Well (groan) Stephen Sizer is recommending his interview with ex-Press TV hack Hassan Alkatib (to which I alluded in that post) to his Facebook faithful. (What took him so long?)
"Very interesting. I listened to it all with fascination. You were so fluent and articulate. Well done."That's the adulatory comment by a follower whom we'll identify here only as Anne, and no doubt many more of Sizer's disciples (a number of whom have predictably pressed the "Like" button) will be equally mesmerised by the Anglican crusader against Christian Zionism's apparent expertise.
Indeed, just like Anne I listened to the video with "fascination". Just like Anne, I found Sizer to be "fluent and articulate". But, unlike Anne, what I found "interesting" was not his apparent expertise but the fact that he got so much wrong.
For many of the vicar's assertions, stated so confidently to his receptive Muslim interviewer, are erroneous, constituting a farrago of bias and nonsense.
1. Contrary to Sizer's claim, Israel is not the sole country in the world with unresolved borders; the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan is the most notable of many border disputes around the globe. Indeed, the list is rather staggering. Moreover, veteran Arab affairs specialist Pinhas Inbari, in a masterly must-read article last month for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, shows that 'border conflicts are endemic in the Arab world'. Writes Inbari, inter alia:
'[S]urprising though it may be, Israel already has clear, agreed borders to a much greater extent than most Arab countries. Thanks to the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, Israel has well-delineated borders with two of its neighbors. Almost all the Arab countries, however, are plagued with ongoing border conflicts that erupt violently when there is an interest in inflaming them, and lie dormant when there is no interest in doing so.
Syria, for example, does not recognize either its border with Lebanon or Turkey’s annexation of the province of Iskenderun (Alexandretta). Syria also claims Arab-populated territories along Turkey’s southern border, and has a water conflict with Turkey. Iraq does not recognize Kuwait, and has dormant claims to its border with Iran. The borders between the various United Arab Emirates have not been finally determined; nor has the one between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Egypt has longstanding border conflicts with Sudan, Libya with Chad, and the various border conflicts between Morocco, Algeria, and Mauritania have already sparked several rounds of war. Iran has territorial claims in the Persian Gulf, including a claim to all of Bahrain; Jordan has claims regarding Syria, and so on.
Border conflicts are, then, the rule in the Middle East, and there is almost no case of an agreed border between two countries. Israel is in fact an exception, and the Palestinians seek to impose the 1967 lines as their border with Israel. What appears to be a negotiation over borders is actually an attempt at compelling a settlement under the rubric of international legitimacy....'Degania Alef), pictured in 1910, was established in 1909, nearly a decade before the Russian Revolution of 1917, and nearly two decades before the collective farm system was instituted. The vicar's comparison of the Israeli voluntary, truly socialist humanitarian kibbutzim, which thousands of non-Jews temporarily join, with Stalin's totalitarian collective farms, which were entirely involuntary and in which millions were murdered, is ridiculous (and may well be seen by many to have unfortunate parallels with the Nazi spectre of "Judeo-Bolshevism", the affinity of Jews and Communists.)
7. British Cabinet members such as David Lloyd George, Arthur Balfour, and Alfred Milner were pro-Zionist by conviction, chiefly because they wished to help persecuted Jewry. As I wrote some time ago:
'David Lloyd George, that famous Manchester-born Welshman who presided over the Cabinet that promulgated the Balfour Declaration in 1917, once noted that
"I was brought up in a school where I was taught far more about the history of the Jews than about the history of my own land. I could tell you all about the kings of Israel. But I doubt whether I could have named half a dozen of the kings of England and not more of the kings of Wales .... On five days a week in the day school, and ... in our Sunday schools, we were thoroughly versed in the history of the Hebrews."
Like other members of his Cabinet, Lloyd George was a philosemite. Although he joked that "Acetone converted me to Zionism" (a reference to Chaim Weizmann’s discovery of that substance [correction, hat tip commenter cba below: "his discovery of a process for manufacturing acetone"]), which so crucially aided the British war effort), Lloyd George’s receptivity to the idea of a restored Jewish Homeland in Eretz Israel was embedded in his religious upbringing. Of the Jews, he said:
"You belong to a very great race which has made the deepest impression on the destinies of humanity .... Your poets, kings and warriors are better known to the children and adults of Wales than are the names of our own heroes!... You may say you have been oppressed and persecuted – that has been your power! You have been hammered into very fine steel, and that is why you can never be broken."
To Lloyd George, the Balfour Declaration was
"a charter of of equality for the Jews.... They belong to a ... race that has endured persecution which for the variety of torture – physical, material, and mental, inflicted on its victims, for the virulence and malignity with which it has been sustained, for the length of time it has lasted, and, more than all, for the fortitude and patience with which it has been suffered, is without parallel in the history of any other people. Is it too much to ask that amongst them whose sufferings are the worst shall be able to find refuge in the land of their fathers made holy by the splendour of their genius, the loftiness of their thoughts, by the consecration of their loves, and by the inspirations of their messages to mankind?"'