UK Labour denies Corbyn honored Munich terrorists, but he says he was present
Party head admits he attended wreath-laying ceremony for Palestinian masterminds of 1972 Olympics massacre, but doesn’t think he ‘was actually involved in it’
The UK Labour Party on Monday denied that its leader Jeremy Corbyn attended a ceremony honoring the terrorists behind the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre, only for Corbyn to acknowledge several hours later that he was indeed “present” but didn’t think he “was actually involved in it.”
Already mired in a massive anti-Semitism scandal, 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.
Israeli widows of the athletes killed by the terrorists decried Corbyn’s “act of maliciousness, cruelty and stupidity,” the Daily Mail reported.
The opposition party on Monday directly denied that Corbyn was at the ceremony.
“The Munich widows are being misled. Jeremy did not honor those responsible for the Munich killings,” Labour said in statement.
“He and other Parliamentarians went to the Palestinian cemetery in Tunisia to remember the victims of the 1985 Israeli bombing of the PLO headquarters, many of whom were civilians,” the statement said.
The Munich widows are being misled. Jeremy did not honour those responsible for the Munich killings.
He and other Parliamentarians went to the Palestinian cemetery in Tunisia to remember the victims of the 1985 Israeli bombing of the PLO headquarters, many of whom were civilians https://t.co/crRoKoFAYL
— Labour Press (@labourpress) August 12, 2018
However, Corbyn, himself, in an interview with Sky News, admitted that he was there when the Munich masterminds, who were reportedly killed by the Mossad, were honored.
“A wreath was indeed laid by some of those who attended the conference of those that were killed in Paris in 1992,” he said.
Corbyn 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 dialog.”
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.
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 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 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.