removed McRoy’s sermon, and his name no longer appears on their sermon page.
‘Author Ben White has argued that Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not deny the Holocaust. In 2002, White published an article in which he wrote that he can “understand” why some people are anti-Semitic, though he himself was not.
War on Want praised his new book as an “information-packed, highly readable introduction to understanding the origins of the conflict and how apartheid applies to Palestine.”
“We didn’t call the police,” said John Hilary, War on Want executive director. “Organizers of past events told us Mr. Hoffman would create a disturbance and we don’t want such people to attend.” But Sacerdoti says that “anyone who knows Jonathan Hoffman knows this claim is nonsense.”
This may well be the end of Ben White posting articles from Haaretz, which is now quite clearly a biased liberal Zionist propaganda rag that dares besmirch White’s name.
The theology of extreme Christian Zionism is concerning to many Christians in the West who believe that some pro-Israel Christians are focusing more on politics than on individual people. Other Christians oppose Christian Zionism because some Christian Zionists are obsessive about end-times prophecies and premillennial dispensationalism (this ignores the fact that many Reformed Baptists, evangelicals and Protestants support Israel without having dispensationalist theology).
In attempting to approach the issue in a different way, many Christians such as Colin Chapman, Gary Burge, John Hubers and Stephen Sizer have challenged Christian Zionist theology and politics in an attempt to, in their view, redress the balance. These theologians see Christian Zionists as obsessed with Armageddon and insensitive to Arab Christians, and thus they attempt to prove themselves different by focusing on present issues in the Middle East rather than future prophecy, and claim to sympathise with Christian Arabs and Palestinians. In attempting to express support for the Palestinians, many of these Christians enthusiastically take up anti-Israel politics, and align their worldview on Palestine with ideas common in Muslim majority countries. Thus, opposition to Christian Zionism becomes opposition to Zionism itself. These Christians not only oppose premillennial dispensationalist eschatology, but also the Jewish right for self-determination.
These Christians thus speak about Christian ‘social justice’, and use ideas from the school of liberation theology. Liberation theology was a Latin American-based movement that sought to link Christianity with Marxism. The ‘poor of Christ’ whom Jesus spoke to in the Beatitudes were the oppressed peasants of Latin America, whilst the corrupt Pharisees were represented by American imperialism and corrupt Latin American dictatorships. Palestinian liberation theology, as developed by Naim Ateek, is a different concept. In Palestinian liberation theology, Jesus does not take sides between the rich and the poor, or between the ruling classes and the working classes/peasants, but between people of one nation and another. Jesus becomes a Palestinian, oppressed by Israelis. Here is an example of Palestinian liberation theology espoused by Naim Ateek, who enjoys great support amongst Christian anti-Zionists:
“It seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him…. Palestinian men, women, and children being crucified. Palestine has become one huge golgotha. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily. Palestine has become the place of the skull.” (Ateek, Easter Message, April 6, 2001)
According to Ateek’s twisting of Biblical themes, Israel operates a crucifixion system, and the Palestinians become linked with Jesus’ death. Such powerful imagery is designed to cast the Palestinians in the minds of Christians as like Jesus without fault, and the Israelis as particularly sinful. So although they accuse the Christian Zionists of oversimplifying the Middle East by supporting Israel over Palestine, we see how many Christian anti-Zionists crassly oversimplify the Middle East conflict by whitewashing Palestinian crimes and demonising Israel.
Whilst many pro-Palestinian Christians claim to be supporting Palestinian Christians, there is more to this claim than meets the eye. The suffering of Palestinian Christians is often blamed exclusively on Israel, despite evidence of persecution against Palestinian Christians by the PLO, Fatah, Hamas, and other Islamist movements. (In extreme cases, Christian anti-Zionists acted as apologists for Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hezbollah – see here for more details). However, many Palestinian Christians cannot publicly speak out against Palestinian authorities for fear of reprisal, whilst they are encouraged by the same authorities to speak out against Israel as Christians.
Whilst many high profile Christian anti-Zionists claim to be interested in social justice, many have a tendency just to see Israelis as wrongdoers, or to focus on Israeli wrongdoings. Some Christian anti-Zionists blame Israel for most if not all of the problems in the Middle East, and don’t treat Zionism as a nationalist movement, but as an attempt at a land grab, presenting Jewish nationalists (Zionists) as thieves of Palestine, motivated by their religious beliefs about holy land. But seeing Zionism as merely motivated by religion fails to take into account that the Zionist movement was pioneered by secular Jews with secular beliefs, for whom Palestine was the appropriate and natural place for the establishment for a Jewish homeland due to the Jewish people’s historic ties with the land of Israel.
In this way of thinking, with Israel cast as essentially the root cause of all problems in the Middle East, if there were no Israel then there would be no anti-Zionism [similar to the logic that claims if there were no Jews then no anti-Semitism, no children then no paedophilia, no women then no rape etc].
Christian anti-Zionists support this narrative through select passages in the Old Testament which warn of a Jewish exile from Israel, and an interpretation of the New Testament which excludes the Jews from having any national identity. However, whilst high profile Christian anti-Zionists like Stephen Sizer think Jewish nationalism is illegitimate, they strongly support Palestinian nationalism. Yet if Christians are to deny Jews the right to a national homeland, then all nationalism should be condemned. Christian anti-Zionists are at a loss to explain why it is only Jewish nationalism that must be opposed and analysed.
As a result of both an unexplained focus on Israel, a theology which denies Jews the right to a homeland, and a lack of sympathy for Israeli concerns, many people accuse scholars like Stephen Sizer and Colin Chapman of antisemitism. There is also an element of conspiracy theory amongst leading Christian anti-Zionists. Colin Chapman claims that Jews in America have power ‘out of all proportion’ to their numbers, whilst Stephen Sizer has blamed Israelis for taking part in 9/11. Sizer himself has even spoken at a conference alongside Holocaust denier Fred Tobin.
One of the most popular experts on Christian social justice is Brian McLaren, who appears to support Ben White’s call for a boycott against Israel and Israelis. The boycott call is not just a boycott of the Jewish state but of individual Jewish Israelis. Thus, in the name of social justice and Christianity, Bryan McLaren advocates the exclusion of Israelis from global affairs. This attitude however is not confined to the realms of theology, but finds its out-workings in the anti-Zionist campaigns of the Friends of Sabeel, Diakonia, Amos Trust and War on Want, as well as plenty other Christian charities, in the name of social justice.
Friends of Sabeel, whilst using Christian language, is often supported by suspicious characters, and its international patron Desmond Tutu promotes paranoid, antisemitic conspiracy theories about a powerful Jewish lobby in America. Diakonia, the Swedish charity which represents five Swedish Christian denominations, is closely linked with Sabeel. Whilst Sabeel claim to love Israel, many of their members support racist boycotts against Israel. And, whilst Diakonia claim to be interested in Christian social justice, Diakonia’s own policy officer has admitted that the charity is “more a lobby group with a clear political agenda for the Middle East than a Christian aid organisation.” Similarly, Christian Aid has for years attacked Israel; in fact there is a whole blog set up watching Christian Aid for antisemitism.
Christian Aid’s patron Jenny Tonge had to step down from her post when she said she sympathised with suicide bombers. Tonge is now a patron of Friends of Sabeel UK, as are two bishops heavily involved with Christian Aid. The former director of World Vision, Tom Getman, has praised Hezbollah’s political leader Hassan Nasrallah and its spiritual leader Sheikh Fadlallah for their insights and criticisms of Christianity. Oxfam ran a poster campaign in Belgium urging people not to buy Israeli fruit, and showed a picture of an Israeli Jaffa orange dripping with blood, for which Oxfam later apologised.
Yet true social justice surely sees neither Israelis nor Palestinians, but human beings. So boycott campaigns which will exclude one group to purportedly support the other cannot themselves be socially ‘just’. Through a claim to be practising social justice, some Christians end up developing racist and antisemitic non-Christian ways of thinking. Such Christians may not recognise this, but until they do, their words about social justice will be very hard to take seriously.
Christians should, surely, encourage harmony between people in Israel and the Palestinian territories, emphasising what they have in common and encouraging reconciliation and dialogue. Instead, by dividing people into good (Palestinians) and bad (Israelis), Christian anti-Zionists merely construct barriers between people, rather than tearing down barriers as they would like to imagine themselves as doing.