(JTA) — British Labour Party chief Jeremy Corbyn, already facing scrutiny over his contacts with various Palestinian terrorist groups, hosted a 2012 panel featuring a number of senior members of Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip.
According to a new report in The Telegraph, Corbyn appeared beside several individuals who had been convicted of murder and had been freed the previous year in a prisoner swap.
Among those who appeared with Corbyn were Khaled Mashaal, who at the time was Hamas’ political chief, and Husam Badran, the erstwhile head of the group’s military wing who had overseen a series of bombings that killed dozens of Israeli civilians, including the 2001 attacks on the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem and the Dolphinarium disco in Tel Aviv. Alongside Mashaal and Badran was Abdul Aziz Umar, who was responsible for the 2003 Cafe Hillel bombing in Jerusalem.
Corbyn said during the panel that “their contribution was fascinating and electrifying” despite the fact that the participants appeared to advocate violent attacks against Israel. Badran was filmed at the event saying that the Palestinians had been displaced by force and that “the return will only be viable through military and armed resistance and nothing else.”
Corbyn’s spokesman told The Telegraph: “Jeremy has a long and principled record of solidarity with the Palestinian people and engaging with actors in the conflict to support peace and justice in the Middle East. That is the right thing to do.”
On Monday afternoon, i24News, an international news cable news network based in Jaffa, reported that Corbyn visited Israel and the West Bank to meet with Hamas officials in 2010.
According to the report, Corbyn, then a minor MP, was flown in by Middle East Monitor, a British organization which has accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and whose rhetoric was described as “strikingly familiar [to] older forms of antisemitism” by the Community Security Trust, British Jewry’s anti-Semitism watchdog.
During his visit Corbyn met with Hamas representatives in Ramallah, the wife of a convicted Hezbollah spy and several Hamas-linked members of the Palestinian Legislative Council wanted by Israeli police.
A hard-left politician who has called Hezbollah and Hamas officials “friends” whom he was “honored” in 2009 to host in Parliament, Corbyn is widely accused of tolerating or ignoring anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Israel speech, among other forms of Jew hatred.
Last week it emerged that Corbyn had attended an event in Tunis in 2012 with Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader Maher al Taher only weeks before members of his organization carried out an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue in which six people were killed.
The event in question was a commemoration ceremony for the Black September terrorists who took part in the 1972 massacre of 11 Israelis at the Munich Olympics. Corbyn’s participation in the event, in which he was photographed laying a wreath near the terrorists’ grave, has caused an international uproar, provoking fierce reactions from British Jews and Israeli politicians.
He subsequently attempted to downplay his involvement in the wreath-laying ceremony, telling Sky News that “I was present when [the wreath] was laid. I don’t think I was actually involved in it.”
Shortly thereafter, it emerged that Corbyn had endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel as “part and parcel of a legal process that has to be adopted” during a 2015 conference in Belfast shortly before he he assumed the position of Labour leader.
Over the weekend, a Jewish group affiliated with the party accused the heads of the left-wing faction of trying to “censor” material on anti-Semitism it had planned on presenting at an upcoming party gathering.
In the 1980s, Corbyn was closely affiliated with Labour Movement Campaign for Palestine, a group which stood in “opposition to the Zionist state as racist, exclusivist, expansionist and a direct agency of imperialism” and which “support[ed] the Palestinian people in their struggle for a democratic and secular state in the whole of Palestine.”
Many supporters have taken to social media to castigate the Jewish community for their opposition to Corbyn. Jim Sheridan, a former member of Parliament and Corbyn ally, was suspended from Labour over the weekend after writing a Facebook post accusing Jews of plotting against the Labour leader.
Sheridan wrote that he had lost “respect and empathy” for Britain’s Jews over their opposition to Corbyn. He lamented what the Jewish community “and their Blairite plotters are doing to my party and the long suffering people of Britain who need a radical Labour government.”
David Horovitz, the British-born editor of The Times of Israel, called for Corbyn’s expulsion from the party in a column Monday.
“Britain may soon elect a racist and an anti-Semite as its prime minister,” Horovitz wrote, asserting that Corbyn has not just been a critic of Israeli policies but has been active in groups, like the Labour Movement Campaign for Palestine, that have actively called for its demise.