Even a reaction to an accusation of anti-Semitism can be anti-Semitic.
That is the case of British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s answer to the accusation of participating in a ceremony commemorating the perpetrators of the 1972 massacre of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the Summer Olympics in Munich. He actually didn’t bother to find anything better to defend himself than accusing Israel, saying that what deserves condemnation is not his actions and his vitriolic words, but “the killing of more than 160 Palestinians protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces since March, including [how not!] dozens of children,” which he has tweeted vigorously.
Not the recognition that the demonstrators were guerrillas and terrorists sent to the border by Hamas—not the news that the attack was brought to Israel with rocks, knives and arson kites that have burned swaths of Israel land in the south. Only this hateful habit of accusing Israel, blaming Israel—that Jews only know how to kill and like it.
This is classic Corbyn, and he showed his colors again and again.
In September 1972, the horror of Palestinian terrorism reached its peak: The terror group Black September took 11 Israeli athletes participating in the Summer Olympic Games in Munich hostage. Who hasn’t seen the photo of one of them on the terrace of the sports barracks, wearing pantyhose over his head in order to hide his face, while the others were literally slaughtering Israelis inside the rooms? Two athletes were tortured and killed on the spot; the other nine were later killed at the airport. This is one of the worst stories of Palestinian terrorism (there are so many), which unfortunately has contemporary relevance. It directly affects Corbyn, who in a photo published by the British press over the weekend, which was taken in Tunisia in 2014, shows him honoring their graves with a wreath of flowers.
Corbyn, who could potentially become the next prime minister of the United Kingdom, has denied that he was there to honor those specific Palestinians.
But the photos are unmerciful: Corbyn prays with his hands upwards, like a faithful Muslim, before the grave of Atef Bseiso, the mastermind behind the Munich operation. Corbyn has said, however, that he was there to pay respects to the victims of a 1985 Israeli airstrike on Palestinian Liberation Organization offices in Tunis (many of whom were well-documented terrorists, such as Salah Khalaf, the founder of Black September and the second most senior official of the PLO after Yasser Arafat), but they are buried about 15 feet from where Corbyn was shown to be movingly remembering his “friends.”
It is just one of the many anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli expressions of the Socialist leader, who has called Hamas and Hezbollah his “brothers.”
Despite the political price inside and outside his party of being, first and foremost, defined as an anti-Semite, the Labour leader can’t seem to renounce his hatred. It is the representation—albeit in hyper-realistic terms—of the European left’s shift towards anti-Semitism (of which only the right has always been accused), and it is difficult to imagine that even after Corbyn’s revolting and extreme gesture that he’ll finally pay a price. Indeed, his extremism looks like a choice that shows a way to the left, who inspires all those who, in the face of the crisis of the left, imagine a new type of populism that will be able to defeat that posed by the right. A populism based on anti-Semitism.
Corbyn crowned his public anti-Semitic career by claiming after a trip to Gaza that he saw the same kind of destruction that the Nazis had brought to the formerly named Stalingrad and Leningrad in Russia; he has recently made history for having led the British Labour Party to reject the international definition of anti-Semitism (written by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance), based on 11 examples of contemporary anti-Semitism, propelling Britain’s Jewish newspapers, usually vigorous competitors, to unite in a call for a collective protest against the current Labour leader’s “contempt for the Jews and Israel.” Corbyn and his associates refuse to consider anti-Semitic the comparison of Israel to the Nazis (he is particularly fond of this), and considers good anti-Semitism the definition of Israel as inherently racist, evil and an apartheid state.
Corbyn is an anti-Semite through and through; both right- and left-wing Jew-haters can take great pride in him. After all, he exalts terrorists, denies the Holocaust; he has not only participated in conferences devoted to the subject, but has also donated money to Paul Eisen, a well-known Holocaust-denier. In 2010, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, he hosted a meeting in the House of Commons with the major Dutch Holocaust-denier Hajo Meyer; he has also been frequently involved in demonstrations that expose pure anti-Israeli incitement, and his blatant hatred of the Jewish state has become commonplace among many members of his party. He participated in a Passover seder at the table of a Jewish anti-Zionist group that said “Israel that is a steaming pile of sewage which needs to be destroyed.”
Naturally, his anti-Israel passion extends to the Jews, who for him are simply blind followers of murderers, and therefore, selfish offenders unworthy of being British.
In the wave of Brexit, can the present confusion among British public opinion lead to this man being elected as their next prime minister and then create a situation of anti-Jewish persecution? The answer is a definitive “yes.” And it is necessary to add that none of the new European “populists” suspected of anti-Semitism has gone as far as Jeremy Corbyn—namely, to the graves of the assassins who carried out the Munich massacre.
Journalist Fiamma Nirenstein was a member of the Italian Parliament (2008-13), where she served as vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Chamber of Deputies, served in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and established and chaired the Committee for the Inquiry Into Anti-Semitism. A founding member of the international Friends of Israel Initiative, she has written 13 books, including “Israel Is Us” (2009). Currently, she is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Translation by Amy Rosenthal.