Charlotte Church defends use of pro-Palestinian ‘River To The Sea’ chant at show

Music

Charlotte Church has defended her actions after receiving criticism for leading a controversial pro-Palestinian chant at a recent charity live event.

On Saturday (February 24), Church played at Bedwas Workmen’s Hall in Caerphilly at a concert to raise money for the Middle East Children’s Alliance, which supports children in Gaza. To end the show, she led a choir of 100 singers in a chant of “from the river to the sea”.

That phrase is politically charged, with some, including the Campaign Against Antisemitism, believing that it calls for the destruction of the state of Israel. It refers to the land between the River Jordan, which borders the occupied West Bank and Israel to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west.

Others, such as the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, believe that the phrase represents “the right of all Palestinians to freedom, equality and justice”.

Addressing the backlash, Church livestreamed her response on Instagram, stating: “Just to clarify my intentions there, I am in no way anti-Semitic. I am fighting for the liberation of all people. I have a deep heart for all religions and all difference.”

“It was a beautiful, beautiful event. But unfortunately, the powers that be can’t have that. [They] can’t have such a powerful symbol of resistance as what we worked towards on Saturday.”

Addressing the chant specifically, she added: “Clearly, if you know the history of it all, [it is] not an antisemitic chant calling for the obliteration of Israel. It is not that in any way shape or form. It is calling for the peaceful coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians.”

The Campaign Against Antisemitism, which has described the chant as offensive and threatening, has accused Church of “anti-Jewish racism” and called for the Charity Commission to investigate.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain also spoke out against Church, writing: “Dear Charlotte Church: Let me translate for you – when you say ‘From the river to the sea’ it means expelling Jews from the Jordan to the Mediterranean i.e. from the Land of Israel entirely & destroying a nation.”

Time reported last week that over 29,000 people had now been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, which began as a response to the October 7 Hamas attacks in Southern Israel.

Church has a long history of political activity, including speaking out against Jeremy Clarkson’s rant against Meghan Markle last year, and several years of campaigning gainst the Conservative government.

Last summer, Church spoke to NME about her decision to bring her famed Late Night Pop Dungeon to an end and what to expect from her next material. She embarked on the final UK tour for the project in 2022, before giving the Pop Dungeon one last outing at Liverpool’s Eurovision village in May.

On the decision to end Pop Dungeon, Church said that it was more of a “hiatus” than a finale, as she was building up a “landscape” of new original material that she “just can’t ignore” – hoping to “synthesise” all the ground that she’s covered over the years and the lessons she’s learned while running her wellness retreat The Dreaming and nature-driven education initiative The Awen Project.



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