A Christian conference which promotes the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, called “Christ at the Checkpoint” (CATC), is hosting Rev. Stephen Sizer, a well-known anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist who blamed Jews for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, JNS reported on Monday.
The event, which is taking place in Oklahoma City this week, is part of the organization’s concerted effort to challenge Christian Zionism and erode support for Israel within Christian communities in the United States. The conference is held every two years in Bethlehem, but this year organizers have decided to hold the conference in the U.S.
In 2015, the Church of England banned Sizer from speaking, writing, tweeting or blogging on the Middle East, after he posted a link on Facebook to an article entitled “9/11 Israel did it” adding the comment that it “raises so many questions.” The vicar was later ordered by the church to “cease all preaching, teaching and leading of services,” after breaking his pledge to refrain from commenting on Israel, and is now retired from the church. In 2014, Sizer infuriated Jewish community leaders by taking part in a Holocaust denial conference in Iran which was dubbed an “anti-Semitic hate-fest.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote to church authorities at the time, suggesting that Sizer had been victimized because he had “dared to speak out against Zionism.” Corbyn himself is currently embroiled in an anti-Semitism row over his support for those who libel Jews and vow to destroy Israel, including Iranian-backed terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah.
Luke Moon, the Deputy Director of the Philos Project in New York, told The Tower that “The goal of Christ at the Checkpoint is to undermine Christian support for Israel. Having attended the last four CATC conferences in Bethlehem this one is proving to be the worst.”
He added that “The organizers have gone too far in hosting Stephen Sizer…The positive relationship between Christians and Jews is at an all-time high and it’s conferences like this one that seek to drive us back to the days of antagonism and distrust—and I will fight hard against that.”
The CATC manifesto states that the “suffering of the Palestinian people can no longer be ignored” and that “Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.” Their employees have accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” erecting an “apartheid wall,” and enacting a “crucifixion system” against the Palestinians.
“Christ at the Checkpoint has long been a forum for bigots and anti-Semites,” said Yona Schiffmiller, director of the North America desk at NGO Monitor. “Predictably, this gathering seems poised to follow in that dubious tradition. The decision to give a platform to a 9/11 conspiracy theorist—a participant in Iranian Holocaust-denial conferences—and to those who try to engage avowed terrorist organizations in ‘non-violence training’ exemplifies the radical agenda of this gathering’s organizers.”
Writing in The Tower Magazine in April 2014, Moon observed that “leaders and participants of Christ at the Checkpoint have grown to be increasingly astute regarding American Evangelicals and how to persuade them of their anti-Israel narrative.” Moon warned that “arresting this threat will be a challenge,” adding “It is simply not enough to warn Evangelical churches of the danger. They need to be equipped with the knowledge necessary to combat the lies with facts and understand the modern state of Israel.”
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