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From: The Socialist issue 901, 11 May 2016: Tories retreat: now drive them out!

Search site for keywords: Israel - Print - Militant - Labour - Palestine - PLO - Labour Party - Clause four - Students

The letter the Guardian wouldn't print

John Mann's Israel hypocrisy

Huge protests have taken place internationally against the Israeli assault on Gaza, photo Paul Mattsson

Huge protests have taken place internationally against the Israeli assault on Gaza, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

In response to John Mann's outrageous attacks on the left as anti-Semitic, Socialist Party executive committee member Clive Heemskerk wrote to the Guardian. The Guardian declined to print his letter. Hardly a surprise, given its editorial opposition to Corbyn's anti-austerity message. The Socialist publishes the full letter below.

That the serious issue of anti-Semitism is being used as a proxy charge against Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party is confirmed for me by the high profile role of John Mann MP.

As a Militant supporter in the early 1980s, I sat on the national committee of the National Organisation of Labour Students (NOLS) alongside Mann.

He was a leading figure in an anti-Militant organisation known as Clause Four and, for two years, the chair of NOLS (1983-84).

Within NOLS, Militant was falsely attacked by the Clause Four group for 'not supporting the Palestinians' because we stood for the right of two states - Israel and Palestine - to exist side by side, which we argued would be possible on a socialist basis.

The Clause Four-led NOLS, on the other hand, argued that the national rights of Israelis must be subsumed into a single, capitalist state - a 'secular, democratic state in the whole of Palestine'.

Ferocious

I remember being ferociously attacked in NOLS meetings for refusing to give the demanded 'unconditional support' to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Militant instead criticised the PLO as being unable to make an internationalist class appeal to Israeli workers, essential to defeat the Israeli ruling class, not least because at that time the PLO refused to recognise the right of Israel to exist.

John Mann's apostasy on Israel-Palestine is not surprising. I assume he has also thrown out the 'Tony Benn for Deputy' badge that NOLS produced for the 1981 Labour Party deputy leadership contest.

But nobody should have any doubt that Jeremy Corbyn is his and his fellow Blairites' real target. The left, inside and outside the Labour Party, needs to fight back hard.

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Article dated 11 May 2016

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