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Widows of Israeli athletes ‘disturbed’ by Corbyn pictures

UK News | Published:

The Labour leader has said that he attended a Palestinian cemetery to pay his respects to the victims of an Israeli air strike.

Jeremy Corbyn

The widows of Israeli athletes murdered by terrorists have said they were “extremely disturbed” by reports that Jeremy Corbyn took part in a wreath-laying ceremony near the graves of some of those responsible.

Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, whose husbands Andre and Yossef were among 11 athletes taken hostage and killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics, warned the Labour leader that he would be “judged by the company you keep”.

And Home Secretary Sajid Javid suggested that Mr Corbyn should quit over the issue.

The Daily Mail published pictures of the Labour leader holding a wreath in the Palestinian Martyr’s Cemetery in Tunisia, during a visit to the north African country in 2014.

Labour said that Mr Corbyn had already made clear he was paying his respects to the victims of a 1985 Israeli air strike on Palestinian Liberation Organisation offices in Tunis.

But the Mail said its own visit to the graveyard showed that the pictures were taken in front of a plaque honouring the founder of Black September, which carried out the massacre, while the air strike memorial was 15 yards away.

Mrs Spitzer and Mrs Romano told the Jewish News: “We do not recall a visit of Mr Corbyn to the graves of our murdered fathers, sons and husbands.

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“They only went to the Olympic Games in order to participate in this festival of love, peace and brotherhood; but they all returned home in coffins.

“For Mr Corbyn to honour these terrorists is the ultimate act of maliciousness, cruelty and stupidity.”

And they added: “Do not forget, Mr Corbyn, that you will be judged by the company you keep.”

Responding to the Mail story, Labour sources said that Mr Corbyn had already given a full explanation of his presence in the cemetery when the visit first hit the headlines during last year’s general election campaign.

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The Labour leader said last year: “I was in Tunisia at a Palestinian conference and I spoke at that Palestinian conference and I laid a wreath to all those that had died in the air attack that took place on Tunis, on the headquarters of the Palestinian organisations there.

“And I was accompanied by very many other people who were at a conference searching for peace.”

Writing in the Morning Star at the time of the visit, Mr Corbyn said that wreaths had been laid not only at the memorial, but also “on the graves of others killed by Mossad agents in Paris in 1991”.

Mr Javid said: “If this was the leader of any other major political party, he or she would be gone by now.”

And the chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, Jonathan Goldstein, told the Jewish News: “This man is not fit to be a Member of Parliament, let alone a national leader.

“He has spent his entire political career cavorting with conspiracy theorists, terrorists and revolutionaries who seek to undo all the good for which our ancestors have given their lives. In so many ways, enough is enough.”

The pictures emerged amid continuing controversy over Labour’s refusal to adopt in full an international definition of anti-Semitism, including a list of examples of anti-Semitic behaviour.

Three senior union leaders have added their voices to calls from deputy leader Tom Watson for the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance text to be incorporated in its entirety into Labour’s new code of conduct on anti-Semitism.

Labour has launched a consultation with Jewish groups over the code, after protests that the version agreed by the party’s ruling National Executive Committee omits four examples relating to criticism of the state of Israel.

A Labour Party spokesman said: “The code of conduct adopts the IHRA definition and expands on and contextualises its examples to produce robust, legally sound guidelines that a political party can apply to disciplinary cases.

“The NEC upheld the adoption of the code of conduct on anti-Semitism, but in recognition of the serious concerns expressed, agreed to re-open the development of the code, in consultation with Jewish community organisations and groups, in order to better reflect their views.”

Writing in the Sunday Mirror, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “Both Jeremy Corbyn and I have made clear that racism and anti-Semitism have no place in the Labour Party.

“Labour will resolve any outstanding issues within our party and get out there to assist the Jewish community in fighting anti-Semitism and racism.”

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