The anti-Semitism controversy engulfing the Labour Party continued today, when disturbing footage emerged of young Palestinian children re-enacting stabbings of Jews taken at a ‘festival of hate’ in the Gaza Strip, part-funded by a UK charity supported by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Labour MPs.
According to a Daily Mail report, the violent re-enactment took place as part of ‘Palestine Festival for Children and Education’ – and the festival was funded by Interpal, which is supported by Labour MPs, including Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Interpal reportedly donated £6,800 to the Gazan festival, which was organised by the University College of Applied Sciences in Gaza City and ended last week.
The Charity Commission said it is investigating the revelations “as a matter of priority”. Jeremy Corbyn’s office have declined to comment.
In the footage, children as young as seven are shown to be wearing military uniforms, and brandishing toy knives and machine guns as they performed a play re-enacting terrorism against Israelis. The event was broadcast on a Hamas television channel dedicated to culture, available in Gaza and the West Bank.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has a well-documented affiliation with the hard-line organisation, speaking at Interpal fundraisers, and has appeared in a promotional video for the charity. In 2013, he and his wife accepted a £2,800 tour of Gaza funded by Interpal. He has called the organisation’s chairman – a notorious Islamic hardliner who has said adulterers should be stoned – a “very good friend”, and has shared a platform with a range of extremists at Interpal events.
The charity has been designated a ‘specially designated global terrorist organisation’ by the United States, which says it ‘facilitates the transfer of tens of millions of dollars a year to Hamas’. Interpal officials have been repeatedly photographed with the Hamas leadership in Gaza.
CFI Parliamentary Chairman, Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles MP has condemned Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn for his affiliation with the Interpal organisation.
Sir Eric said: “The Leader of the Labour Party has green lit radicalisation and incitement to violence via his well-documented involvement with notorious hate preachers and Interpal, which is rightly designated in the US as a global terrorist organisation”.
He added: “Time is running out for Jeremy Corbyn to give leadership to his Party. His lack of decisive action in stamping out anti-Semitism is sickening. The public demands and deserves an unequivocal condemnation of anti-Semitism and a renouncement of the repugnant Interpal”.
CFI Vice-Chairman, Andrew Percy MP commented on the report, stating: “It is absolutely disgusting that any charity should be involved in a festival of hate that radicalises children to go and kill innocent Jews”.
He added: “This is yet another example of Jeremy Corbyn’s dodgy friends who are associated with very extreme individuals. It shows what a problem Labour has with anti-Semitism. They have got to start getting serious…The reality is that many who see themselves as defenders of the Palestinian cause are far too close to those holding deeply racist and anti-Semitic views”.
Interpal sought to distance itself from the glorification of violence, claiming that its money only funded other parts of the festival: “Our logo was used in various materials for the festival, as we held our own activities as part of the larger umbrella of the festival in Gaza City,’ a spokesperson said. The statement added: “We did not support this particular play and did not have any involvement with it”.
Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg told the Daily Mail: “I don’t think that’s a very convincing defence. Interpal is not a reputable charity. This is deeply, deeply concerning”.
He added: “Labour MPs nod when the Prime Minister says something must be done to tackle anti-Semitism, but now is the time for action”.
A spokesman for the Charity Commission said that it was urgently investigating the revelations: “The Commission is aware about concerns about the contents of this video. We are assessing the material as a matter of priority before deciding what regulatory action may be required”.
The Labour leader has admitted being a personal friend of Interpal’s chairman, Ibrahim Hewitt, a controversial Islamic hardliner who runs a private Muslim school in Leicester that cited sharia law in its child protection policies. Speaking at a pro-Palestinian event in East London in February 2013, Mr Corbyn said: “I’ve got to know Ibrahim Hewitt, the Chair, extremely well, and I consider him to be a very good friend, and I think he’s done a fantastic job”.
Hewitt gained notoriety when he wrote a pamphlet branding homosexuality a “great sin”, comparable to paedophilia and incest, which should be “severely punished” under Islamic law. It also said that adulterers should be “stoned to death”.
Click here to read the full Daily Mail report.
One short clip of the play from the festival shows a young girl armed with a knife attempting to free a Palestinian prisoner from an Israeli jail by stabbing the guards. She is shot and falls to the ground amid cries and screams from the audience. Other little girls then approach and cry over her body. A voice on the loudspeaker says: “Do not be angry with her. She is your blood, your flesh and your honour”.
In the next scene, a boy dressed as a masked Palestinian sniper shoots a soldier and frees the prisoner from Israel. Upbeat music plays during the scene, with the lyrics “Rejoice! The sniper has arrived!”.
Glorification of terrorism in the the Palestinian Territories has been widely documented, and many have accused such broadcasts of encouraging children to carry attacks against Israelis through this incitement.