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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/17/18

Is Israel's hand behind the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn?

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Has Israel been covertly fuelling claims of an "anti-Semitism crisis" purportedly plaguing Britain's Labour Party since it elected a new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, three years ago?

That question is raised by a new freedom of information request submitted this week by a group of Israeli lawyers, academics and human rights activists.

They suspect that two Israeli government departments -- the ministries of foreign affairs and strategic affairs -- have been helping to undermine Corbyn as part of a wider campaign by the Israeli government to harm Palestinian solidarity activists.

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The Israeli foreign affairs ministry employs staff of the country's embassy in London, which was at the centre of suspicions of meddling in UK politics provoked by an Al Jazeera undercover documentary aired last year.

Eitay Mack, an Israeli lawyer, has written to both ministries requesting information on Israel's contacts and possible funding of anti-Corbyn activities by pro-Israel lobby groups in the UK. The letter specifically seeks information on possible ties with the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Community Security Trust, Labour Friends of Israel and Conservative Friends of Israel.

It also requests information on any efforts by the two Israeli ministries and the Israeli embassy to influence journalists and civil society groups in the UK.

The move follows an outburst by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on social media last week, in which he accused Corbyn of laying a wreath at a cemetery in Tunisia in 2014 for a Palestinian faction that took hostage Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. Eleven Israelis were killed during a bungled rescue bid by the German security services.

Netanyahu's high-profile intervention followed days of similar claims in the British media against Corbyn.

The Labour leader has insisted that the wreath was laid for Palestinian and Tunisian victims of an Israeli attack on Tunisian soil in 1985, an operation that was denounced by most Western leaders at the time.

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'War against the Jews'

The suggestion that Corbyn supported Palestinian terrorists is an escalation in long-running allegations of a dramatic rise in anti-Semitism in the Labour Party since he became leader. Such claims have been rife despite statistics showing that the party has less of a problem with anti-Semitism than both the ruling Conservative Party and British society generally.

While initial charges of anti-Semitism in the party targeted mostly Corbyn supporters, the focus has increasingly shifted to the Labour leader himself.

This week Labour MP Joan Ryan, who heads Labour Friends of Israel, wrote a commentary in the Jewish Chronicle newspaper directly blaming Corbyn for the party's so-called anti-Semitism crisis. She said the party's problems had grown out of his "past associations with 'Holocaust deniers, terrorists and some outright anti-Semites'".

Fellow MP Margaret Hodge had earlier called Corbyn "an anti-Semite and racist".

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)
 

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