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Ken O’Keefe: ‘We, the defenders of the Mavi Marmara, are the modern example of Gandhi’s essence’

Ken O’Keefe,  former US Marine,  Gulf War veteran, and now survivor of the Mavi Marmara massacre, has issued a remarkable and searing statement from Istanbul.  “While in Israeli custody I, along with everyone else, was subjected to endless abuse and flagrant acts of disrespect.  Women and elderly were physically and mentally assaulted.  Access to food and water and toilets was denied.  Dogs were used against us, we ourselves were treated like dogs.  We were exposed to direct sun in stress positions while hand cuffed to the point of losing circulation of blood in our hands.  We were lied to incessantly, in fact I am awed at the routineness and comfort in their ability to lie, it is remarkable really.  We were abused in just about every way imaginable and I myself was beaten and choked to the point of blacking out… and I was beaten again while in my cell.

In all this what I saw more than anything else were cowards… and yet I also see my brothers.  Because no matter how vile and wrong the Israeli agents and government are, they are still my brothers and sisters and for now I only have pity for them.  Because they are relinquishing the most precious thing a human being has, their humanity.

O’Keefe was a human shield in Iraq who formally renounced his US citizenship in protest in 2001; he now has Irish as well as Palestinian citizenship. On the morning of the attack, as he describes it, he was “directly involved in the disarming of two Israeli Commandos.  This was a forcible, non-negotiable, separation of weapons from commandos who had already murdered two brothers that I had seen that day.” Subsequently brutalised by the Israeli military, he is defiant: “I challenge any critic of merit, publicly, to debate me on a large stage over our actions that day.  I would especially love to debate with any Israeli leader who accuses us of wrongdoing, it would be my tremendous pleasure to face off with you. All I saw in Israel was cowards with guns, so I am ripe to see you in a new context“.

In another context — one that does not involve Israel — O’Keefe’s valor would likely be recognized and rewarded by the country whose military he served and whose citizenship he has relinquished. Yet he will be a hero to millions around the world.

Read O’Keefe’s statement in full below.

I have for many years understood that we, people of conscience, are the true holders of power in this world. Frustratingly however we have largely relinquished that power and failed to reach our full potential.  Our potential to create a better world, a just world.  Nonetheless I have conspired with others of like mind to reveal and exercise our true power.  In 2002 I initiated the TJP Human Shield Action to Iraq because I knew that the invasion of Iraq had been planned well in advance, that it was part of a ‘Global Spectrum Dominance’ agenda as laid out by the Project For A New American Century.

I knew that protests had no chance of stopping the invasion, and that largely these protests were just a way of making us feel better about the coming mass murder; by being able to say I protested against it.  With that understanding I argued that the only viable way to stop the invasion was to conduct a mass migration to Iraq.  A migration in which people from around the world, especially western citizens, would position themselves at sites in Iraq that are supposed to be protected by international law, but which are routinely bombed when it is only Iraqi, Palestinian, generally non-white, western lives who will be killed.  I felt 10,000 such people could stop the invasion, or at the very least, expose the invasion for what it was from the start, an act of international aggression, a war crime and a crime against humanity.

When our two double-decker buses travelled from London to Baghdad through Turkey, it was ever clear that the people of Turkey also could sense the power of this act, and they were the biggest participants in it.  In the end we did not get the numbers required to stop the war, with at least one million Iraqi’s dead as a result, but I remain convinced that it was within our power to prevent the invasion.  A massive opportunity lost as far as I am concerned.

In 2007 I joined the Free Gaza Movement with its plan to challenge the blockade of Gaza by travelling to Gaza by sea.  From the moment I heard of the plan I knew it could succeed and ultimately I served as a captain on the first attempt.  The Israeli government said throughout our preparation that we were no better than pirates and they would treat us as such.  They made clear we would not reach Gaza.  And still I knew we could succeed.  And we did.  Two boats with 46 passengers from various countries managed to sail into Gaza on August 23, 2010; this was the first time this had been done in 41 years.  The truth is the blockade of Gaza is far more than three years old, and yet we, a small group of conscientious people defied the Israeli machine and celebrated with tens of thousands of Gazans when we arrived that day.  We proved that it could be done.  We proved that an intelligent plan, with skilled manipulation of the media, could render the full might of the Israeli Navy useless.  And I knew then that this was only the tip of the iceberg.

So participating in the Freedom Flotilla is like a family reunion to me.  It is my long lost family whose conscience is their guide, who have shed the fear, who act with humanity.  But I was especially proud to join IHH and the Turkish elements of the flotilla.  I deeply admire the strength and character of the Turkish people, despite your history having stains of injustice, like every nation, you are today from citizen to Prime Minister among the leaders in the cause of humanity and justice.

I remember being asked during the TJP Human Shield Action to Iraq if I was a pacifist, I responded with a quote from Gandhi by saying I am not a passive anything.  To the contrary I believe in action, and I also believe in self-defence, 100%, without reservation.  I would be incapable of standing by while a tyrant murders my family, and the attack on the Mavi Marmara was like an attack on my Palestinian family.  I am proud to have stood shoulder to shoulder with those who refused to let a rogue Israeli military exert their will without a fight.  And yes, we fought.

When I was asked, in the event of an Israeli attack on the Mavi Mamara, would I use the camera, or would I defend the ship?  I enthusiastically committed to defence of the ship.  Although I am also a huge supporter of non-violence, in fact I believe non-violence must always be the first option.  Nonetheless I joined the defence of the Mavi Mamara understanding that violence could be used against us and that we may very well be compelled to use violence in self-defence.

I said this straight to Israeli agents, probably of Mossad or Shin Bet, and I say it again now, on the morning of the attack I was directly involved in the disarming of two Israeli Commandos.  This was a forcible, non-negotiable, separation of weapons from commandos who had already murdered two brothers that I had seen that day.  One brother with a bullet entering dead center in his forehead, in what appeared to be an execution.  I knew the commandos were murdering when I removed a 9mm pistol from one of them.  I had that gun in my hands and as an ex-US Marine with training in the use of guns it was completely within my power to use that gun on the commando who may have been the murderer of one of my brothers.  But that is not what I, nor any other defender of the ship did.  I took that weapon away, removed the bullets, proper lead bullets, separated them from the weapon and hid the gun.  I did this in the hopes that we would repel the attack and submit this weapon as evidence in a criminal trial against Israeli authorities for mass murder.

I also helped to physically separate one commando from his assault rifle, which another brother apparently threw into the sea.  I and hundreds of others know the truth that makes a mockery of the brave and moral Israeli military.  We had in our full possession, three completely disarmed and helpless commandos.  These boys were at our mercy, they were out of reach of their fellow murderers, inside the ship and surrounded by 100 or more men.  I looked into the eyes of all three of these boys and I can tell you they had the fear of God in them.  They looked at us as if we were them, and I have no doubt they did not believe there was any way they would survive that day.  They looked like frightened children in the face of an abusive father.

But they did not face an enemy as ruthless as they.  Instead the woman provided basic first aid, and ultimately they were released, battered and bruised for sure, but alive.  Able to live another day.  Able to feel the sun over head and the embrace of loved ones.  Unlike those they murdered.  Despite mourning the loss of our brothers, feeling rage towards these boys, we let them go.   The Israeli prostitutes of propaganda can spew all of their disgusting bile all they wish, the commandos are the murderers, we are the defenders, and yet we fought.  We fought not just for our lives, not just for our cargo, not just for the people of Palestine, we fought in the name of justice and humanity.  We were right to do so, in every way.

While in Israeli custody I, along with everyone else was subjected to endless abuse and flagrant acts of disrespect.  Women and elderly were physically and mentally assaulted.  Access to food and water and toilets was denied.  Dogs were used against us, we ourselves were treated like dogs.  We were exposed to direct sun in stress positions while hand cuffed to the point of losing circulation of blood in our hands.  We were lied to incessantly, in fact I am awed at the routineness and comfort in their ability to lie, it is remarkable really.  We were abused in just about every way imaginable and I myself was beaten and choked to the point of blacking out… and I was beaten again while in my cell.

In all this what I saw more than anything else were cowards… and yet I also see my brothers.  Because no matter how vile and wrong the Israeli agents and government are, they are still my brothers and sisters and for now I only have pity for them.  Because they are relinquishing the most precious thing a human being has, their humanity.

In conclusion; I would like to challenge every endorser of Gandhi, every person who thinks they understand him, who acknowledges him as one of the great souls of our time (which is just about every western leader), I challenge you in the form of a question.  Please explain how we, the defenders of the Mavi Marmara, are not the modern example of Gandhi’s essence?  But first read the words of Gandhi himself.

I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence…. I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour. – Gandhi

And lastly I have one more challenge. I challenge any critic of merit, publicly, to debate me on a large stage over our actions that day.  I would especially love to debate with any Israeli leader who accuses us of wrongdoing, it would be my tremendous pleasure to face off with you.  All I saw in Israel was cowards with guns, so I am ripe to see you in a new context.  I want to debate with you on the largest stage possible.  Take that as an open challenge and let us see just how brave Israeli leaders are.

h/t Australians for Palestine

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77 comments on “Ken O’Keefe: ‘We, the defenders of the Mavi Marmara, are the modern example of Gandhi’s essence’

  1. Bridget Dunne
    6 June, 2010

    IDF are claiming O’Keefe is a terrorist!

    “Ken O’Keefe was also accused by the IDF of having ties to terror. O’Keefe (41), who holds US and British citizenship, was described by the IDF as an “extreme Israel-hating activist, Hamas activist. His aim was to reach Gaza for training and to set up commando units for Hamas.”

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3899960,00.html

  2. Idrees
    6 June, 2010

    They would,now. Wouldn’t they?

  3. maia
    6 June, 2010

    i got to know ken pretty well back when i helped him with the human shield action to iraq and know him to be the absolute antithesis of a terrorist!

    ken, if you see this, please email me… i’m still, as ever, willing to help in any way i can, to free those who are denied their human rights and am working to establish a global peace center here on tinian… hope to hear from you soon and hope you’re recovered from your hatefully-inflicted injuries…

    love and healing hugs, maia

  4. Pingback: Israel Declares US Citizen on Aid Ship a ‘Terrorist’ -- News from Antiwar.com

  5. Pingback: “All I saw in Israel was cowards with guns” — War in Context

  6. demize!
    7 June, 2010

    You are a real hero Sir. Our children should emulate men such as you. I salute you.

  7. Goldstone
    7 June, 2010

    I don’t use the word hero much I feel inspired by Ken in a way I haven’t in a long time.

    Wouldn’t Mr. O’Keefe be the last person you want training your commando units? The prime mover of the TJP (“human shields” Iraq movement?

  8. P S Younus
    7 June, 2010

    I have always believed that the American people represent their Government. There are no good Americans or bad Americans. But when I read about Mr.O’Keefe, perhaps I was wrong. There are some who don’t represent their Government. Salute!

  9. Abbudi
    7 June, 2010

    Bridget Your comment is just annoying!
    Google this guy and see what he has been doing in the last decade! Nothing but good to humanity, here are examples!:

    The hawaiian issue and the american hypocrisy – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbRXF64YotE

    Ken O’Keefe BBC Hardtalk Jan. 2003 during the war on IRaq and the Protest – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ac3hhxEql4

    Ken O’Keefe – CNN Jan. 2003 – TJP Human Shields Iraq – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arYKV1KiCUA

  10. Jonas
    7 June, 2010

    Well, wath obout videos with Israeli soldiers thrown from the ship, beaten with iron bats etc?

    Who did that? Ghandi like peacekeepers? I don’t think so.

  11. Truth
    7 June, 2010

    You hateful Zionists really need to think of something better than that. Poor Israeli SOLDIERS? Soldiers that shot to death 9 peace activists, one of them a 19 year old young man? They are so defenseless those poor Israeli soldiers. My heart BLEEDS for them.

  12. Robin Yassin-Kassab
    7 June, 2010

    I don’t think Bridget is supportive of the Israeli propaganda, Abbudi.

  13. Robin Yassin-Kassab
    7 June, 2010

    If a ship is boarded by soldiers in international waters, it is quite right for those on board to resist. It’s called self-defence.

  14. anuar
    7 June, 2010

    i salute you Mr O’Keefe.

    you are very brave defending yourself and the ship aid contents.

    Only cowards fight civilian with guns. Israelis are coward forever.

  15. Bridget Dunne
    7 June, 2010

    Abbudi I didn’t mean to annoy by posting the link to what the lying liars of the State of Israel were saying about Ken – it was done in the spirit of alerting people to the Israeli propaganda machine. I salute Ken’s courage and humanity.

  16. Sigurd
    7 June, 2010

    The israeli soldiers attacked a ship in international waters, their ships cargo was confiscated and
    nine(?) people shot dead.
    In a situation like that the activists would be in their full right to resist this violation of international law.

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  18. Pingback: Ken O’Keefe: ‘We, the defenders of the Mavi Marmara, are the modern example of Gandhi’s essence’ | ReDiscover 9/11

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  20. Dean
    7 June, 2010

    I have to respectfully disagree here. I do not want to disrespect the memory of our martyrs, bless their souls. But we do have to cease and desist giving Israel fodder for propaganda and practice strict – should we say authoritarian? – non violence. Non violence means no physical resistance. Ever. Period. Supposedly that’s what everyone agreed to among themselves before they set sail, and that’s what they advertised to the media.

    The same applies to rockets fired at Southern Israel. The international community has now asserted itself between Palestine and Israel, and therefore I believe it is counterproductive and destructive to the peace movement to have individual demonstrators and/or Palestinian resisters resorting to violence as a means towards peaceful ends.

    The means employed become the ends. Take Irgun for example. Irgun’s means will become Israel’s end.

    In this case it’s not legitimately termed self-defense. These are not London Bobbies. They are trained killers. They do not have any crowd management skills or sense.

    The fact that Israel met civil resistance with military force is enough to make the case to the international community.

    These deaths were unnecessary and – sad to say – to be expected as a military response to violent resistance.

    It’s all well and good for me to sit here make judgments in my underwear in a big comfy chair from the suburbs of the capitol of the empire, but violence discredits any side that resorts to it. And it needs to stop from everyone on the side of peace immediately. We can’t say, “well they did it, so we did it too.” We are not three years old.

    I also realize that no one in the movements has authority to tell anyone else what to do, but I think we have a responsibility to each other not to get each other killed first of all.

    Second, we have an obligation to demonstrate an alternative to violence and to set an example which will shame Israel even more.

    It’s hard enough to explain Palestine’s case without having to explain to the jury why the violence continues beside a a world-wide call for peace.

    If you think there is value in having martyrs for the cause – if you calculate that as the cost of doing business in resistance and rationalize it – please reconsider seriously. It may produce short term attention, but it will bury the real issue for ordinary people.

  21. Pingback: Israel Declares US Citizen on Aid Ship a ‘Terrorist’ | NWOTruth

  22. TBT
    7 June, 2010

    Hero

  23. Marc
    7 June, 2010

    Its called defending yourself jonas and fighting for your life against live bullets!!!! i will have no sympathy for israel in which i had until what they did against a humanitarian aid ship in international waters. shame on you israel!

  24. heyman
    7 June, 2010

    Give me a break if another nation was headed towards our country and our military blew em outta the water deep in our hearts we would feel safe even if bsers would say otherwise. You know this country is at war then a simple rule to be safe is ” Stay the hell away and let them deal with there own problems” All activists are just as hypocritical as the governments they fight.

  25. Eddy
    7 June, 2010

    This man is incredible. Been doing research on him for 2 days now. What a remarkable human being, he put’s us to shame.

    I realy hope the world takes notice of this, I’m going to make 2010 the year of the Palestinians for myself.

    God bless him.

  26. Dean
    7 June, 2010

    Nice one, heyman. By saying “our country” with that attitude I have to assume you’re a fellow American. No wonder O’Keefe renounced his citizenship. You make me want to follow his example.

    Thanks for representing the US in a forum with an international readership where the audience equates “our country” with US exceptionalism.

    You’re not tone deaf. You’re pitch perfect for an American.

  27. Idrees
    7 June, 2010

    I do not want to disrespect the memory of our martyrs, bless their souls. But…

    It’s all well and good for me to sit here make judgments in my underwear in a big comfy chair from the suburbs of the capitol of the empire, but violence discredits any side that resorts to it.

    ‘But…’ usually means I’ll do just what I have promised not to. This case is no exception. You proceed to disrespect and slander the martyrs by alleging that they have discredited the cause.

    As a matter of fact, other than Israel and its apologists, no body has ever doubted the merits of the cause. The justness of the cause is independent of the means that someone might employ for realizing it. Even if people on the flotilla had employed questionable means (they did not), it would have no bearing whatsoever on the merits of the cause.

    The purpose of the flotilla was to draw attention to the injustices and oppression of the siege. It succeeded. It has put it at the centre of the whole world’s attention for over a week. This happened precisely because the Turks resisted. There is nothing noble about non-resistance. It does nothing more than passively enable oppression.

  28. patricia mc guigan
    7 June, 2010

    here, here!!

  29. Pingback: O’Keefe: Gandhi would have defended the Mavi Marmara

  30. Roger
    7 June, 2010

    Israel has lost he moral high ground in the battle of global opinion.

    Anybody who does not agree with them is either anti- semetic or a terrorist.

    They need to cover widely the people who were on the ship and there backgrounds.

    It’s high time US kicked this problem child- albeit seriously psychotic and deranged one, to the curb.

  31. Dean
    7 June, 2010

    As a matter of fact, other than Israel and its apologists, no body has ever doubted the merits of the cause.

    Do you mean no one with similar beliefs to yours? The last survey I saw of the US public on the merits of the Palestinian cause gave it to the AIPAC the side by fifteen or twenty percent. Apparently more work needs to be done publishing the merits of the cause. Someone is beating someone in public perception.

    The people on the flotilla did employ questionable means, and that has direct bearing on public perception of the cause. I don’t see how you can bifurcate the two issues.

    Videos show activists practicing to repel boarders with sticks and chairs before the assault began, therefore we can deduce that their actions were not a spontaneous reaction to Israeli aggression but were well premeditated and coordinated. Do you think that was wise?

    If you plan an attack on someone else, then how can you turn around and claim you were just defending yourself? The practice swings clearly show that activists were planning to attack / repel any boarders. What did they think would happen?

    I don’t suppose you would like to condemn or condone rocket attacks on Sideron. Are those also correctly categorized as self defense?

    Where exactly does one stop on the slippery slope of using violence?

    You think those rockets have no impact on the merits of the Palestinian cause in public perception?

  32. Idrees
    7 June, 2010

    There were no rockets for 40 years. There was stil no impact on public perception. That is not because the cause has no merit. It is because the media paints a different picture, regardless of how Palestinians behave.

    As for the Mavi Marmara, I can only salute the courage and dignity of those on board. They did us all proud. Instead of meaningless symbolic action, they actually achieved something.

    P.s. It is also good to see that unlike in the US, in the rest of the world no one confuses Ben Kinglsey for Gandhi.

  33. Amna
    7 June, 2010

    >>Well, wath obout videos with Israeli soldiers thrown from the ship, beaten with iron bats etc?>>

    Those, who forcefully try to take control of the ship in international waters, should be shot between eyes.

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  35. Sophia
    7 June, 2010

    That video was issued by Israelis and they did not allow any other information to be released that could show that they started shooting before landing on the boat and those on the boat were acting in self-defense. Also, it was illegal of them to land that ship in international waters, if you had people enter your house illegally with guns and bombs, what would your reaction be?

  36. Pingback: New Photos Refute IDF Account of Flotilla Incident | Diplomacy

  37. Amna
    7 June, 2010

    >>But we do have to cease and desist giving Israel fodder for propaganda and practice strict – should we say authoritarian?>>

    who bothers about their lies and who is dumb enough to fall for it??

    >>non violence. Non violence means no physical resistance. Ever. Period??

    according to ur logic then sending an aid ship – physical resistance against gaze blockade – should also be termed as voilence?

    Outside Israel, if a victim chooses to physically stop voilence against hislef – is not considered voilent.

    PPl on board tried to “stop” the voilence (to stop aid ship reaching from its destination) of soldiers, who attacked their ship in the dark of night with real ammunition.

    FYI sometimes for attaining peace you need to resort to armed struggle against your aggressor and since this incident has clearly exposed that a lawless state need to be subjected to international law then whatever means are required to attain that objective – should be employed.

  38. stevieb
    7 June, 2010

    Dean “I don’t want to disrespect the martyrs”,

    -What organization do you represent, brother?

  39. Amna
    7 June, 2010

    Not to forget him.

    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/06/american-activist-detained-by-israel-tell-his-story/

    Paul Larudee, an American citizen and longtime pro-Palestinian activist, was on board one of the ships carrying humanitarian relief to Gaza that was raided by the Israeli navy on Monday. He dove into the Mediterranean Sea, only to be captured and held in an Israeli prison for two days.

    This was not Larudee’s first brush with Israeli authorities, but it was easily his most dramatic. He spoke with Salon about the raid and his captivity this afternoon from Greece, where he arrived after being released by Israel.

  40. ExposeNWO
    7 June, 2010

    We live in the post 9-11 New World Order and in fighting the imaginary War on Terror any government official that has an agenda can claim that you are a terrorist, detain you indefinitely, torture you and hold you without charges forever.
    This is just a drop in the bucket.

    We are not freer or safer just more highly controlled and surveilled. Humanitarians need permission from the State to exist., otherwise this will be your fate.

  41. Shimona
    7 June, 2010

    What, pray, is the relevence of one of the so-called “peace activists” being a 19 year old young man? The Israeli commandos were probably about the same age, given the age of military service in Israel.
    The “peace activists” (how dare they call themselves that?) attacked first and in the end, the Israelis had no alternative but to open fire to save their own lives. These were no peace activists, but extremist Islamic provocateurs. They’re lucky the commandos showed such restraint and only killed 9 of them.

  42. Idrees
    7 June, 2010

    What, pray, is the relevence of one of the so-called “peace activists” being a 19 year old young man?

    That he was doing something more useful for his age than say carrying a lethal weapon?

    The Israeli commandos were probably about the same age, given the age of military service in Israel.

    So Israelis are precocious murderers? Hardly anything to be proud of.

    The “peace activists” (how dare they call themselves that?) attacked first and in the end, the Israelis had no alternative but to open fire to save their own lives.

    You mean the ship chased a helicopter and attacked it? What with? Plum tomatoes?

    These were no peace activists, but extremist Islamic provocateurs.

    Yes, Kenneth O’Keefe is a name rather common among Islamic extremists.

    They’re lucky the commandos showed such restraint and only killed 9 of them.

    Yes, they are lucky. So many unarmed civilians, and they only kill 9? That’s so un-Israeli.

  43. Shimona
    7 June, 2010

    One of the videos showing that the “Peace activists” attacked first, came, in fact, from the security cameras on board the ship, which was running live, because they hoped to show the world how evil the Israelis were. Unfortunately for them, it proves the Israeli case. Because if shots had been fired by the Israelis BEFORE landing on the ship, you can be damn sure it would have been broadcast by the live feed. The “peace activists” would never have missed a photo opportunity like that.

  44. Shimona
    7 June, 2010

    “Unarmed humanitarian activists”???ROTFLMAO!
    What would you call crowbars, stun grenades, iron chains and knives then?

  45. Greg Lee
    7 June, 2010

    Ok, just FYI:

    Israeli navy attacked passenger ships in international waters. According to the 3rd article of the Rome Convention on illegal acts against maritime traffic safety, from the year 1988, a ship’s occupation by force is considered an international crime, also a crime, wounding or killing a person in such an act. The Agreement also explicitly sanctions that attackers CANNOT rely on self-defense argument, if passengers of the ship are to resist against the illegal occupation of the ship.

    In addition: Israel signed this Agreement on September 30th 2002.

  46. Idrees
    7 June, 2010

    Household appliances. You?

  47. Idrees
    7 June, 2010

    Really? A security camera showed the ship invading Israel and attacking a helicopter which was going its own way?

  48. Robin Yassin-Kassab
    7 June, 2010

    How exactly has the ‘international community’ asserted itself between Palestine and Israel?

    Please give one example in which non-violence by itself has liberated a country or people from colonialism and oppression.

    Your comparison of Irgun violence with Hamas violence is quite absurd. It’s the kind of liberal nonsense that erases distinction between oppressor and oppressed. Israel did not end up racist and criminal as a result of a long process starting with the Irgun. It was racist and criminal from the very start. The Irgun, and the Zionist movement, did not aim to liberate people from foreign occupation and ethnic cleansing; they aimed to impose these things.

    “It’s hard enough to explain Palestine’s case without having to explain to the jury why the violence continues beside a a world-wide call for peace.” – There is a worldwide call for peace but not for justice, not yet. And without justice there can be no peace. A large majority of Israeli Jews say they want peace, and they surely do – their peace means Palestinian submission.

    When tens of unarmed Palestinian kids were murdered every day at the start of the second Intifada the American media wondered why Arab mothers don’t love their children. It was the fault of the non-violent, not the fault of the violent. When the Palestinians used suicide bombers Americans wondered why they were so primitive they couldnt use conventional weaponry. When they built their own rockets and sent them to the colonists in southern occupied Palestine, the American media redoubled their ‘terrorist’ labelling. And the US is not a community of Zen Buddhists. It understands the need for violence when it wants to. If you’re finding it hard to understand the lobby and the racist and Islamophobic media discourse which demonise anything the Palestinians do, then you won’t be able to explain anything to anyone, or to be of any use at all. You seem like a nice chap with your heart in the right place, but I can’t agree with your wooly idealism.

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  51. Robin
    8 June, 2010

    Videos from the ship’s security cameras that Israel released appear to show passengers ducking to avoid incoming fire well before any soldiers came aboard. Also, Israeli commandos admitted in a story on JPost that they fired stun grenades and “warning shots” prior to boarding.

    By their own evidence and statements, they (a) did fire first and (b) could not have reasonably been surprised at the absence of a calm response to the boarding commandos.

  52. steve
    8 June, 2010

    household aplliances? Try swinging or holding some of those appliances in front of a policeman….lol

  53. Idrees
    8 June, 2010

    I swing them quite often at my home. I’m armed and dangerous when I chop tomatoes. Fortunately no policeman, let alone a foreign soldier, barges into my home without a warrant and fires automatic assault rifles. If they did I’d be well within my rights to use any part of unassembled Ikea home decor I can lay my hand on.

  54. Barry
    8 June, 2010

    O’Keefe to the contrary, Gandhi was very clear in calling on those who would engage in civil disobedience never to oppose violence with violence. When some of Gandhi’s followers attacked a police station in 1922, he suspended the civil disobedience campaign, and he said he viewed British fear of violence as a sign of his own failure. [3] In stark contrast, we have seen little anguish among Free Gaza Movement leaders over the Mavi Marmara activists’ tactics, no suggestion that perhaps some of them fell short of their proclaimed principles, only justification of their right to self-defense.

    Gandhi’s strategy of nonviolence was consistent with his broader aim of freeing India in a manner that would ennoble it and show “a way out” of violence to a world that was “sick unto death of blood-spilling”. He wrote the British viceroy, “My ambition is no less than to convert the British people through nonviolence”. Forswearing hatred, he proclaimed, “India’s greatest glory will consist not in regarding Englishmen as her implacable enemies … but in turning them into friends and partners …” Gandhi understood that such a transformation demanded a willingness to empathize with and reach out to the other side: “A man who is truthful will … try to understand the viewpoints of his opponents and will always keep an open mind and seek every opportunity of serving his opponents.”[4]

    What has the Free Gaza Movement done to demonstrate understanding of Israeli concerns and open Israeli hearts? The family of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held in Gaza, says that the Movement refused their request to ask Hamas to allow Shalit to receive letters and food packages and to allow international organizations to visit him.[5] An Al-Jazeera video shows men on the flotilla before their departure threatening Jews in a chant that recalls an eighth century battle: “Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!”[6] Is it any wonder that Israelis should perceive the Free Gaza activists as enemies and respond accordingly?

    At this writing, it seems likely that some arrangement will be devised to increase the flow of goods to Gaza. If that occurs, the Free Gaza Movement, for all its flaws, might be credited not only with a victory for Gaza, but also possibly a modest contribution to peace. We can hope that alleviating Gazans’ suffering and isolation will ultimately reduce their support for Hamas and that Palestinians take to heart the lesson that less violent (if not nonviolent) tactics can be more effective than rocket attacks and suicide bombings.

    But consider the costs to peace of the confrontation on the Mavi Marmara and the Free Gaza Movement’s strategy of appealing to an international audience rather than to Israeli hearts. First, the narrative of heroic martyrs and bloodthirsty Zionists that dominates the Arab media in the confrontation’s aftermath only encourages more violent strategies. The growing international pressure on Israel may or may not succeed in breaking the blockade, but in the minds of many Israelis, who do not forget Hamas’s rocket attacks and its genocidal charter, this pressure has already confirmed a sense that the world is hypocritical and does not care about Jewish lives, and that they can only count on themselves to safeguard themselves. Some may think this mindset is delusional, others that it is realistic, but does anybody believe that confirming it advances the prospects for peace?

    It should not be too difficult for the creative people who lead the Free Gaza Movement to come up with ways of ameliorating these negative consequences. They could attempt to deliver a package to Shalit. They could pay a visit to some of the mosques where preachers routinely call Jews the “descendents of apes and pigs,” or to the media outlets that broadcast these sermons, and announce a fast against such bigotry. They could find some dramatic way to demonstrate opposition to the loud calls in recent days for a violent response to the Mavi Marmara incident. Alas, it is much easier for all of us to wallow in self-righteousness and focus on the other side’s evil than it is to address the failings of our own side or those we identify with. This was another one of Gandhi’s lessons. Those who would claim his mantle must follow his example in recognizing that the capacity for cruelty is a shared human condition, continually scrutinizing their own motives, and combating violent and dehumanizing stances toward the other side.

  55. Idrees
    8 June, 2010

    O’Keefe to the contrary, Gandhi was very clear in calling on those who would engage in civil disobedience never to oppose violence with violence.

    You are talking about Ben Kingsley. Gandhi said there was nothing more disgraceful than to endure oppression quietly.

    When some of Gandhi’s followers attacked a police station in 1922…

    So you are saying the flotilla invaded Israel and attacked soldiers who were minding their own business?

    In stark contrast, we have seen little anguish among Free Gaza Movement leaders over the Mavi Marmara activists’ tactics,

    Are you serious? You mean they should anguish over the fact that they got shot trying to assist a besieged and oppressed people?

    no suggestion that perhaps some of them fell short of their proclaimed principles, only justification of their right to self-defense.

    Don’t know how far up your ass your head has to be to write this solipsistic, narcissistic bullcrap. So activism is all about ‘me’. It isn’t about ‘them’: the ones we are out to assist? So forget the fact that through their sacrifice these heroes drew the whole world’s attention to the suffering of the million and a half Gazans. We must instead condem them because they violated some phoney liberal’s code which demands that we all allow ourselves to be stepped on and kicked about by bullies. Wonderful message.

  56. steve
    8 June, 2010

    Stun grenades and chopped tomatoes. Interesting salad.
    The Israeli’s can barge onto that ship as surely as the USA could have barged onto a Russian freighter during the missile crisis.

  57. A
    8 June, 2010

    Irrelevant sermon. The best Israel’s terrorit govt could have done after this incident should be that they had showed regret over the deaths of PEACE ACTIVISTS and should have lifted the blockade of Gaza to pay homage to the deadones but expecting this from a state which has faile dto show a single HUMANLY since its creation is a FOOL’s dream.

    Now spare the world, which believes in Justice and equality for all, from rehtoric about ethics\laws. If you have anything to say then SPEAK about the actions of zionists’ lawsless govt.

  58. Pingback: J Street on “peace” | Jewbonics

  59. Dylan
    9 June, 2010

    According to Jews whos against Israel is terrorist :)
    You killed 8 Turkish, 1 American citizen and more than 30 activist injured.
    Yesterday another American citizen, Emma(Art student) hit by gas bomb and lost her eye.

    We now know that Israel army is very strong.
    Against defenseless people…

  60. Pingback: J STREET ON “PEACE” | Shoah

  61. anuar
    9 June, 2010

    for those who support israel…one day u will feel the feeling of the activist if:

    somebody armed come to your own house without permission.

    he suddenly want u to show your ID, and begin to check your belongings.

    he want to rob u and u want to fight but are so armless. u grab knives, chairs etc and he injured

    suddenly u are call a terrorist by protecting your right ..

    what do you feel? think twice

  62. steve
    9 June, 2010

    Jeepers, it is an embargo, on land and sea. Israel does the sea part, Egypt the land. They don’t allow uninspected traffic into that area…..what’s so hard to understand?

  63. Al-Sanea
    9 June, 2010

    I am a person who appreciates other seekers of truth who don’t swallow the BS that everyone around them is trying to feed them. I respect their struggle and show of courage against all intimidation especially when they don’t have to. So I salute you O’Keefe along with all the others who are like you.

    As for all of you Zionists hasbara, your fabricated videos, audios and stories that you’re trying to disseminate all over the place wont deceive the people outside the MENA region as it used to be before thanks to many vigilant and credible individuals, bloggers and non-mainstream media such as Al Jazeera English, pulsemedia.org, mondoweiss.net who still have conscience.

  64. Idrees
    9 June, 2010

    You forgot whose stun grenade it was.

    You’re right. There is plenty in common between slingshots and nuclear missiles.

  65. Al-Sanea
    9 June, 2010

    And that’s your justification for all the killings and suffering they caused so far? I mean I won’t go over the details and talk about how all of these aid ships were inspected by countries considered allies of Israel before they set sail or the difference between an embargo and a blockade or even the legality of Israel’s collective punishment of Gaza but darn if that’s what an “embargo” is like then I guess it’s fine then.

  66. Pingback: Did Erdogan knew the sail would be violent?

  67. steve
    9 June, 2010

    Fabricated….lol. Talk to Reuters to see some fine fabrications.

  68. michael
    9 June, 2010

    Why does this fascist israeli government think it represents all jews and has a monopoly on interpreting the holocaust. The starving jews corralled into the Warsaw ghetto in 1944 rose up against the Nazis surely knowing they would lose. They are universally considered heroes. Why are the gazans terrorists when they are in a similar situation. Indeed the IDF studied Nazi methods used in the Warsaw ghetto in setting up the Gaza blockade. Shame on us Americans that we know so little and support attacks by a government that clearly makes mockery of American ideals. If Israel is a democracy, it clearly is so only for those jews who believe and condone its criminal apartheid like actions. If prominent jews like Dr. Chomsky and Dr. Finkelstein are denied access into Israel it is self evident how non-democratic Israel has become. With a criminal convicted former bouncer as its foreign minister and a government that clearly is planning the expulsion of all Arabic speaking people confessing a different faith than right wing zionism, we are clearly not dealing with a democracy, which should treat all its citizens equally, including those it has conquered for 43 years and is unwilling to treat like humans.

    The majority of those who dare speak oput against Israeli atrocities are jews themselves.

    it is time we speak and analyse the ideological wars among jews themselves–a great topic for the public media in the US.

    We need more freedom flotillas, more BDS and more accountabiloity by our public media and our government all of whom are Netanyahu’s poodles.

  69. Al-Sanea
    9 June, 2010
  70. Pingback: Norman G. Finkelstein » Mahatma Speaks!

  71. steve
    10 June, 2010

    typical….

  72. Jennifer G.
    10 June, 2010

    Imagine if other countries had sent humanitarian aid to the Jews (and other oppressed folk) in concentration camps, and Germany had attacked the flotillas, claiming they should “stay away and leave us alone”…We need more flotillas to head towards Israel. Who cares if Israel is saying “go away, leave us alone,” as if it’s no one else’s business that they are harming another group of people.
    Thanks for your comment, Michael

  73. Pingback: Free Gaza flottan -uppdaterar efterspelet « Isaskar

  74. Mike Gogulski
    12 June, 2010

    Bravo for Press TV saying “abducted” rather than “captured”.

  75. Ann
    13 June, 2010

    Press Release from Aloha Palestine — the organization O’Keefe co-founded: IDF Accuses Ken O’Keefe of being an ‘Active Terror Operative’

    Here is an excerpt from Part One of the Press Release:

    Ken was transferred to Ben Gurion Airport on Wednesday and was due to be deported by the Israeli authorities to Istanbul, then repatriated to Dublin by the Irish officials. He refused deportation and demanded that he be sent to Gaza, or the Occupied Palestinian Territories, using his Palestinian travel documents (he was awarded Palestinian citizenship when he captained one of the two Free Gaza boats into Gaza in August 2008). The Israelis acknowledged that he is a Palestinian citizen, but refused his demand on the basis that his passport was invalid since it had not been registered.

    The general atmosphere in the airport on Wednesday was quite chaotic, and a scuffle broke out. Ken was bashed on the forehead and then badly beaten by the Israeli officials/police. He sustaineds a large bloody gash on his head, and some bruised ribs. When I spoke with him he had a hoarse, croaky voice. He had been put in a head lock until he nearly passed out. His aggressor released Ken at the last possible moment. Ken refused medical attention because he was not allowed access to a lawyer, nor was he being allowed to make phone calls.

    On Thursday Ken’s case went before a judge who ruled that he be detained pending deportation (Ken wanted to be released without charge).

    Having already been complaining of dizziness following his first beating by Israeli police, Ken was beaten again that night in his cell. Again, he has refused treatment for his injuries. Ken was unable to eat for a few days as his throat was sore following being held in a head lock on Wednesday.

    He wanted to appeal his deportation and go to Gaza, but his solicitor advised him that for his own safety he should leave Israel. The longer he stayed, the greater the detriment to his health. On Friday morning he signed his Emergency Travel Documents provided to him by the Irish Consulate and was booked onto a flight to Istanbul.

    Israeli officials asked him to clean himself up as his face was bloody and he was quite dishevelled. He refused, as he wanted the world to see what had happened to him. The officials threatened to keep him in custody unless he co-operated, but he called their bluff, and was allowed to board his flight to Istanbul as he was. He was met by Irish Embassy staff and a press conference. He also gave an interview with Turkish newspaper the Hurriyet, which was featured on the front page. Prior to the press conference he had issued the following statement:

    “I want to discuss my role in defending the ship and disarming two Israeli commandos along with conditions and treatment while in Israeli custody, including two beatings at the hands of Israeli agents.”

    Ken will depart Istanbul on Wednesday 9th June for Dublin, where he will stay for two days before returning home to his wife and baby son on Friday 11th June.

  76. Halina
    28 June, 2010

    Kenneth,

    I admire your courage. I hope that there are more people like you.
    Are there any?

    I wish you lots of luck.
    Take care

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This entry was posted on 6 June, 2010 by in Israel, Palestine, People power and tagged .

Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"


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