A British pro-Palestinian charity supported by UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn reportedly funded a festival in the Gaza Strip this week that included a play in which Palestinian children simulated violent acts against Israelis.
The report in the Daily Mail on Thursday came as Labour was in turmoil over repeated anti-Semitic and anti-Israel remarks by its members. The party on Thursday suspended former London mayor Ken Livingstone for claiming Adolf Hitler backed Zionism, as he came to the defense of an MP suspended a day earlier over a 2014 Facebook post in which she called for Israel to be dismantled.
The Mail said that the charity Interpal, formally known as the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, donated £6,800 (approx. $10,000) to the Palestine Festival for Children and Education, which put on the play showing children clad in military fatigues and brandishing toy knives and machine guns as they attacked Israelis.
Corbyn, the Mail said, has spoken at fundraisers for Interpal. In 2013 he “accepted” from it a tour of Gaza costing £2,800 (approx. $4,000), and even appeared in a promotional video for the charity. The report also said that the Labour leader referred to Interpal boss Ibrahim Hewitt — whom the paper calls “a notorious Islamic hardliner who has said adulterers should be stoned” — a “very good friend.”
The charity’s logo can be clearly seen in the background during the play, the paper said. Britain’s Charity Commission is investigating the claim, the Mail added, and MPs have demanded a probe on the matter.
Corbyn, who was elected party leader in September, has previously come under criticism for calling representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah his “friends.”
The Gaza event was broadcast on a Hamas television channel dedicated to culture, available in the Strip and the West Bank, according to Channel 2 news.
One short clip of the play aired on Channel 2 on Tuesday shows a young girl armed with a knife attempting to free a Palestinian prisoner from Israeli jail by stabbing the guards. She is shot and falls to the ground amid cries and screams from the audience. Other little girls then approach and cry over her “body.”
“Do not be angry with her,” a voice on the loudspeaker says. “She is your blood, your flesh and your honor.”
In the next scene, a boy dressed as a masked Palestinian sniper shoots a soldier and frees the prisoner from Israel.
“Rejoice! the sniper has arrived!” the upbeat music plays during the scene.
The play was performed in the Strip’s southern city of Khan Younis as part of the ongoing Palestine Festival for Children and Education.
Ofir Gendelman, the Arab media spokesperson at the Prime Minister’s Office, compared the play to the propaganda of the Islamic State.
“When Palestinians send their kids to act in this school play no wonder their kids committ [sic] attacks when they’re older,” Gendelman tweeted.
Negative portrayals of Jews and Israelis in official Palestinian media and school textbooks have long been a concern to Israeli officials who claim the content amounts to incitement.
Israeli politicians have demanded that the Palestinian Authority crack down on anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric in official broadcasts, arguing it has inspired many young Palestinians to carry out attacks against Israelis.