Sunday, 25 March 2012

Every picture tells a story

Last Monday the world was shocked by the news of three Jewish children being shot dead at their school in Toulouse. Wherever you looked on the web, you couldn’t avoid the news. One of the places you couldn't find it, though, was on Rev Stephen Sizer’s blog. He had other fish to fry.

On the day Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and his sons Arieh (aged 5) and Gabriel (aged 3), with Myriam Monsenego (aged 8) were killed, Rev Sizer was blogging about the International Conference on Jerusalem he had spoken at in Qatar just before jetting to the Christ at the Checkpoint conference in Bethlehem.

The Qatar Conference which, according to Stephen Sizer, defended 'the status of Jerusalem’ denied the Jewish people any right to Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state. Sizer also exhibited some of his high-quality photos of a non-existent place called 'Palestine' where, according to his captions, East Jerusalem is located and which the Israelis are ‘Judaizing’ (an expression he appears to have picked up in Qatar).

Among his pictures of the Christ at the Checkpoint conference were a couple of nicely executed murals, one of an armed Palestinian woman (Image 12)and the other an adaptation of Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People (Images 20-22)from (presumably) the Bethlehem side of Israel’s Security Wall.

Sizer sees to have liked the Delacroix-inspired mural so much he featured a detail from it of an armed Palestinian following 'Freedom'(Image 22). The caption under the mural is ‘Revolution have [sic] started here and will continue until…’ Until what?

Rev Sizer says he opposes violence but the murals glorify armed conflict and the ersatz Delacroix draws a clear parallel between the bloody French revolution in which France’s aristocracy and ruling class kissed their heads goodbye and the Palestinian opposition to Israel. If one picture is worth a thousand words, how much do these pictures say both about the Palestinian aims and the person who admires them so much he photographed them several times and posted them on his blog? Does Rev Sizer regard Israel as a latter day Middle Eastern ‘Ancien RĂ©gime’ that must needs go the same way as eighteenth century France?

Stephen Sizer will no doubt protest that the pictures are just a few of the many views of Bethlehem. But his shots of Israel are never neutral. He has photos of Israeli soldiers under the caption: ‘Herod’s Soldiers operating in Bethlehem today.’ If that does not imply that Herod’s soldiers are doing in Bethlehem today what they were doing in the town 2,000 years ago, I don’t know what it means.

Does Rev Sizer approve of Bethlehem’s ‘Liberty leading an armed Palestinian people’? Let’s imagine he saw a mural on the other side imitating another French masterpiece, say, Jacques Louis David’s The Oath of the Horatii in which Settlers were being handed automatic weapons and swearing to defend their land or die. Do you imagine for one second that Sizer would post it without comment?

All this week, in the wake of the Toulouse murders, he has been blogging and posting photos of the ‘Judaization’ of Jerusalem, the ‘siege’ of ‘Ghetto’ Hebron, 'Ghetto' Bethlehem and ‘illegal’ Jewish settlements. Yesterday he posted a blog about the alleged ‘ ill-treatment and torture of children in the Israeli military detention system … based on 311 sworn affidavits taken from children between January 2008 and January 2012.’

If the allegations of torture are true, there will be an outcry from the Israeli public and I have no doubt the guilty parties will be brought to book. If the claims are untrue, I hope to see an apology on Stephen Sizer’s blog for inciting hatred against Israel.

The torture of children is abhorrent but let's not forget that children are capable of lying. The Palestinian education system instils hatred of Israelis into children from their earliest days. Let's not forget, either, that Israel regularly treats Palestinian children in its hospitals and would do more so if Hamas would let them.

I am bugged by a number of questions about why Stephen Sizer published this latest blog while Jews around the world are mourning the death of three children? Is Rev Sizer trying to tell us it's not only Jews who bleed? Or is he just displaying the same lack of sensitivity that led him to launch the anti-Israel film With God on our Side at his church on the first day of Purim 2010, or to schedule Christ at the Checkpoint for Purim 2012 or that led his chum Ben White to launch his latest anti-Israel book on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day this year.

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