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Submitted by AWL on Mon, 15/09/2008 - 15:34

The following are excerpts from a discussion of this article on the 'Shiraz Socialist' blog.
[John Palmer was a prominent leader of the International Socialists (now the SWP) from the 1960s up to the mid-1970s. Following this he was the Foreign Affairs editor at the Guardian. JimD is a longstanding member of the Alliance for Workers' Liberty. The identity of 'modernity' is unknown but we assume she/he is not a Marxist.]

John Palmer said,

September 12, 2008 at 7:38 pm

I am sorry “Shiraz Socialist” but are you being serious or is this a satirical piss-take? Moshe Machover utterly demolished Matgamna’s excursion into metaphysics in an effort to defend his “understanding” of a possible Israeli nuclear strike on Iran. Indeed so complete was the demolition of SM that I began to feel sorry for him. Indeed the thought occured to me that the debate may have been staged by some in the AWL as a way of being rid of their guru’s ever more exotic forays into reactionary nonsense.


Jim Denham said,

September 12, 2008 at 8:27 pm


Obviously, any assessment of Moshe’s attack on Sean, and Sean’s response, is going to be subjective. You’re entitled to your opinion. My opinion is that Sean utterly demolishes Moshe on every conceivable point, including matters of *fact* (eg Ahmadinejad’s repeated threats against Israel’s existence), *logic* (how can Israel be “worse* than the US: “humanity’s worst enemy”?), *theory* (how can Moshe deny, on any Marxist basis, that the Iranian regime is “clerical fascist”?) , and *honesty* (Moshe accuses Sean of supporting - or, at least excusing in advance - something that Sean explicitly opposes: an Israeli attack on Iran). IMHO, it’s game set and match to Matgamna. And an object lesson in how to demolish your opponent in an honest and reasonably comradely manner, whilst upholding the essential principles of Marxism. But no-one should take my - or John’s - words for it: read the debate for yourselves.


John Palmer said,

September 13, 2008 at 10:03 am

Lets get real and put this “destroy Israel” business into context. The reactionary, authoritarian Ahmedinajad undoubtedly uses inflamatory language about destroying the “state of Israel”. When asked what he means he has repeatedly said that he is opposed to an Israel built upon a racist, jewish exclusiveness (one that denies the right of return to Palestinians). But he has said is in favour of a single state for Jews, Arabs and Druze. Indeed he recently invited anrti-zionist ultra-orthodox Jews to Tehran to exchange views about this. Now the Iranian regime may or may not be sincere about this but the “one state” strategy is a pefectly honourable position and wasw one which has been held for decades by many Jewish - including some Israeli - socialists. Indeed it was a standard position shared by the Trotskyist movement including - in an earlier incantation - by Sean Matgamna. Now there is an argument which says that too much water (more exactly too much blood) has flown beneath the bridge for this to be a realisable goal here and now. I am realist enough to accept that a “two state” solution might be the best achievable solution available. There are some signs that key parties are poised to take advantage of a change of regime in the US (if that happens) to make a serious push for a two state peace settlement next year. A great deal depends on whether the new US administration will continue to unquestioningly underwrite what ever Tel Aviv decides. However there is a growing body of opinion in the US which concludes that the price of such unquestioning fealty is now too great (think of the chain reaction of disdaster which could follow on an Israeli attack on Iran.) If a settlement can be reached events may well push the two states, plus their regional neighbours to ever closer economic integration. Wwater and solar power in the Middle East may play the roal of coal and steel in European integration. As we all know economic integration sooner or later leads to the need for political union. Maybe the “one state” solution (in the form of a regional Middle East integration process) is not as irrelevent as so many assume.


modernity said,

September 13, 2008 at 12:35 pm

ye gods, John Palmer wrote:

“Now the Iranian regime may or may not be sincere about this “

is that right? why has excessive gullibility suddenly taken over so many experience political activists?

such as Palmer wrote:

” Indeed he recently invited anrti-zionist ultra-orthodox Jews to Tehran to exchange views about this. “

strange, that Palmer forgot to explain the CONTEXT of those meetings, during the Iranian leadership’s sponsored Holocaust Denial conference?

Hmm, that would put a difference complexion to such “discussions”

around the same time David Duke, many neo-Nazis and a pile of Holocaust revisionists were invited over for a chat

I wonder if the Iranian leadership were discussing “One State” with those neo-nazis too? were their discussions with David Duke sincere too?

John, you remember David Duke? He’s a long standing neo-Nazi, like walking around in Nazi uniform or in front of a burning cross, ex-Grand Wizard of the KKK

if that the type of company that “Anti-Zionists” are keeping nowadays?


John Palmer said,

September 13, 2008 at 1:18 pm

modernity - I am afraid I regard with limitless contempt the kind of abuse which seeks to equate those who question Israeli state policy with some kind of political kinship with the neo-nazis. Having lost family in the war against Hitler fascism and having acquired more than a few bruises in confrontations with Mosleyites in later years this kind of lazy abuse from self proclaimed zionists every time the Israeli record is criticised leaves me untouched. It only discredits those who engage in it as a substitute for rational debate. Anti-zionism has a long and proud pedigree among Jewish socialists and radicals. Which explains the extraordinary force and clarity of Moshe Machover’s demolition of Matgamna. The Iranian people will one day settle their accounts with the Tehran regime. But in the meantime the priority for any sane person must be to do everything to oppose those extremist elements who are willing to unleash war against Iran allegedly to halt the possible development of nuclear weapons while themselves maintaining their own nuclear arsenal.


John Palmer said,

September 14, 2008 at 9:24 am

Could Modernity help us by clarifying a few issues?
1/ Does he believe that Israel would be justified in unleashing a military/bombing assault on Iranian nuclear sites for fear they might lead eventually to a military nuclear capacity?
2/ Would it be justified to Israel to use its own nuc lear weapons in these circumstances?
3/ If Modernity would be opposed to either or both of these options would be ready to condemn such Israeli action?
4/ Would modernity think Israel wouild be justified (with or without US backing) to use military force to overthrow the Ahmeninajad regime? Or does he think this is essentially the task of the Iranian people?
5/ Answers would be helpful in throwing light on where he stands in the debate between Sean Matgamna and Moshe Machover - a veteran Israeli socialist and anti-zionist?
My only please to Modernity is please, please let us not hear about “self hating Jews.” It is becoming a bore.


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