A MONMOUTHSHIRE woman who was in the Charlotte Church-led choir that sang a pro-Palestine anthem dubbed “anti-Semitic” by a Jewish MP has called criticism of the event “ridiculous” and said, “Songs don’t bomb anyone and people need to get their priorities right.” 

Hairdresser Hannah Mlatem was in the 100-strong choir that sang the protest anthem From the River to the Sea at a Gaza fundraiser held at Bedwas Workmen’s Hall in Caerphilly. 

The event was staged to help raise funds for a new ambulance for the Middle East Children’s Alliance which is working in Gaza. 

Hannah, from Abergavenny, said she attended the event after being frustrated with the situation in Palestine and “felt the need to do something proactive and positive.” 

“As far as I’m concerned, what’s happening in Palestine right now isn’t about politics, race, or religion, it’s simply the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children. It’s barbaric, and I joined the choir to help raise both funds band awareness, and add my voice to the millions causing for a ceasefire.” 

The 40-minute concert was hailed by those present as peaceful, life-affirming, and extremely positive. However, because Charlotte Church and the choir sang a seven-minute version of From the River to the Sea, the singer and her choir have been told to “hang their heads in shame” by Jewish MP Andrew Percy.

Charlotte Church choir singing From The River to the Sea
(Tindle News)

The MP told The Sun he found the fact that the song was performed, “Deeply concerning.” 

The Campaign Against Antisemitism has backed Percy’s claims and demanded an investigation into the event by the Charity Commission.

A spokesperson for the campaign told The Daily Mail, “The genocidal chant ‘From the River to the Sea’ refers to the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and only makes sense as a call for the destruction of the world's only Jewish state - and its replacement with a Palestinian state. It is a call for the annihilation of half the world’s Jews, who live in Israel. 

“Since 7th October, when Hamas committed their barbaric terrorist acts, we have heard this chant on the streets of Britain during anti-Israel marches accompanied by all manner of anti-Jewish racism.

“Singing ‘From the River to the Sea’ is not standing up for human rights. At best Charlotte Church has been tone deaf, but at worst she is using the voice for which she is so well known to fan the flames of hatred. You cannot stoop lower than using your stardom to teach kids to sing extremist lyrics in a village hall.” 

Former journalist Hannah Mlatem has slammed the claims as “ridiculous” and told the Chronicle, “In my opinion, it’s merely a device to distract from the real horror that is happening in  Palestine every minute of every hour of every day. Songs don’t bomb people, they don’t starve babies, or force families to flee their homes in terror, but that’s the situation in Palestine right now and one which is far more pressing than who sang what.”

Hannah added, “No one is singing that song with any hatred in their hearts, and it’s petty, distracting, and unhelpful for people to suggest otherwise. Let’s look at the big picture rather than what’s happening in a little concert in a little hall in Wales and for once get our priorities right!”

The hall where Charlotte Church sang From the River to the Sea
(Tindle News )

Abergavenny and District Palestine Solidarity Campaign member Betty Hunter was also at the Charlotte Church concert and called the event “free of any kind of hate and extremely moving.” 

She told the Chronicle, “Charlotte Church has the most amazing musical talent, and the choir which backed her sang beautifully. The event was all about raising awareness and funds and showing our solidarity with the Palestinian people. Wales has a proud history of music and supporting the oppressed and that’s what the event was about.”

Betty added, “There is a lot of misconception about the song From the River to the Sea.’ It has nothing to do with the destruction of Israel but it is to do with the right of Palestine to its historic homeland. For a long time, Palestinian citizens have not enjoyed the same rights as Jewish citizens. The song is merely a way to highlight this inequality and calls for a more balanced and peaceful existence for all.”

In the wake of the event, Church has since released a statement on Instagram which reads, "Just to clarify my intentions there, I am in no way antisemitic. I am fighting for the liberation of all people. I have a deep heart for all religions and all differences.

"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."