Jeremy Corbyn has spent the last several weeks insisting that neither he nor his Labour Party has a problem with anti-Semitism. It’s not anti-Semitic, Corbyn and his defenders insist, to criticize Israel — even when using Nazi analogies to do so. Er, what about paying tribute to terrorists who murdered Jewish athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich? While holding a wreath?
Benjamin Netanyahu certainly thinks it qualifies:
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
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) August 13, 2018
Corbyn had denied it until a photo emerged of him holding the wreath in at the memorial in Tunis — with a member of a Palestinian terror group holding the other side:
After a year of denials, the Labour leader was finally forced to admit on Monday he was in attendance at a ceremony to honour the leaders of Black September, the group which murdered 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Olympics.
It also emerged that Mr Corbyn stood next to a leading member of an active Palestinian terrorist group during the ceremony in 2014.
Mr Corbyn faced ridicule for his insistence that he was “not involved” in the wreath-laying ceremony, which came despite a series of pictures of him holding a large wreath next to the grave of Munich mastermind Salah Khalaf. Mr Corbyn was also pictured praying next to the grave of Khalaf and three others regarded as ringleaders in the Munich massacre.
Okay, okay, Corbyn finally acknowledged. He was there, and he held the wreath, but only on behalf of “everyone who’s died in every terrorist incident everywhere.” By, um, honoring the terrorists? Huh?
Jeremy Corbyn has admitted attending a ceremony for the terrorists behind the Munich massacre, but denied laying a wreath himself.
The Labour leader said he was “present” at a memorial event commemorating those responsible for the 1972 attack, despite his office previously insisting he was only at the event in question honouring Palestinians killed in an Israeli air strike.
Mr Corbyn was forced to explain himself after pictures showed him holding a wreath next to a memorial plaque for the perpetrators of the Munich attack. …
Asked whether he was involved in the wreath laying in relation to the Munich terrorists, Mr Corbyn said: “I was present when it was laid. I don’t think I was actually involved in it.”
Depends on how “involved” one thinks this is:
Fourteen months ago, though, Corbyn insisted he was involved in the memorial. He told Sky’s Tamara Cohen that he participated in the memorial to achieve peace in the Middle East, including having “laid the wreath” on behalf of the victims of an Israeli raid on the PLO organization in Tunis.
Corbyn's answer to me saying he laid a wreath in Tunisia; when I asked about Munich massacre perpetrator pic.twitter.com/AiWy6X7HCT
— Tamara Cohen (@tamcohen) May 29, 2017
Guess where Corbyn hasn’t been to pay homage to victims of terrorism? Two widows of the 1972 Munich massacre victims pointed it out:
Labour said that Mr Corbyn had already made clear he was paying his respects to the victims of a 1985 Israeli air strike on Palestinian Liberation Organisation offices in Tunis.
But the Mail said its own visit to the graveyard showed that the pictures were taken in front of a plaque honouring the founder of Black September, which carried out the massacre, while the air strike memorial was 15 yards away.
Mrs Spitzer and Mrs Romano told the Jewish News: “We do not recall a visit of Mr Corbyn to the graves of our murdered fathers, sons and husbands.
“They only went to the Olympic Games in order to participate in this festival of love, peace and brotherhood; but they all returned home in coffins.
“For Mr Corbyn to honour these terrorists is the ultimate act of maliciousness, cruelty and stupidity.”
And they added: “Do not forget, Mr Corbyn, that you will be judged by the company you keep.”
Not even Corbyn’s own party is buying the “present but not involved” explanation. One Labour MP demanded an apology from Corbyn, saying that “there can also never be a fitting memorial for terrorists.” Another insisted that Corbyn stop trying to parse the definitions of anti-Semitism and start acting to clean up the party, and himself:
The controversy emerges at a time when Labour is embroiled in a row about antisemitism and whether the party will adopt in full, with all its examples, the definition produced by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
Corbyn said in the same interview that the Labour party would consult with the Jewish and Palestinian communities over whether to adopt one remaining example attached to the IHRA definition. …
Margaret Hodge, a Labour MP, said that the only way “Jeremy Corbyn can put this issue to bed” is to “adopt the internationally agreed definition of anti-semitism in full”. She added: “Until he does that, incidents such as his presence at the laying of wreaths at the graves of those responsible for torturing and murdering innocent Jewish Israeli athletes in Munich will continue to emerge.”
Well, if tributes to terrorists continue to emerge, it won’t make much difference which definition Corbyn accepts — nor should it. The Labour Party needs to decide whether to make Corbyn “present but not involved” on a permanent basis, or accept their status as an anti-Semitic band of terrorist apologists. They’ll end up laying a wreath on their own political future if they choose to keep Corbyn in leadership.