The Board of Deputies of British Jews, the country’s EJC affiliate, have renewed its calls for the Welsh independence party Plaid Cymru to drop a candidate who has been repeatedly accused of antisemitic conduct, calling the case a “test of Plaid Cymru’s resolve on anti-racism.”
Senior vice president of the board Sheila Gewolb, vice president Amanda Bowman and South Wales Jewish Representative Council chairman Laurence Kahn met this week with the leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price MS (Member of the Senedd, Wales’s national assembly) to discuss the ongoing case of Sahar Al-Faifi.
The prominent party activist, who has appeared in party political broadcasts for Plaid Cymru, was suspended in November for posting a series of antisemitic tweets and Facebook posts, but was reinstated after she apologized.
At the time of her suspension, she had posted a statement to Twitter saying that she deeply regretted the posts, “as they crossed the boundary of criticism of Israel into antisemitism.” She claimed to have deleted the tweets in 2014, and to have undertaking antisemitism training with the Board of Deputies as well as with Jewish colleagues.
However, the Board refuted her statement, pointing out that a 2012 Facebook post regarding Hamas leaders giving a victory salute had been altered to say they were greeted by “cheering crowds,” an alteration the board said did “little to change the fact that this post is promoting ‘a mighty victory’ for a proscribed terrorist group.”
Similarly, a 2017 post linking the London Bridge attacks to “pro-Zionists” was left on the site. The attack was carried out by ISIS supporters, and left eight dead. Commenting on the post, the board said it was “utterly baseless, and is clearly an antisemitic conspiracy theory.”
“We met Sahar Al-Faifi to confront her over concerns we had over antisemitic social media postings,” a Board spokesman said at the time, adding “Ms Al-Faifi apologized to us and made some amendments to her social media output. However, we were clear that the situation still remained unsatisfactory.”
Since then, Al-Faifi has been reinstated into the party and adopted for the 2021 Welsh Assembly elections as the Plaid Cymru candidate in the South Wales Central region, but has gone on to make further antisemitic comments on social media.
Last June, commenting on the death of George Floyd, a Black man whose death during his arrest in Minnesota sparked nationwide protests in America, Al-Faifi tweeted: “If you wonder where did these American cops trained [sic], look no further than #Israel. Oppression is one and the struggle is transitional. We stand with Palestinians & with #GeorgeFloyd #BlackLivesMatter we are ONE!”
The tweet included photographs of IDF soldiers and US police officers using similar restraining tactics. It was later deleted.
In a statement, the Board of Deputies revealed that its members had met with Price and discussed Al-Faifi.
Gewolb said: “We were pleased to have the opportunity to meet Plaid Cymru Party leader Adam Price. We took this opportunity to raise our serious concerns about the ongoing disciplinary case of Sahar Al-Faifi. We were clear that Al-Faifi’s choice to repeatedly engage in antisemitic conduct means she is unsuitable to be a member of, let alone run for election for, any anti-racist political party.
“We will continue to engage in dialogue with the party, while making clear that we expect them to stand with us against anti-Jewish racism,” she said. “This case will be a test of Plaid Cymru’s resolve on anti-racism.”
Also discussed was the Welsh government’s intended support for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel through its procurement policy, and proposed curriculum changes that would dilute religious education. According to the statement, Price offered a continuing dialogue on these issues.