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Israel, Iran, and socialism: Sean Matgamna replies to Moshe Machover

Submitted by cathy n on 11 September, 2008 - 1:48 Author: Sean Matgamna

Comrade Machover: You are someone for whom I have long had a certain regard and even affection. I regret that you have chosen to join in the bizarre heresy-hunt, entirely Stalinist in conception, purpose, and execution, around my discussion article “What If Israel Bombs Iran?”, Solidarity 3/136.

I would have said that your chief trait, and sometimes fault, is an obstreperous pedantry rather than the sloppy-mindedness of those with whom you now run in a pack. I would also have expected from you an instinctive resistance to mob hysteria.

Most — not all — of your contribution is a perfectly legitimate piece of polemic against what I actually wrote. But if you lie down with dogs, you get fleas; and if you frolic with pigs, you get splattered with mud. You too, comrade Machover!

You radically misrepresent me as saying: “While an attack on Iran ‘will most likely lead to great carnage in the Middle East, and beyond’, it would be wrong to object to it if it is undertaken by Israel”.

This is simply a lie! Something that I would not have expected from you, but everyday fare for the Weekly Worker.

Four weeks before your article, the Weekly Worker had a front page picturing the mushroom cloud of a nuclear explosion and the words: “AWL’s Sean Matgamna: excusing an Israeli nuclear attack on Iran”.

There is no ambiguity there, and therefore no legitimate resort to attempts to “explain” the headline by way of tricky wording inside the paper. The headline was plain invention about me. It was also a piece of extra-malignant demonisation of Israel. (“Threat of Israeli nuclear attack on Iran horribly real” was the next issue’s headline). It is not good that Israel has nuclear weapons; but the idea that Israel would use nuclear bombs in any situation other than a perceived immediate threat of being overwhelmed by Arab or Islamist forces is, I suggest, on the same plane as what the Weekly Worker’s front-page text and picture attributed to me.

Your own cited cases when Israeli leaders supposedly discussed using nuclear weapons, or the threat of nuclear weapons — “it is known to have seriously considered using it against its Arab neighbours in 1967 and 1973” — were situations of such perceived immediate threat (and it is not at all certain that Israel had a nuclear option in 1967).

I don’t know whether you have even read recent issues of the Weekly Worker, though your text suggests that you have. But, coming into such a discussion late, you have, I think, a responsibility to read everything important that is in play in it. Don’t you?

Unless you explicitly dissociate, the implication is that you associate with and endorse the loony-tunes politics of the libelling paper in which you publish, and of the not-quite-reconstructed Stalinist clique who control it.

Where do you stand on the Stalinist hysteria? Do you want to assert that I “excused” an Israeli nuclear attack on Iran? Or be associated by implication with that assertion? If that claim was in your view true to any extent at all, then why does your comprehensive article ignore it?

Your article has the merit that it is an attempt to discuss systematically what I wrote; and you bring a startling new formulation into the discussion: “the USA is the main enemy of mankind”.

What I wrote

But before discussing your article it will be worth while establishing what I did and did not say.

I was discussing something over which the left could have no influence. Talk of the working class in the area reshaping the situation within the time span in which an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear installations is likely — between the US presidential election on 4 November and 20 January 2009, when a new US president takes office — is simply childish, and I notice you do not engage in such talk.

The thing that concerned me was the response of the would-be left. We can be sure that everyone within earshot of us, including the British government, will oppose an Israeli strike. That is not the difficult bit. The difficulties start elsewhere. Most leftists will measure how “left” they are by how much they manage to raise the pitch and tone of the condemnations of Israel that will appear in the Guardian, the Independent, etc.

Because of the dominance on the British left of what someone aptly named “absolute anti-Zionism”, they will go in for wild root and branch condemnation of Israel and everything Israeli. The action will be depicted as a function of the basic nature of “Zionism” or “Zionist imperialism”, or as a matter of Israel acting only as a tool of the USA, as something without any other sense and no possible upfront reason.

The crazy nonsense in which you have enlisted has been licensed by the question, in my article: “in the name of what alternative would we condemn Israel?”

I also said, and more than once in the short article, that “we do not advocate an Israeli attack... nor will we endorse it or take political responsibility for it... [we] should not want it and cannot support it...”

After a discussion in the Solidarity office of possible misunderstandings to which my article might give rise, I listed in its first paragraph some likely bad consequences and by-products of such an attack — that is, reasons for being against it. That first paragraph did not end with a sentence saying: “For these reasons we oppose an attack...”, but only because neither I nor anyone else in the Solidarity office thought our readers would include a sizeable number of idiots.

The approach of asking — “in the name of what alternative would we condemn...” — is not new.

It is, I suggest, an indispensable question for socialists, enemies of the capitalist powers that dominate the world, to ask in every situation. It is the question that stops you backing, in recoil from “imperialism” into de facto support for reactionary forces that find themselves at odds with advanced capitalism. In the Falklands war (1982) we said that the Falkland Islanders had a right to self-determination and the Argentinian invaders should get out — but we did not support the British expeditionary force or the war.

In 1990, AWL’s predessor said Iraq should get out of Kuwait (Iraq’s invasion was the cause of the conflict), but we did not back the Americans and British in the war.

In 1999 the AWL said the Serbian army, which was engaged in a giant pogrom against the Albanian population there, should get out of Kosova, but we did not back NATO’s war. Specifically we did not give political confidence or trust to those who controlled the NATO forces. (We did not join in the calls to “stop the bombing” because in the circumstances that call implicitly sided with the Serb would-be genocidalists).

In the case at hand, none of the demon-Zionism stuff is necessary to explain Israel’s likely action; there is good reason, from an Israeli point of view, to refuse to stand by and let people who have said that they want to destroy Israel acquire the weapons with which they just might try to do that.

Some of what I wrote was explicitly an account of how Israelis would see nuclear-armed Islamist fanatics in Iran and clearly labelled as that. I used the tone and manner proper to one who thinks that Israel has a right to defend itself, against people on the would-be left whose starting point is that it doesn’t, and, because of its origins, never could. To counter the demon-Zionism “explanations”, I described how most Israelis see the prospect of an Iranian nuclear bomb.

You, and quite a few others, insist that to do that was to justify, to “excuse”, perhaps to advocate an Israeli attack. Never mind that I stated my opposition to an attack, in terms of both principle — my basic viewpoint, which is that not of an Israeli nationalist but of an international socialist — and of the immediate likely consequences in the Middle East.

“Our point of view is not that of Israeli or any other nationalism. We want Israeli, Palestinian, Iranian and other workers to unite and fight for a socialist Middle East...”

My language expressed my determination not to join in with, or peacefully to tolerate, the outright condemnation of Israel that will most likely follow an Israeli attack, condemnation rooted in the “demon-Zionism” prejudice of the kitsch-left and in the view that Israel has no right to defend itself.

I identified the word “condemn” with the language that the kitsch-left would use against Israel. I used “should not want”, “can not support”, etc. to indicate rejecting an Israeli nationalist viewpoint and being against an Israeli strike.

Is there a meaningful difference between “not wanting” an attack, and “condemning” Israel root-and-branch? I think there is.

But the difference is not about being for or against an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. It is about how you assess such a strike in relation to the nature of Israel and of Israel’s relationship with its near and distant Islamic neighbours.

I reject the settled “condemnation” of Israel which, for example, you express in your article. I will not, in response to an Israeli strike at Iranian nuclear installations, adopt the viewpoint that there is something so incomprehensible in such a strike that Israel as such must be condemned outright.

And for myself, I will use whatever words I choose to express and nuance my own ideas. Nobody — least of all participants in an attempt to mob me and shout me down — will tell me what words I must and must not use.

Of course, the choice of words is to some extent personal, and to some extent arbitrary and a matter of non-conscious selection. In general, I wouldn’t choose to quarrel about words. To express the real arguments now about Israel and Iran by proxy, in the form of an argument about what exact words should be used to express being against an Israeli strike — is “not want” too weak, should we have “oppose” or “condemn” instead? — is a waste of life, foolishness.

Denunciation of me for my choice of words is either a piece of scholastic foolishness, or an attempt at Stalinist bullying, or an obscurantist proxy for the real arguments about the broader issues that led me to my choice of words.

Working back from conclusions?

If one tries to spell out the hard realities, and notes such things as “good reason for Israel to make a precipitate strike at Iranian nuclear capacity”, then are you advocating such a strike? Even if you add immediately: “Socialists should not want that and can not support it...”?

To answer yes is to rule out intelligent exploration and discussion of the world. It is to say that in order to avoid “advocating” the military strike I discussed, one would have to deny some key facts. In fact, the only reason for ruling out such an assessment here is to allow maximum condemnation of Israel, to depict what it does as a product of pure evil, pure “Zionism”, pure “imperialism”.

Indeed, it is implied in your own and other comments that we have a revolutionary duty to do that; and to deny uncongenial, jarring facts in general; to work backwards, so to speak, and draw one’s picture of reality from one’s political conclusions.

In this case we would be duty-bound to deny or obscure the large fact that an Islamic-fundamentalist regime, whose leaders openly call for the destruction of Israel, armed with nuclear weapons, would present Israel with a special problem.

Such an approach to politics would rule out anything but the most blinkeredly narrow, partial, one-sided, blindly partisan view of any reality! It is to advocate the politics of the ideological blind-fold, of viewing the world only through ideological spectacles, of only admitting that part of reality that suits you. It is to advocate a medievalist scholasticism — or Stalinism — in the approach to reality. It is one of the great banes and one of the worst diseases of the kitsch left, one of the legacies of Stalinism. It is “apparatus Marxism”.

The truth is that unless you are very simple minded — or very stupid — or dealing with straightforward things like workers’ strikes for improvements, or resistance to racism, you form your political responses and positions by surveying all the facets of reality and then deciding which aspects are decisive and which not.

The idea that you trim your picture from which you have to form political judgments in advance, selecting it to fit prior conclusions, has as little in common with Marxism as it has with any other rational approach to the world. And it has the drawback that if the closed-eyes self-righteous citizen starts looking at the whole reality, then he or she will go over not to our Third Camp independent working class politics, but to Israeli chauvinism.

Misrepresentation

You, comrade Machover, go through the motions of a reasoned point-by-point discussion of what I wrote; but you start off your reply with a straight lie and a radical distortion, stating that I argue: “while an attack on Iran ‘will most likely lead to great carnage in the Middle East, and beyond’, it would be wrong to object to it if it is undertaken by Israel”. I did and do “object” to it, and said so a number of times in the short article!

There is radical distortion in the usage — it is repeated again and again in your piece — “an attack”, without specification. A military strike would surely be “an attack”, but to substitute here the general term “an attack”, which might mean every and any offensive action up to full-scale land invasion, or even a nuclear assault, for a limited, specific bomb raid on nuclear installations, from the air, which is what I discussed, is to radically misrepresent not only what I wrote but also what the discussion should be about.

I bracketed the possible “strike” I was discussing with the September 2007 Israeli attack on nuclear facilities in Syria, and the June 1981 attack on an Iraqi nuclear installation; there is therefore no reasonable ground for you or anyone else not understanding what sort of attack I was talking about.

You quote me once, in passing, as talking about a bomb-strike on Iranian nuclear installations, but generally you use the portmanteau term “attack”; and you do that after the paper in which you publish your article has accused me, with lunatic abandon, of advocating an Israeli nuclear attack on Iran.

You deliberately get in step with the Stalinist-level liars who run Weekly Worker! What else could explain your usage?

You say that I “refuse to say anything against Israeli aggression. Go ahead, Israel — bomb away; feel free to cause ‘large-scale Iranian civilian “collateral” casualties’! SM will look the other way”. The framing of the direct quotation in radically misleading polemical bumpf is constructive lying. In political terms, it is simply unserious.

A duty to whitewash the mullahs?

Beginning with your fourth paragraph, you come out as someone who thinks that opposition to an Israeli attack on Iran requires of you that you do public-relations work for the Iranian regime. You criticise that regime once, and in passing, but you say that the Iranian rulers do not “openly declare their desire to destroy Israel”.

You repeat the 2006 declaration from Ahmadinejad which I cited.

“Thanks to people’s wishes and God’s will, the trend for the existence of the Zionist regime is [going] downwards and this is what God has promised and what all nations want. Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out”.

But you “interpret” that passage to claim that the clerical-fascist regime is not as bad as it seems.

You seem to be governed by the belief that to oppose an attack you must defend those likely to be attacked and refute what is said about them — irrespective of what is true.

Your approach here would have led the left — and during the Stalin-Hitler pact did lead the Communist Parties — to insist that Hitler was not all that bad. It led people like Tony Benn and the then editor of Tribune to do PR work, side by side with George Galloway, for Saddam Hussein in 2003. It led the SWP to apologetics for the Taliban (Socialist Worker 1 October 2001).

Serious socialists tell the truth about both sides.

There is nothing, you say, in Ahmadinejad’s 2006 declaration “about an Iranian ‘desire to destroy Israel’; nor even a wish to see that country destroyed by others”. Your attempts to reassure, on Tehran’s behalf, are obviously heartfelt. God, how they have been misrepresented, these benign Iranian clerical fascists!

Your own assessment of the declaration is wilfully foolish! You write that what Ahmadinejad “expressed here is a wish for the disappearance of the Zionist regime (on another occasion Ahmadinejad spoke about the ‘regime that is occupying the holy city’ of Jerusalem)”. You insist that there is a “difference between destruction of a country and demise of a regime”.

You take Ahmadinejad’s analogy with the demise of the USSR — “just as the Soviet Union was wiped out” — to mean that Ahmadinejad merely wants a change of government in Israel.

You feel obliged, in your opposition to an Israeli “attack”, to go surety for the good intentions of the Iranian mullahs! This, at best, is wishful thinking.

What “regime” — government? state structure? — rooted in the existing Israeli population will, in the foreseeable future, be other than “Zionist” in the broad and basic sense?

For all I can know, you may be using “Zionist” to mean extreme Israeli chauvinism. It is one of the surest things in politics that that is not what the Islamist chauvinists ruling Iran mean by “Zionism”. You get in your own light, comrade Machover!

In fact there is no shortage of quotations making clear Ahmadinejad’s meaning. Take this from August 2006: “this sinister regime is the banner of Satan.... all the people are shouting a single cry... Death to Israel”.

They really meant “Death to the Israeli government!”?

Israel “has no right to exist”?

I suggest you make yourself incapable of understanding what Ahmadinejad might mean because you yourself are against the existence of the Israeli Jewish state.

You say it plainly enough: “I suppose I must belong to what SM so cutely calls the ‘kitsch left’, because I do think that Israel has no right to exist as presently constituted or in anything like its present form”. You specify what you mean: “a colonial, expansionist, ethnocratic-racist settler state, a junior partner of imperialism, to which it is structurally and inseparably allied”.

You add that “those who advocate the so-called ‘right’” of the existing, or anything-like-the-existing Israel, to exist, are “fake leftists”. There can be no question of Israel defending itself, because in fact, always, “Israel would be ‘defending’... its indefensible privileges and interests as a colonial settler state and imperialist sub-contractor”.

I would agree that Israel has no “right” to continue occupying the West Bank and building Jewish-colonist settlements there. By that I mean: I don’t want Israel to go on doing that, and I’m on the side of the Palestinians in the post-1967 Occupied Territories and of those Israelis, Jewish and Arab, who want that to stop and fight to stop it.

What do you mean? That Israel does not have a right to exist at all, so long as it does “anything like” those things? That the Israeli Jewish nation has no right to self-determination unless and until it changes its attitudes and physiognomy beyond recognition?

And? And therefore you back those who want to help Israel “as presently constituted” stop “existing”? It is not clear why you wouldn’t.

Imperialism

Israel, a junior partner of imperialism? Of the USA? To deny the right of a nation to exist because of its international alliances smacks just a little too strongly of the Stalinist policy of assessing nations as good or bad — and, in some instances, worthy of the right to exist or not — according to their “role” in international affairs.

The short answer is that the Israeli nation and its state have a right to exist irrespective of their international alliances. In any case, Israel’s international alignment, like the rest of its history, cannot be understood apart from the attitude to it of its neighbours — five of which greeted its foundation in 1948 with invasion, and some of them (Egypt) under the slogan “Drive the Jews into the sea!”

“Structurally and inseparably allied” to “imperialism”? That Israel has had a heavy economic dependence on the USA since 1967 is fact: that it is inseparable isn’t. How an Israel at peace with its neighbours, including a Palestinian state that had begun to develop economically, would evolve is an open question.

You use the expression “structurally and inseparably allied” illegitimately, to assert that Israel is only an outcrop of US imperialism, and to strengthen, by asserting the impossibility of Israel separating from the USA, the argument that Israel should not be allowed to go on existing. (Elsewhere in the article, you say that in so far as Israel is more than an outcrop of the USA, it is worse: not just “a mere tool, but... a regional colonial power with a malignant agenda of its own”).

Iran’s “right” to nuclear bombs?

I asked: “But if the Israeli airforce attempts to stop Iran developing the capacity to wipe it out with a nuclear bomb, in the name of what alternative would we condemn Israel?” I meant: in the name of what alternatives available to an Israel facing the prospect of Iran developing nuclear weapons?

You comment, mysteriously and in terms of my text impermissibly: “Apparently SM believes that Israel, a non-expansionist and non-aggressive state, is not sufficiently ‘god-crazed’ to forfeit its ‘inalienable right’ to a monopoly of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.”

Nothing I wrote depends on such a view of Israel! Many things I’ve written elsewhere (a very large volume of it by now — the AWL’s pamphlet Two Nations, Two States is readily available) says the opposite: the AWL demands of Israel that it should vacate the 1967-occupied territories and agree to an independent Palestinian state. I do not advocate an Israeli monopoly of nuclear weapons. I am against Israel having nuclear weapons.

And you? Do you want to replace Israel’s monopoly of nuclear weapons in the region with a duopoly of Iran and Israel having nuclear weapons? So long as Israel still has nuclear weapons, should we acquiesce in the spread of nuclear weapons? In the Iranian mullahs acquiring nuclear bombs? I think that is what you say later. I’ll come back to it.

What is your point here? Either what you write is a trivial, misleading, and irresponsible debating point, and in fact you agree with me that an Iranian nuclear arsenal, moreover one in the hands of an Islamic fundamentalist regime, is undesirable. Or you want the Israeli “monopoly of nuclear weapons” to be broken by the Iranian mullahs.

Which is it, comrade Machover?

Again: do you believe, do you want to say, that Israel is so “god-crazed” that it can be equated with Iran?

You then undertake to champion the case that in “the historical record” Iran has been less “ruthlessly aggressive and destructive” than Israel has.

“The image of Iran’s rulers as religious fanatics, who would not think twice about incinerating their own country for the satisfaction of destroying Israel, is a pure invention of western and Israeli warmongering propaganda, here recycled by SM”.

It is “pure invention”? The regime installed by Iran’s “Islamic Revolution” in 1979, and still in power (even if loosened a little over three decades), is not run by religious fanatics?

I’ll resist the temptations of demagogy here, though it would be easy enough to list some of the social atrocities and horrors which the regime has inflicted on the peoples in the Iranian state, and especially the women, for three decades now.

Plainly the Iranian regime is an Islamic-fundamentalist one, a “theocracy” as you call it.

Yes, as you say, the leaders, or some of them, are “clever, cautious, calculating bastards”. The point, I think, is that the “clever, cautious calculation” of these “bastards” includes calculations about God and heaven, and the relationship of this world to the other, imaginary, world. They see this world as a mere antechamber to the other.

It may be that here you get in your own light. Being yourself a rationalist (maybe), you can’t grap that the religious mindset of such people is a major part of them and a regulator of what they do. You want to dismiss their religio-political beliefs as play-acting, stuff that they don’t really believe. A central part of the reality I see is that they do believe in their own religious nonsense.

You are sure that there is no possibility that they — or some of them, or some group emerging within the regime — will never let the attractions of a sudden trip to bordello-paradise overwhelm what you would think of as “clever, cautious calculations” about this world. I’m not.

You’re sure that their “clever” this-world calculations will never lead any of them to calculate that Israel would not survive a nuclear conflict, but the enormously bigger Iran would?

The idea that Israel should be denounced for not trusting and sharing in your confidence about the “clever calculations” of these “bastards” can only be grounded in an unreasoning animosity to Israel, or the sort of reactionary anti-imperialism that sees the Iranian regime (and similar regimes or movements) as automatically “better” than “imperialism” because they are at odds with the USA.

The idea that states always act rationally and according to the economic interests of the ruling class was always childish, barebones, economic-reductionist pseudo-Marxism. Hitler and the Nazis, for example, dragged Germany down to utter destruction. Trotsky in 1938 compared what the bourgeoisie was doing, in entrusting power to the fascists, with “tobogganing with closed eyes toward an economic and military catastrophe”. That can’t happen in Iran?

You accuse me of sleight-of-hand, conjurer-style intellectual trickery, sophism, “rhetorical legerdemain”. You aren’t so bad yourself at such ideological “cloak-work”!

An Arab-Islamic nuclear armoury?

Should we condemn Israel “because Israel has nuclear weapons, and therefore the Arab and Islamic states should have them too?”

You “cleverly” turn it round. To object to Iranian nuclear weapons, you suggest, “implies that Israel has some god-given right to a monopoly of nuclear weapons”. Eh? I don’t want the existing situation made worse by a proliferation of nuclear weapons... so that means I think Israel has a “god-given” right to a monopoly!

Turn that thought round once again, and it is the idea that because Israel has no “god-given right to a monopoly”, therefore we should not oppose other states having nuclear weapons, because that would make us “defend” that monopoly. Is that what you are saying?

But you want it both ways. Having waxed demagogic over my “implied” belief that Israel has a “god-given right to a monopoly of nuclear weapons”, you draw back from your own logical conclusion by accusing me of “malign[ing] the leftist opponents of aggression by attributing to them the absurd idea that Arab and Islamic states ‘should’ possess nuclear weapons because Israel does”.

Actually, no. I listed that view — that “the Arab and Islamic states should have [nuclear weapons] too” — as one of the absurdities I was dismissing, as an absurd implication of the sort of outcry against Israel which I anticipated. “Least of all should we back Ahmadinejad, or argue, implicitly or openly, that homicidal religious lunatics have a right to arm themselves with nuclear weapons...”

I dealt there with what I thought was likely to be implicit in the probable outcry — a sort of reductio ad absurdum. When I wrote that, I didn’t appreciate to what extent that attitude was already widespread. I knew Workers’ Power explicitly supported the “right” of Iran to have nuclear weapons; for the rest, I thought I was warning against possible absurd implications in what they would say.

However, you yourself share the attitude, or something approaching it. You express it like this: “The only basis on which we can justly [!] demand that Iran be forbidden to have [nuclear weapons] is to make the entire region free of nuclear weapons. This is the demand we must raise. Of course, Iran should not have nuclear weapons; but neither should Israel. And certainly we must condemn Israeli aggression designed to preserve its nuclear monopoly”. Ah!

Arguing with you here is like waltzing on ice with an india-rubber man! You seem to say that “just” opposition to Iranian nuclear weapons should depend on Israel not having them, and on the creation in the region of a nuclear-free zone. “This is the demand we must raise”.

Of course socialists should be against Israeli nuclear weapons. But to make opposition to Iran acquiring nuclear weapons depend on Israel surrendering those it has — that is to excuse the mullahs’ drive to acquire nuclear weapons. To insist that the only demand we can raise is: "a regional nuclear-free zone", cannot but soften specific opposition to the Iranian regime acquiring nuclear weapons, which would, at best, mean the emergence of a nuclear balance of terror in the region.

One-sided “pacifism”

I asked whether Israel should be condemned “because we are unconditional pacifists? [Because] we think military action is never justified, and therefore Israel has no right to attack Iran, not even to stop it acquiring the nuclear means to mount the ultimate suicide bomb attack on Israel?”

You say this “is a deliberately silly question”. (No, comrade Machover. Believe me, if it is silly, it is inadvertently so).

“Again we must turn it around... should we condone a pre-emptive bombing attack on Israel’s Dimona nuclear installation?”

This is one of the few serious points in your would-be ferocious but light-weight polemic. In reality the situation is not symmetrical. Would such an Iranian strike surgically “take out” Israel’s nuclear-weapons capacity as Israel apparently “took out” Syria’s in 2007 and Iraq’s in 1981? I doubt it.

An Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear installations could be limited to that objective; an Iranian attack on Israel in order to eliminate Israeli nuclear weapons would in practice have to be part of a general Islamist assault.

You are careful to lead up to your question about Israel’s nuclear centre by asserting once again that “Iran has no nuclear weapons” (true); “and it has never threatened to attack Israel by nuclear or conventional means” (not true; or true only on a “benign” interpretation of all the chants about “Death to Israel”).

“Humanity’s worst enemy”

You respond to my question whether we should condemn Israel “because we would prefer to live in a world where such choices would not be posed, where relations between states and peoples are governed by reason, and strictly peaceful means” with the statement that so long as we live in “today’s world”, “we should make the right choice: oppose imperialist attacks — whether direct or by proxy — even when mounted against a detestable regime. Because today US imperialism is humanity’s worst enemy, and its global hegemony poses the greatest danger to humanity’s future”.

First of all, you work a revealing sleight of mind here. I discussed an Israeli attack. You seem to say — here, anyway — that such a thing is impossible: Israel will only act as a proxy. Elsewhere in your article you say it very plainly: “Israel cannot possibly take such a step without an American green light... [Over Suez in 1956] Israeli attack served as a prearranged pretext for the intervention of its imperialist senior partner(s). If Israel does indeed attack Iran, we will witness a broadly similar scenario”.

An air attack on Iranian nuclear installations now — which is what we are supposed to be discussing — will be the equivalent of 1956, when Israel’s invasion of Sinai on 29 October was a (prearranged) pretext for French and British invasion of Egypt (on 5 November, after bombing from 31 October)? It can only be the start of a full-scale US invasion of Iran? Just like the September 2007 Israeli attack on a Syrian nuclear installation was part of an American invasion of Syria?

What you do here is substitute a different situation for the situation I discussed.

Is it that Israel has no autonomy at all? It can only act as a catspaw of the USA? That is a point of view; but not one you stick to. Elsewhere you say that Israel can indeed act on its own concerns, and when it does so it is worse than US imperialism. This is just wriggling, comrade Machover!

My argument was not based on generalities about Iran’s regime being “detestable”, but on what its development of nuclear weapons would or might mean for Israel.

But what is the formulation about “US imperialism” being “humanity’s worst enemy... the greatest danger to humanity’s future” doing in a supposedly political document? It has the ring to it of religious denunciation!

It is cut from the same cloth as the a-historical condemnation of Israel. I have not seen anything like such a formulation, about a country or regime being the main enemy of humanity, outside of the early 1950s magazine of the US Communist Party, which I looked at a while back — Stalin’s supporters, stranded on the “wrong” side of the world divide, and hysterically whipping themselves up to back the USA’s enemy in a nuclear war.

Politically, what follows, surely, is that any regime, no matter how “detestable”, no matter how especially dangerous with nuclear weapons, is better than, less of a threat to humanity than, US imperialism the “main enemy of humanity” — and its proxy, Israel.

And therefore? What appears to follow is that you will line up with any conceivable opponent of the USA — and with the pixillated kitsch-left idiots who see Islamist clerical-fascism as better than the USA. Which is what you are doing.

The “main enemy of humanity” formula is metaphysics, not politics. It is all too reminiscent of Third Period Stalinism, with its arbitrary schematics and subjective definitions.

It is an example of what I have mind in the name-tag “kitsch-left”: inorganic, subjective, arbitrary orientation on the world. And if it is true that “US imperialism” is “humanity’s worst enemy”, then the prospects for humanity are very bleak indeed. Not least of the faults of this formula is that it dismisses the US working class, as this line of thinking usually also dismisses the Israeli working class.

It is a millenarian view of the world tightly sprung, and of an early, if not imminent, showdown between the forces of good and evil. It is a secularisation of the world-view of political Islam, focused on the “Great Satan” of the USA and its allies and “proxies” overseas. Isn’t it?

“Pabloism”

The post-Trotsky Trotskyist movement was derailed by its Third-Period-Stalinist style belief in a World Revolution that was coming to the final clash, the “lutte finale” of the great song. It was to be a clash between “Imperialism” and the “World Revolution”, which, for now, was embodied in the Stalinist states, the Stalinist movements, and the Stalinist-led revolutions in the Third World.

The would-be Trotskyists were led by their notion of a predetermined World Revolution within a very short time scale, and the identification of Stalinism as its embodiment for now, in the first stage, into a fantastic view of reality, made up of negativism towards capitalism, and of (mistaken) positive identification with the bureaucratically statified economies of the USSR and its allies. (See the introduction to The Fate of the Russian Revolution: www.workersliberty.org/fate).

Today the kitsch left is in the grip of analogous politics, but with none of the seeming justification and seeming rationality of those post-Trotsky Trotskyists, the “Pabloites”.

The kitsch left now sees the world as caught up in an apocalyptic battle between good and evil — between “humanity’s worst enemy” and... the others.

As in 1951, at the Third World Congress of the Fourth International, Stalinism was written into the role of adversary of US imperialism in the “final battle”, so also today the “anti-US” forces are written into the scenario for the climactic battle: the Tehran regime, the Taliban, Al Qaeda. and... whom?...

As in the early 1950s, this leads to out-and-out nonsense — identification of black as white and vice versa by a process of arbitrary, negative selection. And without any of the twisted sense which the idea of progressive Stalinism, on one side, and totally reactionary imperialism, on the other, had.

Comrade Machover, here you are led to the side of reaction by such notions as “humanity’s worst enemy”, defined in terms of power politics. How do you wind up after six decades as a Marxist articulating a thinly secularised version of Muslim eschatology?

Israel worse than the “worst enemy”?

I asked whether Israel should be condemned “because Israel would in attacking Iran be only an American imperialist tool, against a mere regional power; and that cancels out the genuine self-defence element in pre-emptive Israeli military action against Iranian nuclear weapons”.

You comment: “The fact that Israel will not be acting as a mere American imperialist tool makes it even worse, and is all the more reason for condemning and opposing its aggression. Because in addition to acting for its imperialist sponsor, Israel will at the same time be acting to maintain its own regional hegemony, nuclear monopoly and ability to oppress the Palestinian people and colonise their lands.”

Here everything is blended and mixed into a muddy political paste! And the paste is very messy.

Israel is bad when it is the proxy for “humanity’s worst enemy”; and when it is not — you concede it is not, or not entirely, or not always — it is “even worse”! Not only is there a power that is “humanity’s worst enemy”; there is also a power than is an even worse enemy of humanity than “humanity’s worst enemy”. The US is the worst enemy, but Israel is the worst, worst enemy of humanity.

And why? Israel has “regional hegemony” and “acts to maintain it”. It has a “nuclear monopoly” and (therefore?) “ability to oppress the Palestinian people and colonise their lands.”

This jumble is an example of where reasoning around a fixed demonological view of a state and of a people can lead you! In what “region” does Israel have “hegemony”? In the Occupied Territories, to be sure. But that does not depend on Israel’s nuclear weapons. In the wider region of the Middle East, Israel obviously does not have “hegemony”. And nor does its nuclear monopoly hand it status in that region.

Only if Iran or some other power hostile to Israel had nuclear weapons, only then, would Israel’s status or even its ability to stand up to the threat of nuclear annihilation depend on its having nuclear weapons.

Washing around in your subconscious here seems to be a half-formed notion that it would be good if Israel were faced with another power in the Middle East able to brandish nuclear weapons.

Unconditional support for Iran?

Should we condemn Israel “because the Iranian government, Islamic clerical fascist though it is, is an ‘anti-imperialist’ power and must be unconditionally supported against the US, Nato, Israel?”

Here, you don’t reply at all, though you go through the motions. You say I know “very well” that “opposition to US-Israeli aggression against Iran in no way implies ‘unconditional support’ for the Iranian regime”.

I did not discuss “US-Israeli aggression”. That is your definition, not mine. Why did I write “unconditional”? Because there is something of “on their side, no matter what” in supporting (even by implication) Iran’s “right” to nuclear weapons; and that is your substantive position, comrade Machover!

But you don’t know when to leave well alone, do you? You build further on my rejection of the idea that “the Iranian government, Islamic clerical-fascist though it is, is an ‘anti-imperialist’ power and must be unconditionally supported against the US, Nato, Israel”. You comment: “Inadvertently, SM has given us an illustration of the fact that you cannot consistently be soft on the Israeli state without being also soft on its imperialist sponsor and close senior partner.”

You’d be better engaged, comrade Machover, in sifting through and defining, first for yourself, what is really going on in your own mind!

Because I reject the idea that Iran is an “anti-imperialist power” (as distinct from a regional imperialism: isn’t that what you’d say it is?), and reject the argument that for that reason (for supposedly being an “anti-imperialist power”) it should be supported against the US, Nato, and Israel, therefore....?

Therefore... my “rhetorical question”, you say, “provides an argument for not opposing an attack by the US or Nato” (emphasis added).

You can’t oppose a US attack without positively supporting Iran? So you seem to say. In fact, Iran is a small imperialist power. Saying that, and rejecting the idea that we should side with it against the bigger imperialist powers, would not hinder us from opposing an attack — any more than defining Iraq for what it is, a regional imperialist power, hindered us from opposing the US-British invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The idea that we should define the smaller and weaker imperialism as “anti-imperialist”, and positively support it, is political and intellectual gibberish. It isn’t new, however. There were many people in Asia, and many black people in the USA, who saw Japan as a progressive anti-imperialist power, a “coloured” power, an “Asian” power, in World War Two. Japan exploited that, for example, in Burma. The US Trotskyists had to make special educational efforts to try to wean black people in the USA from such ideas (in Labor Action, for instance).

The idea that you side with the weaker imperialism, and accept its “anti-imperialist” postures as good coin, would have led to supporting Japan against the USA in 1941, and the USSR against the USA after 1945!

Fascists?

You add: “Let me also note in passing that SM is doing here what no serious Marxist should do: for the second time in this article he is using ‘fascist’ as a mere invective rather than as a precise political term. He should know better.”

I wrote not of “fascist”, but of “clerical fascist”. And I did not use it as “mere invective”. Here, once again, we have your irrepressible tendency to let arid pedantry override your sense of reality and of history.

I agree that “fascist” should not be used as mere insult. The Trotskyist movement, and, of course, the working class itself, paid a high price for the idiotic Stalinist habit of flinging the word “fascist” about in that way.

But in fact there are quite a few different sorts of fascism in history. The Francoist movement was an amalgam of smallish fascist organisations, the Spanish army, and the Catholic church: it was a Catholic crusade.

There were clerical fascist movements in many European countries, differing more or less seriously one from another. In Ireland in the early mid 1930s, Blueshirt clerical fascism mushroomed into a mass movement for a while: it had among its peculiarities the fact that most of it (unlike any other clerical-fascism I know, anywhere) was less nationalistic and less narrowly chauvinist than its “mainstream” rivals, the De Valera government and its unofficial IRA supporters.

Clerical fascism, in relation to Iran, means mass mobilisations motivated by religious or religio-social ideas and feelings, for Islamist totalitarian-political goals. The feelings it builds on include feelings of alienation from capitalism which, in more favourable circumstances, could lead some of the people involved to revolutionary communist conclusions: but that is a feature of all fascist movements.

You describe Iran as a “theocracy”, but that is a complementary designation, not one that excludes the description “clerical fascism”. There were large elements of theocracy in fascist Spain and Portugal. There were very large elements, perhaps larger than in fascist Spain or Portugal, of theocracy in bourgeois-democratic Ireland for many decades (when the bishops could call in a minister and simply tell him what to do, and be obeyed; and often would not even deign to give reasons for it: see the memoirs of the one-time minister, Dr. Noel Browne, "Against the Tide").

Granted that there is imprecision in it, “clerical fascism” will do to be getting on with as a description of authoritarian-totalitarian Islamist politico-religious movements.

Machover’s “third way”

You continue: “SM’s penultimate pretext is a real beauty: “[Should we condemn an Israeli attack] because Israel refuses to dismantle the Jewish national state peacefully and agree to an Arab Palestinian state in which Jews would have religious but not Israeli national rights, and therefore socialists, ‘anti-racists’ and anti-imperialists must be on the side of those who would conquer and destroy it, even, in this case, with nuclear weapons?”

“The oh so subtle rhetorical legerdemain here is to smuggle past the reader a false alternative: either you accept Israel as ‘the Jewish national state’ or else you must accept an ‘Arab Palestinian state in which Jews would have religious but not Israeli national rights’. SM implies that there is no other choice. And, moreover, he threatens his reader: if you reject the former — ‘the Jewish national state’ — then (‘and therefore …’) you must resign yourself to Israel’s destruction ‘even with nuclear weapons’.”

“The false alternative”? You have a third alternative to offer? An Israel that is not a “Jewish national state” (with rights for minorities), but in which nonetheless Jews would have national rights? Or an Arab Palestinian state in which Jews would have national rights?

“SM implies that there is no other choice”? But you have a revelation to offer? The reader perplexed by the complexities of the Jewish-Palestinian conflict will have felt his or her pulse quicken. A Moshe has come to judgement!

Before your revelation, you spend a lot of words rehashing discussions, to my mind largely pedantic, discussions about Israel’s definition of a citizen and so on. Any national state will be to some degree or another nationalist; socialists work against the nationalism, and to win fully equal rights for minority groups in the state; but we are for the right to self-determination of nations as they are, not just of nations as they are in textbook definitions. These considerations apply to all nations, and they apply to Israel too. Socialists in Israel should fight for entirely equal rights for all minorities there; in the foreseeable future, any Israeli state will have some degree of nationalism and discrimination.

Your revelation, when it comes, is less than convincing. It appears to be a singularly undefined version of a bi-national state. “The alternative supported by true socialists is a settlement based on equal rights: not only equal individual rights for all, but also equal national rights for the two actual national groups of Palestine/Israel.

“Who are these two groups? First, the indigenous people, the Palestinian Arabs, including the refugees ethnically cleansed by Zionist colonisation, who surely must have the right to return to their homeland. Second, the Hebrew-speaking settler nation that has come into existence in that country... This clearly means the rejection of the ‘Jewish national state’ in the present Zionist sense...”

You give no explanation of what sort of Jewish national state could be regarded as an exercise of the legitimate national rights of the “Hebrew-speaking nation”, except of course that it must not be “anything like” Israel. This is what I meant above by defining you as a mere phrasemonger. Your stuff here juggles possibly attractive things that simply have no purchase on reality, and have nothing to offer in the way of telling us what we do to get from the situation in the Middle East now to one in which Jews and Arabs relate to each other in a friendly and cooperative way.

There are three distinct things to be sorted out here. First, there is what we would like — what socialists would prescribe, if we had god-like powers.

Second, there is what can be done politically with what exists, by people (socialists) who lack god-like power. At present, we have the singular lack of power of people with small influence and smaller organised forces, in the Middle East or elsewhere. And it seems to me certain that even if there were a mass revolutionary Marxist movement embracing Jewish and Arab workers, it would still not be able at will to wipe out and reconcile the national antagonisms of generations simply by decreeing the merging of nations. It would still need a democratic national programme, some variant of two states. The Bolsheviks needed such a policy after the workers had taken power in the old Tsarist Empire.

Third, the actual role in politics of the bandying-about of phrases and detached fine sentiments by socialists like you who refuse to seek solutions in the world that exists. You act as a cover for Arab and Islamic reaction!

Few socialists would disagree with the generalities of what you call the policy of “true socialists”: “not only equal individual rights for all, but also equal national rights for the two actual national groups of Palestine/Israel”. But how could it be done?

Jews and Palestinian Arabs should merge into one people? The idea is utterly fantastic that peoples can do that at will, especially peoples with their actual history.

The proposal that over four million Palestinians, the descendants of refugees, should “return” to pre-1967 Israel is a proposal for the abolition of the Jewish nation. So it is seen, and for sixty years has been seen, by both sides. There is no way it can be made acceptable to Israel; and in fact, no way in which its realisation would be compatible with the existence of the Jewish nation.

Talk about “racism” here is ideological blackjacking. Nobody would think that the amalgamation of the Germans and the French in the territory now occupied by one of them could be brought about, even after the old antagonisms have been enormously reduced. There is also a great deal of scapegoating in blaming Israel alone for Arab refugees. Almost as many (600,000) Jewish refugees made their way in the years after 1948 from Arab countries to Israel. The Arab states deliberately refused to try to integrate the Palestinian refugees, ancestors of today’s 4.6 million. They did it in part for political reasons.

Israel: “ethnocratic-racist”?

You say that Israel is an “ethnocratic-racist” settler state. Here you wallow in the political equivalent of fashionable psychobabble! Even if your epithet were justified, it would be irrelevant to what we are talking about. It is not justified.

Israeli nationalism is like any other nationalism, concerned with those it considers its own and downgrading and dismissive of others. Nationalisms loosen up, become less tight in their definings-in, less aggressive to those defined-out, the less pressure they are under, the less opposition they face to their cherished claims.

Israeli nationalism, “Zionism” — as I’m sure you know far better than I do — faced tremendous opposition, and arose in a political world which persecuted Jews and, in that persecution's most intense form, denied the right of Jews even to live, anywhere.

Israel’s right to exist is still not recognised by most of its neighbours sixty years after the state’s foundation!

Of course Jewish nationalism under pressure has been and is edgy, aggressive, inclined to ignore or deny competing “claims” that stand in the way of its own. Of course, since the Holocaust it has been seized by a spirit of ruthless determination.

Jewish nationalism, at the time that it gripped most Jews — which was not until the mid 20th century — was and is now, still, the nationalism of a people which had come close to extermination. In your lifetime and mine, two thirds of the Jews in Europe were exterminated.

Of course Jewish nationalism is often bitter, assertive, self-righteous, ruthless, unscrupulous. That is... nationalism. A major feature of the nationalism of oppressed or once-oppressed peoples is that, when demanding their own claimed rights, they are often indifferent to the rights and claims of minorities within their claimed territory. That is the nature of nationalism.

Take Ireland. We have colonised the globe more, probably, than Jews, Chinese, Indians, or Anglo-Saxons, and faced discrimination, prejudice, and inhospitality. In a vile recent example of Irish chauvinism and racism, a referendum voted overwhelmingly to deny Irish passports to Irish-born children of immigrants!

And therefore? Britain should never have left? Britain should reconquer this “racist” society?

Should socialists apply tests of moral worthiness to nations claiming self-determination, and recognise only those who themselves apply the golden rule — do unto others as you would have them do to you — as worthy of our support? I can’t think of any nationalist-minded oppressed or once-oppressed people who would pass such a test.

The truth is that there is everywhere a continuum between nationalism, militant nationalism, chauvinism, and racism. There is no impassable barrier between the stages in that continuum.

Calling racist in the Israelis what in other peoples is nationalist or chauvinist is a dishonest attempt to damn Israeli nationalism — and the Israeli nation — by equating it in its entirety with the vilest form in the continuum. It is a form of political character-assassination and moral blackjacking.

There is also in it a savage injustice. A large part of the well-deserved odium in which “everyone” today holds “racism” derives from the Jews not as racists but as the supreme victims of racism in recorded history. The moral worth of such blackjacking is summed up in the fact that the attitudes of the implacable enemies of Israel, Arab-chauvinist or Islamist, even the clerical fascists among them, are not denounced as “racist” or even chauvinist, but classified as legitimate nationalism and splendid “anti-imperialism”.

Phrasemonger

I don’t classify you, comrade Machover, as “kitsch-left”. Old and well-worn terms exist to describe your politics here, pretty exactly. Lenin’s term “phrasemonger” is, as I've already said, what I have in mind.

You concern yourself with formal classifications (settler state, imperialism, etc.) rather than with the living political questions.

You denounce the existing Israel for not being the opposite of what it actually is — a Jewish state with a Palestinian Arab minority — and you do that in tandem with allies and supporters of Islamist clerical-fascism.

You combine anarchist-utopian severity of judgement on Israel, in the same article, with playing the role of understanding “interpreter” of Ahmadinejad, a couple of phrases about the Iranian rulers being “reactionaries” and “bastards” notwithstanding.

You can think yourself thereby a revolutionary politician and a highly moral man.

It is a delusion. You think you are a leftist on the Middle East, but that too is a delusion. The politics you purvey here are right, not left, wing.

Some of what you say about Israel has some use as a description. Israel is undoubtedly a settler state. It exists as a result of most of its people — or, now, their parents or grandparents — fleeing persecution and settling there over the last hundred years.

But you mean the description as automatic and outright condemnation, and use it as the basis for a denial of Israel’s right to go on existing and of the right of the Jewish nation in Israel to self-determination. Don’t you?

You use the expression “settler state” to assert that Israel is essentially the same as the old white Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), or apartheid South Africa, and to brush aside what distinguishes Israel from them — that it was not and is not fundamentally built on the exploited or super-exploited labour of Arabs, and that its Jewish citizens are the very big majority (80%) of its population.

You condemn Israel as expansionist. I believe that the dominant political forces in Israel want to keep as much of the post-1967 Palestinian territory as they can; they allow or encourage expanding Jewish settlements on that territory. If that’s what you mean, yes, expansionist.

When you talk ominously of Israel’s “own special agenda of annexation and expansion”, what are you talking about here, beyond Israel’s domination of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories? If that is what you are talking about, then you should not present it as if you are saying a lot more.

I have no idea what grandiose ideas may be in the head of this or that Israeli politician. But in the world as it is, as distinct from fantasies derived from the Bible, there is no possibility of Israeli expansion beyond the West Bank.

Of course, we (AWL, and the writer) oppose the real Israeli expansionism and condemn it. We are for a fully independent Palestinian state in contiguous territory, side by side with Israel. We back those in Israel, Arabs and Jews, and in the Occupied Territories, who oppose the “expansionism” and counterpose to it “two states”.

And you? What do you propose? The abolition of the Jewish national state! You make putting an end to “Israeli expansionism” conditional on and identical with putting an end to Israel! You propose to replace one injustice to the Palestinians, with another to the Israeli Jews, the forcible abolition of Israel. That is what it comes down to.

You don’t advocate a just solution, but the reversal in the Palestinian-Jewish relationship of the roles of victors and vanquished.

Consequences

The role in actual politics of irresponsible ultra-left phrasemongering like yours — whose good will I do not question — is the opposite of what you think it is.

You invoke socialist and liberal values and aspirations. You criticise Israel, often justly, in the light of those standards. You conclude that only your “maximalist” settlement is tolerable, and, short of fitting in to that, Israel has no right to exist.

You invoke high ideals and “reject” the existing Israel with the disdain of a “historical” snob. In doing so, you are not, though you want to be, a friend of the oppressed Palestinians: you urge them to reject what is possible, a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and to aim for the impossible.

You counterpose to the “two states” policy an ideal rearrangement that will tidy up the history of the last 100 years; but involves self-liquidation of Israel or its conquest by the Arab states. The only conceivable “instrument” able to destroy Israel is the Arab or Islamic states. That is where your anarchoid phrasemongering leads you — now, implicitly at least, to backing or half-backing Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons.

You function as an ideological confusionist, an outrider or skirmisher, operating not to help the socialist and left-wing ideas, values, and ideal choices win support and be realised, but as an inadvertent helpmate of the right, of people like the clerical fascists in Iran. You act as an outrider, and unashmedly so for those on the would-be left who are more directly outriders of the Iranian and other clerical fascists.

I suggest that the way forward is two states, and Israelis, Jews and Arabs, working within Israel for change.

Siren song!

To conclude. You and I are trapped on the fifth story of a building that is burning beneath us, flames coming out of the windows on three sides. I look around and suggest; “Let’s tie these two ropes together, put some knots in them for handholds, and climb down. The ropes are not long enough, and we will have to jump the last storey. We may get hurt a bit, or break a leg or two, but we will survive”.

You say: “No! We’ll most likely rope-burn our hands on the way down. One sort of burn is as bad as another. There is no difference!

You say: "You have fallen in love with the fire, haven’t you? You want to compromise with fire and smoke and soot by running from it, by accepting its ‘definition’ of you! You are a pyromaniac! A filthy sootist!

“I know what to do. We should grow wings now and fly out of the window, rise and soar above it all, free of the fire and the soot and the filthy contamination with pyromania”.

I reply: “Moshe, I’d love to grow wings, but genetic engineering hasn’t got that far yet. We simply can’t grow wings in time. The only solution to our dilemma is to climb down. We must move carefully, a step at a time”.

You reply: “Don’t be silly! I know a great Yiddish song about wings. Let’s sing that. I know the lessons of Jewish history. We must learn to fly. It’s the only thing”. You start to sing:

“On a wagon bound for market/

Sat a calf with a mournful eye./

High above him flew a swallow/

Winging swiftly through the sky”.

I love that song — my son and I used to sing it when he was small — and I’m tempted to join you. But I resist, and go on preparing the ladder.

Then you sing another song:

“If I had the wings of an angel/

Over these walls I would fly”.

I love that too. My father used to sing it when I was small. But I resist. I join in the singing, but I tie the ropes and knot them. I know that singing the song won’t help you sprout wings. “Come on, comrade Machover. We can sing about wings as we climb down”. You say: “F*** off, soot-monger”. As I go out of the window, you continue to sing fine songs.

As I descend, I hear you, fainter now. “I shall not, I shall not be moved...” Another song I like.

I don’t know when humankind will learn to “fly” — outgrow nationalism and other such things. For sure, “singing” for it — phrasemongering counterposed to real possibilities — won’t speed the process.

The AWL advocates working-class unity across national divisions. For that we have more than preaching and fine songs. For sure, Arab and Jewish workers in Israel, and Israeli and Palestinian workers, will not make peace with each other without the “rope ladder” of a democratic programme — two states.

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