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30 Jan, 2015 13:00

Controversial C of E vicar faces inquisition after linking Israel to 9/11 attacks

Controversial C of E vicar faces inquisition after linking Israel to 9/11 attacks

A Church of England vicar is under internal investigation after allegedly sharing an article on Facebook which blames Israel for the 9/11 terror attacks.

Reverend Stephen Sizer reportedly posted a link to an article titled, “9/11 – Israel did it” and wrote: “Is this anti-Semitic? If so, no doubt I’ll be asked to remove it. It raises so many questions.”

Sizer has since taken down the FB post, but the Church of England said on Thursday it would investigate the incident.

In a statement, the Church said it was a “matter of deep sorrow and shame” that Sizer promoted the article during the same week as Holocaust Memorial Day.

Jewish community leaders said the article was “unquestionably anti-Semitic” and “absurd.”

Hosted on Wikispooks.com, the article argues only the CIA and Israel’s Mossad were capable of executing the 9/11 attacks.

Of the two, Mossad had the most “compelling motive” because it wanted the United States to “destroy Israel’s enemies.”

When contacted by the Jewish News, the Surrey-based clergyman appeared to defend the post, asking them to provide evidence Israel wasn’t involved in 9/11.

According to the Jewish News, he said: “I would welcome articles you can recommend refuting the allegations.”

He added: “It is essential the public become convinced of what happened before and after 9/11. Inevitably the truth will upset many people if it is shown by further investigation that the official explanations are shown to be deficient.

Reuters/Sara K. Schwittek

This is not the first time Sizer has faced accusations of anti-Semitism.

In 2013, the Board of Deputies of British Jews complained he was publishing anti-Semitic statements on his blog.

Following mediation meetings with Jewish community leaders, Sizer maintained he did not regret what he said.

Sizer said at the time that his criticism of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians had “caused offence to those who want to justify those actions.”

He did acknowledge his use of language had caused offense, however, and that he should have chosen his words more carefully.

Anti-Semitism is racism – it is dehumanizing and treats Jews in a derogatory or negative way. I repudiate that unequivocally,” he said.

More recently, Sizer received strong criticism after attending a conference in Iran discussing “Zionist involvement” in the 9/11 attacks.

Jewish groups accused him of supporting an “anti-Semitic hate-fest” by speaking at the conference.

In a statement Thursday in response to Sizer’s Facebook post, the Church of England said: “These comments would rightly be seen as unacceptable whenever they were posted. It is a matter of deep sorrow and shame that they have been posted in this week of all weeks.”

The Diocese of Guildford, where the Rev Sizer is licensed, is taking immediate steps to investigate. The diocese is aware of the seriousness of the matter and are also in touch with the Board of Deputies of British Jews.”

Jonathan Arkush, vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told the Jewish News: “Posting, and giving approval to, an article which in effect accuses Jews of responsibility for the 9/11 atrocity is unquestionably anti-Semitic, just as it is beyond absurd.”