St Columba’s Church in Chester has cancelled an event titled “Palestine: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow”, which was set to feature disgraced conspiracy theorist Rev. Dr Stephen Sizer, the antisemite Gilad Atzmon, and the activists Miko Peled and Mick Napier.
The event, organised by the group Interfaith for Palestine, was due to be held at the church today and tomorrow, but following an intervention by North West Friends of Israel, the event was cancelled. A spokesman for the Diocese of Shrewsbury said: “The Diocese of Shrewsbury condemns and opposes antisemitism in all its forms and will not allow such activities on its premises. When serious concerns about the nature of this event were brought to our attention appropriate steps were immediately taken.”
Rev. Dr Sizer has claimed that an Israeli conspiracy was behind 9/11, and in February 2015 he was ordered by the Church of England to stop using social media. While the Church said the material that Rev. Dr Sizer posted was “clearly antisemitic”, the Daily Mail revealed that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote to the Church defending Rev. Dr Sizer, saying that he was being victimised because he “dared to speak out against Zionism.”
Mr Atzmon is reported to have blamed the Grenfell Tower tragedy on “Jerusalemites” as well as reportedly telling university students that “the Jews were expelled from Germany for misbehaving.” He is not shy about his antisemitism, telling a Jewish Twitter user in 2014: “I am not a Jew any more. I indeed despise the Jew in me (whatever is left). I absolutely detest the Jew in you.”
Following efforts by Campaign Against Antisemitism to have him banned from various musical venues, he penned an article in which he claimed that the then-Chairman of Campaign Against Antisemitism “fabricated” antisemitic incidents as part of a “business plan” to defraud the British taxpayer and earn money for himself. After being sued for libel, Mr Atzmon attempted to crowdfund “tens of thousands of pounds”, telling his supporters: “I have made the decision to fight this crucial battle for freedom of expression even though this fight poses a real risk of bankrupting me and my family.”
Faced with the impossible task of substantiating these libels, Mr Atzmon instead capitulated and agreed to settle the case, admitting that all of the claims were false and agreeing to pay substantial damages and costs. Mr Atzmon did not show his face in court, instead sending his solicitor to read an apology on his behalf.
Mr Peled is an American-Israeli activist who has said that people should be free to ask “Holocaust, yes or no” because “there should be no limits on the discussion,” and has compared Israel to the Nazis, in breach of the International Definition of Antisemitism.
Mick Napier is an activist who was convicted of aggravated trespass and of failing to follow police orders to leave a Jewish-owned cosmetics store in Glasgow following a prosecution supported by Jewish Human Rights Watch. At the Al Quds Day rally earlier this year, Mr Napier, who is the Secretary of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, told protesters that Peter Willsman, a member of the Labour Party’s ruling National Executive Committee, should not have been suspended from the Party for saying that the Israeli embassy was behind allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party. He declared that not only was the Israeli embassy behind “phoney” antisemitism “smears”, but that it also held workshops around the UK where “Zios” (an antisemitic slur word) plotted to orchestrate the “smears”.
Campaign Against Antisemitism applauds St Columba’s Church and the Diocese of Shrewsbury for cancelling this event. However, it is understood that the Hoole Community Centre may now be hosting it, and we call on the Centre to follow the example set by St Columba’s Church and deprive these individuals of the platforms they desperately crave in order to promote their hate.