Angry Jewish community leaders have demanded answers after it was reported Jeremy Corbyn attended a wreath-laying ceremony honouring one of the terrorists who helped kill 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich massacre at the Olympic Games.
In a story in the Sunday Times, a column written by the Labour leader in October 2014 for the Morning Star refers to a ceremony he attended in Tunisia “where wreaths were laid…on the graves of [those] killed by Mossad agents in Paris in 1991”. Mr Corbyn described the event as “poignant”.
Among those buried at the cemetery visited by Mr Corbyn is 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.
Mossad hunted down many of the terrorists responsible for the Munich deaths and Bseiso was killed in Paris in 1992,not 1991, in an operation widely believed to have been carried out by Mossad agents.
It’s understood that the event referred to in the report was a commemoration of the bombing of the PLO headquarters, but that wreaths were also laid on other graves during the gathering. Corbyn hims of was not involved in wreath laying.
A spokesperson for Corbyn said: “These are an extraordinarily tenuous set of connections. Of course Jeremy condemns the Munich massacre.”
But Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “In light of today’s news reports, it is high time that Jeremy Corbyn clarifies his views regarding Palestinian terrorism. At first sight, attending a wreath-laying ceremony of a known terrorist, who led one of the most notorious acts of international terrorism, the attack on the Munich Olympics, would appear to be beyond the pale”.
Jennifer Gerber, Labour Friends of Israel Director, said: “It is almost unbelievable that any Labour MP would participate in a ceremony honouring a man involved in the vicious murder of innocent Israeli athletes. Unfortunately, this appears to be part of a very disturbing pattern of behaviour and we are seeking urgent clarification from the Leaders office on this matter.”
Board of Deputies of British Jews President Jonathan Arkush told Jewish News: “We have been in touch with Mr Corbyn’s team to express our profound concerns over what he appears to have commemorated.”
“Our concern is that Mr Corbyn has too often in the past been in sympathetic encounters with terrorist individuals and organisations, with the by-product of lending legitimacy to their violence. This new revelation follows part of that disturbing pattern.
“We have called repeatedly for Mr Corbyn to make explicit a clear break with terrorist organisations, to unequivocally condemn their actions and show solidarity with their victims. We repeat that call today.”