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Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to Tunisia cemetery exemplifies defamation campaign against him

Opinion
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In the two years leading up to the Labour Party’s disastrous showing in this month’s UK general election, the anti-Semitism smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn, a typical tactic deployed innumerable times against critics of Israel, was unusually ferocious and relentless given the high stakes. The attacks against Corbyn ranged from the deeply dishonest “British Zionists have no sense of irony” fabrication to the ludicrous issue of Corbyn’s mispronunciation of Jeffrey Epstein’s name as “Ep-stine” to make it sound more Jewish.

One particular slander that perfectly captures the nature of the anti-Corbyn operation involves the laying of a wreath at a Tunisian cemetery in 2014 for dozens of victims of an Israeli bombing. In late September 1985, three Israeli tourists were murdered in Larnaca, Cyprus. On October 1, Israel “retaliated” by bombing  PLO headquarters in Tunis, killing about 72, most of whom were laid to rest in a nearby cemetery. Condemnation poured in from all over the globe against armed aggression with a civilian toll, with the sole exception of the Reagan Administration, which initially defended the bombardment as “legitimate” retaliation for the Larnaca murders. Within a few weeks, even the U.S. felt compelled to abandon its position and joined the worldwide chorus of denunciation, calling it a terrorist attack.

The 2014 ceremony at the cemetery was primarily intended to honor the dozens of innocent victims of this mass murder. Also buried nearby were two Palestinian victims of Israeli assassination in Paris in the early 90’s. Israel suspected one or both of these men of involvement in the planning of the 1972 Munich Olympics attack on Israeli athletes and coaches.

Of course, Corbyn has never voiced approval for the Munich operation, either at Tunis in 2014 or at any other time or place. There was no contemporaneous outcry regarding his appearance there, and although he was not yet Labour Party leader, he was a prominent, long-standing MP. Four years later, with Corbyn a legitimate contender for Prime Minister, the wholly manufactured furor suddenly erupted.

A Daily Mail headline blared: “Corbyn’s wreath at Munich terrorists’ graves”. On this side of the Atlantic, Bari Weiss wrung her hands in exasperation that Corbyn had “paid respects at the memorial of the Palestinian perpetrators of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre.”  Alan Dershowitz went even further, falsely accusing Corbyn of “visit[ing] and prais[ing] the terrorists who murdered Israeli athletes and coaches.”

With all the vilification of Corbyn for his (fabricated) support for international terrorism, the focus was solely on the two Palestinian assassination victims supposedly connected to Munich. No one bothered to revisit Israel’s massacre of 72 other human beings in Tunis in retaliation for the murder of three of its citizens in Cyprus.

Nor was the Tunis mass murder terror-bombing an isolated event. Israel has frequently exacted “justice” for the deaths of its own by some “Arabs” by killing a far greater number of other “Arabs.” Following the murder of three Israelis in October 1953, an IDF elite unit commanded by Ariel Sharon under orders from David Ben-Gurion murdered 69 innocent civilians in the middle of the night in Qibya, Jordan. Following the 1972 Munich Olympics killings of 11 Israelis, the IDF bombed Palestinian refugee camps in southern Lebanon and Syria, killing hundreds of residents. Israel’s bombings and invasions of Lebanon in 1982, 1993, 1996 and 2006 and Gaza in 2009, 2012 and 2014 all were styled as revenge killings for violence or threats of violence against Israel. Many thousands met their death for the capital crime of Breathing While Arab.

Israel and its supporters insist that its “reprisal” killings are legitimate acts of self-defense. Corbyn outrageously considered these forgotten victims not only human beings, but humans with an equal right to life as any Israeli and worthy of the same remembrance as any victims of indiscriminate, indefensible violence. In so doing, he violated the acceptable norms, and no amount of soul-searching apologies for inadvertent insult to the Jewish community could atone. Corbyn’s appearance at the Tunis cemetery, which was quite consistent with his decades-long condemnation of all bigotry and violence, was one of many unforgivable humanizations of Palestinians. He refused to adopt the mandatory fictions that Israel only kills civilians accidentally and only kills at all in self-defense (making the IDF not only the most moral army in the world but also the most accident-prone.) Israel and its surrogates in the UK did everything in their power to keep him nowhere near 10 Downing Street. They were fortunate beneficiaries of the Brexit mess and the assistance of much of Britain’s wealthy elite, who were just as determined to sink Labour under Corbyn’s leadership for their own greed.

And what if the lies about Corbyn had been true? What if Corbyn had eulogized the Palestinian gunmen at Munich and even said that he regularly confers on speed-dial with his friends at Hamas and Hezbollah? It would be no different from those who lionize the great “heroes” of Israeli history – Ben-Gurion and Sharon, who killed scores at Qibya; Meir, who ordered the 1972 post-Munich bombing; Peres, who ordered the Tunis bombing and presided over mass murder in south Lebanon in 1996; Rabin, whose forced evacuation (again at Ben-Gurion’s behest) of Lydda and Ramle in 1948 and the bombing of Lebanon in 1993 racked up hundreds of casualties; and Sharon, probably Israel’s biggest mass killer, who slaughtered thousands in Lebanon in 1982, etc., etc., etc.

Any association, no matter how remote or tenuous, to people even suspected of participation in the deaths of Israelis is forbidden, while reverence for those Israelis who deliberately killed many more Palestinians, Lebanese, Tunisians, and other expendables, is not only tolerated but virtually required.

David Samel

David Samel is an attorney in New York City.

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15 Responses

  1. Donald on December 28, 2019, 4:40 pm

    I should have read this first before replying in another thread to an attack on Corbyn. I could have just referenced this post. Well said.

    • Susan A on December 30, 2019, 1:55 pm

      Indeed Donald! I’ve just posted this on Twitter. Thank you David for that exemplary piece.

  2. Misterioso on December 28, 2019, 7:08 pm

    For the record:

    “Historical record shows Jeremy Corbyn is a defender of Jews | The Star”

    “Historical record shows Jeremy Corbyn is a defender of Jews” Toronto Star, Dec. 4/19 by Leo Panitch, emeritus professor of politics at York University.

    EXCERPT:
    “The vilification of the leader of the U.K. Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, as an anti-Semite has intensified in the run up to the Dec. 12 election in Britain. What makes this especially troubling, not to say bizarre, is that since he first became a member of parliament in 1983 Corbyn has been the most consistent campaigner against all forms of racism.

    “In fact, while still a local councillor in London in 1977 Corbyn had already organized a defence of the Jewish population of Wood Green from a neo-Nazi march.

    “A recent compilation of the number of motions he advanced in Parliament to defend Jewish people, alongside other public stances to tackle he took to tackle anti-Semitism — to denounce Holocaust deniers, to commemorate Jewish resistance to fascism, to pressure the police to do more to protect synagogues against vandalism — came to well over 50.

    “And he did all this not only in support of Jewish communities in the U.K., but also in Iran, Turkey, France, Russia and Eastern Europe. Indeed, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, himself Jewish, unreservedly expressed his belief that Corbyn was in no way anti-Semitic.

    “Indeed, there is no way that the anti-Semitic charge can be made any sense of except as a means of deflecting Corbyn’s support of Palestinian rights against actions by Israeli governments.”
    ___________________________________________________________________

    Must watch video regarding Jeremy Corbyn:

    David Rolfe Graeber is Jewish and an American anthropologist, anarchist activist and author…. He is a professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics.
    https://twitter.com/davidgraeber/status/1202014654010155009?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet

    ________________________________________________________

  3. Peter in SF on December 29, 2019, 4:07 am

    I have some nits to pick in this article. I’d like to say that I’m offering these in the spirit of improving the article, but I realize it’s impossible to say that without sounding presumptuous.

    the ludicrous issue of Corbyn’s mispronunciation of Jeffrey Epstein’s name as “Ep-stine” to make it sound more Jewish.

    Corbyn’s pronunciation wasn’t “Ep-stine”, it was “Ep-schtine”, as your link itself says. The point that was being pushed here (and I agree it is ludicrous, but we should at least understand what it is) is that Corbyn was making the name Epstein sound more foreign — and by extension, making Jews seem more foreign. Even though Epstein was undeniably foreign, being American, and also Austrian if that second passport was acquired legitimately. As another MW commenter pointed out, the only well-known British Epstein was the late Beatles manager, whose name was pronounced “Ep-stine” — not “Ep-schtine”.

    Within a few weeks, even the U.S. felt compelled to abandon its position and joined the worldwide chorus of denunciation, calling it a terrorist attack.

    According to your link, that’s not quite accurate. The Deputy Secretary of State said, “We deplore it, as we deplore all acts of terrorism wherever they may occur.” That statement is ambiguous: it could mean (a) we deplore all acts of terrorism including this one, or it could mean (b) we deplore the Israeli bombing the same way that we deplore acts of terrorism, of which this was not an example (but the Larnaca murders were). The link quotes the State Department spokesman as having said about that comment, “He did not intend to imply that it was such an act, and his statement should not be read to suggest otherwise.

    Following the murder of three Israelis in October 1953, an IDF elite unit commanded by Ariel Sharon under orders from David Ben-Gurion murdered 69 innocent civilians in the middle of the night in Qibya, Jordan.

    Qibya is in the West Bank. True, the West Bank had been annexed by Jordan, but most governments did not recognize that annexation.

    Israel’s bombings and invasions of Lebanon in 1982, 1993, 1996 and 2006 and Gaza in 2009, 2012 and 2014 all were styled as revenge killings for violence or threats of violence against Israel.

    Yes, some of these attacks were styled as revenge killings for violence, but there’s no such thing as revenge killings for threats of violence. I’ve never heard the Israelis say they were killing people in “revenge” for mere threats. They have made pre-emptive attacks that they’ve styled as legitimate acts of self-defense in response to threats of violence against Israel, but if they’ve ever characterized any such attack as being about “revenge”, I’d like to see an example.

    What if Corbyn had eulogized the Palestinian gunmen at Munich and even said that he regularly confers on speed-dial with his friends at Hamas and Hezbollah?

    This is a reference to Corbyn’s speaking about the participation of “our friends from Hamas” and “our friends from Hezbollah” at some peace conference. The comparison I would make is to Labour Friends of Israel, whose website lists 78 officers and supporters who are Members of Parliament:
    https://www.lfi.org.uk/in-parliament/

    • oldgeezer on December 29, 2019, 3:14 pm

      “but if they’ve ever characterized any such attack as being about “revenge”,”

      Too much work to dig out examples but there would be quite a few of them. Where Irsaeli leaders have made public statements about ensuring Gazans pay a heavy price for one particular attack or another prior to the attack(s) occuring.

    • Susan A on December 30, 2019, 2:04 pm

      No, he didn’t pronounce it as Ep-Schtine, but as Ep-Stine. No ‘sh’ involved; I saw and heard it. I myself never knew whether it was -steen or -stine. I have at least learnt something: apparently the US pronunciation is -steen and the Eurpean as -stine, though I know an English person where his Jewish friends use -steen. Either way, a very unpleasant and underhand form of attack on Corbyn.
      I haven’t read the rest of your criticism, but I myself think that David has written an exemplary piece.

  4. orkassem on December 29, 2019, 8:28 am

    Well written article and I found the comment by Misterioso enlightening.

  5. Vera Gottlieb on December 29, 2019, 9:53 am

    STOP!!! smearing Corbyn. STOP!!! vilifying him. Nazis killed Jews and now Jews are killing Palestinians – different methods but same aim. Despicable.

  6. Ossinev on December 29, 2019, 12:57 pm

    A concise and to the point article. I would only add the fact that what is often lost/forgotten/ignored in the analysis of the fictional Anti Corbyn “Anti- Semitic” smear campaign is the clinical back stabbing role played by fellow Labour MP`s Jewish or Non – Jewish. Paramount amongst these IMHO was the supposed “Deputy Leader” of the party the odious Tom Watson. Interesting that he is now whinging and moaning about how HE ! was treated:
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/27/tom-watson-i-quit-because-of-labour-brutality

    Poor Diddums ! He should make a phone call to one of his leading Zionist buddies for some comfort and support and perhaps land himself in the process a nice well paid little sinecure like his fellow traveller the grotesque John Mann:
    https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/labour-party/news/106365/labours-john-mann-stand-down-mp-become

    They could perhaps form some kind of double act – might be difficult though since both are Zio puppets. Who would pull the strings ? Who would sit on the knee ?

  7. Donald on December 31, 2019, 11:11 am

    One other thing. The attack on Corbyn has been a complete success in the US as far as I can tell. It is just an accepted fact that Corbyn and the Labour Party are vicious antisemites or at the very least that Corbyn is a suspicious character and where there is smoke there is fire.

    • Mooser on December 31, 2019, 12:04 pm

      ” It is just an accepted fact that Corbyn and the Labour Party are vicious antisemites…”

      And isn’t it the Labour Party which is the big supporter of Britain’s NHS (National Health Service)? The conclusion is clear to any decent Britain: To fight antisemitism in Britain, the NHS must be destroyed!

    • Keith on December 31, 2019, 1:46 pm

      DONALD- “The attack on Corbyn has been a complete success in the US as far as I can tell.”

      Yes, as a result of the total kinship solidarity of US Zionist Jews with British Zionist Jews in advancing Jewish Zionist goals and in maintaining solidarity with non-Jewish elites. This is a clear message that Zionist Jewry will defend their elite power and privilege and attack anyone perceived as a threat to elite power and privilege. Any attempt to reverse the ongoing upward redistribution of wealth and power will be considered anti-Semitic. Is there any other reasonable interpretation of what would otherwise be considered obvious class warfare? And Corbyn’s handling of this was an utter disaster.

    • gamal on December 31, 2019, 3:01 pm

      “that Corbyn is a…”

      In a full throated triumphalist …rebel yell… Lord Andrew Adonis, ennobled by Blair, tweets ,as a self made man, a stalwart, a moderate what else…

      “Corbyn and Corbynism have to be completely eradicated if Labour is to become an electable democratic socialist party”

      https://skwawkbox.org/2019/12/29/laughability-of-term-moderates-put-in-a-nutshell-by-adonis-eradicate-tweet/As the American sang….i don’t really get my English bretheren/sisteren i used to watch them roll around the gutters of Highbury in Armani jackets and things kicking the shit out of each other over football, boys and girls sometimes, I love the English I learned a lot from them but in another world everything I have ever touched it seems just dissolves….I will sing an American song tonight …by Corbynism I guess Adonis means socialism so I am confused and already drunk, happy new year and all the very best Donald and all.

      https://youtu.be/ZX7TpAFFzf8

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