LONDON — After months of a concerted U.K. media campaign aimed at painting Jeremy Corbyn’s solidarity with Palestine as “anti-Semitism,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu jumped in the ring on Monday, accusing the leader of the Labour Party via Twitter of having laid a wreath on “the graves of the terrorist[s] who perpetrated the Munich massacre.”
Netanyahu’s tweet came after U.K. newspaper the Daily Mail published a story based around photos of a 2014 event honoring those killed in a 1985 Israeli airstrike on the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) offices in Tunis, Tunisia at which Corbyn was present.
According to a report from the Guardian, some of the people honored at that ceremony were “believed to be connected [emphasis added] to Black September, which carried out the terror attack on Israelis at the 1972 Olympics, in which 11 people died.” Subsequently, that suspicion has been used to paint Corbyn’s attendance at the event as proof of his having commemorated “terrorists” who attacked Israelis.
However, it must be noted that the 1985 airstrike on PLO offices in Tunis, which Corbyn claims he was commemorating at the event, killed an estimated 60 people and wounded at least 60 more. Many of the dead were “women and children, many of them Tunisians,” according to a New York Times report on the incident. At the time, the Tunisian Ambassador to France, Hedi Mabrouk, called the strike ”state terrorism” on Israel’s part.
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, speaking after the Daily Mail published its piece about the wreath-laying ceremony, confirmed that his appearance at the event was aimed at honoring all those killed in the airstrike, particularly the dead civilians. The Guardian quoted Corbyn as saying:
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. You cannot pursue peace by a cycle of violence; the only way you can pursue peace [is] by a cycle of dialogue.”
Despite the explanation, those who have sought to cast Corbyn’s support for the Palestinian cause as “anti-Semitism” have continued to attack the Labour party leader on his position, as made clear by Netanyahu’s recent involvement in the dispute. However, Corbyn made it clear that such attacks will not deter him from speaking up on behalf of Palestinians.
A few hours after Netanyahu’s tweets, Corbyn responded, writing:
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.”
Corbyn went on to criticize the passage of Israel’s controversial “Nation State law,” stating that the measure “discriminates against Israel’s Palestinian minority.”
The nation state law sponsored by @Netanyahu's government discriminates against Israel's Palestinian minority.
I stand with the tens of thousands of Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel demonstrating for equal rights at the weekend in Tel Aviv.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) August 13, 2018
Do as I say, not as I do
Netanyahu’s criticism of Jeremy Corbyn’s wreath-laying ceremony to honor those killed in an Israeli airstrike is entirely disingenuous, not just because the accusations made were inaccurate, but because Netanyahu himself has attended a ceremony in the past celebrating a terror attack that killed 91 people in 1946.
On the morning July 22, 1946, several members of the Irgun — a right-wing Zionist militia — snuck into the King David Hotel in Jerusalem disguised as Arab hotel employees, planting over 800 pounds of explosives in the hotel’s basement. The hotel had been chosen because it hosted the central offices of the British Mandate authorities of Palestine, including the Secretariat of the Government of Palestine and the Headquarters of the British Armed Forces in Palestine. The resulting explosion, which caused a significant portion of the hotel to collapse, killed 91 people including 28 British nationals. Even parties sympathetic to those who planted the bombs admit that most of those killed were civilians.
Sixty years after the tragedy, which even mainstream Israeli scholars now recognize as an “act of terror” that “stained” Israel’s history, an event was hosted by former Irgun fighters and right-wing Israeli politicians, including Netanyahu.
During the event, the former terrorists and politicians — Netanyahu among them — placed a plaque at the site of the bombing that read:
The hotel housed the Mandate Secretariat as well as the Army Headquarters. On July 22, 1946, Irgun fighters at the order of the Hebrew Resistance Movement planted explosives in the basement. Warning phone calls had been made urging the hotel’s occupants to leave immediately. For reasons known only to the British, the hotel was not evacuated and after 25 minutes the bombs exploded, and to the Irgun’s regret and dismay, 91 persons were killed.”
The British government, however, asserted that no such warning from the Irgun group had ever been received by British authorities and pressured Israel’s government to remove the plaque. Though Israel never removed the plaque, it was amended to remove the reference to “warning phone calls” that seemed to imply that the British authorities had ignored the warnings.
Given that Netanyahu attended the event — not to commemorate the victims, but to celebrate the “resistance” fighters who planted the bomb that took 91 lives — his criticism of Corbyn for laying a wreath in memory of those killed by an Israeli airstrike rings utterly hollow.
Top Photo | Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to the Cemetery of the Martyrs of Palestine in Tunisia, October 2014.
Photo | Palestinian Embassy
Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.