Anti-Zionism and anti-semitism on the left: a debate - Paul Foot, Jim Higgins, Sean Matgamna

Submitted by sm on 20 October, 2007 - 8:11

By Sean Matgamna

The main bulk of this item is a debate on Israel and the Palestinians in the mid-1990s in Workers' Liberty, between the late Jim Higgins and myself.

It was triggered by an article in Socialist Worker by Paul Foot and my response to it in Workers' Liberty. Some of the material in my pieces has been incorporated in the AWL pamphlet Two Nations, Two States, and it did not occur to me that there would be any point in collecting and republishing the exchange until an admiring citizen with a lopsided notion of debate and little discernible interest in politics put two of Jim Higgins's contributions to the discussion in Workers' Liberty separately on the web. That is one way of ensuring that Higgins's views prevail; but it is not a way likely to spread enlightenment on the issues in dispute.

The debate between Jim Higgins and me is printed as the articles appeared, and some points need to be corrected and expanded.

1. It is said of Tony Cliff's political background in Palestine in the 1930s that he was a member of the Palestinian Communist Party. It was the account of himself that he gave out or let be "understood" for a long time; and so the combative Higgins did not dispute it.

I put the matter tentatively, as I did, because I thought that certain aspects of Cliff's general politics did not to my mind quite fit with a CP background. Cliff's politics have always seemed to me to suggest some sort of Lovestoneite-Brandlerite (Communist Right Opposition) background.

In his autobiography, A World To Win, Cliff says that he was never a member of the CP.

2. The verse about the British journalist was in fact the work of Humbert Wolfe, not Hilaire Belloc.

3. The tendency which publishes Workers' Liberty and Solidarity was for three years part of the predecessor of the SWP, the International Socialists (1968-71).

4. James D Young is a Scottish labour historian who was part of the Cliff tendency in the 1950s.

"Mr Foot, do you hate the Jews", by Paul Foot
Paul Foot Philo-Semite, by Sean Matgamna
A Secular Democratic State, by Jim Higgins
Two States for Two Peoples, by Sean Matgamna
I Am An Anti-Zionist Because I Am An Anti-Racist, by Jim Higgins
Anti-Racism Is Indivisible, by Sean Matgamna
The Arrogance Of The Long-Distance Zionist, by Jim Higgins
Up On The Malvolian Heights, by Sean Matgamna
Advice for Tam Dalyell MP, by Paul Foot
Learn How To Do It Properly, Tammy, by Sean Matgamna
Aooendix:
Anti-semitism and the left: an open letter to Tony Cliff [1988]