JERUSALEM (JTA) — British Labour party chief Jeremy Corbyn issued a scathing critique of Israel after being publicly reprimanded by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his apparent participation in a commemoration ceremony in memory Black September terrorists who took part in the 1972 massacre of 11 Israelis at the Munich Olympics.
Pictures of the event, which seemed to show Corbyn laying a wreath near the terrorists’ graves in a Tunisian cemetery four years ago, were published last Friday in the Daily Mail and immediately led to a political firestorm.
Corbyn denied participating in the ceremony, telling Sky News that “I was present when [the wreath] was laid. I don’t think I was actually involved in it.”
On Monday, Netanyahu tweeted that “the laying of a wreath by Jeremy Corbyn on the graves of the terrorists who perpetrated the Munich massacre and his comparison of Israel to the Nazis deserves unequivocal condemnation from everyone – left, right and everything in between.”
In response, Corbyn said Netanyahu’s “claims about my actions and words are false” and that “what deserves unequivocal condemnation is the killing of over 160 Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces since March, including dozens of children.”
Nearly 170 people have died in clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza since the end of March. The Israel Defense Forces has said that most of them were members of Hamas but has not provided evidence in all cases. It has admitted to several accidental civilian deaths.
Corbyn also criticized Israel’s recently passed nation-state law, tweeting that it “discriminates against Israel’s minority” and that he stands “with the tens of thousands of Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel demonstrating for equal rights at the weekend in Tel Aviv.”
The revelation of Corbyn’s participation in the ceremony wasn’t the only controversy to engulf the longtime socialist activist last week. An old clip that surfaced several days earlier showed Corbyn saying in a 2011 interview with the Iranian Press TV station that the BBC has “a bias towards saying that Israel is a democracy in the Middle East, Israel has a right to exist, Israel has its security concerns.”
These revelations follow intense scrutiny of Corbyn’s past and present statements about Israel and anti-Semitism, and his alleged failure to curb resurgent anti-Semitism within his party. Last month, Labour pointedly decided not to adopt parts of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism that related to Israel.