Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday slammed the head of the UK Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn, after recent revelations that he had attended a ceremony to honor the terrorists behind the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre and had compared Israeli military rule in the West Bank to the Nazi occupation of European countries during World War II.
“The laying of a wreath by Jeremy Corbyn on the graves of the terrorist who perpetrated the Munich massacre and his comparison of Israel to the Nazis deserves unequivocal condemnation from everyone – left, right and everything in between,” Netanyahu said.
Corbyn hit back, denying the accusations and condemning Israel’s actions on the Gaza border.
“Netanyahu’s claims about my actions and words are false,” Corbyn tweeted. “What deserves unequivocal condemnation is the killing of over 160 Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces since March, including dozens of children.”
Israel has been largely quiet on the massive anti-Semitism scandal surrounding Corbyn and the Labour Party that has been roiling British Jewry.
Corbyn has faced renewed criticism since Saturday, when the Daily Mail newspaper published photos of him holding a wreath during a 2014 ceremony at a Tunisian cemetery
It appeared from the snapshots that Corbyn was standing near the graves of Palestinian terrorists involved in the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
The laying of a wreath by Jeremy Corbyn on the graves of the terrorist who perpetrated the Munich massacre and his comparison of Israel to the Nazis deserves unequivocal condemnation from everyone – left, right and everything in between.
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) August 13, 2018
And in a video clip, shared on Twitter on Friday, Corbyn can be heard saying that Palestinians in the West Bank live “under occupation of the very sort that would be recognized by many people in Europe who suffered occupation during the Second World War, with the endless road blocks, imprisonment, irrational behavior by the military and the police.”
Israeli PM @Netanyahu's claims about my actions and words are false.
What deserves unequivocal condemnation is the killing of over 160 Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces since March, including dozens of children.https://t.co/H5nXqi3pnU
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) August 13, 2018
The video was said to have been filmed at a 2013 event held by the Palestine Return Centre, when Corbyn was a fairly unknown Labour MP.
Netanyahu’s comments came after Corbyn appeared to acknowledge that he was at the event for the wreath-laying ceremony.
“A wreath was indeed laid by some of those who attended the conference of those that were killed in Paris in 1992,” Corbyn told Sky News.
He was referring to the grave of Atef Bseiso, who was head of intelligence for the PLO and was involved in the murder of the Israeli athletes as part of the 1972 Black September terrorist operation in Munich. Bseiso was killed in Paris in 1992.
Pressed on the point, Corbyn answered: “I was present when it was laid. I don’t think I was actually involved in it.”
Instead, Corbyn said, he was there to honor all those killed in terror attacks.
“I was there because I wanted to see a fitting memorial to everyone who has died in every terrorist incident everywhere because we have to end it,” he said. “You cannot pursue peace by a cycle of violence. The only way to pursue peace is a cycle of dialogue.”
The “terrorist incident” he was apparently referring to was an Israeli air force strike on the PLO headquarters in 1985, in response to the hijacking of an Israeli yacht and the execution of three Israeli passengers.
EXCLUSIVE – In 2013 @JeremyCorbyn spoke at an event hosted by the Palestinian Return Centre in which he made a direct comparison between Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Nazi occupation of Europe during WW2. Watch until the end… pic.twitter.com/POMfsX5APq
— The Golem (@TheGolem_) August 10, 2018
PLO leader Yasser Arafat escaped unharmed, although several of his bodyguards and several civilians were killed in the strike, which completely destroyed the headquarters.
Pictures published by the Daily Mail on Saturday appear to show Corbyn in front of a plaque honoring members of the Black September terrorist organization, 15 yards (approximately 13 meters) away from the graves of those killed in the 1985 airstrike.
In his article published after the trip, Corbyn, the opposition leader, did appear to refer to the grave of one of the architects of the Munich massacre.
“After wreaths were laid at the graves of those who died on that day and on the graves of others killed by Mossad agents in Paris in 1991, we moved to the poignant statue in the main avenue of the coastal town of Ben Arous, which was festooned with Palestinian and Tunisian flags,” he wrote.
During the September 1972 attack on the Munich Olympic Village by the Black September Palestinian terror group, 11 Israelis were taken hostage. Two were murdered in the Olympic village and nine others were executed at the airport. A German policeman was killed in a shootout with the terrorists, during a botched rescue attempt.
According to the Daily Mail on Saturday, the photos from the ceremony show Corbyn in front of a plaque honoring Black September founder Salah Khalaf, his key aide, Fakhri al-Omari, and Hayel Abdel-Hamid, PLO chief of security. Adjacent to their graves is that of Bseiso. All are widely thought to have been assassinated either by the Mossad or rival Palestinian factions.
The scandal is only the latest round in a long-running crisis for the Labour Party, with a constant stream of members and prominent officials being forced out or chastised for making anti-Semitic and virulent anti-Israel comments, and Corbyn himself criticized for tolerating and/or being part of the problem. The fracas has seen excoriation from rabbis, including Britain’s chief rabbi, as well as from some of Labour’s own MPs, charging that the party and its leader seem unable or unwilling to decisively excise anti-Semitic members and sentiments from Labour’s ranks.
At the heart of Labour’s current anti-Semitism crisis is the party’s refusal to adopt in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, instead leaving out four of the 11 examples included in the definition. All four relate to unfair singling out of Israel or questioning the loyalty of Jews who support Israel.