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Smearing Christian Zionists By: Mark D. Tooley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, March 27, 2009


Church of England priest Stephen Sizer, vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water in Surrey, has made attacking Christian support for Israel his central mission. Ironically, he comes not from the church’s left-wing but its evangelical branch, giving him access to wider global audiences not otherwise available. Sizer’s latest book, Zion’s Christian Soldiers, warns that pro-Israel U.S. evangelicals have monstrously distorted the Middle East by aligning America with Israel.

“In its worst forms, Christian Zionism uses the Bible to justify racial superiority, land expropriation, home demolitions, colonial settlements, the denial of international law and the dehumanization of Arabs,” Sizer complains. It also “provides a biblical justification for U.s. intervention in the Middle East. It is deeply mistrustful of the United Nations and the European Community, and actively opposes the implementation of international law and the right of Palestinians to a sovereign state alongside Israel.”

For Sizer, Christian Zionism seems like a plague: “It not only fuels Islamophobia but also anti-Semitism and Islamist retaliation against Christians.” His charge that pro-Israel Christians incite “retaliation” against Christians echoes a small but growing sentiment among the Evangelical Left, both British and American, to oppose public critique of jihadist Islam in favor of accommodation.

Recently, Sizer has denounced Israel’s “wanton killing spree” in Gaza, celebrated the Church of England’s divestment in Caterpillar stock, (the church insists the decision was financial and not political), and rejoiced over the “diminishing influence of the Zionist lobby in Barak Obama's new Administration.” Sizer is a founding member of the Institute for the Study of Christian Zionism (ISCZ), a member of the Advisory Council of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding (EMEU), with a following both in Britain and the U.S., as well as throughout the global Anglican Communion.

Not surprisingly, in 2007 the daughter of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran’s current Islamist police state, invited Sizer to lecture about Christian Zionism in Iran, to which Sizer gladly acceded. The daughter is Secretary General of the International Union of NGO’s Defending Palestinian Rights and understandably expected Sizer to share much of the Islamist republic’s perspective about Israel. Sizer spoke at 8 Iranian schools and was interviewed on Iranian television, radio and in newspapers about Christian Zionism’s “destructive” influence. Iran is also translating Sizer’s Zion’s Christian Soldiers into Farsi. In one television interview, Sizer asserted that pro-Israel Christians “argue that Jews are above the law” and “justify Israeli aggression.”

Presumably while in Iran Sizer did not have time to analyze Shiite Islam’s own Mahdist visions of Armageddon, as sometimes expressed by Iran’s colorfully apocalyptic president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. When interviewed on a Florida radio station last year, Sizer seemed to minimize the Iranian president’s sometimes blood-drenched prophecies: "I would disassociate myself from some of the ways in which Ahmedinejad's statements have been interpreted from Farsi into English. I believe you'll find he looked forward to the day when Zionism ceased to exist." Indeed. Sizer continued: "So we can talk about Ahmedinejad trying to drive the Jews into the sea which we would abhor, but the reality is that Israel is driving the Palestinians into the desert."

In a paper Sizer delivered to Edinburgh University recently, he wondered about the turmoil and hypocrisy that Christian Zionism generates. “Why after 40 years, does Israel continue to occupy territory in Lebanon (the Sheba Farms), Syria (the Golan Heights) and Palestine (the West Bank) while Syria has been pressured to withdraw from Lebanon?” Sizer rhetorically inquired. “Why is Israel able to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons disregarding every international agreement while Iran is threatened with pre-emptive attack for seeking nuclear technology?”

“Why have Britain and America become the focus of so much hatred from the Islamic world?” Sizer further asked. “Why are our countries the target for Islamist terrorism - despite our commitment to the rule of international law, democracy and human rights?” For Sizer the reasons are clear: “The answers to these questions remain inexplicable unless we factor in what is now probably the most influential and destructive movement amongst Christians today – Christian Zionism.”

At Edinburgh, Sizer advocated overcoming the pervasive Christian Zionists by insisting on war crimes tribunals for Israel’s conduct in Gaza, an arms embargo against Israel and Hamas, divestment from Western firms profiting from the “occupation,” participating in the upcoming United Nations conference in Durban, and purchasing Palestinian products like olive oil. All of these actions are needed if reasonable Christians are to overcome the Zionists and their support for 40 years of Israeli “apartheid with Bantustans.”

Last May, Sizer observed that he had travelled over 14,000 miles to give a 25 minute talk in Jakarta, Indonesia at an international conference called “Freedom and the Right of Return,” commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Nakba or “catastrophe.” Sizer noted that “while Israel celebrates 60 years as a sovereign nation, Palestinians lament 60 years of occupation, exile and denial.” Evidently no distance is too far for the Anglican vicar to denounce Israel and its Christian supporters.

Sizer claims that Christian Zionists advocate an “exclusive theology driving a political agenda which elevates one nation over others rather than an inclusive theology centered on Jesus Christ, the savior of the world.” But it’s hard to see how the Anglican vicar is promoting the Christian faith by joining hands with theocratic Islamists in Iran and elsewhere, whose ultimate apocalyptic vision includes the subordination and ultimate destruction of Christians, Jews, moderate Muslims and others who do not share their own violent brew of turbocharged extremist Islam.


Mark D. Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. He is the author of Taking Back the United Methodist Church.


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