Calls for Plaid Cymru action over Sahar Al-Faifi after tweet linking US police violence with Israel

Sahar Al-Faifi. Picture by the BBC.

A Plaid Cymru candidate at next year’s Senedd election has expressed concerns about a fellow prospective candidate after she posted a tweet linking police violence in the United States with Israel.

Wiliam Rees, the candidate for Cardiff Central, said that he would “express concerns internally” about Sahar Al-Faifi who has not deleted the tweet despite the criticism.

Sahar Al-Faifi is in the running to be a Plaid Cymru Senedd Member in the South Wales Central region, and if successful would be the first BME woman to be elected to the Welsh parliament.

She was previously suspended from Plaid Cymru in 2019 for anti-Semitic tweets on social media posted in 2014, but later deleted them and apologised.

However, at the beginning on June she posted a tweet saying: “If you wonder where did these American cops trained, look no further than Israel. Oppression is one and the struggle is transitional.”

Wiliam Rees said that he would raise concerns internally and that “anti-Semitism should not have a home in Plaid Cymru”.

“Plaid Cymru adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism at our National Council,” he said. “Having already expressed concerns internally regarding Sahar Al-Faifi last year, I shall do so again tomorrow following further posts.

“This saga has gone on for far too long, and I hope Adam Price and our NEC show leadership on this issue. As Plaid Cymru’s candidate in Cardiff Central I believe when senior members of the Jewish community in Cardiff express their concerns, we should listen to them.”

Sahar Al-Faifi has been contacted for comment. When asked for a statement Plaid Cymru said they were “investigating a social media post”.

“The party is commitment to challenging all forms of discrimination,” they said.

 

‘Ignorance’

A Labour Member of the Senedd, Hefin David, said that after Rebecca Long-Bailey was yesterday sacked from the Labour Cabinet by the party leader for sharing similar content, Plaid Cymru should act.

Mrs Long-Bailey had retweeted an interview with actor and Labour supporter Maxine Peake, in which she claimed that the tactics used by the police in America, including kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, were learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.

Caerphilly Senedd Member Hefin David said that Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price needed to “take action” in the case of Sahar Al-Faifi.

“To connect Israel with George Floyd’s murder and the wider Black Lives Matter movement requires a leap of imagination that most people would not make,” he said.

“Therein lies the anti-semitism and it is extraordinary that this needs to be explained. This ignorance is being tackled by the Labour Party.

“Plaid Cymru and Adam Price need to take action within their party.”

‘Unrepentant’

In March senior members of the Jewish community in Wales urged Plaid Cymru to reconsider their decision to readmit Sahar Al-Faifi.

They issued a statement referring to the Twitter posts for which she was suspended, which said: “[Her] posts included references to ‘The Children of Israel’ (a biblical description of Jews) causing corruption in the world, conspiracy theories about rich Jews supporting wars, criticism of Sajid Javid for attending a synagogue and support for Hamas (a proscribed terrorist organisation that calls for the death of Jews – a crime in this country). Ms Al-Faifi eventually agreed to delete or modify the posts and apologised for any offence caused.

“Subsequently, Ms Al-Faifi attended anti-semitism training in Cardiff. Some posts were deleted and the posts about Hamas and rich Jews were amended to show support for a ‘political process’. Unfortunately, Ms Al-Faifi still called for a ‘mighty victory’ for Hamas, which we asked to be clarified further to show that her support was away from the path of violence.

“This was not done [at the time]. In light of Ms Al-Faifi’s comments and her unrepentant attitude to the whole affair and investigation, we call upon Plaid Cymru to reconsider their decision.”

Sheila Gewolb, senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Deputy (representative) for Cardiff United Synagogue, said at the time: “We raised concerns about two social media posts that she had refused to delete, despite 18 months of attempts to persuade her. It appears that she has now finally relented and deleted them, but Ms Al-Faifi’s reluctance to do so raises serious questions about her judgement, and the genuineness of her apology.”

At the time of her suspension, Sahar Al-Faifi said: “Several years ago I made a handful of social media posts that I regret deeply as they crossed the boundary of criticism of Israel into anti-Semitism.

“I have undertaken anti-Semitism training, both formally through the Board of Deputies and informally with Jewish colleagues, in order to ensure I never repeat the same mistakes.”

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