The Jewish Leadership Council’s chief executive Simon Johnson has said that Jeremy Corbyn’s support of Palestine is not the problem - rather, it’s the fact that he appeared to honour the memory of a terrorist.
Johnson added that Corbyn “can’t explain” what he was doing at a memorial service in 2014 that honoured a number of Palestinian extremists.
Yesterday Corbyn admitted being at the ceremony in Tunisia, but said he was “not involved”.
“A wreath was indeed laid for those who were killed. I was present when it was laid, I don’t think I was actually involved in it,” he told Sky News.
However a year earlier, he told Sky reporter Tamara Cohen that he was “in Tunisia at a Palestinian conference” and that he “laid a wreath to all those that had died in the air attack on Tunis on the headquarters of the Palestinians Organisations there”.
He is referring to a 1985 air strike by Israel on the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s headquarters.
Cohen then said: “So you weren’t honoring that person [the perpetrator of the Munich attack]?” and he responded: “No, absolutely not”.
Explanations 'different every time'
“This is now the third attempt he’s had to explain his presence at this event, it’s different every time,” Johnson told Julia Hartley-Brewer.
“And I think people around the country cannot quite understand why the leader of the opposition can’t explain what he was doing at this particular incident.”
Images published by the Daily Mail show Corbyn holding a wreath and standing near a plaque honouring Black September founder, Salah Khalaf, his aide Fakhri al-Omari, and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) chief of security, Hayel Abdel-Hamid, who were all assassinated either by the Israeli secret service or other Palestinian groups.
'Corbyn has made no apology'
Black September is a terrorist organisation responsible for the Munich Massacre, in which 11 Israeli athletes were held hostage and killed at the Olympics in 1972.
“What happened in 1972 was a brutal, pre-planned attack on the Summer Olympic games,” said Johnson.
“Forget that these were Israeli athletes, these were terrorists who broke into the Olympic village and killed, brutally, 11 athletes.
“It was one of the worst terrorist atrocities certainly in the 70s, and is remembered by the entirety of the sporting world.
“The distasteful thing about this whole event is that Jeremy Corbyn has made no apology whatsoever about being present at an event at which the perpetrators of that brutal act were honoured.”
Johnson said that in 2014 - just a year before Corbyn ran for Labour leadership - he should have been aware of how his being at the memorial would appear.
“Although he was backbencher, he’d previously considered standing for leadership of the Labour party, and just a year later he did stand for the leadership and became the leader,” he said.
“This is not some naive young backbench MP, this is someone who knew exactly what he was doing. I have no problem with him being a strong passionate supporter of the rights of the Palestinian people, but the Jewish community has a major problem with him appearing so vividly, to be prepared to honour the memory of the perpetrators of one of the most brutal terrorist attacks to hit not just the state of Israel, but the world in general.”