History,  The Right,  Trots

Together in the Vaults: The SWP and the NF

Below is an “anti-Zionist” letter that was published in the pages of Socialist Worker.

‘Princess’ film aided Zionists

“Letters,” Socialist Worker, May 24, 1980.

I was sorry to read your article on Death of a Princess together with the interview with Anthony Thomas.

It is evident that in your own way that you have fallen for the film’s propaganda in the same way as the British establishment.

For all its faults, Saudi Arabia is in the forefront of the anti-Zionist struggle. OK, the PLO are the military fighters against the Zionist State – but the Zionists suffer as much from the united stand of ALL Arab states- whether ‘revolutionary’ or ‘reactionary.’

Any anti-Arab feeling stirred up can only benefit the Zionists. If we have a ‘free’ TV and press as the Tories say, let them prove it.

How about a dramatised documentary made by Anthony Thomas on Dir Yassi [sic](the Palestinian village wiped out by Begin’s butchers in 1948) broadcast on ATV or Thames TV?

Make no mistake about it. If the establishment had wanted to ban this film it would have been banned!

But such is Zionist influence in Britain – particularly in the media (‘Lord’ Lew Grade, ‘Lord’ Bernstein) – that this film was bound to be shown and stir up anti-Arab feeling.



This letter does seem a little odd for an “anti-Zionist” letter, doesn’t it? Below is an extract of a letter published the following week in the same newspaper.

Why publish this filth?

“Letters,” Socialist Worker, May 31, 1980.

…. Anthony Jones … argues that there is an ‘international Zionist conspiracy’ which controls the mass media in Britain. That is the sort of filth we expect from Nazis….

He cites the names of two people (Grade and Bernstein). I know nothing of the ethnic origins of these people and it has never occurred to me to find out.  Perhaps in this case the people are Jewish. Perhaps not….

And even if Grade and Bernstein happen to be Jewish, what evidence does Jones give that they are Zionists?

Perhaps they are Zionists. All Jones gives is two names and the assumption that we all know what he means….

What he has done is to make the equation ‘Zionist equals Jew’ which is exactly what you find in the rags of the National Front….

Jew-baiting has no place in a socialist newspaper. The letter should never have been published….

COLIN SPARKS, East London.

It did not end there. There was a slew of letters the following week. Below I copy extracts from some that were published:

Filth from a fascist

“Letters,” Socialist Worker, June 7, 1980

…Jones is not dealing with ‘Zionists’ at all. The sinister group to which he refers are the Jewish people.

His coy innuendos about ‘Zionist’ control of the media could have been lifted straight out of an NF rag.

That his thinly-veiled racism can be given an airing in a socialist newspaper because it portrays itself as an anti Zionist calls into question the whole manner in which the argument on the left over Zionism and the Middle East is conducted….

MICHAEL SAFIER, JEREMY GREEN, for NEC Jewish Socialist Group.

Anthony’s full name is Anthony David Jones of the Tameside National Front. If you hear again from ‘Von Thick’ please exterminate this extremist’s letter….

Stockport comrade.

When letters like that appear in the pages of Socialist Worker, Jews in Britain like me wonder who will stand up for us in the crunch.

JOE SCHWARTZ, Islington, London.

….Respecting your paper as I do, I’d like to see proof that you are anti Zionist and not anti Semitic.

NICK MAWSON, Assistant Secretary, Bradford Constituency Labour Party.

It was not until the next issue that the Editor came clean. Below I copy the editorial statement in full:

Socialist Worker, June 14, 1980.

We have received several complaints about the Anthony Jones letter which appeared in Socialist Worker three weeks ago.

We are quite satisfied that Jones is an anti-semite and a National Front supporter.

We accept that we have made a serious mistake when we printed his letter and we unreservedly apologise to readers who were offended by it.

We have since received two letters from Jones in reply to the correspondence that his first letter started. Needless to say we will not be printing them.

So much for the editorial admission of wrongdoing, it has been thirty years to the month since Anthony Jones’s letter was published in Socialist Worker and we still have not heard why they published the letter in the first place. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the Socialist Workers Party do not have a clue about what constitutes antisemitism and as such, they could not even recognise it if it stared them in the face.