Young AWL members experienced first-hand some of the worst of the SWP’s political culture on the TUC demonstration in Manchester on 2 October.
An SWPer threatened to attack two AWLers (one male and one female) for being “Zionist racists”.
The SWP comrade, herself a young woman, had taken umbrage at the presence on an AWL stall of our pamphlet Two Nations, Two States: Socialists and Israel/Palestine and made several visits to the stall, each time with more fellow SWPers to back her up.
One “exchange” ended with her being dragged off by her friends after she had grabbed an AWLer by the shirt and screamed “I am going to punch you in the face, you racist idiot”.
It is perverse that the SWP, who like to see themselves as the left’s foremost champions of Palestinian rights, take such a hysterical attitude to the idea of a two-states settlement, when opinion polls have consistently shown that a majority of Palestinians themselves favour such a move.
Recent articles in Socialist Worker have sneered at the Palestinians’ moves to rattle the prison-bars of Israeli occupation by attempting to declare independence through the UN; the SWP insists that liberation for Palestine must be “through Cairo” (this is rarely spelled out, but implies an external conquest of Israel by a sufficiently belligerent Egyptian government).
The SWP’s vitriolic opposition to the idea of two states means that, in practice, they would prefer that the Palestinians continue to suffer under Israeli occupation while they wait for “Cairo” to free them, rather than make any immediate attempt to break the deadlock by fighting for independence within a two-states framework.
When the culture of the British left’s biggest organisation trains its young cadres to believe that physical threats and slander are good ways of engaging in debate with other socialists, something is very wrong.
With our class facing such significant attacks, challenging that poisonous, Stalinist culture and replacing it with one of democratic debate is more essential than ever.