"Matgamna [Sean Matgamna of AWL] knows he would be forced to state openly that he believes an Israeli attack [on Iran] justified...", claims Mark Fischer in Weekly Worker 745 (13 November).
And what would "force" Matgamna to do that? Presumably also to "state openly" that two plus two equals five, and that the Weekly Worker tells the truth?
According to Mark Fischer, what would "force" it is the holding of a debate under the title "What If Israel Bombs Iran".
You see, Sean Matgamna doesn't justify or support an Israeli attack on Iran (let alone a nuclear one!). He said in a face-to-face debate on 12 October, and has said repeatedly in writing, that he is against such an attack.
But Matgamna would (says Fischer!) support or "excuse" an Israeli attack if he were made to debate under the WW's chosen title. And that must be why AWL doesn't want that title for a debate! QED!
The background to all this is not AWL refusing to debate with WW, but rather the opposite. The story is here, on this website. In short:
WW has withdrawn from a debate with AWL on Israel and Iran scheduled for 30 November. They refuse to debate under the title - "Israel, Iran, and socialist politics" - with which the debate was originally proposed and accepted, an appropriately "neutral" title, a title very similar to the one which WW accepted without comment for a debate on 12 October.
They are unwilling to discuss modification by agreement of the title. They will not debate except under the title "What If Israel Bombs Iran", the magic title which is supposed to "force" Sean Matgamna to say two plus two equals five.
If WW really wanted a debate, they would accept the original, appropriately "neutral", title and say whatever they want to say under that title.
Their alternative title isn't good, because the debate has widened in the last four months. But even so, AWL might shrug and accept a bad title for the sake of having the debate?
Probably not, in fact, because the WW group lacks the importance either of size or of significant ideas that would make us want to do such a thing.
But Mark Fischer wanted to be sure. So in the correspondence, as in his latest article, Fischer stated that AWL should accept WW's preferred title because we should accept that we evaded the issues in the 12 October debate! (I.e. by saying what we think, instead of saying what WW claims we would be "forced" to say by a different title for the debate!)
In other words, we should accept WW's take on the debate as it has developed over four months, in writing and face to face at the 12 October debate, as a precondition for a further face-to-face debate. Not likely!
The "benefit" of this ploy is that Fischer and WW can "move on". They can effectively give up trying to justify their original lying charge - that Matgamna "excused an Israeli nuclear attack".
They can also side-step any substantive debate on basic attitudes to Israel - where WW seem to be retreating from their always-ambivalent formal support for "two states".
And they can turn to agitation about us "ducking out" of debate, tying that together with their original accusation by the claim that debating under their chosen title would "force Matgamna to state openly that he believes an Israeli attack [on Iran] justified".
Audio files and a report of the 12 October face-to-face debate, and the earlier written exchanges, are all available on this website, as is the full correspondence between AWL and WW on the aborted 30 November debate.
One final point. Mark Fischer accuses me of "lies" and being "slimy" because I said that WW originally accepted a debate on "Israel, Iran, and socialist politics" and withdrew only eight days later.
His case is:
1. That there was no email where WW said: "Yes, that's the title we want; we accept".
2. That "all Thomas was initially told was that I [Fischer] would chase dates and comrades' opinions today and get back to you".
In fact, Mark Fischer's response to our proposal of a debate on "Israel, Iran, and socialist politics" was:
"We are indeed very keen to re-visit the subject - I was going to write to you this very day to suggest the same. We have quite a few internal and external events throughout November, so I need to check over the next day or so and get back to you. However, it [i.e. our proposed date, 23 November] seems to fit from what I can see of the diary at the moment".
Notice, no argument here about what "the subject" is. "Re-visit the subject" cannot be other than a reference to the debate just two days earlier, titled "Israel, Iran, and the left". WW at that point said they were keen to debate that subject.
What Fischer said he had to "check" with other WW people, and "get back to" us on, was the date.
The WW group had a meeting on 19 October, and apparently decided to go for their current ploy there.
Note: in line with our general policy on comments, we are not accepting comments on this post which are merely repetitions of the WW position. Anyone who wishes to check out that position can do so by reading the full correspondence between AWL and WW on the aborted 30 November debate, or by consulting the WW website.