Today marks the 138th day (19+ weeks) since my Ecclesiastical Tribunal concluded in late May and we are still waiting for the publication of their ruling. Parallels with the delayed Forde Report into alleged antisemitism within the Labour Party are I am sure purely coincidental.
Clearly this was a complex case and they must decide on what constitutes lawful political opinion, evaluate conflicting definitions of antisemitism and specifically rule on the validity or otherwise of the IHRA definition, discount the hearsay and anonymous sources relied upon by the Church of England, as well as the instances of double jeopardy and breaches of the previous conciliation agreement, weigh up the sole expert witness report of Dr Tony Lerman as well as the testimonies of the 40+ witnesses including archbishops, bishops, rabbis, clergy, academics and former parishioners who supported my defence in writing or in person.
The Board of Deputies actually made their original complaint, alleging antisemitism, 48 months ago way back in October 2018, so this has been a drawn out process and a rather long time to wait for justice. This is the reason I insisted my tribunal be held in public - the first ever - to expose the lack of evidence against me and to ensure justice is seen to be done.
My barrister was quoted in the Daily Mail, as saying, “It is significant that not one word or statement from Dr Sizer has been shown to be anti-semitic. There are none.”
The prosecution had four years from when the CDM was first lodged to find witnesses (from among the many clergy, congregants or parishioners who have known me over 45 years ministry) who were willing to testify and corroborate the allegations. They could not find a single person.
They also had ample time to trawl through the texts of hundreds of my sermons and talks published online for incriminating evidence of antisemitism. They could not find a single word.
This is perhaps why Dr Jeff Halper, the Jewish academic and human rights activist, rather provocatively called my tribunal an 'Inquisition'.
"The charges against Dr. Sizer are untrue and trumped-up – and you all know it. Antisemitism?! How do you possibly defend yourself against such a charge? In the intellectual and democratic world in which most of us live, Dr. Sizer has made a rational, well-researched case for his views and analysis presented in articles, books and lectures based firmly on academic research and religious history. But that is exactly the type of person for which Tribunals are necessary, since analyses like Dr. Sizer presents, unpopular in some partisan circles as they may be, cannot be dismissed in academic circles or barred in courts of law. They must be denounced in Tribunals with no moral, legal or intellectual authority, and as in all religious Tribunals, the person maligned and destroyed in order to somehow delegitimize his or her views. I am embarrassed for all of you – and downright angry at the Jews who participate in the dark proceeding of religious Tribunals."
Read the full statement from Dr Jeff Halper
This is also the first time the controversial IHRA definition of antisemitism has been tested in law. Either way, therefore, the tribunal decision will set a legal precedent of international significance. It is perhaps not surprising that those who justify racial supremacism, settler colonialism and apartheid have weaponised what is now called the 'new antisemitism', epitomised by the discredited IHRA definition, to silence their critics.
Irrespective of the tribunal outcome for me personally, I am praying for an outcome that, at the very least, will ensure others do not have to endure this kind of religious tribunal in the future.