This is now a guest post on Harry’s Place.
Recently there appears to have been a somewhat public spat between the Reverend Doctor Stephen Sizer PhD and the British Christian newsletter Evangelicals Now. This follows a book review in this month’s paper of Ilan Pappé’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.
The review concludes:
Under the unimaginable stresses and pressures of a struggle to survive, even the most civilised armies are capable of barbaric acts, but Ilan Pappe wishes us to believe that barbarism was the stock in trade of David Ben-Gurion and his cabinet. If you have half a mind to believe that in the space of six months the fledgling state of Israel was able to wipe out over half its Palestinian population under the noses of international reporters and UN observers and leave no trace, that’s all you’ll need.
I have criticised Evangelicals Now for its coverage of Israel-Palestine before, and, credit where credit’s due, there seems to have been a conscious attempt to redress the balance somewhat.
But not everyone’s happy.
A bemused Rev Dr Sizer PhD wonders aloud:
I was saddened but not surprised to read Mike Moore cynical ‘review’ of Professor Ilan Pappe’s “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” in last month’s Evangelicals Now.
It is strange to find a book by a Jewish author about the Palestinian Nakba reviewed in an evangelical paper. Was the review commissioned or sent unsolicited and used to fill a gap?
Here is Sizer’s argument about Holocaust denial:
Thankfully it is a crime in some countries to deny the Holocaust. It is a shame that it is not yet a crime to deny the Palestinian Nakba as Moore does.
The events of 1948 cannot simply be laid at the feet of Ben Gurion and his Zionists. Ben Cohen recently discussed the trappings of the ‘Nakba narrative’, noting that Palestinian literary critic Hassan Khader himself sees contradictions and flaws in the traditional Nakba narrative.
But, in any case, what is happening here?
Sizer himself has denied knowingly forwarding material from Holocaust deniers (which he appears to have done), and is now trying to accuse Evangelicals Now of an equivalent to denying the Holocaust (which they haven’t).
Of course, criticisms of Israeli policies, Judaism and Zionism are not inherently antisemitic. Yet there are some people for who (for whatever reason) use criticism of Israeli policies, Judaism and Zionism as channels for their own anti-Jewish prejudices.
As such it has been distressing to see many of the leading theologians in the Christian anti-Zionist movement use the theology of anti-Judaic white supremacists, and associate themselves with Holocaust deniers. Examples include:
*Both Stephen Sizer and Dr Anthony McRoy (evangelical lecturer on Islam) have drawn attention to the writings of American Holocaust denier Michael Hoffman.
*Journalist Ben White, who has written for the Church Times and Fulcrum, tried to contextualise Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial.
*Stephen Sizer, representing The Institute for the Study of Christian Zionism, shared a platform with Holocaust denier Fred Tobin in Indonesia.
*Stephen Sizer has previously hosted an article by Israel Shamir on his website, and is on first name terms with him.
*American Christian anti-Zionist Don Wagner gave an interview to Holocaust-denying David Duke fan Hesham Tellawi (Wagner, interestingly enough, oversaw Rev Dr Sizer PhD’s PhD thesis on Christian Zionism).
McRoy, Sizer and Wagner are academics. They criticise both the excesses of theological Christian Zionism and the pitfalls of political Christian Zionism. Fair enough, but there are also extremists who associate themselves with Christian anti-Zionism.
In March 2004, Searchlight Magazine, in an article entitled Faith based fascists bridging the waters, warned of the dangers of Catholic ultra-traditionist theology as espoused by International Third Positionists (I have previously noted the influence of this phenomenon on the BNP’s theology here and here):
With the internet and numerous conferences, seminars and pilgrimages around the world, Catholic ultra-Traditionalists – numbering as many as 100,000 in the United States alone – form a global network that is infested with religious antisemites, Holocaust deniers, Old School fascists, white nationalists, faith-based Third Positionists and anti-democratic clerics.
“We intend to pick up where the Distributist, the Solidarist, the Corporatist Catholics of all nations left off before the war, and, God willing, to deliver to the world once again the hope of a peaceful and fruitful existence, free from both the excessive power of the state and the ruthless injustice of an untamed market.”
So stated the Catholic IHS Press on its website launch two years ago. The man behind this enterprise and these words is John Sharpe, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, former submarine officer and media spokesman for the Atlantic Fleet. He is also a radical Catholic Third Position polemicist with ideological and business ties to Roberto Fiore’s International Third Position/Forza Nuova network.
Sharpe’s other, more radical enterprise, the Legion of St Louis (LSL), based in Norfolk, Virginia, serves as the US distributor for the St George Educational Trust (SGET) catalogue of antisemitic and British fascist classics. The Board of Directors for the Trust includes convicted terrorist Roberto Fiore, former National Front political solider Colin Todd and Society of St Pius X (SSPX) priest Fr. Michael Crowdy.
LSL offers an SGET booklist that includes works by the British Union of Fascists leader A K Chesterton, the Irish fascist and antisemite Fr. Denis Fahey and his American protégé “radio priest” Fr. Charles Coughlin along with Holocaust denier Michael Hoffman’s Strange Gods of Judaism and Henry Ford’s The International Jew.
You will notice the mention of Michael Hoffman, whom I mentioned earlier in the post as having been linked to by Sizer and McRoy.
Hoffman says of the Holocaust:
“The ‘Holocaust’ is a religious cult masquerading as history. It is a means for Judaizing the West. …
It appears that Hoffman is being lent credibility here in the UK, not merely through Catholic ultra-traditionalists and Third Positionists, but also through respected Christian academics like Sizer and McRoy. Whilst Hoffman’s views on Holocaust denial are not promoted by Sizer or McRoy, his views on Judaism and Zionism have been. Until this controversy is cleared up, we should remain concerned.