Sunday, 12 August 2018

Corbyn, Black September Graves et cetera

During the election campaign last year a story surfaced briefly about Jermey Corbyn visiting a cemetery in Tunisia and taking part in a ceremony to honour 'Palestinian martyrs'.  The controversial aspect was that - buried in the same cemetery were the bodies of some of the terrorists who kidnapped, tortured and murdered Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

October 1 is a poignant day in Palestinian history and is commemorated in Tunisia. This year was no exception as a group of us gathered at the hillside cemetery overlooking the villages and walked down to the town and the beautiful blue Mediterranean where in 1986 Israeli jets screamed in to bomb the relocated headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, causing many deaths.

The offices and buildings were destroyed and once again Palestinians, in exile, became the victims.

The PLO had relocated after the massacres at Sabra and Shatilla in 1982 when Israeli troops oversaw massacres by Phalangist militias at the huge refugee camps in Lebanon, home to Palestinians driven from their homes in 1948.

After wreaths were laid at the graves of those who died on that day and on the graves of others killed by Mossad agents in Paris in 1991, we moved to the poignant statue in the main avenue of the coastal town of Ben Arous, which was festooned with Palestinian and Tunisian flags.
The story was unearthed in 2017 during the election campaign and repeated with varying degrees of speculation, conjecture and hyperbole.  Guido found the bottom of the barrel, pretty quickly, claiming "Corbyn honoured Munich massacre terrorist", a claim which is not borne out by any of the facts presented in the piece that followed.  In particular, he attempts to conflate the unidentified persons described as being "killed by Mossad agents in Paris in 1991" with Atef Bseiso, one of the planners of the Munich murders.

Bseiso was killed, possibly by Mossad agents, in Paris.  But this happened in 1992, not 1991 and was a single killing, when Corbyn refers to 'others'.

Three members of Black September were killed by Mossad, in 1991, but not in Paris.  So it is hard to square Guido's interpretation with what Corbyn reported.  As Guido points out, there are no killings attributed to Mossad in 1992 in Paris.  So quite who Corbyn was referring to is unclear.  According to the Indie, The Times asked Corbyn if he meant Bseiso:
According to The Sunday Times, that was a reference to Atef Bseiso, a PLO agent who was involved in the 1972 attack. Mr Corbyn denied this was the case.
The story went away, quite quickly, and the election went about its business.

Now it has resurfaced.  The Mail apparently has obtained pictures and even went as far as to visit the cemetery.  The claim the pictures show Corbyn standing at the graves of the Black September murderers:
One picture places Mr Corbyn close to the grave of another terrorist, Atef Bseiso, intelligence chief of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Bseiso has also been linked to the Munich atrocity. Another image shows the Labour leader apparently joining in an Islamic prayer while by the graves.

Last night sources close to Mr Corbyn insisted he was at the service in 2014 to commemorate 47 Palestinians killed in an Israeli air strike on a Tunisian PLO base in 1985.

But on a visit to the cemetery this week, the Daily Mail discovered that the monument to the air strike victims is 15 yards from where Mr Corbyn is pictured – and in a different part of the complex.

Instead he was in front of a plaque that lies beside the graves of Black September members.
On first glance, the pictures bear out the Mail's implication (never directly stated) that Corbyn was taking part in a ceremony honouring Bseiso, Salah Khalaf, Fakhri al-Omari and Hayel Abdel-Hamid, who are all buried in that part of the cemetery.

But look more closely.

Here are the pictures:


This image clearly identifies the graves occupied by the Munich murderers.  Note the plaque to the right, in front of another, slightly elevated tomb.  The occupant of this tomb is not identified by the Mail.

Now, look at the image of the wreath laying.  You'll see they are standing right in front of that plaque, which the Mails states is "honours three dead men: Salah Khalaf, who founded Black September; his key aide Fakhri al-Omari; and Hayel Abdel-Hamid, PLO chief of security."

Pretty damning, huh?

But look more closely, and read more carefully. First of all, the Mail slyly admits the plaque lies "lies beside the graves of Black September members," not in front of it; it is not claiming the grave behind the plaque belongs to a Black September member.

And (important bit) the photograph clearly shows the wreath has been placed on the tomb. You can see it in the bottom right corner of the photograph.

When you are placing a wreath at a monument, you do not place it BEHIND the monument. You put it in fron of it. This would clearly indicate they were honouring the person or persons in the grave, not the persons commemorated in the plaque; and the grave they appear to be honouring is not identified as a Black September grave. This is all from the photographs the Mail provided and - crucially - the information they chose to withhold.

Now, if that grave contained the body of some heinous individual, would the Mail would have coyly kept that information to themselves? If they knew who was in it and if that person was a rotter they would have told us.

The Mail state they visited the cemetery to confirm the details of the story. You'd think they wold check who was interred in the grave the group was specifically honouring.

So either they didn't bother to find out (poor journalism, verging on the deliberately dishonest) or the person who was being honoured is someone not too repugnant, and the Mail opted to trick casual readers into thinking the ceremony was honouring the Black September murderers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Anyone know anyone in Tunis who could check the grave behind the plaque and the plaque itself?

This seems to be a real thing that is real

If Twitter existed in the 1980s, when climate change was just creeping into public consciousness, this degree of cluelessness might - MIGHT ...