Corbyn has nowhere left to hide

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo credit: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo credit: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Let’s first reiterate the facts, because the obfuscation is getting tedious. Jeremy Corbyn laid a wreath at the graves of Black September terrorist masterminds in the Palestinian National Cemetery in Tunis.

We know this because Corbyn is pictured in 2014 holding the wreath in front of the graves of Salah Khalaf, the founder of Black September, and Atef Bseiso, one of the group’s members who later became a PLO intelligence officer.

We also know this because Corbyn himself admitted this week that “A wreath was indeed laid… to those that were killed in Paris in 1992”. Bseiso was killed by Mossad in Paris in 1992, Khalaf by a Palestinian splinter group in 1991.

Black September carried out the infamous Munich Massacre of 1972, where 11 Israeli athletes were tortured and killed in the Olympic village.

It has been embarrassing to watch Corbyn’s media outriders try and spin their way through this storm. Denial was the first order of the day. Hard-left blog Skwawkbox claimed Corbyn wasn’t present on the day the wreath was laid – before Corbyn said to camera that he was.

The Labour leader then said “I was present at that wreath-laying, I don’t think I was actually involved in it.” This is despite the picture of Corbyn standing next to the Black September graves holding the wreath.

A popular line then spun by both Labour’s Press Team and Owen Jones said Corbyn was instead commemorating Israel’s attack on the PLO headquarters in 1985.

But Corbyn himself acknowledged that these were two separate events, writing in his Morning Star piece in 2014 that “wreaths were laid at the graves of those who died on that day [in 1985] and on the graves of others killed by Mossad agents in Paris”. (Emphasis mine)

So it is knowingly dishonest to merge Corbyn’s Black September commemoration with the earlier ceremony, held in a different part of the cemetery 15 metres away, which marked the 1985 attack.

Labour’s latest wordplay now involves the claim “no Munich terrorists are buried in that cemetery”. But it appears that Fatah – the Palestinian Authority’s governing party – would disagree. In a post on their Facebook page they say Bseiso “participated in the planning of the Munich operation” with Khalaf.

You could argue that there is a hair’s breadth between planning the operation and pulling the trigger, but I doubt that argument would cut much ice with the victims’ widows. Besides, is Labour’s press line now – as one QC put it – “Osama Bin Laden didn’t fly any planes”?

Finally, Owen Jones, writing in the Guardian, defended Corbyn’s actions by arguing that there was little difference between Corbyn laying a wreath for the Black September terrorists and past Labour statesmen laying wreaths for Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon – because the latter two were both responsible for widespread violence.

Except there is. Whatever their past, Arafat and Sharon died as international statesmen. Black September – for the entirety of their brief, miserable existence – were never anything more than despicable terrorists.

Jones makes a spectacularly disingenuous argument. When Jack Straw and Tony Blair commemorated Arafat and Sharon, they were paying tribute to two men who were leaders of their nations on the world stage.

When Corbyn commemorated Black September, he was honouring nothing more, and nothing less, than the leaders of one of the 20th century’s most infamous terror groups, who were responsible for an unspeakably savage attack.

And so what to make of the obfuscation and deceit surrounding a man whose political brand was built on “straight talking, honest politics”?

Or – to put it another way – why does Labour insist on sending the case upstairs for review, when The Mail has already dispatched Corbyn’s middle stump?

This sordid episode reveals Labour’s desperation to hide Corbyn’s true colours on foreign policy.

On Israel, Corbyn has never been a ‘talking to both sides’ man of peace. He won’t even talk to the Israeli left (and it will no longer talk to him). He is a lifelong partisan supporter of the most radical elements of the Palestinian national movement – Black September, Hamas, Hezbollah and all.

This is because Corbyn’s foreign policy doctrine is anti-imperialism. It’s a crude perspective that has lingered on the far-left for decades. It holds – before and above all else – that the west’s post-war internationalist foreign policy is domineering and destructive, and all those who resist it are righteous.

And so Corbyn has spent so long fighting for the Palestinian cause simply because the radical left views Israel as the imperialist country par excellence ­ rebranding a country built as a refuge by pogrom and Holocaust survivors and refugees from Arab lands into a Kippah-clad colonial crusade.

This is the filter through which Jeremy Corbyn sees the world. The west is axiomatically bad, those who resist it are automatically good. It’s a dogma that underpins why Corbyn will join a prayer for Khalaf and Bseiso “out of respect” but stay silent during the national anthem at a commemoration for the Battle of Britain.

Anti-imperialism is a global perspective too. Hence Corbyn demanded further investigation – when the evidence was overwhelming – of Russia’s culpability in the Salisbury nerve gas attack.

Or, why, despite two failed appeals, he continued to proclaim a miscarriage of justice had occurred in the case of Jawad Botmeh and Samar Alami, who were convicted of bombing a Jewish charity and the Israeli Embassy in London in 1994.

And it is why his opposition to NATO’s Kosovo intervention led him, as Oliver Kamm writes, “to deny outright Milosevic’s war crimes”. Corbyn adheres so blindly to his anti-imperialist beliefs that he sees the obvious as obscure and fact as fictitious.

Corbyn’s moral compass on foreign policy isn’t orientated by human rights, or democracy, or liberalism, but by a binary division of the world into the West and its adversaries, where the latter is always just and the former never so.

This is the truth that Labour’s press team has been trying to cover up this week. Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t oppose war. He only opposes wars Britain and the West fight, and he supports those in the “resistance” who fight back by whatever means.

Labour fears this idea becoming public because it cuts directly into the heart of Corbyn’s ‘man of peace’ image cultivated since his Labour leadership election victory in 2015. Labour knows such views are unpalatable to the electorate too

But after the images from the Black September graveside, Corbyn has nowhere left to hide.

About the Author
Aaron Simons is a researcher and writer from London. He writes in a personal capacity
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