Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken the unusual step of criticizing a UK opposition politician after pictures emerged showing the Labour Party leader at a 2014 wreath-laying ceremony for terrorists who killed Israeli athletes in the 1970s.
In a tweet, the Israeli leader said that Jeremy Corbyn deserved the “unequivocal condemnation” for his part in the ceremony, which took place at the grave of the perpetrators of the 1972 Munich massacre, in which 11 Israeli Olympians were murdered by Palestinian militants.
“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,” the Israeli leader said in the post.
Responding specifically to the Israeli leader’s tweet, Corbyn fired back, posting “Netanyahu’s claims about my actions and words are false” on the platform. Corbyn didn’t offer an explanation, instead slamming the Israeli leader for Palestinian deaths in Gaza and Israel’s nation-state law.
“What deserves unequivocal condemnation is the killing of over 160 Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli forecs since March, including dozens of children,” Corbyn wrote, adding in a second tweet that the nation-state law “discriminates against Israel’s Palestinian minority.”
The pictures, published by Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper on Friday, appear to show Corbyn in 2014 standing next to the graves of members of Black September, the Palestinian terrorist organization that carried out the 1972 Munich Massacre during the Olympics.
Corbyn responded by saying he was at a wreath laying “to some of those who were killed in Paris in 1992,” but that he was not “actually involved” in the ceremony.
UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid urged Corbyn to step aside as opposition leader, noting in a tweet, that “If this was the leader of any other major political party, he or she would be gone by now.”
In June 1992, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) security official Atef Bseiso was assassinated outside of a Paris hotel. Bseiso was widely believed to have been involved in the Munich attack.
Following the visit in 2014, Corbyn wrote an article for the British Morning Star, a communist newspaper, which stated “wreaths were laid at the graves of those who died on that day,” referring to an Israeli airstrike on the PLO headquarters in Tunisia in 1985. He added that he also visited “the graves of others killed by Mossad agents in Paris in 1991.”
The Mossad, Israel’s secret national intelligence agency, isn’t believed to have carried out any assassinations in Paris in 1991, but Corbyn may have been referring to the assassination of Bseiso in 1992. Israel has never acknowledged any involvement in the killing.
Corbyn and his Labour Party have been mired in an anti-Semitism crisis for months.
An outspoken critic of Israel and an advocate for Palestinians, Corbyn has faced repeated accusations of anti-Semitism and failing to properly address the issue within British politics and his party in particular.
Corbyn’s detractors point to his association with Paul Eisen, a Holocaust denier, his defense of Reverend Stephen Sizer, who shared materials online linking Jews to the 9/11 attack, and alleged praise of Sheikh Raed Salah, who was once banned from the UK.
Corbyn has also referred to Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends” though he later said he regretted using such language.
Two weeks ago he apologized for hosting a 2010 event held at the UK’s House of Commons on Holocaust Memorial Day, where a Jewish Holocaust survivor compared the Israeli government to Nazism. In his apology, which came in the wake of British media reporting on the event, Corbyn said he did not “accept or condone” the views expressed at the meeting.
“In the past, in pursuit of justice for the Palestinian people and peace in Israel/Palestine, I have on occasion appeared on platforms with people whose views I completely reject,” Corbyn said in a statement.
The Munich massacre remains one of the Olympics’ most shocking chapters. In the early hours of September 5, nine heavily-armed members of Black September scaled the walls around the athletes’ compound in Munich and within minutes, had shot dead two Israeli Olympians – weightlifter Yossef Romano and wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg.
Nine others – weightlifters David Berger and Gad Tsabari; wrestlers Eliezer Halfin and Mark Slavin; and coaching staff Yossef Gutfreund, Andre Spitzer, Amitzur Shapira, Kehat Shorr and Jacov Springer – were taken hostage.
As police gathered around the building, the terrorists issued their demand for the release of 234 prisoners held by Israel, and threatened to throw a body into the street each hour until their demands were met.
In frantic negotiations during a 16-hour standoff, West German authorities eventually agreed to the terrorists’ demand for safe passage, with their hostages, to Cairo.
The group was flown by helicopters to a military airport, but the bungled rescue attempt that followed left all nine hostages, five of the terrorists and one policeman dead.
When German marksmen killed three terrorists as they stepped onto the tarmac, a fierce gun battle ensued. The remaining terrorists started executing the hostages and finally detonated a grenade inside one helicopter.
Three members of Black September survived.