Plaid Cymru now implicated in Rebecca Long-Bailey scandal as former leader Leanne Wood and local councillor in Gwynedd come to her defence
Plaid Cymru has now become implicated in the scandal around Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey, who shared an article containing an antisemitic trope, as the Welsh party’s former leader and one of its local councillors come to Ms Long-Bailey’s defence.
Ms Long-Bailey was sacked for sharing an article in which the actress Maxine Peake claimed that Israel was to blame for the racist killing of George Floyd, an antisemitic trope. Ms Peake is reported in The Independent to have said: “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.”
Ms Wood, the former Plaid Cymru leader, asked: “If criticism of Israel’s government is antisemitism, is criticism of the Saudi Arabian regime Islamophobia / racism? Need to be clear on this, as I am a critic of the leadership of both of these countries & want to be neither antisemitic nor Islaphophobic [sic].” She then tweeted an Amnesty USA article that several far-left outriders have suggested evidences the conspiracy theory that Israel is linked to the death of Mr Floyd, even though the article itself makes no such claim and Amnesty International released a statement explicitly denying any linkage between Israel the death of Mr Floyd. As we have explained, the claim of a linkage between Israel and Mr Floyd’s death have nothing to do with Israeli policy.
Ms Wood posted further tweets linking to the Amnesty International statement and a Twitter thread that helped to explain why the link is antisemitic. But she did not apologise, instead only expressing gratitude for the “context”.
Meanwhile, Steve Collings, a Plaid Cymru local councillor in Gwynedd, which is the only local authority in the country controlled by Plaid Cymru, also came to Ms Long-Bailey’s defence.
In an extended Facebook post, Mr Collings wrote: “Maxine Peake made the accusation that the Israeli apartheid state trained the US police to use the deadly tactics that were used to kill George Floyd. She said this as part of the wider point that racism is an international phenomenon which is not limited to one country or regime.” He described the evidence of such a claim as “circumstantial” and the efforts to show why the claim is antisemitic as a “counter-attack” that “focuses on proving whether or not that ‘exact’ tactic was ‘taught’, and if it wasn’t anyone drawing this connection outlined above is an antisemitic conspiracy theorist and hates Jews.”
He went on to draw an analogy equating Israel with ISIS and Hamas, two genocidal antisemitic terrorist organisations, and said that there is a double standard in how this has been reported versus how it would be reported if it involved a Muslim protagonist.
Given the inexactitude of Mr Collings’ analogy, it is difficult to understand what his ramblings achieved other than to make the offensive and antisemitic equation of the Jewish state with racist genocidal terror groups that are obsessed with the annihilation of Jews.
We are grateful to a concerned member of the public for bringing Mr Collings’ post to our attention.
This is not Plaid Cymru’s first foray into antisemitic discourse. Earlier this year a Party activist who was suspended over antisemitism was reinstated with no sanction and was due to stand as a candidate for the Party in elections for the Welsh Assembly.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Plaid Cymru will now be under pressure to act after two of its leading politicians have come to the defence of Rebecca Long-Bailey, whom Sir Keir Starmer has demonstrated has no place in his Shadow Cabinet. Plaid Cymru will have to decide if its standards are level to Labour’s or not.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.