Charlotte Church faces backlash over anti-Israel song at charity concert

Singer Charlotte Church has been accused of antisemitism after she performed a song that called for the “annihilation” of Israeli Jews at a charity concert for Gaza.

The song, titled From the River to the Sea, is a pro-Palestinian chant that refers to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, which includes Israel and the Palestinian territories. The song has been widely interpreted as a call for the destruction of Israel and the establishment of a single Palestinian state.

The lyrics of the song, which Church sang with a choir of about 100 people at the Bedwas Workmen’s Hall near Caerphilly on Saturday, include the following lines:

From the river to the sea Palestine will be free We will fight for you Until we see the end Of the occupation And the annihilation Of the Zionist regime

The song also contains references to the “martyrs” and the “resistance” of the Palestinian people, and accuses Israel of committing “genocide” and “apartheid”.

The criticism and the denial of antisemitism

The song has sparked outrage and condemnation from various groups and individuals, who have branded it as antisemitic and hateful. The Campaign Against Antisemitism, a UK-based watchdog group, said that the song was “a call for the murder of Jews” and that Church had “stooped to a new low”.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, the representative body of the Jewish community in the UK, said that the song was “deeply offensive and inflammatory” and that it “incites violence against Jews”. It also called on Church to apologise and retract her performance.

The Jewish Leadership Council, an umbrella organisation of Jewish groups in the UK, said that the song was “a disgraceful display of ignorance and bigotry” and that it “undermines the cause of peace and justice”. It also urged Church to educate herself on the history and reality of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Church, however, has denied being antisemitic and has defended her performance as an act of solidarity with the Palestinian people. She said that the song was not a call for the obliteration of Israel, but for the peaceful coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians.

She also said that she was “fighting for the liberation of all people” and that she had a “deep heart for all religions and all difference”. She said that the concert, which was organised by the Middle East Children’s Alliance, a charity that supports children in Gaza, was a “beautiful, beautiful event” that aimed to raise awareness and funds for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The context of the Israel-Gaza war and its impact on the UK

Church’s performance came amid the ongoing Israel-Gaza war, which erupted on October 7, 2023, when Hamas militants infiltrated southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking 253 others hostage. Israel responded by launching a massive air and ground campaign in Gaza, targeting Hamas and other militant groups.

The war has resulted in the deaths of 29,782 people in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, and 1,100 people in Israel, according to the Israeli military. The UN estimates that 1.9 million civilians in Gaza have been displaced by the Israeli airstrikes and ground operations, accounting for 85% of its population.

The war has also sparked protests and clashes around the world, especially in countries with large Muslim populations. Many demonstrators have expressed solidarity with the Palestinians and condemned Israel’s actions as disproportionate and inhumane. Some have also accused the UK of supporting Israel’s aggression and ignoring the plight of the Palestinians.

The UK has been Israel’s staunchest ally and has provided it with military and diplomatic support. It has also vetoed several UN resolutions that criticized Israel’s conduct in the war. However, it has also called for a ceasefire and a peaceful resolution of the conflict. It has also pledged to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza and to help rebuild its infrastructure.

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