Archive for the ‘“Israel”’ Category

scene from a big fish story

This article was one of the most popular on Palestine Think Tank, and one of the most controversial. It examined “our” world of activism, and how the claims of an “alarm and emergency”, unchecked and unverified, lead to an incident that cast a negative light on all the hard work that many people around the world are doing, and worse, putting the true victims of Zionism, the Palestinians, in the shadows. We reprint it due to great request (the photos and comments from the original site shall follow), as members of the community are once again unsuspecting protagonists in another “big fish story” with a different tack of obtaining attention and accolades. Within the coming weeks, the entire PTT archives will be transferred here. We must inform our readers that since this, Ken O’Keefe has finally admitted that he is indeed NOT a former US citizen, but that yes, he does travel on a valid USA passport. So, his top claim to integrity finally has been shown for what it is, nothing! If Truth matters, one must be truthful. Facts have an odd way of always coming to the surface.

Recent events regarding the setbacks that involved the Road to Hope convoy had made an impact on the activist world in an extremely negative way. That the mission was (finally) successful after such dramatic events is positive and undeniable, yet in light of information that had been gathered from as many sources as possible, a picture emerged which may change the interpretation of what it is that we are witnessing and make us question the utilisation of our activists in disseminating unverified information which, when held up to scrutiny, reveals a totally different set of affairs. One where what actually happened was that those who had initially been accused of the worst deeds had done everything necessary to avoid the real risk of a major international crisis due to the recklessness of some, and those who many judge as heroic instead might actually have been the cause of a series of events that would have been the centre of a lengthy diplomatic crisis and possibly extensive time in detention for many, with Gaza being pushed to the corner, had things taken a different turn and other decisions made.

This report of the RTH “boat incident” attempts to shed light on what was a nebulous situation, full of contradiction, disinformation, erroneous information, extensive calls for sending money to places that were not the organisation itself and now it has become a penal case that will unfold in due time. This report is in no way attempting to represent any party directly involved, and as a matter of fact, it was made possible by means of contributions from very many parties and from the information that was freely shared on several social networks (in the public domain). There was no pressure to publish or withhold information, and as will become evident, some parties were generous in making themselves available, and others refused to do so unless their unacceptable conditions were met. Even the matter of asking the “other side” for their version was treated as if it were a betrayal to truth, and efforts were made by some to stop this from even happening by spreading the most vile and insulting lies regarding this writer and anyone at all who dared to want to know information. (This writer and anyone else who dared to question were accused without the slightest moment of pause as being “paid agents for the CIA, the Mossad or the MI5”. Yeah, sure!)

Every party involved was given the same opportunity to be interviewed under the same conditions and no preference was given to anyone who might then in some way control or limit our freedom in objectively assessing the event and its aftermath. It is our hope to shed light on a very crucial matter concerning all of us, and which has involved many in an emotional, economic and political way and which may bear repercussions on future interventions in favour of Palestine.

When a project fails or flounders, analysis for correction and re-planning is the obvious course. Possibly, bringing a humanitarian convoy to Gaza by means of a land transfer via Egypt was doomed to failure from the outset. Road to Hope’s purpose is admirable, but a lack of logistic intelligence combined with other factors undermined the entire enterprise. Currently, in practice, flotillas are organised precisely because of the existence of Egyptian protocol that allows goods to arrive exclusively in its port at Al Arish, where, with Egypt’s good offices and the correct documentation, the delivery of the materials will be completed. There is a total block on entry via land. Every successful mission so far has had this as the leitmotif, a recognition of what the “rules” are and have been logistically organised with that in mind.

It had been suggested in the calls for participation by RTH, implicitly or explicitly, that all the arrangements were in place to make the trip by land. Further, calls to join the convoy, which arrived in many of our email boxes, stated that all that was needed were vehicles to take part. “Paperwork” would be left to the organisation. If the original organisers were aware or not of the Egyptian position, that pales with what seems to have struck the organisation since control of it was assumed by activist, Ken O’Keefe.

This overview of events, not all-encompassing, attempts, paramountly, to be objective, highlighting several vital points. The first, that the just and honourable purpose of Road to Hope should not be tarnished by the recklessness of a few, and that there still may be time for the organisation to re-assess and regain self-responsibility. Secondly, plans and efforts made in activism, should also be backed by clear strategic thinking, encompassing areas such as coordination of fundraising, public relations, logistics and, though possibly secondary, a unified, identifiable political strategy. Time spent in “damage control” and “contingency and emergency” is time wasted, to be used sparingly, if at all.

Fundamentally vital is assuring public support and positive media attention by commitment to transparency and accountability. Activists must be serious, reliable and transparent. They also must maintain their actions within international law.

All who are passionately concerned wish to be involved in some way, but most do not have the “chance” to actively take part. If you are in Australia or Japan, caring deeply about Palestine, without the possibility or power to participate personally, you know that you CAN do something, you can join the “information war”, you can contribute economically to the initiatives of others. You can fundraise locally, give talks, knowing your funds will be directed into something “practical.” In this case, a convoy that will seek to break the siege against Gaza.

Since few activists are full-time (like any other “job”, it requires financing) the majority donate energies, money and time. Those who took part in the convoy raised funds, left families, homes and jobs for an unspecified period of time and entrusted the logistics of the mission to a leader or leaders. Those remaining home, contributed by following the news and making calls necessary to further the convoy’s journey. Thus, there is a responsibility by both groups of activists, those able to make themselves available personally, and those who are unable, but who also have a role to play in the success of the enterprise.

It should be mentioned here that RTH did not have the same leader from its inception. At a certain point, it simply changed leadership. How did Ken O’Keefe take part in this convoy? From his site http://kenokeefe.wordpress.com/2010/11/18/road-to-hope-convoy-kidnapping-statement-of-events-by-ken-okeefe/ we read this excerpt (complete quote in footnote)
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“Whatever people may believe, I did not want nor ask for this position, nonetheless I accepted it and have done my best to help keep this convoy together and to ensure its success. Having taken this role as late as I did I fully realised that it was impossible to undo past mistakes, so moving forward I have done my best to see the convoy reach Gaza, with or without me.”[i]
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Leaders are not dictators nor are they the purpose of any organisation. If they make decisions or undertake actions contrary to the purposes of the organisation, if they bring the project to ridicule or needless waste, they should, arguably, be held accountable.

Whether decisions are by consensus or delegated to a leader/leaders, is a question that arises within activism. Consensus can be granted or denied. It is up to RTH as an organisation to judge their personal balance sheet of gains/losses in terms of image, money, reliability, effectiveness. That said, Ken O’Keefe and others had flown directly to Libya and were not part of the land convoy up until arriving at the termination of the land journey, thus had not shared the experiences of the core group.

The first alarm bells for those who were unaware of the “internal crisis” started to ring when the convoy was being held for a particularly lengthy period of time in Libya. Apparently, the guaranteed passage was not happening, so activists were instructed to call and write the Egyptian Embassy to demand (those were the words) the convoy’s passage. In the appeal http://www.facebook.cDemand-Egypt-let-the-Road-to-Hope-convoy-through/163486290350119?ref=mf, which had appeared multiple times in the inbox of almost every activist on Facebook, we were asked to inform Egypt that we would start campaigns to boycott Egyptian tourism if the demand was not met. Aside from the fact that this would punish the Egyptian people and not the regime, it has never been a demand by any Egyptian activist for Palestine, because they are aware it would only weaken them in an already difficult situation where they are prohibited from personally being as active in support to their neighbours in Gaza as they would like to be. Nor is it a feasible strategy when we cannot even get the boycott against Israel to have global relevance. It would be aiming and shooting at our best allies, the Arab people who are the most sympathetic to the cause. Strategically, in our view, this is unwise. Also to the point, Gazans themselves do not want to bring any negative actions against Egyptians. The political leader of Hamas himself has stated:

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“We have limited our resistance to be in opposition to the Israeli occupation alone. Our resistance is against the enemy occupying our land and encroaching on our people and holy sites, and not against anyone else.” Khaled Meshaal.[ii]

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So, not only can this position be considered as ineffective, it also clashes with demands of those directly interested.

Ken O’Keefe had something to say about the stall.[iii] It seems the “understanding” of passage was not what was reality held in store, and Convoy Leader Keiran Turner had a plan, to press on without permission or deliver aid by sea.[iv]

Every activist agrees that the policy of closure to Gaza is wrong, and if it was understood that there was going to be a policy change of some sort, all of this should be taken into consideration for future actions and in the RTH assessment of their route. If they were mislead that there was going to be an exception to the rule, they should hold the persons accountable for having lead them down the garden path and into the Libyan desert. However, as wrong as the closure is, crossing a border without permission is not an act of civil disobedience, it is violation of an international law and there would be consequences that perhaps those who first began RTH were not seeking, which would entail violating the law in a foreign country while there on a temporary visa for passage purposes. It is certainly not a situation that anyone setting out had added into their calculations. The organisation itself emphasised the need to maintain outstanding relations as temporary guests:

“It has always been a central aspect of the Road to Hope convoy that it acts in a non-political, non-confrontational manner. To work with and cooperate with every government in every country through which it travelled.”[v]

When all seemed to be lost, messages became more and more frequent from the leaders of the convoy who were in Libya and they were specifying the arrival of something they called “confrontation time”[vi]. I leave it up to you to define the term, but let it be said that many activists were wondering how this was going to be carried out, by whom, against whom and what the effects would be. A video is also available which alludes several times to the “hope” that there would not be confrontation, not the guarantee of that, as well as suggesting that the convoy now was going to become “political”.

One note circulating on Facebook (which seems to be the modern day Tam-Tam and will be referred to frequently as the primary means of communication in this account) was practically claiming that there would be blood if the Egyptians did not open the border. Many had asked for clarifications here, and there were many speculations on this phrasing, which was from Ken O’Keefe and circulated by what his most active friends were calling “Ken’s FB Army”. However, whether or not it was just bluster and bravado, it was certainly not in line with the Road to Hope purpose, which was to be an ecumenical, humanitarian mission that was non-confrontational and non-political body joining together individuals to carry out the purpose of providing Gaza with aid and breaking the siege. It would be ludicrous to assume that anyone finding fault with the mismanagement which possibly crossed the line from error to extreme lack of solid strategy is in favour of the siege against Gaza or if they in any way “accept” blockage of aid. Realism and experience however can’t be left on the shelf just when they are the most needed.

Ken O’Keefe We continue to wait, there is some reason to believe a ship will be provided in the next few days, again we shall see. There is a limit to how long we can play this sit and wait game before the convoy members will go straight to the border. I would ask that everyone be ready to turn the pressure on big time if we are forced to do this.e ready to turn the pressure on big time if we are forced to do this.

Be ready to turn the pressure on big time if we are forced to do this.
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In the midst of the discussion on what “confrontation time” was supposed to mean, we learned that it was indeed necessary to hire a cargo ship, as per Egyptian protocol dictates. A letter was sent back from the Egyptian Embassy to those making the “demand” and it is printed in its entirety in these footnotes, though a portion is reprinted here.[vii]

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In light of the above mentioned, it is quite regrettable that organizers of the Road to Hope convoy have failed to liaise with the Egyptian side at any stage regarding the delivery of the aid directed to Gaza, where they choose to cross over from the most remote point on the western borders of Egypt to get to Gaza on the far eastern borders rather than going directly to El-Arish, only half an hour from Gaza. They even ignored any visa requirements that are necessary to enter Egypt, where they would have been welcomed and granted the required visas had they arranged for that prior to their departure.
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While hiring a ship to deliver the aid by sea may look as if it is capitulation, in light of the amount of time and money already invested, the nearing of Eid, when the entry to Gaza of outsiders would be closed to permit the pilgrims to travel, it may have been in actuality, the only way to make the best of a deteriorating situation, as well, this was the second option that RTH had voiced in the face of denial of land passage. The only problem was the cost, which was (as per an email sent to me from RTH) equivalent to the amount of money already spent for the convoy to travel in over a month from its London base. Also unclear, despite several questions seeking information, was the quantity of aid. It was stated in generic terms as medical aid, humanitarian aid and toys.

Accounts were set up to cover the need to hire a cargo ship, not in the name of RTH though, but something called Human Aid, and somehow, in a very short amount of time, the money apparently was raised, as we had then learned that the ship was hired and that the convoy would continue. It is not clear how much money was raised, and not all of it came from donations sent to this place, as it later turns out that there had been significant Libyan donations, though I would imagine that this should all be recapped in the closing assessment of Road to Hope and that all monies collected would be directed into the specific cause though they were not going to RTH, but to other beneficiaries.

KEN O’KEEFE. “55,000 dollars have been transferred for ship payment, despite this the Greekowner of the ship (the Strofades IV, Malta flagged) is currently refusing us. Call Egyptian officials and embassies and urge them to confirm our right to travel with this ship.”

So, despite all odds, lack of having followed the standard procedure which in the past had proved effective, and a miraculously rapid fund-raising, you have a boat, you communicate to your group and to anyone listening that you have obtained the “right to travel with this ship”, you are ending the stalemate and you can finally look forward to the beautiful release of the convoy and aid landing in Al Arish and the short travel to Gaza as was the sequence for the highly successful Viva Palestina 5 convoy. You would think so, but instead all hell broke loose. If you happened to be sitting at your computer the evening of 10 November, you may have received a quantity of tweets, Facebook notices or emails. Something happened to the convoy, and it was terrible. Things were going from bad to strange, and these were the tweets, notices and emails you were starting to get:

Ken O’Keefe Now the captain is threatening to leave without us despite 75,000 dollars being paid to his agent for the charter of this ship. We are on the verge of a standoff using our bodies on the back of the ship. (10 November)

Ken O’Keefe We are being forcefully taken out of the harbour with the captain going crazy ordering the ship to leave!!!

Ellie Merton “EMERGENCY – the Greek ship Captain’s gone nuts. He’s had a row with the Egyptian agent who was passing over the charter payment. Instead of waiting till morning, the Greek Captain has yanked the ship off moorings, with 10 convoyers and some Libyan police on board. Captain ploughing on out of Derna port. Very dangerous.”

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Then the REAL madness began.

Messages came to activists including this press release:

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – PLEASE CIRCULATE WIDELY

Wednesday 10th November, 2010 23.15 GMT – LONDON

UK AID WORKERS (INCLUDING 2 MAVI MARMARA SURVIVORS) HELD HOSTAGE ON GREEK-OWNED SHIP, AFTER SHIP OWNER ARGUES WITH EGYPTIAN BROKERDERNA PORT, LIBYA

“Strofades IV” has broken its moorings, without port permission, and is heading out of Derna Harbour.The rear door of the ship is half closed, with convoy vehicle B7 stuck on it precariously. It is extremely dangerous.

In the lower deck of the Ro-Ro (rollon rolloff) ship are held hostage:

3 Libyans – (2 port authority policemen, with Colonel Salahuddin Rashin, Manager of Derna Port)
1 Moroccan
1 Algerian
2 Irish
6 UK nationals

The violent Greek owner who is also its captain of “Strofades IV” has just disembarked (as at 22.50 GMT) through a side door of the ship, onto a speed boat. His speed boat has made for another cargo vessel in Derna the harbour – “Odin Finder”.

None of our guys now know who is in charge of Strofades IV, or where it is destined to go.The ship is empty, apart from the hostages and single convoy vehicle jammed in the doorway. It is making rapid headway to get out to sea.The matter is a serious breach of every maritime law possible.

We have asked all relevant Embassies to supply urgent, immediate, consular assistance.We are EXTREMELY concerned for the safety of all the nationals on board.

Ken O’Keefe “Captain still crazy, has rammed the dock and nearly another ship. Call the media, have them call my Libya mobile 0020918020981”

Obviously, if you see this message, it is practically an SOS, sent by the members of the convoy on board and they have already asked for consular assistance, but they are insisting that the readers call the media and have them directly contact Ken O’Keefe. The tone is such to urge immediate action. It contains information that indicates the actions of the Captain/Owner, (identified at this point as the same person) and suggesting that these actions are a “serious breach of every maritime law possible.” It states that the passengers (including two who are identified as Mavi Marmara “Survivors” are held hostage, and it expresses alarm for the danger of the situation in that the “rear door” is in an extremely dangerous position. Add to that the further depiction of a violent Greek captain who then jumps ship and goes in a speedboat to another ship in the harbour.

Messaging between activists was underway containing all these details with a variety of subtexts to accompany them, including an exchange one of our editors had with a concerned activist who was circulating the information on Facebook.[viii] The sense of this exchange can be summarised as follows, and a longer excerpt is in footnotes:
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FB friend: Mary, the captain has abandoned the ship and it is heading out of port unpiloted. This is giving me shivers, how about you?

Mary: Mary Rizzo this also does not sound realistic! I am sorry, but it sounds fake.. sorry. ships are a gigantic investment. they do not just leave a dock unmanned in the dead of night. I really can’t see that happening. It is not Israel jumping a ship, we are talking about a guy entrusted to a company abandoning the vessel.. why would anyone do that???

FB friend: Guy captains and owns the vessel. I’d do it if I was paid to do so, if my life or my family was threatened, if I was drunk, or if I was a hotheaded idiot with a history of erratic behaviour … Yes, who could possibly threaten a Greek (not Egyptian) captain chartering to delivery a supply convoy to Gaza. Who would do that? Clue: who would get on board a boat in Cyprus, also chartered to Gaza, and sabotage it?
And indeed why threaten. Cajoling is also possible. Money is its own reward.

*****
So, it’s clear here that in a short time, the Tam-Tam had started and the precise words “hostage”, “abduction” and “kidnapping” were starting to circulate, without any counter-checking on that though, and it even being admitted that the captain did not want them to board and that they would physically impede this by using their bodies on the back of the ship! Intent is clearly stated by Ken regarding both parties, and this, minutes before the “kidnapping”. Stories had circulated that it was really about a payment dispute and it was taken for granted that the owner had changed his terms once the agreement was made, and an argument broke out to avoid paying extra money than what was agreed upon. It became an issue of the greed of the Greek owner and the madness of the Greek Captain. There were theories that not only did he get the RTH money, but was also gone with Israeli money and left the boat and passengers to their own fate. Money was the factor always mentioned. And no matter how wild some of these accounts would seem to be, people were a-buzz in disseminating this information, for anyone in the world to read, without verifying if it was true or false.

Some might ask, “our activists are trustworthy, why do we need to check the other side?”. Well, there is a need in activism circles, when dealing with the press to have reliability. If we are giving information to people, perhaps we can’t check it out ourselves, but we have to also bear in mind, our enemies, who have formidable economic and political power, WILL check it. If they find elements that are wrong, they will do the same thing we do to them, make the adversary face the contradictions. There should NEVER be contradictions in our reports, even if it means delaying the information, we have to be careful.

It was stated by Ken that the consular bodies were contacted, and he was insisting that activists contact THE MASS MEDIA, which he later refers to as prostitutes if they dare to question the validity of statements he’s issued. It is additionally crucial and problematic if this same media (which we may not like, but which maintains some power) depicts us as lunatics if we are making statements that will reflect badly upon us for “sins” going from exaggeration to contradictory messages to bald-faced lying, which, to the more conspiratorial minded persons, is the way that false flag operations all work. You have enough information that is legitimate and it is embedded in a quantity of false information. The legitimacy of something is completely at odds and we are involved and so is the cause we work for. Truth, accuracy, even the elementary need of reservation and discretion are all shot to the wind if we are unable to communicate a completely reliable, sound, unified message about a particular event or question. We are being used, but we have to question ourselves if we are also being manipulated. Some media sources will never again trust someone who gave them bad information, some of us would never work again with persons who have a bad track record of reliability. Not to mention, if we need future travel visas to some of these States, complaints that turn out to be calumny and unnecessary alarm may endanger that.

And this is when persons who have worked very closely with Ken in the past began stepping out of the shadows. They were writing to some of us and in other cases they were posting their thoughts on Facebook. This began the moment of the claims of being “kidnapped” and not earlier, and it seems to be a flood that was frankly, very unexpected. However, if one starts to look into the person, and not in the hundreds of his own posts bragging about his exploits, one finds that he has a very negative track record with other activists. The Human Shields certainly was initially lead by him, but his style of “command” had driven all but the most personally loyal very far away from him. His feelings of superiority to others in the cause drive him to accuse those who do not bend to his orders of the worst affiliations, and declares they work as spies, today he adds in that they are working directly for Israel:

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“My experience with the Human Shield Movement I created in 2002 made painfully clear that “volunteers” are all too often agents of the enemies of justice, specifically working for the CIA, MI6 and other such government agencies who deal in the business of deception masqueraded as “national security”. So I supplied all the information requested and although my name has been stained to a degree by those within the Human Shield Movement who consider me the devil incarnate, my record of activism and thoughtful response won out and I was accepted as a volunteer for the Free Gaza Movement” http://ken-okeefe.net/?paged=2

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In the footnotes are excerpts of three brief statements from persons who had known Ken, not when he was in the USA Marines, (which often has discipline where the entire troop “pays for” the mistakes or disobedience of one soldier, but he is no longer in the military). The first is Greta Berlin, who worked with him on one of the first (successful) flotillas to Gaza. The second is from an activist who came into contact with him while volunteering in the Human Shields project to prevent the Coalition bombing of places in Iraq. The third is from Felicity Arbuthnot, human rights worker and unembedded journalist specialised in the Middle East who was in Iraq at the time. These are statements from activists who know him well by firsthand experience on the ground (and not on tours speaking about himself). In the footnotes are the extended statements. All are worth reading to understand the “reputation” with persons involved in concrete organisation of actions, but here is reprinted only an excerpt.[ix]

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Greta Berlin: Ken was on our first trip (FGM) in August, 2008 … During the entire voyage, he was obstreperous, obnoxious and, finally, dangerous to all of us. He threatened some of the activists with bodily damage. If you’ve seen him, you know he is capable. Finally, he tried to commit mutiny on the Free Gaza during the night we were traveling to Gaza with no outside communication and our ship’s captain sick.

Two or three of us put our feet down and said ‘no’. He did not have paperwork to be a captain, and he is not a captain of anything except a small fishing boat once in Hawaii. He did not seem to comprehend that, if Israel had stopped us, and we had no real captain with papers proving that, he would put us all at risk. Instead he screamed obscenities, threatened several men on board and told me he’d get even with me.

Once we arrived in Gaza, we were relieved that he was not coming back with us. We have had nothing to do with him since.
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Unlike the three human rights activists above, the vast majority of people, including this writer, came to learn about Ken O’Keefe for the first time after the Israeli Massacre on the Mavi Marmara, part of the Freedom Flotilla at the end of May 2010. Many of us had seen his Internet reports of the brutal beating he receieved by the Israeli police in detention, along with photos of a badly bloodied face and refusal to wash himself. Those of us who know Israeli officers and soldiers beat Palestinians and do not reserve particular care for activists either were once again thoroughly disgusted, and did not for a moment doubt the account. However, it does appear peculiar that this is the only activist who had the same thing happen, head-bashing, TWICE. As a matter of fact, it is almost gleaned fact for fact by a similar account of his, with frontal wound, reported in 2004, but never mentioned successively.

O’Keefe said: “I was beaten and put in shackles and then had my head bashed into the wall which caused a concussion and brusing. I responded by saying to him, ‘makes you feel big does it, little man?’ He retaliated by pulling out his penis.” http://www.beirut.indymedia.org/ar/2004/06/1426.shtml

Yet, there were odd inconsistencies about his treatment at the hands of the Israelis that this paper (already quite long, and not even halfway through the account) cannot properly address. Why did he not have a bruised or cut face in the Al Jazeera video a few days later and where did he get that powerful shout if two days before his wife wrote a press statement claiming that he could only speak in a whisper due to the pressure on his throat? In the same letter we see that he was denied a laywer but a few paragraphs down we are hearing about his lawyer’s advice?

How come the IHH report of the raid does not mention his name and its accounts of the disarming of weapons does not match his own in any way? How come no one has come forward to state that they were the brother who had assisted in his heroic deed? Why does the number of Israelis he managed to disarm levitate (in Salem-News, this week we find out it was not two but three)? Why was he not called by any investigative commission by any side at all to testify, if his involvement was so important and he directly had handled Israeli commandos? Why did he respond to the BBC Hardtalk journalist that the deaths on the Mavi Marmara were definitely “worth it” and why does the discourse of it always centre around his deeds and the martyrs themselves are never mentioned by name but are part of his storytelling to prove that he “saw” so many things in great detail with his own eyes? We invite people to look at all of those things and see if it was the beginning of a “survivor” branding which would be a desirable thing to earn the quick adulation and donations of others who share the same outrage at the atrocity of the massacre. And, as you will see, donations towards his own projects and personal needs become a big part of his activism, indeed, currently, a “free trade” company with Gaza (as if they can actually compete in the market!) accompanied by a resistance flotilla all run by him is the new way for activists take part economically. He is asking for large 3 BR or more flats in London for its operation, for attorneys, accountants, marketing experts… all of them free or pro-bono of course (though he states it is about free trade, not charity or even fair trade, and the call is for “investments” he seeks everything free of charge as if he himself is a Gazan). He does this based on his reputation as a survivor. It should be mentioned that Turkish friends of mine also on the Mavi Marmara ship and who were raising funds for it for many months, have written to me about it and refer to themselves as “passengers”, not heroes or survivors.

And then we would also ask people to question why on one of his many autobiographies we see him describe himself this way: “Ex US Marine who renounced US citizenship on March 1 2001. Now holding Irish, Hawaiian and Palestinian citizenship.” Despite the fact that Hawaii is in the USA and the current USA President was born there, it is simply untrue. He did not renounce his citizenship, at least, his request was never fulfilled and he in fact utilises the primary US document, its passport. As a matter of fact, being a US citizen (whether he likes it or not), allows him travel privileges which he absolutely takes advantage of, including “rights” to travel in occupied Iraq. And thus, he finds it useful to continue to possess it.

[Ken O’Keefe] was forced under duress, to request a U.S. passport at the American Consulate in Rome on February 12, 2003. This request became necessary after the Turkish Government unlawfully deported of Mr. O’Keefe and thus prevented his peaceful transport through Turkey, on his way to Iraq to act as a Human Shield. Had Mr. O’Keefe not made his reluctant request he could have been denied the inherent right to travel to Iraq. [x]

Despite this being the most oft-repeated claim to his fame, only after his title as a “Mavi Marmara Survivor”, it is a lie. He is currently a US citizen and though we have seen videos of him burning US passports on several occasions (that is, he had more than one to burn, so he renews them), and as recently as September 2010 he was doing a self-promotional tour in the USA, in which he was travelling on his US passport, where activists had said part of these meetings involved money being collected for his “expenses”. It does appear, as a bare minimum, that declaring himself as having renounced his citizenship is outright misleading. At any rate, this “calling card” that differentiates him from all those who for some reason don’t disassociate themselves with the USA seems to attract people for some kind of appeal it undoubtably possesses, though this writer still has to figure out what that appeal might be. Also, being an ex-Marine (with an Other Than Honorable Discharge for steroids use), while not earning exciting acclaim in most of the world, is considered at least by other ex-Marines as a “plus” in activism, and this was the point made also in a video interview of Ken’s mother (yes, his mother) made by former embedded journalist in imperialist wars in the Middle East, another ex-Marine, Tim King of Salem-News, to which Ken contributes.

We also would see, once we start moving around in the world that blossomed around him after the Mavi Marmara raid, lots of commentary as a political leader. He issued a document titled “The Freedom Charter” (http://kenokeefe.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/the-freedom-charter-or-the-second-nakba/), which is his own idea of how the situation of Palestine/Israel should be resolved. Though it never once mentions the Right of Return, it does talk a lot about sharing things equally. Despite the fact that he’s not an elected Palestinian leader, he took it quite seriously and stated it there was a choice between his solution or Palestinian Nakba. Many activists and Palestinians saw the document as a “light Zionist” attempt to overtake their cause by already giving away 50% too much when the problem is not lack of peace, but an illegitimate military occupation of Palestine and a constant selling out of the legitimate Palestinian cause.

While understanding the way that Ken presents himself, since the bulk of his material, video and written, has Ken O’Keefe as its central theme, may be important – as he bases much on the amount of trust people put in his leadership role, and it was in this role that decisions were no longer done by consensus, but were left to the leader – it does seem to be taking the issue too far from our basic argument: that there was a grave management problem affecting the RTH convoy, and as a result of that, a Pandora’s box of trouble opened up.

We were receiving alarming messages from Ken’s contacts such as this one:

LATEST – 11/11/2010 10.50AM GMT – reports of 4 Libyan navy vessels & two fighter jets surrounding ship, attempting to bring the vessel back to harbour safely. Attempts to ensure 10 kidnapped convoyers & 3 libyans safely transferred to Libyan ships, to return to Derna. No force being used – only verbal reasoning applied to Strofades IV captain.

In time of peace, this kind of message is not reassuring. The Maltese vessel was in international waters, and a Navy is not a Coast Guard, it cannot attempt to change the route of a commercial ship without causing a potential international crisis.

Then we got further messages about Greek Commandos being involved. A new press release which turned into an instant piece by the previously mentioned Tim King stated: Gaza Activists Taken to Sea Against Their Will Now Held at Gunpoint in Greece – Salem-News.Com

But the misinformation had by now reached epic proportions, and without precise clarification of the various and contradictory claims, false narratives would circulate for days, an example is this article appearing on 24 November: 

The ship captain, who kept raising the price while en route to Egypt, abandoned ship in open waters. The convoy members were lost at sea for 36 hours until they managed to send a distress signal, which was picked up by Greek forces that rescued them. http://www.gcbs.gov.ps/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=149:road-tohope-gaza-aid-convoy-arrives-at-al-arish-port-

All of this is quite alarming and it is logical that the event was becoming much different than an Aid Convoy hiring a ship and delivering persons and material to Gaza. It became a personal drama involving the activist world. It was not getting very much press coverage, actually, but in “our” circle, it was enormously dramatic as these were “our” people. A Mavi Marmara survivor a victim of kidnapping, abduction, being surrounded by Libyan military vessels and planes, being held at gunpoint by Greek Commandos. Very dramatic stuff.

Then we were able to see the reports by the Convoy members, who at this time had named themselves “The Convoy Ten”, later to be changed into “The Gaza Ten”. It is assumed that all of this time, they were sending information through their mobile phones, as informtion streamed in continually, and this alone is strange that kidnapped persons are allowed to maintain their communication devices. http://gazafreedommarch.org/cms/en/News/View/10-11-11/KIDNAPPED_AID-WORKERS_SPEAK_OF_CONTINUING_ORDEAL_ABOARD_ABSCONDING_GREEK_SHIP.aspx shows where they lamented of being severely restricted in their movement, denial of water (which they later stated was “from the toilet”, hardly any food and no life jackets, “managing to get a hold of” a radio on the ship to make SOS calls which reached a “NATO warship” which “said it would help”, but no one actually rescued them. In the two days of this drama, none of these messages towards the activists in Libya or others “participating” vicariously, contained any call to continue to find a ship to bring the aid in or move the Convoy along (which was now down to 50 people who were, by their own admission, stranded in precarious state and in extreme distress, in the Libyan desert) or find storage for the material. All communications by the leader only concerned his own situation and those of the others who had been “kidnapped”.

But there were other reports stating something different:

Gaza activists willingly on ship from Libya-ship manager | World | Reuters

Needless to say, it was thoroughly confusing for anyone watching, and the contradictions of the Captain escaping off the side of the boat on a speedboat had been forgotten (and later, in an ironic turn of events, the mad escape was vehemently denied by one who was on the dock, claiming that there was no speedboat whatsoever, and when shown the RTH press release, asked who was infiltrated to insert that kind of message), as the Captain began being present everywhere, magically reappearing in every account. There were legitimate reasons to doubt that there was more than one area of inaccurate reporting and the use of the terminology that was always extremely dramatic began to be questioned by quite a few as the ship was located closer to its destination, which at this time was localised clearly as Greece.

And at this point, naturally, regarding the “hijacking”, the voices from “the other side” were coming in. No, not the Zionists, who had not been paying attention, but those who were considered to be involved with the Greek ship. This same ship that had taken the aid from Viva Palestina 5 to Al Arish only a month earlier, so evidently, with direct experience in precisely what had been asked by RTH and a positive outcome.

The Road To Hope opened a Facebook page where a person named Christina Baseos began providing live information about the persons involved. She claimed to be affiliated in some way with the ship and answered all the various questions about the conditions of the convoy members, even handing her own phone to at least one person so he could speak with a relative. She appeared from out of nowhere, and was able to provide quite a few details. Some had immediately insulted her, but not everyone, and she persisted in contributing to reassure everyone that people were safe and that the situation was not critical. She however continued to deny that there had been any kidnapping and instead, what had happened was that the convoy members boarded the ship without permission, without the shipowner ever having reached an agreement with them and their broker and that he was in possession of permission to leave the port. The convoy members were disobeying the orders to immediately leave the ship which was not going to take them anywhere and to remove the van they parked on the shore-based ramp. Not only that, after the ship began moving, more jumped aboard, in an attempt to prohibit it from leaving the port, thus obstructing its right, which is a violation of Maritime law and an imposition.

In the posts to this group, the tension was very high and “the Greeks” were accused of everything from depriving the convoyers of sleep, food and water to physical assault. There were constant references made to the recklessness of a captain unable to control the vessel, destroying the harbour on the mad dash out, endangering life and property and needing to have his license immediately revoked for this. Persons asking information were thankful to receive it, but others were also extremely hostile with Ms.Baseos, including the London office manager of RTH, Ellie Merton who left a message – 10 times within 2 minutes – in all caps for people to not engage with Ms. Baseos, and then, in total disregard for her freedom of speech, she was completely censored, as she was banned from the group, though she had been the only one able to provide valuable detailed information for the family members to reassure them of the conditions of their loved ones.

URGENT URGENT URGENT –

YOU MUST NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT LIAISE ON THIS GROUP WITH CHRISTINA BASEOS, WHO IS LEGAL COUNSEL FOR CRIMINAL GREEK SHIP’S CAPTAIN.

SHE IS ATTEMPTING TO GATHER EVIDENCE TO TRY TO PRETEND HER CAPTAIN IS NEITHER MAD NOR CRIMINAL. DO NOT, REPEAT DO NOT INTERACT WITH HER, FOR THE SAFETY OF THE ROAD TO HOPE MEMBERS WHOM SHE IS TARGETTING, ALONGSIDE THE CAPTAIN WHO IS ALSO TARGETTING THEM.

THANK YOU. ELLIE MERTON, ROAD TO HOPE, LONDON LIAISON

In the meantime, the situation had continued to be dramatic. One incoming message talked about the convoyers being arrested, another denied that. Then the Captain was arrested, that was then denied, and so on. The only thing missing in all of this was any sort of indication as to what would need to be done with the aid and the persons because the closure of Al Arish was fast approaching. What should have been the priority was then changed into the situation of Ken and the group. It was really strange, considering these were people who knew there were others in their convoy in extremely precarious situations and considering they were on their way to Gaza, to read the disappointed tone of being taken to “a ghetto hotel” in Athens, having to obtain once again their passports which were in Libya, becoming the activist priority, and finally, action calls were made with enormous insistence for a new call to action: the donation drive was on so that Ken O’Keefe could have the money to fly back to Libya, despite the Irish embassy assuring him return to Ireland (he lives in the UK). Another paypal account was announced, leading directly to his personal account, as well as his Western Union location for wires transfers. The mission was now focused on Ken’s logistics and personal needs.

Unable to comprehend the situation and its enormous contradictions and question marks, our site announced we would do a completely objective report on what had happened, since some voices had been totally silenced and censored and others were reporting a fact and then denying it. Aware that the entire situation was already a disaster, but not at this point hopeless, we invited those involved to contribute to clarification and we would conclude our work after the convoy had achieved its mission. The immediate response to this was that the person doing the report was not “objective” (i.e., not biased in Ken’s favour). This writer was censored from an ad hoc emergency group she was invited to, as it was considered as hindering the mission that she was advising others to be prudent before informing the media of information that we did not get verification of to protect our reliability and also to not create undue panic or disseminate false information. Then being labelled a Zionist started, since for some it is inconceivable that one could feel very uncomfortable with contradictions and seek clarity, so this tactic was used to stop the questions. The leap of faith towards Ken seemed to be the priority, and other attempts to quelch the entire “investigation” by character assassination that was aimed at frightening me off and damaging me had begun.

Besides being utterly inappropriate and infantile, it simply made no sense, since we are there to serve Palestinian interests, we need to be accountable to them, to each other and safeguard the entire cause from abuse, including accusations of anyone seeking accountability as being “paid by Israel”. If it were indeed factual that there was a kidnapping, it would benefit only the RTH to collaborate in a positive way and provide any information that would demonstrate their claim once more, and to a sympathetic public, since the doubts were growing and there was no reason to keep on believing the things being told to us. Several parties agreed to be interviewed for this report, in fact, they were anxious to do so. The only party that was against it was Ken O’Keefe, after an initial claim that he is “happy to share the truth, always”. The exchange concerning that is quite interesting and is integrally shown in the footnotes and well worth the read to understand that if someone asks for information by others who have a different side to tell, (though in the past they have been even the logistics specialist for the charter company of the previous successful flotilla!) in Ken O’Keefe’s world, they are affiliated with Zionists or stupid: no one is supposed to know any truth but “Ken’s Truth”, but here we can see also his attitude of superiority and the verbal abuse that had been alluded to over and over again by those who had known him and were refusing to “obey his orders”.

*****
Ken O’Keefe 19 November at 12:33 Mary, I decline to be interviewed and I will post this exchange on my blog as an illustration of the self-righteous, holier than thou attitude that exudes from you and which is injurious to unity and respect within the Palestinian justice movement. For my part I do not recognise you as the authority you claim to be and I will not feed your delusions by doing any interview with you. [xi]

*****
At this point, the resources that remain are the Statement by Ken O’Keefe and all the various materials available in the public domain. I refer to them for Ken’s contributions, and the “other side’s view” is represented primarily by Christina Baseos, who kindly responded to all of my questions and not only that, provided me with an extremely detailed document and other documents, one of which was identical to a document Ken O’Keefe sent me, before he realised PTT is not a bulletin board, but a site where our writers research and write our own assessments based on the information we obtain. Her document also included photographs that had been taken from Ken’s site, as well as original photographs to document the claims made and verify if they were true or false.

I also had spoken to two persons who were in Libya waiting to get into Gaza, who gave me general information and encouragement. I had a Facebook exchange with one convoy member in Libya who only intended to defend Ken and attack me, but her information about the denial of the speedboat only added to the picture that there had been no debriefing, and the same story by the same side was looking like Rashoman, and the claims were still all over the place. In the light of this, I am attempting to be as objective as possible to present the actual events that took place, and which are the core of the situation that will have repercussions for some time: The Kidnapping / Hijacking on the MV STROFADES IV.

The elements to consider are the following:

  • The request for a ship was made by RTH who contacted a broker.
  • All transactions regarding hiring of the ship involved two distinct relationships: the Client (RTH) and the Broker (Messrs. El Reedy Shipping Agency, Damietta-Egypt) and the Broker and the Ship-owner (Greek owner of MV Strofades IV, flying Maltese Flag).
  • There is no “set price” for a shipment. There are variables which are taken into account and terms are arranged that should satisfy the needs of both parties. A phase of negotiations is underway so that at the conclusion of which, both parties are able to conclude the deal to their satisfaction.
  • The negotiation includes the terms (type of cargo, amount of passengers, dates required, commissions, method of payment) and both parties contribute to this phase, each with their own relationship to the broker, and not with one another.
  • Included in these negotiations are elements that do not directly concern the other party, and as we shall see, had not been fully disclosed. For RTH, that the funding was coming through private donations and was for humanitarian aid, and for the ship, that their ability to conclude the deal at a specific price with this client depended upon the cargo ship also concluding another deal with a different client to occupy part of the vessel, which would of course reduce the expenses for RTH, because the objective costs (which have been itemised and are in footnotes[xii]) of a charter would be divided between two clients. It should be noted that during RTH’s negotiations with the broker, other negotiations were ongoing with another client from the Greek office for a shipment it would be hired to do involving Syria which would impact the amount charged.
  • The decision to charter the ship or not is in the final analysis the sole prerogative of the ship-owner. He is entitled to conclude the negotiations positively or negatively. In the case he does not conclude with the broker, no contract is signed and the ship is considered free to conduct its other business without any obligation to the broker’s client for lack of conclusion.

Bearing in mind the above, the negotiations were proceeding with an initial offer of 50,000 USD should there be the cargo still in negotiation from Syria and 75,000 USD if the client at Derna was to be the only group chartered. All along the contracting, this was done under the name of the broker, and not RTH. The terms were for a cargo of exclusively 30 vehicles and 30 drivers, which was in the final version of the “recapitulation of the fixing terms”, a pre-contract statement of what would be on the contract should it be signed. This same identical document was sent to me by both Ken O’Keefe with the title “Contract” and by Christina Baseos. It is clear at this point that what the logistics personnel was aware was the basis upon which to draw up a contract only in the case the negotiations were resolved positively, in the eyes of Ken O’Keefe, was indeed a contract! It does seem incredible to even consider that he would be unable to differentiate between the two, but his insistence, and his claim to legitimacy rest on the fact that he is informing one and all that he had been invited to begin loading – never by the Captain or Ship-owner in his account, but by the Libyan officers – and that was because everything was in place to do so, payment and paperwork. It was only being blocked by someone’s “greed” or perhaps even something more sinister.

It is essential to note that the number of passengers was limited and at no time included the entire convoy. It was clearly indicated that the number of passengers would in no way exceed 30. Also fundamental to the outcome was the fact that during the negotiations, the name of the organisation Road To Hope was never nominated to the owners, and indeed, the correpsondence between the broker and the owner during the phases of negotiation which was forwarded never mention the name or the purpose of the humanitarian organisation. I also was forwarded the emails between the London RTH office and the broker. It is clear that the businessmen were conducting their business and while both wanted to conclude the deal according to praxis, RTH was sending public messages that all would board the vessel, despite the fact that they were aware some people would never be allowed to board, and not informing any of them of this. Indeed, the entire convoy had left Tobruk for Derna, though more than half would not ever have been allowed to board. The lack of transparency or even misleading communication between the leader and the members of his own convoy, persons directly affected, is another element which must be analysed by the RTH organisation.

After a final series of negotiations between the broker and the owner, it was agreed upon to proceed under specific conditions. Not having fixed the Syrian cargo, the amount due would be 75,000 USD, as well, at this point, the broker changed several elements that were not in previous agreements. In addition to these negotiations involving the head office in Greece and the Egyptian broker, at a certain point, four persons claiming to be part of the group that wanted to charter the ship began attempting live negotiations with the owner. The document given to me by Ken O’Keefe includes an email from the broker which states to them that they should try to negotiate on their own, as he had not successfully concluded. Though they insisted to him that they had given him 75,000 USD, he indicated he would return the entire 55,000 USD, the complete sum that he had received from RTH.

The ship had its shore-based ramp lowered on to the deck as it was discharging another shipment. One of these persons who boarded asked when loading would begin and the owner of the ship said it would not begin because no agreement had been reached. That, in effect, was the negotiation, that there would be no cargo shipment and that the ship was headed out to effect other work.

Why had no agreement been reached, even if the sum of 75,000 could be delivered in the manner required by the shipper? This is dependent upon the broker asking the owner to change the name of the charterers from “Messrs. El Reedy Shipping Agency” to “Messers. El Reedy Shipping Agency ON ((BEHALF OF CHARTERERS)). In essence, the charterers had not been named and only days after the negotiations initiated was it even made known to the shipping company that the charterer was a non-profit organisation. Also lacking was a necessary proof of authorisation vested to the broker. To be specific, these are the words regarding the matter: “The ship-owners reiterated their offer of November 6th, requesting a lump sum freight of USD 75.000 together with charterers’ full style (this includes address, contact numbers, background and references). Anyone involved in shipping is fully aware that full details of a charterer are requested in order for the ship-owners to have the chance to consider, evaluate and eventually either accept or reject them. This is a due diligence standard procedure in shipping.”

That details of the charterer were not provided (and why they were not provided remains a mystery) was one of the motivations for which the shipping company considered not in its interests to conclude the negotiation positively. Other reasons were other terms being changed by the broker (time allowed for loading / discharging operations to be changed from 2 days to 3 days, payment of the docking expenses, commission and other things). Not accepting the terms, the owner informed the broker that no business could be developed on that basis and all previous negotiations were null and void and the vessel was not chartered, thus free to work elsewhere. The head office informed the owner on board the ship about the latest developments, and this was what he indicated to the convoyers who were on the ramp. This is verified by Ken O’Keefe when he took the time to inform everyone that the owner was “threatening to leave without us”.

As per praxis, the owner contacted the Greek office to say that no offer was concluded and that they would depart. The Master (this is what the Captain is called) instructed the vessel’s agent to make all necessary arrangements with the Port Authorities in order for port clearance to be issued and enable the vessel to sail. The agent complied with the Master’s instructions and informed him that from the moment the Port Clearance is issued the vessel must sail from Derna by 24:00hrs in order to avoid port charges for another extra day in relation to berth occupation.

What happens next is the account detailed by Ms. Baseos, and it indicates what had occurred not from the point of view of the shipping company, as the portion of the business transaction was concluded, but what the point of view of the crew was. It merits being given in full:

*****
In Derna, a couple of the aid workers (namely Mr. Kenneth O’Keefe and Mr. Saeb Shaath) still remained on the ship’s stern ramp. They had been asked by the Master to get off the ramp but they disobeyed his orders.

While the vessel waited for the Port Pilot (official employee of the Port Authorities, whose duty is to assist any vessel’s entrance – exit to/from the port) to hand over to the Master the port clearance, the situation with the aid workers who remained in the pier was getting intense. Rumors were going around since early that evening that all members of the convoy (in excess of 100 persons) intended to board the vessel, despite the fact that the whole time during the negotiations (from day 1) the owners had made it clear that the vessel can accommodate only 30 drivers (one driver per vehicle). Why were there more than 100 persons in the pier waiting for more than 5 hours? Why had they been allowed to enter the port in the first place if they never intended to board the vessel? What were they waiting for? It was more than obvious that the rumors were about to become an actual fact! The Master’s suspicions were confirmed when the head-office contacted him and informed him that some members of the convoy were uploading messages in the internet via their mobiles, leaving innuendo that they were determined not to allow the vessel sail, unless all of them were boarded, no matter what!

In addition to that, the fact that Mr. O’Keefe and Mr.Turner remained on the vessel’s ramp, refusing to disembark was another clear sign that the aid workers were not going to allow the vessel to sail at all. The icing on the cake was the information that was conveyed to the Master by an Egyptian member of the vessel’s crew that outside in the pier there were some sort of discussions about taking the vessel directly to Gaza and not El-Arish!!!

Whilst all above were taking place in Derna, (around 22:00- 23:00hrs), the head-office received another message from the charterers’ broker, despite the fact that the owners had already officially informed him that the negotiations had terminated and there was no fixture whatsoever, saying that he confirms on behalf of the charterers the recap of terms sent by the ship-owning company earlier; only this time instead of “Messrs El Reedy Shipping Agency” shown as charterers, a private company in Tobruk was given, namely “Messrs c/o Butnan Investment & Development Company, Alkarwarismy St, Tobruk, Libya, Tel: 00 218 62 762 4978, Fax: 00218 62 762 1859”.

The broker was asking the head-office to confirm it by return and urgently instruct the Master to proceed with loading of the cargo.

Ten minutes later, the office reverted to the broker’s last and once more declined without counter. The office informed the broker that there is no way that they will reach an agreement, whatsoever, since the owners were once more given a name of a completely unknown company to them, as the charterers, ergo the case was from then on considered closed. The head-office reiterated that the vessel is not chartered, that no fixture had been confirmed and that the vessel is free to work elsewhere. 

In the meantime, the situation in Derna was heated. Around 23:30, the pilot boarded the vessel to hand over the sailing permit, only for him & the Master to realize that four members of the convoy had driven two vehicles on the stern ramp, against the orders of the Master. At that time, 6-7 Port Police Officers were also on the ramp of the ship. The officers boarded the vessel to enforce the order.

The Master ordered for the vehicles to be driven off the ramp, as well as all convoy members to disembark immediately. One of the vans was removed, however the convoy members declined to remove the other van and to disembark.

The rest of the aid workers in the pier were getting more ill at ease minute by minute and it was crystal clear that things wouldn’t calm down, on the contrary they were about to get worse.

It was now about 23:50pm and the Master ordered the crew to slowly lift the ramp and initiate unberthing maneuverings. At that time and while the ramp was being lifted, more members of the convoy literally jumped onto the ramp and boarded the vessel.

The pilot, who was still on board and was caught by surprise from the R2H members jumping onto the vessel, disembarked using the pilot ladder and hopped onto the pilot boat, which was next to the MV Strofades IV.

Meantime, the Master ordered (ordered, not forced as Mr. O’Keefe claims) the engine-room crew to prepare the engine and the deck crew to cut the lines (mooring ropes) in order to release the vessel from the dock, as no mooring men were available to unfasten the lines from the bollards (shore side). The lines were cut (not snapped as Mr. O’Keefe claims) by using an electric cutting wheel and this is clearly shown in the video uploaded on YouTube by Mr. O’Keefe (in 2:26). The adverse weather conditions prevailing in the area at the time had made the vessel’s maneuverings a very difficult task.

The vessel drew away and stopped about 0.3 nautical miles (about 500 meters) off the port’s entrance.

*****(end)

The above is illuminating in many ways. It indicates that despite the terms of negotiation being restrictive of passengers, the convoy either had no idea it was going to be denied entry aside from approximately one third of the members, or that there was still discussion about alternatives to the arrangements such as taking the boat directly to Gaza. At any rate, combined with the refusal to disembark despite the absence of any contract concluded with the shipper and his orders for them to leave his ship, there was no legitimate reason for members of the RTH to remain on board and there was furthermore no reason for them to drive vehicles onto the ramp, especially when the pilot had handed over the official port clearance document, authorising the vessel to leave. Libyan officials entered of their own free will and rights and remained on board to maintain the order.

The next passage is crucial and I ask everyone to read it carefully:

*****
The Master contacted the Port Authorities via radio and asked them to send a launch boat to pick up the 10 convoy members and the 7 Libyan Officers.

The 10 activists refused to be picked up and the 7 Libyan officers said that they also do not wish to disembark without the activists.

*****
It begs the question: in the light of the above, can the presence of Ken O’Keefe and the other convoyers be considered even remotely as a kidnapping?

Ask yourself these questions: if you have official written authorisation to leave, if you have no contract, thus, are in no way obligated to board the passengers or cargo of a failed negotiation, if you have none of their money since the transactions were only ever between RTH and the broker or some other party and the broker, but never between RTH and the ship-owner, if you have ordered them to leave, and after you have begun operations to leave, MORE persons jump onboard, if you have not tried to extort money or anything from them, can you be kidnapping them? Is their presence against the will of the ship-owner? YES. Is the presence on that ship against the will of the convoyers? NO. As a matter of fact, it bears repeating: THE ACTIVISTS REFUSED TO BE PICKED UP WHEN THE BOAT WAS LEAVING THE HARBOUR. The Officers as well remained as they did not want to leave the activists on the ship, though their motivations are not stated, one can imagine what they would be since they were aware that the activists jumped on the boat without permission.

The Libyans instructed the ship to remain in Libyan waters, with no justification or explanation. However, since there was no court order to do so, (which is the praxis), and in fact, the owner was in possession of the document permitting his departure, this instruction was not legally binding. Again, the elements that follow are important:

*****
Upon entering international waters the Master contacted via radio the Search and Rescue Coordination Centre (SRCC) of the Greek Ministry of Maritime Affairs and informed them both of position and the incident. The Maltese Authorities were contacted as well as the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the SRCC of the Greek Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Libyan Authorities. During the communications, the Libyan Authorities asked the Master to proceed towards Benghazi (Libya) in order to meet with a corvette of the Libyan Navy. The Master refused entering into Libyan waters again, as he was bound to ensure the safety of the vessel and her crew. He requested for all 17 persons to be picked up in international waters by a conventional vessel. He reported that the incident should & could be resolved in an amicable way without the intervention of the Navy.
*****

It is necessary to stress here that in time of peace, it is the Coast Guard and not the Navy of a sovereign nation that can board “foreign soil”, which is what the MV Strofades IV is while sailing in international waters. The Master’s request to have the Libyans once again collect the persons on board and avoid an international dispute since Greece and Malta had already taken charge of the situation was actually far-sighted, as will be clear in a moment. The account continues:

*****
Around 17:00hrs and while the vessel was some 75-80 miles away from the Libyan waters (between Libya and Crete island in Southern Greece), The Master was called via VHF by a Libyan navy ship. The navy ship asked for the Master’s consent to approach the vessel in the international waters in order to pick up the 17 persons on board. The Master posed no objection to this proposal and agreed to stop the ships’ course and wait for the warship to arrive. The warship advised that it would approach in about 5 hours. The Master contacted the SRCC of the Greek Ministry of Maritime Affairs immediately to update them on the situation and to advise them that the vessel will remain idle for about 5 hours, when a Libyan navy ship would approach them to pick the activists & the Libyan officers. He also stated that in an effort for this incident to end in an amicable way, he had no objection in waiting for the warship in international waters.

The Libyan navy ship then asked from the Master to allow the Libyan high rank officer, who was on board, to talk with them via VHF. The Libyan officer was allowed entrance to the bridge (navigation/control room), the vessel’s communication means were made available to him and the officer communicated in Arabic with the Libyan warship.

The Master asked the helmsman on duty, an Egyptian member of the vessel’s crew who was in the bridge at that time, to translate to him in English the communication the Officer had with the warship. The helmsman told the Master that the Libyan officer asked the warship to “come as quick as possible, we have to arrest them and hold them in detention”. The warship’s reply was “just wait there, we are coming”.

Further to this turn of events and as it was clear that there was no intention whatsoever for an amicable resolution of the incident, the Master immediately contacted the SRCC of the Greek Ministry of Marine Affairs, as well as, the Maltese Authorities, updating them on the developments and informing them that he will now continue his course and head to Neapolis port in Southern Greece. The SRCC suggested for the vessel to proceed directly to Piraeus port in Greece, because in Piraeus the coordination & communications of the involved Authorities would be much easier and more effective. The Master confirmed the SRCC’s suggestion and headed straight to Piraeus port. Upon taking this decision, the Master informed all crew members, the 10 activists and the Libyan officers of the final destination.
****

It should be clear to anyone reading this far that had the Libyan Navy been allowed to intervene in international waters, they would have created a situation which is impossible to know the outcome of. A crisis of this type is a common occurrence, and it is always extremely alarming for ships to be directed towards Libya with the passengers on board, (indeed at the day of this writing, another Italian civilian vessel sailing in International waters has been brought to Benghazi by Libyan forces). That all aboard the ship would have been arrested was an evident danger that the Master was not willing to allow, and thus, as much as he is accused of all and sundry, we must acknowledge that the freedom of all of the persons on board, the crew and the activists, was safeguarded by the decisions of the Master, who was willing to collaborate in an amicable way with the Libyans, but not willing to surrender his legal right to not have a foreign military body board and arrest persons on his vessel.

Any person, activists included, will recognise that no precedents should be set of encouraging foreign military to enter civilian ships in international waters in peace time. The Israelis did such a thing, and it was rightly condemned in the loudest possible terms.

The next event was the arrival of the Special Forces of the Greek Coast Guard approaching in a Zodiac boat. It was stated by Ken that the Master had instructed the crew to not allow them on board (to not drop the ladder), but this again is untrue. The crew members had instructions to make the necessary arrangements, and the movements depended on the conditions of the sea and assuring safety, which is not something the activists would even be able to know, so the activists pushing the crew members away from a task they alone were able and authorised to do, as they forcefully took the ladder themselves is an act that has no explanation whatsoever. The Greek Coast Guard embarked, ascertained that the situation was under control and all 17 persons remained under custody of the Port Police and their Special Forces until they were allowed to disembark.

Following the events, Ken O’Keefe issued on 18 November his previously cited “Statement of Facts” (Nota Bene: RTH did not issue a statement in its name) which was meant to be the definitive truth about the incident. Reading it, and being aware of events, one is allowed to analyse it properly.

“At this point myself and Kieran Turner were standing at the back of the ship and when the owner ordered the ramp up, instinctively some of the convoy members boarded the ship. They did so of their own volition, they were not asked or ordered to do so, and I agree 100% with what they did. Youtube videos show this clearly, as does the testimony of the Libyan police. Keep in mind we knew of the rumblings of the owner wanting to leave, we all knew the payments had been made, and we also had one vehicle on the ship along with two leaders (including myself) onboard; it was only natural to at least retain our property and get our payment back if indeed this ship was not available to us.”

*****
The above statement is a confession of willful navigation obstruction, which by the way is an offence. A “captain” should know better than that!

There was no excuse whatsoever for anyone to board the vessel, even if they thought that this way they would “retain property” and “ensure getting back the payment”. If they believed that there was a breach of contract (provided that a contract existed in the first place), they could find justice in the Courts but certainly not on the RAMP of a vessel, and especially since they very well knew that the money was not in the Master’s possession, but in RTH’s broker’s possession.

The legal definition of “kidnapping” is: “It refers to forceful abduction of a human being with the intention to hold them for ransom, or seize them away for the motive of harassment (physically or mentally or sexually), taking them hostage and various other motives. It is done by the way of taking the kidnapped person to a place where they are unlikely to be found and is unlikely to be released till abductors demands are satisfied.”

(http://www.legal-explanations.com/definitions/kidnapping.htm)

Further to that, one must keep in mind that the burden of proof always lies with the person who lays the charges, therefore the following have first to be established for the “kidnapping” charges to stand:

a) Ransom: What was the amount of ransom requested by the “kidnappers”?

b) Motive: What was the ultimate motive of the alleged “kidnappers”?

c) Benefit: What was the benefit pursued by the alleged “kidnappers”?

d) Unknown destination: Why would the alleged “kidnappers” inform the abductees, while still on board, of their destination (i.e. Greece)? Why would the alleged “kidnappers” inform all relevant Authorities after the vessel had sailed from Libya about the incident? Why would the alleged “kidnappers” have been in continuous contact with the Libyan Authorities, the Greek Ministry of Marine Affairs, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs seeking protection and resolution? Why would the alleged “kidnappers” require from the above Authorities to immediately contact and inform the Embassies and Ministries of Foreign Affairs of all the countries involved directly or indirectly to this incident? An indicative example proving that the relevant Authorities had been duly informed from the beginning of the incident is the statement of Britain’s Foreign Ministry on 11th November: …“Our Embassy in Athens has spoken to the shipping company and is also in close contact with the Greek authorities. Our priority remains that there be a safe resolution to this incident”…

(http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6AA4EW20101111).

O’Keefe continues and states that ….“From what I saw more than one of the police did urge the owner and captain to cease and desist their dangerous behavior.”

One can see from their footage the Libyan officers pushing-away the 10 RTH members, who boarded without the Master’s consent and chasing after them to prevent them from entering into the cargo hold (0:14-0:35) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRceo_mdM8k&feature=related)

Once the RTH members embarked, without permission, the Master was duty bound to take all precautionary measures, for the safety of the crew and the ship, as outlined in various emergency guidelines and rules imposed by SOLAS (international convention for Safety Of Life At Sea) and the IMO (International Maritime Organisation). Therefore, in compliance with the safety manual, instructions were given for the engine-room crew to secure the engine room and the deck-crew to secure the bridge. At no time were the engine-room and the bridge to be left unlocked.

While the vessel’s engine-crew was isolated in the engine-room and the deck-crew in the bridge, the RTH’s members were freely wandering all over the ship, from lower decks to upper decks and from fore to aft. The contradictions in the statements, from the very same persons, are quite noticeable:

Facebook post:

Ken O’Keefe The captain has left the harbour, we are 10 captives.

November 11 at 3:02am via Text Message

Release posted on Facebook:

PRESS RELEASE – ROAD TO HOPE, CONVOY TO GAZA

THURSDAY 11/11/2010 – 22.30 GMT

Ellie Merton “ I am also disappointed to hear the ship owner and his assistant are armed, and refuse to give the convoyers freedom of movement around the ship. The aid workers are genuine hostages. It is still deeply worrying…..

…..Kieran further adds: “At first we were made to stay in the loading bay area at the rear of the ship, which was really dangerous once the ship got out to sea”….

….. They didn’t give us any life jackets…

….Kieran adds: “Initially we were stopped from moving around the ship and had to stay in the bottom of the lower deck. Eventually we just walked through to the crew quarters, and they’ve let us occupy their small smoking room. At least we are safe and in the dry, and it has a couch so we can try to sleep. We’ve been given one meal, of sorts, since the ship left Derna. We’ve got access to water, but it’s not drinking water.”…..

*****
Ms. Merton says that freedom of movement on the ship was denied, while the leaders claim that they were initially “MADE” to stay in the loading area and “STOPPED” from moving around the ship. What they all have failed to mention is HOW were they MADE and STOPPED from moving around the ship and by WHOM?

Then again, the pictures that have been shot, uploaded and posted all over the internet by Ken O’Keefe are worth a thousand words. They show the convoyers in various parts of the ship at the same moment (some shooting those below from above), some with groups of them together on various parts of the ship, with almost complete access to it and none of them being confined or in any other way lacking freedom of movement, (admitted as much by Kieran who adds that they just walked through to the crew quarters).

Other wild claims were regarded their treatment by the Greek Authorities:

Anna O’Leary URGENT….STATEMENT FROM HOSTAGES ON BOARD STROPHADES IV….. We have been kidnapped at the Libyan port of Derna, by the Captain and crew of the Straphades IV. The Captain and crew have since left and the Greek authorities are now holding us hostage on board the Strophades IV.

Ten of us are being held …at gunpoint by a Greek SWAT team, in a small room 8×8ft. We have been told if we move we will be shot. We have requested sleeping facilities, showering facilities, access to telephones/internet and consular assistance – all have been denied. In the last 48 hours we have had one tin of coke and one sandwich to eat. We have had no access to water other than that in the toilets. We have to ask permission to do anything, including using toilets. We have no status. We do not know the nature of the charges we are being held under and feel extremely vulnerable. We ask that everyone please put pressure on the Greek government and demand that they end this nightmare. We want the Greek authorities to release us and allow us safe passage to Libya, where we can join the remaining members of the Road to hope convoy and proceed with humanitarian aid to Palestine. Message ends…..November 13 at 2:25am

But then, to follow the trend, the contradiction couldn’t be trailing far behind, if someone bothered to wait for it:

Posted by Ken O’Keefe on:

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/11/14/road-to-hope-convoy-to-gaza-memberskidnapped/

“…the Greek commandos were professional, moral and humane. This runs in stark contrast to the brutal and murderous treatment we received from the Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara.”

Despite the odd internal contradiction that one was sending communication stating that they were denied access to telephones and internet, what seems to happen is that we are expected to believe the worst case scenario, including being told that they will be shot if they so much as move, and expected to DO SOMETHING. In this case, the Greeks become the enemy. Below is a sampling of the dozens and dozens of communications demanding our activists to change the nature of their involvement and focus on Libya and Greece. Ken O’Keefe Please demand that the Greek government release us at least to accommodation off the ship. Preferably to a hotel where can make calls freely and have access to the Internet. Perhaps demos at Greek embassies in order.
November 12 at 11:14pm via Text Message

Ken O’Keefe Please urge the Libyan government to approve our immediate travel back to Libya so we can fulfil our mission.
November 12 at 11:18pm via Text Message

Pol Mac Adaim 10.55pm Just spoke to Ken. Our comrades have requested accommodation, showering facilities, bedding, access to telephone and internet – all of which has been refused.

WE CANNOT ALLOW THE GREEK AUTHORITIES TO TREAT OUR COMRADES THIS WAY.

They have decided that if they aren’t permitted to travel to Libya that they would rather go to jail. They have asked that we put pressure on the Greek government and demand that our comrades are released and granted safe passage to Libya, where they can join the convoy and proceed to Palestine. We have to send emails and call the Greek embassies. demand their release and that they have safe passage to Libya, then we have to organize demonstrations at these embassies. So…… Who’s up for a demo?? Spread the word…….November 13 at 1:13am

Anna O’Leary URGENT. Tauqir Tox Sharif:

HELP!!! I have been arrested and detained along with the other 9 convoy members on the Boat. We need every1’s help plz contact all media sources and let them know that the greek authorities are trying to charge us for illegally occupying the boat when we were the Kidnapped. We are being treated very badly by the greek authorities. We are being held HOSTAGE! November 13 at 3:35am

Ellie Merton URGENT – Lobby Greek Government to release 10 Road to Hope humanitarian aid workers, urgently. MSM Spin: Gaza Aid Workers Labeled as Terrorists and Hijackers | Irritate The State irritatethestate.net

In an attempt to discredit the works of humanitarian aid efforts on the part of the “Road to Hope” convoy, the “lame-stream” media has attempted to put its own spin on a story some three days in the making.

*****
Well, one can’t really be blamed for putting its own spin on something with the paradox of a telephone call to someone telling them that they were being denied making calls! People might be gullible, but that level of stupidity would set off any kind of alarm bells.

Ken O’Keefe’s own report changes the “toilet water” to “tap water”, which they refused to drink, despite that fact that on board are water coolers (photos had been sent to me) and the tap water is treated water that everyone on board drinks. According to Christina Baseos:

“Before the Coast Guard’s Special Forces embarked and during the voyage from Libya to Greece, the Master had given direct orders to the cook to prepare meals for all persons on board, not only for the crew. That included the R2H group and the Libyan officers.

Mr. O’Keefe and Mr. Turner have admitted themselves during interviews that they had been offered meals during the voyage. With regards to the water, Mr. O’Keefe states “while we were at sea for two days we had almost no fresh water, instead we only had access to ship tap water, which we did not trust.” The “toilet” water has now become tap water. By the way, all members of the crew drink from that tap water. The ship has water desalination facilities and also water tanks that are filled with potable water delivered by ships chandlers in the various ports of call. So, it was really their decision to choose not to drink from the tap water but that is totally different than saying that they were only offered water from the toilets!”

Continuing O’Keefe’s account:

“Understanding the potential danger and feeling ourselves getting further and further away from our convoy, roughly 14 hours into our abduction we managed to commandeer a handheld VHF radio and use this to make distress calls for immediate rescue. This message was received by the OOCL Oakland and apparently relayed to a “NATO warship” that said it would come to our aid… but it never did. The OOCL Oakland was able to track our heading, speed and location and relayed all of this to the useless warship.”

The response to this by Ms Baseos is long, but necessary to understand the context and the situation in its REALITY, not in its shock value.
*****
Definition: “A distress signal indicates that a person or group of people, ship, aircraft, or other vehicle is threatened by grave and imminent danger and requests immediate assistance. Use of distress signals in other circumstances may be against local or international law.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distress_signal

The use of “distress signals” is a very sensitive issue in the shipping community and especially for seamen. Lots of lives have been lost in sea, due to various reasons, and therefore the “distress signal” causes shipmen extreme anxiety.

A vessel receiving a distress signal is bound by Maritime Law, first to immediately inform the nearest Coast Guard & Authorities and second to immediately proceed to the rescue of the vessel, even if that means deviating a great deal from her course and cause serious economical damage to the ship-owning company by doing so. But LIFE ALWAYS comes first no matter what.

Apart from just being bound heading to the rescue of a vessel, it is also a sacrosanct duty of all seamen to do so. By sending distress signals, numerous Authorities, Ministries, Governments are immediately alerted and rescue plans are immediately activated.

Sending distress signals when there is no imminent danger and alerting purposelessly the Authorities is against the Maritime & International Law and it is punishable.

Moreover, it is an action highly condemned by all shipmen of the world. It is an unethical act to cause stress and anxiety to the shipping community without reason. A purposeless “signal distress” for the seamen is simply a sacrilege.

A “captain” should have known that.

If the neighboring vessels had responded to this “distress call” only to realize that there was no emergency at all, the person who actually made the “distress signal” would surely face claims of hundreds of thousand dollars by the ship-owning companies of these vessels for unreasonably alerting neighboring ships for a non-emergency situation.

Video uploaded by Mr. O’Keefe on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71AARnihrsQ

In 10:14 of the video: Mr. O’Keefe making a “distress signal”

++++

In 10:14 of the above video we see Mr. O’Keefe making a “distress signal” and his communication with the neighboring vessel MV OOCL Oakland.

However, in 10:34 of the video it is obvious that one or more pieces of the footage have been cut. Why would Mr. O’Keefe extract pieces of the original raw footage?

Furthermore, the OOCL Oakland after receiving the “distress signal” informs the “abductees” that they have given the MV Strofades’ coordinates to a NATO warship. One would expect to hear the rest of the communication but that was not the case. Mr. O’Keefe inadvertently cut from his video the rest of the communication.

It would be interesting to hear / see what was next told by the OOCL Oakland and the NATO warship. A warship does not need information on a vessel’s position to be given by any merchant ship. God forbid a warship not having the necessary means to locate any vessel at sea and rely on information given by other vessels in the area.

Why would a NATO warship not come to the “kidnapped” aid as per Mr. O’Keefe’s statement?

Because the NATO warship acted as obliged. The warship contacted the SRCC of the Greek Ministry of Marine Affairs for an update of the situation. The SRCC informed the warship that her intervention is not necessary as the matter is under control and that there is no “kidnapping” emergency and that the incident lies under “commercial dispute”.

Furthermore, wouldn’t an intervention of a NATO warship, whilst in international waters, in a non-emergency incident be frowned upon and condemned, as the intervention / attack of the Israeli warship at the Mavi Marmara incident was RIGHTFULLY condemned? Of course cutting the footage at will “supports” Mr. O’Keefe’s following statement:

FROM THE STATEMENT OF FACTS ISSUED BY Mr. O’Keefe on November, 18th: …” Having made a distress call for a NATO warship that never showed up, we were happy to see the Greek warships and commandos off the coast of Greece.”

It is common knowledge that in democracies, in times of peace the only duty of the Army, Navy & Air Forces of a country are to guard the country’s borders, and they take action or interfere only in war or warlike situations.
*****

Indeed, it was the Greek Coast Guard, and NOT warships or commandos that were responding! More contradictions emerge regarding the amounts paid. It is clear that the numbers were flying, leading to legitimate doubt.

From O’Keefe interview on PressTV, on 14 November:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNrnDovmj7E

In 0:28 of the video, he claims that freight paid was $75.000

From O’Keefe’s interview in Athens, on 15 November:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obgIVwF_Yp8

In 1:19 of the video, the convoy’s leader claims that freight paid was $75,000. At 5:58 of the same interview, he claims that freight paid was “$75,000 at that point and then another $7,500 so a total of $82,500”. At 5:40 he brags, “If we wanted to, we could have taken control, we did not. I’m sure we could have managed”.

What we have, dear readers, is a lesson and we better be ready to learn it or risk it being repeated. We witness an act to be condemned, yes. This is the conclusion. There is no excuse for this turn of events and it is clear that what happened was never in the interests of Palestinians, but it involved the Pro-Palestinian community in a way that they could not subtract themselves from. In the midst of all the contradictions of those releasing statements and emergency messages, in the presence of all the outright lies causing distress to the loved ones of those involved, totally ignoring the actual purpose of the convoy and putting the spotlight onto themselves and not on Gaza, we see the situation clearly. Having spared no effort to draw the world’s attention to themselves and promoting their “media image”, spreading panic in the media and provoking diplomatic irritation between six countries, all of this in the name of GAZA, a few persons changed the course of a legitimate and ethical effort to relieve Gaza and change the situation for the better, and this is nothing less than scandalous. We were manipulated, the facts withheld or distorted and urged to “SPREAD” “EMERGENCY NEWS” and to contact every possible embassy, consulate, diplomatic authority, ministry, Members of the EU Parliament, the European Commission, the Press, even to organise Demonstrations for the “Gaza Ten”. Rather than depending upon precise logistics, including chartering the air travel for the over 50 persons who would NOT board the ship that fateful night, thus leaving them in constant state of emergency actions, as they were suddenly left to figure out how to get to Gaza, though the aid was eventually carried on another ship, we see calls to divert money into the travel of activists, and star activists get the priority and special private accounts urged to be donated to publicly.

All of this, solely due to an incident caused by the irresponsibility of a few. Dragging more and more people into a power game and using political propaganda, censorship, gatekeeping, lies and insinuation and all of this, for the sake of a few people, and none of it to do with GAZA!

It may be looked down negatively by some that this report closes with the words of one of those interviewed, Christina Baseos. However, this writer could not find better words of her own:
*****
Has it never crossed their minds that should they be “forced”, for whatever reasons, to manipulate the media, that they have to manipulate them in such way that this will raise awareness to the world about Gaza / Palestine and the actual ORDEAL these people are going through? Has it never crossed their minds, instead of manipulating the media for defamatory purposes only, to manipulate them in such way, that in the long run, will help them recruit more & more people to contribute to their humanitarian missions, by raising money, collecting donations, receiving offers from people willing to voluntarily participate in the convoys ?

Isn’t Gaza worth all of that? Isn’t Palestine worth all of that?

*****


[i] “Before my statement I feel compelled to clear up a misunderstanding about my role in the Road to Hope Convoy. I am not an organizer nor an original leader of the convoy. I became a leader shortly after joining the convoy on October 23rd (three weeks after it departed London). This became necessary due to the convoy reaching significant levels of internal crisis. Whatever people may believe, I did not want nor ask for this position, nonetheless I accepted it and have done my best to help keep this convoy together and to ensure its success. Having taken this role as late as I did I fully realised that it was impossible to undo past mistakes, so moving forward I have done my best to see the convoy reach Gaza, with or without me.”

[ii] We have limited our resistance to be in opposition to the Israeli occupation alone. Our resistance is against the enemy occupying our land and encroaching on our people and holy sites, and not against anyone else. We did not use resistance even against those who supported our enemies and provided them with all the means of force and the deadly weapons which kill our people. We also adopted the policy of confining the resistance to Palestine and not conducting it outside Palestine. This was done not out of powerlessness, but on account of an accurate estimation of interest, and a balancing of various considerations.” Khaled Meshaal. http://palestinethinktank.com/2010/10/19/meshaal-interview-on-hamas-policy-a-must-read/

[iii] Ken O’Keefe: “Now we find ourselves in our third day at the Libyan / Egyptian border and we remain hopeful that the land route will be opened to us in the coming days”. The convoy departed from London with the understanding that the land crossing through Egypt had not been closed to it. Convoy leader, Kieran Turner: “One reason for our optimism that we will travel the land route is the fact that the Al Quds convoy, a Libyan convoy also delivering aid to Gaza, is set to travel the land route in the coming days. For several weeks we have hoped to join our convoys and travel together.” However, the convoy is awaiting permission from the Egyptian authorities to pass through Egypt in this way.

[iv] Mr. Turner understands that there is a possibility the Egyptian government will deny the convoy the land route, in which case they will have only two acceptable options –

1) To press on via the land border without permission, at which time our only chance of success will be by way of significant international pressure and a reversal of a policy which tacitly supports the illegal siege of Gaza.

2) If the land route is denied the only remaining option is to deliver our aid by sea. This option inherently requires significant increases in the cost of our mission, and importantly to all subsequent aid missions. The end result of this policy is a reduction of the already limited resources that can be brought to bear for the people of Palestine.

http://kenokeefe.wordpress.com/2010/10/31/road-to-hope-convoy-stalled-at-egyptian-border/

[v] “It has always been a central aspect of the Road to Hope convoy that it acts in a non-political, non-confrontational manner. To work with and cooperate with every government in every country through which it travelled. Thus far this approach has rewarded it with exceptional receptions in every nation. All of the North African governments have been extremely accommodating and the people of each nation even more so. We must give special praise to the Libyan government for its constant support; when the convoy have had challenges, including breakdowns of vehicles, the authorities here have provided the means to repair those vehicles and continue our mission.”

[vi] Ken O’Keefe: “We are getting close to confrontation time. When tourists can travel by car freely through Egypt and a humanitarian aid convoy is blocked, it pretty much says it all. The blockade of Gaza is in a word, unacceptable”. (http://akashma.wordpress.com/2010/10/31/road-to-hope-convoy-stalled-at-egyptian-border/)

[vii] Dear Sir/Madam
In reference to your email supporting the humanitarian mission “Road to Hope” and your concern towards Palestinians’ plight in Gaza, first of all let me thank you for the concern and interest you are showing, and allow me then to draw yourattention to a number of facts regarding this issue.

In line with Egypt’s continued efforts to alleviatePalestinian sufferings in Gaza due to the Israeli blockade, a mechanism has been put in place since last year to ease the passage of international humanitarian aid into Gaza. This mechanism aimed at channeling all aid to Gaza via the port of El-Arish which is only 40 km from the Rafah crossing to Gaza.El-Arish has been dedicated for receiving humanitarian and medical aid equipment and materials from all over the world, whereby aid consignments have been welcomed to pass through so as to ensure a speedy delivery to its beneficiaries in Gaza.

Accordingly, all aid convoys throughout the past year and this year have been liaising with Egyptian authorities to deliver their aid convoys to Gaza, which has successfully taken place, most notably the last Viva Palestinian Lifeline 4 convoy in October 2010. As well, the Rafah crossing has been continuously open for almost six months now where thousands of Palestinians have enjoyed free passage in both directions.

In light of the above mentioned, it is quite regrettable that organizers of the Road to Hope convoy have failed to liaise with the Egyptian side at any stage regarding the delivery of the aid directed to Gaza, where they choose to cross over from the most remote point on the western borders of Egypt to get to Gaza on the far eastern borders rather than going directly to El-Arish, only half an hour from Gaza. They even ignored any visa requirements that are necessary to enter Egypt, where they would have been welcomed and granted the required visas had they arranged for that prior to their departure.

An additional constraining factor is due to the current holy days, where the Rafah crossing is completely devoted to the thousands of Palestinian pilgrims who are heading to and from the holy lands in Saudi Arabia.

I once again express our appreciation for your concern towards the Palestinians and their suffering, and would like to stress that both the Egyptian Government and people will always uphold the best interests of the Palestinians and their just cause. I trust that this explanation will help in clarifying the facts of the situation at hand.

Best regards, Embassy of Egypt in [omissis].

[viii] It is a “Wall Post” by one of my FB friends (whose name I am omitting) and the discussion that went on over the course of 50 minutes with him. An edited excerpt is included here to demonstrate that theories were already beginning to formulate.

Update: Ken O’Keefe and the Road to Hope http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=125051327525642 convoy are in a significantly tricky situation. Captain hired to take the whole convoy to El Arish has panicked and sailed out of port early with some of the vehicles and supplies and convoy on board as virtual hostages. Bulk of the convoy being forcibly detained in port (Tobruk) despite having paid for a legitimate charter. Updates coming live.
If you have any expertise to offer in this situation (maritime law, or coverage for this story), please Ken directly at 00218918020981. More contact details as I get them

http://theroadtohope.org/convoy

Mary RizzoMary: …

careful to not toss around words like HOSTAGES and stuff. this is international law and do they want an unneeded international incident simply becuase they don’t like or understand maritime law?

FB friend: They paid for transportation of the cargo and all convoy members – on deck would be the assumption. Alan PritchardHostage term was being used by convoy members themselves – Captain panicking, throwing his chartees off the boat in an extremely dangerous manner, preventing others from leaving

Mary: it sounds just hoaky to me to leave with a ramp up?! I see docking every single day of my life (though not many ferries, to be honest) and NO captain is going to ruin his boat or lose his license by not following the safety provisions for entry and exit from harbour. What language were they doing this in, was there a proper interpreter. Not to sound nitpicky, but tell your friends THEY OUGHT TO DESIST from utilising words that can be construed in such a way as to accuse others of crimes. There is a crime of calumny and also of undue alarm and if they are filming all of this and have proof of what they say, it might help them, but going on a humanitarian mission doesn’t need the ruckus. so, who is hostage, those on board who asked to be on board or those on the dock who are not on board?

FB friend: Understand your position. Either of my brothers in the merchant navy could tell you stories about this sort of thing happening however, especially away from the better regulated ports, but even in Europort itself…In this case it’s a Greek captain, known for hoakiness, seemingly not acting rationally. Any number of potential reasons for this.
See status update which includes press release on situation which answers some of your questions.

Mary: Mary Rizzo ok, thanks for your response. I personally don’t understand what advantage the ship could have to not deliver its cargo, especially if there was a contract.

FB friend: Mary, the captain has abandoned the ship and it is heading out of port unpiloted. This is giving me shivers, how about you?

Mary: Mary Rizzo this also does not sound realistic! I am sorry, but it sounds fake.. sorry. ships are a gigantic investment. they do not just leave a dock unmanned in the dead of night. I really can’t see that happening. It is not Israel jumping a ship, we are talking about a guy entrusted to a company abandoning the vessel.. why would anyone do that???

FB friend: Guy captains and owns the vessel. I’d do it if I was paid to do so, if my life or my family was threatened, if I was drunk, or if I was a hotheaded idiot with a history of erratic behaviour … Yes, who could possibly threaten a Greek (not Egyptian) captain chartering to delivery a supply convoy to Gaza. Who would do that? Clue: who would get on board a boat in Cyprus, also chartered to Gaza, and sabotage it?
And indeed why threaten. Cajoling is also possible. Money is its own reward.

Mary:Mary Rizzo if this is the same boat that went last month, why the problems now? I will withhold my thoughts on this until there is more clarity. the presence of the port authority officers on board also seems a bit out of the ordinary.

[ix] Greta Berlin: Ken is a loose cannon with the real potential of hurting Palestine more than helping it. He has no clue that his actions with the Greek captain could have and may have put the entire flotilla at risk of being able to leave from Greece, something Ken does not ever think about, since it is always all about Ken. … Flotilla One and soon Flotilla Two have very few places we can leave from, Cyprus is closed to us, both North and South. Turkey we can leave from but is not in the EU. Only Greece offered us the chance to leave from its ports. Now, thanks to Ken and his utter disregard for anyone except himself, he may have jeopardized that. All of the strategy of going to Gaza and NOT going through Egypt, of breaking the Israeli siege and not taking attention off Israel… Ken has managed to complicate.

Breaking Israel’s draconian siege of the people of Gaza is not about Ken. It’s about focusing our time and talents and determination on Israel. It’s about human rights, not delivering humanitarian supplies (although that is a lovely thing to do). The Palestinians don’t need handouts, they need their freedom All of this energy on one man with stupid actions is a terrible waste. Thanks Mary for being so determined, but I am so sorry he wasted your time.

Ken was on our first trip in August, 2008. He was on that trip, because I recommended him (that’s what happens at first). During the entire voyage, he was obstreperous, obnoxious and, finally, dangerous to all of us. He threatened some of the activists with bodily damage. If you’ve seen him, you know he is capable. Finally, he tried to commit mutiny on the Free Gaza during the night we were traveling to Gaza with no outside communication and our ship’s captain sick.

Two or three of us put our feet down and said ‘no’. He did not have paperwork to be a captain, and he is not a captain of anything except a small fishing boat once in Hawaii. He did not seem to comprehend that, if Israel had stopped us, and we had no real captain with papers proving that, he would put us all at risk. Instead he screamed obscenities, threatened several men on board and told me he’d get even with me.

Once we arrived in Gaza, we were relieved that he was not coming back with us. We have had nothing to do with him since.

Many of the passengers on board that night would not say anything in writing or in public against Ken, in part because we all hate that activists are such anarchists, that we often can’t get along. I had no such qualms. Which is why he made the cryptic remark about me. He is a dangerous man. Like you, Mary, I don’t think he’s a paid provocateur. He’s too much of a loud mouth.

He has left a trail of disasters, including this one. The good people in charge of the Hope trip now pretty much want nothing to do with him.

ACTIVIST who requested anonymity: My past experiences with him made it not a stretch to consider that he was acting true to form – a center-stage maverick, disregardful of the mission as a whole, those carrying it out, and those it intends to benefit. My past experiences with him made it not a stretch to consider that he was acting true to form – a center-stage maverick, disregardful of the mission as a whole, those carrying it out, and those it intends to benefit.My past experiences with him made it not a stretch to consider that he was acting true to form – a center-stage maverick, disregardful of the mission as a whole, those carrying it out, and those it intends to benefit.my encounters with Ken were in Baghdad and Jordan as “human shields” – he manifested the same sorts of behaviors then, presenting himself as the super-star while, at the same time, using divisionary tactics and engaging in confrontational manner with the Iraqi government (former) at a time when tensions were high and we felt potentially putting us at risk. We kept our mouths shut because we did not want our efforts any further discredited than they already were being made out to be by much of the mainstream press and by Rumsfeld, also. We wanted to maintain attention on preventing the invasion and the safety of both Iraqis and of shields who courageously remained in Baghdad under shock and awe.

….I woke one morning and when I entered the office, Ken was behind the desk and told me (TOLD me) he was taking over things. He then called a meeting of those of us who had been manning the office and accused our press officer of being “M16″ — I had been working with this woman nearly 24 hours per day for a couple of weeks, shared a room with her and always had found her impeccable in her judgement and admirable in her work, always putting the concerns of the effort and those participating at top priority. I stated this to Ken. He then told me I had a choice; I could believe him or take her side and leave. I told him I didn’t have to hesitate in making my choice.

Felicity Arbuthnot: For me, I was not, frankly pro or anti regime – it was for Iraq to sort out should they wish – but I was outraged at the embargo – beyond outraged. Saddam never killed an average of 7,000 children a month, whatever his undoubted other actions. In to this tinterbox of fear, paranoia, walked Mr O’Keefe. He seemed unaware of any of the atmosphere, people who had been bombed often daily, for twelve years, now facing the unimaginable. Every evening, he would stand, in a dish dasha, in the Palestine, in the centre of the lobby, barking orders, ambushing Shields, creating waves like you cannot imagine.”Who is he, why does he behave like this, what should we do …?” asked the men from the Ministry. I had not a clue about him, but I cringed and realised the whole Shield movement was being tarred with his brush. I felt he might actually get a whole lot of them accused of being more Farzad Bazoft’s – the journalist who was hung for alleged spying. Finally he was slung out and has subsequently made it sound as if it was the wicked Saddam regime and he the victim. He scared them to bits. So another initiative for peace, of huge and desperate (literally) importance which was nearly destroyed. One could not possibly comment as to why this keeps happening, but it does seem like controversies dog all he is involved in. Having also been only an “armchair” watcher re the latest debacle, what does stick in my mind is the, number of times before it happened, how he wrote of the time for confrontation drawing near.

[x] Background – In what is a monumental irony Ken Nichols O’Keefe, the initiator or the Human Shield Action to Iraq that attracted the attention of world leaders and more importantly people around the globe, was forced under duress, to request a U.S. passport at the American Consulate in Rome on February 12, 2003. This request became necessary after the Turkish Government unlawfully deported of Mr. O’Keefe and thus prevented his peaceful transport through Turkey, on his way to Iraq to act as a Human Shield. Had Mr. O’Keefe not made his reluctant request he could have been denied the inherent right to travel to Iraq (UDHR – Article 13 sec. 2) stand with the Iraqi people in defiance of America’s subsequent invasion. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/62866?author_name=Ken&comment_order=asc&condense_comments=true

[xi] This is the private message exchange between myself and Ken O’Keefe. He is also going to be publishing it on his blog.

Mary Rizzo 16 November at 18:35

Palestine Think Tank has as yet not reported or in any way analysed the recent incidents with the Road to Hope Convoy. PTT has in its history supported and followed most of the many campaigns for Palestine, expressing our critique where we deemed necessary as well as our praise where merited. We have a sole objective and single goal: what is beneficial to the freedom of the Palestinians and what will enable the quickest end to the military occupation of Palestine and the oppression of its people. It had been our wish to begin to see very clearly the truth of the situation, in order to have a clear and solid view on things so that our many readers would be able to be informed of this campaign.

We also had hoped that after the initial confused moments, clarity would emerge. This has not been the case. So, we would be willing to listen to and interview any of those involved who would like to state their case. To write our analysis/overview, we will be utilising material readily available on internet. If there are any who would also like to integrate this with their own comment or submit to an interview, please put yourself in contact with us. Upon verification of your affiliation or credential to speak on behalf of a collectivity or in an independent nature, we shall provide contact information where you will be able to call us or write to us.http://www.palestinethinktank.com/

Ken O’Keefe 17 November at 22:55

I am happy to share the truth, always.TJP

Mary Rizzo 18 November at 09:30

very well then. How shall we go about this interview? Shall I give you my phone number or would you prefer a written interview so that your own words will be quoted directly?

Ken O’Keefe 19 November at 09:49

Here you Mary, if you give me your email I can also send you a couple of useful documents that are not for public consumption at this point.http://kenokeefe.wordpress.com/2010/11/18/road-to-hope-convoy-kidnapping-statement-of-events-by-ken-okeefe/

TJP Road to Hope Kidnapping Statement of Events by Ken O’Keefe « Ken O’Keefe

kenokeefe.wordpress.com

Mary Rizzo 19 November at 10:05

XXXXXXXXXX is my mail. Yes, I would appreciate that, as these are some of the problems in being able to have clarity, that there is little in the way of paperwork and in things of this sort, paperwork is no small matter. yes, I read that report, and have some questions I would like you to answer. Are you willing to do an interview? If it is more convenient to you, I can simply write out the questions that I have and you can take a day or so to reflect on them and answer them. That would probably allow you to also be certain that any statements you make are your direct quotes, stated as you choose and viewed by those you trust if you deem that necessary for you, and not a transcription of a recording which could result in bad audio of erroneous transcription. Other persons have wanted to have their statements being direct quotes and thus, to give everyone the same instrument, where they can edit themselves correctly, this may be the way to go. If you do not wish to, and would rather do a phone interview, please let me know, as I need to get together my recording device and then the transcription one.

Ken O’Keefe 19 November at 10:09

Depends on how many questions, give me the list and if it will take too long we will have to look at another time.TJP

Mary Rizzo 19 November at 10:14

well, Ken, send me what you have so far, and the questions might depend on that. All those who committed to being part of this overview have asked me what my time concerns were and I said that I would be publishing in a week or so, they feel it is in their interests to also respect my time constraints. the site I run with others is not a small site and it would not be a bad investment of time to be able to present your answers to questions, however, generally, a person who is interviewed as often as you are should not really worry about the quantity of questions, as the more questions there are, the easier it is for you to clarify any points that are unclear. If however, you honestly do not have intentions of responding, since if i send you the questions, I would like an answer to them, let me know now and I will mention in the overview that you could not respond becuase the questions were too many. So, you must decide a priori whether you want to be interviewed or not. mary

Ken O’Keefe 19 November at 10:34

Mary what I asked for was a list of questions to see if I had time to write the answers or not. Without having the questions I cannot know if I have the time to write the answers.

Let me say this as well Mary, if I recall you seem to have a rather cozy relationship with Mary Woodward and possibly Christina Baseos. Now I reaslise the job of a journalist, more than most, but these people are beyond any doubt from my point of view poisonous. In the case of Mary she has a personal vendetta against me. Christina is friends with a captain and owner who are flat out crazy and quite likely tied to Zionism in one way or the other.

Now I could care less about the defaming going on, I see this all as par for the course. And when you do things as I do, pure of heart, with genuine intent, you can accept anything at all being said of you. But I care not to feed into entities that have intimicies with those so lost that they would make an enemy of me or other good people. Such people are either stupid or agents of the enemy. So let me ask, what is your relationship with these two people in particular.

For me this whole inquiry of yours just seems a bit self-appointed and a little to cozy with other elements. I have given you a lot, but you seem to need more. Can you write a list of questions or not? I have already submitted damning video evidence, a personal statement and I will release more, including documents that will earn convictions, this is more than cooperative. So maybe you can give me a list of questions and I will see if I have the time to write out the answers.

TJP

Mary Rizzo 19 November at 11:13

Ken O’Keefe 19 November at 10:34 Mary what I asked for was a list of questions to see if I had time to write the answers or not. Without having the questions I cannot know if I have the time to write the answers.
M: I do interviews all the time, and if the person is interested in it, they accept to do it, without seeing the questions and then deciding if they have time. I could ask you 10 questions and it could take you 10 minutes to reply, just as I could ask you 1 and it could take you an hour. I have never had to submit questions to anyone. they agree to the condition of being interviewed and then they respond to the questions that I have for them, without this condition. We are all busy persons, myself included. So, try to decide whether you want to take the necessary time whatever it will be or not!

K: Let me say this as well Mary, if I recall you seem to have a rather cozy relationship with Mary Woodward and possibly Christina Baseos.

Mary: absolutely yes with Mary Woodward. She is a longtime activist who I respect for her determination to always look into the details and to not be afraid of persons who insult her for that. She has her points of view, and I respect them. She has been a longtime fundraiser as well, and she is a local leader in activism who has been successful in her part of the organising for the upcoming flotillas, so I absolutely like and respect her. I know Christina Baseos like i know you, ie, not at all, and all of my interactions have been exclusively about this incident and seeking to understand the actual facts. She has been very cooperative providing information from the other party in this. I appreciate that.

K: Now I reaslise the job of a journalist, more than most, but these people are beyond any doubt from my point of view poisonous. In the case of Mary she has a personal vendetta against me. Christina is friends with a captain and owner who are flat out crazy and quite likely tied to Zionism in one way or the other.

M: I never detected any personal vendetta against you. I have seen her interactions where she asks you questions and rather than respond, you go pouty or disappear. So, obviously, that causes inquisitive persons to insist. Christina is a logistics professional who has also been behind the successful Viva Palestina 5 mission. Her duties are to facilitate freight on the companies that she works for or in some way lends her services to. I also understand it that the captain and owner had been the very same vessel for VP5. I do not understand the zionist connection. Though, i know it is easy to label anyone who does not agree with someone a zionist.

K: Now I could care less about the defaming going on, I see this all as par for the course. And when you do things as I do, pure of heart, with genuine intent, you can accept anything at all being said of you. But I care not to feed into entities that have intimicies with those so lost that they would make an enemy of me or other good people. Such people are either stupid or agents of the enemy. So let me ask, what is your relationship with these two people in particular.

M: I told you. And I will go further: I am loyal to one single thing and that is to the Palestinian people. I have been involved in activism for them while you were probably following orders in Iraq or cleaning your rifle. I have been also involved publicly in activism for 30 years, and if you have some sort of doubt as to my position, you should quelch it. Anyone who I believe abuses or undermines the cause of the Palestinian people, and that means ANYONE is held up to scrutiny by me and I am not afraid to express it. Long ago I stopped caring about what others think of me, and given that I know my place, I have really no doubts about my services and who I am serving. I also do not have such a black/white image of the world. Those who disagree with me are not necessarily serving the enemy.

K: For me this whole inquiry of yours just seems a bit self-appointed and a little to cozy with other elements.

M: of course it is self-appointed! I happen to have abstained throughout from expressing myself on my site. Many have asked for our view since we are a rather big site and also one of the few crawled on Google News. The lack of our reporting on this was due to our confusion, and while not seeing it being cleared up, we started asking questions and the more we asked, the more questions we have. (by we, I mean my site, which is me and 3 other Palestinians and an Iraqi). There are some who have objected to this, but they all defend you without having all the information from those who do not share your narrative.

K: I have given you a lot, but you seem to need more. Can you write a list of questions or not? I have already submitted damning video evidence, a personal statement and I will release more, including documents that will earn convictions, this is more than cooperative. So maybe you can give me a list of questions and I will see if I have the time to write out the answers.

M: have already stated myself on this, and taking all of this time has already been time taken away from a proper interview!

Ken O’Keefe 19 November at 11:22

No, I am good. Thanks anyway.

Mary Rizzo 19 November at 11:31

so, you decline to be interviewed? Can i have a confirmation or denial of that please rather than No, I am good, thanks anyway. I have not spoken USA slang for 25 years now, and am not up to date on what I am good means.

Ken O’Keefe 19 November at 12:33

Mary, I decline to be interviewed and I will post this exchange on my blog as an illustration of the self-righteous, holier than thou attitude that exudes from you and which is injurious to unity and respect within the Palestinian justice movement. For my part I do not recognise you as the authority you claim to be and I will not feed your delusions by doing any interview with you.

As for any and all of the good work you have done for Palestine, well done Mary, genuinely. No one can ever take that away from you, and we are all allowed to make mistakes. And so I give you that Mary, your attitude and hostility towards me, your hyper critical perspective of the good people and mission of the R2H Convoy, all of this is a mistake at best. It is not good journalism; it is a witch-hunt posing as journalism in which Mary Woodward and Christina Baseos and likely Greta Berlin are leading the way. I accept all of this; it is indeed par for the course in the circus clown show we westerners have created.

I am sorry for you Mary in that you do not acknowledge my undeniable contributions to justice in Palestine and elsewhere. You say you know me “not at all” and yet my actions are well documented. In this you reveal ignorance or dishonesty, anyone who takes an honest look at what I have done and said will know I am a brother in the Palestinian cause, and a dedicated one at that.

I am sorry for you that you do not know my love for the people of Palestine, for the love of my wife and baby who have Palestinian blood in their veins. Write what you will, move with who you will, always strive to be the best person you can be. I forgive you your mistakes even if you are incapable of reciprocation.

TJP

Mary Rizzo 19 November at 13:07

Ken, can you actually say you know me? Honestly? I understand that Facebook has given an entirely new meaning to the word “friend”, so I can understand that while you expect that I should know “about you”, you can’t in any way claim that I know you, because it is simply not factual! I know you exactly as much as I know Christina Baseos, though you have my email and she does not! And as far as even being “Facebook friends”, no, I am not even a friend with you there, so I don’t understand why you insist that I know you, and then call me delusional. Have you ever heard of me before now? No, I would imagine not, and this is why it doesn’t make me so defensive.

Feel free to post this on your blog as an exhibit of how you judge those who respectfully engage with you, as “self-righteous and holier than thou”. I have declined from expressing my opinion of your character or impressions of your way of interacting, and I can understand that you are very defensive and you often feel a need to demonstrate your dedication, even supplying me and anyone who you speak with on videos and things, with irrelevant personal information. I don’t know precisely either where you can judge yourself to be “forgiving” (of what? my mistakes don’t need to be forgiven by you, actually, unless you would like to be a priest confessor) while determining I am incapable of reciprocation. Perhaps it’s just your communication style, but I can feel it is a bit holier than thou for real.

I had offered to you, as well as to anyone else involved the chance to contribute and respond, and if you have no issues with what the content of the responses might be, I don’t see why you are so defensive. Whenever I feel judged unfairly or misunderstood, I make the effort to arrive at understanding, especially when other people are involved.

I did not claim to be an authority, I claimed, and can substantiate it, that I have a site together with others that is a major site on Palestine and activism for Palestine and we are one of the few sites that has News crawling. This can all be confirmed with a click on Google News and putting our site name in. So, if you don’t want to make yourself available for an overview on our site, this is your choice and we duly note that, and as well, you are already laying out for yourself a justification of what I view as evasiveness. I think that if we want to be best friends with everyone who interviews us, we will only be producing Tazibao and not going on BBC or CNN or any other news media. You have a right to deny to respond to direct questions. This means I will utilise all that is available in internet.

One last note, I was not at all hypercritical of RTH, on the contrary! I know persons in the convoy and respect their desires for the mission. It was you who, in your own note, had complained about their bad management, and we can also see that having what happened occur, along with the stranding of good and dedicated people while you were busy acquiring funds for your own return left a bitter taste in my mouth. I had expressed on several occasions my total support to the people who took part in that campaign and understand that their very dramatic situation is actually something that could have been prevented, so yes, I am critical of the enterprise, but not of its statement of purpose, as it seems clear in your own statement that you do not agree with it in principle. I think that this however, is an internal issue for all of you to sort out. I can only have my opinion from the outside.

On one more note: I have seen what you have done/claimed to have done, and as a matter of fact, have contacted persons you have suggested regarding these matters. If people have reached some opinions, independently, this may not necessarily mean that they have coordinated it. Not at all. I think you tend to be overly defensive and interested in conspiracy type thought, but as a matter of fact, I will look into your work and record on Palestine.

mary

Mary Rizzo 19 November at 13:13

by the way, you are not allowed to publish my email address. I grant you no permission to share contact details. mary

[xii] The enquiry by R2H was for the transportation of 30 vehicles plus 30 persons from Derna/Libya to El Arish/Egypt.

The MV STROFADES is RO-RO (Rolling On-Rolling Off) vessel and has a DWT (dead weight) of 4200mt. In order for you to understand the voyage calculation, you must keep in mind the following:
– The vessel consumes fuel oil & diesel oil when at sea and only diesel oil when she is berthed in a port
– The distance between Derna & El Arish is 586 n.m (nautical miles) and with an average speed of 12.5 – 13.0 knots (n.m/hour) the duration of the voyage is about 2 days, agw, wp,uce (all going well, weather permitted, unforeseen circumstances excluded)
– The vessel would spend 1 day in Derna port for loading operations PLUS 1 day in El Arish port for discharge operations, i.e. 2 total days in the ports
– After the vessel had discharged the cargo in El Arish and due to the fact that in El Arish there is no rolling cargo available for the vessel to load, an estimation of expenses covering the BALLAST voyage from El Arish to Lattakia/Syria (where rolling cargo to load is available) had to be included (BALLAST voyage: when a vessel sails from one port to another empty, i.e without cargo). The duration of the voyage from El Arish to Lattakia is about 1 day, agw, wp, uce
– Fuel consumption rates are the actual ones of the MV STROFADES IV
– Daily operating costs include, maintenance, crew wages, insurance, classification society, victualling, etc and are the actual ones of the MV STROFADES IV

VOYAGE ESTIMATION:

Fuel oil: 17mt/day x $ 570/mt = $ 9690/day X 2days voyage = $ 19380
Diesel oil: 1.5mt/day x $ 700/mt = 1050 X (2 days voyage +2 days in ports) = $ 4200
Daily operating expenses $ 4000/day X 4 days = $ 16000
===========================================
A) Total voyage expenses $ 39580

Ballast voyage:
Fuel oil: 17mt/day x $570/mt = $ 9690
Operating expenses: $ 4000 X 1 day = $ 4000
===========================================
B) Ballast voyage expenses $ 13690

The freight the owners required was $ 75000 and NOT $ 82500 as Mr. O’Keefe claims

FREIGHT REQUIRED $ 75000
LESS GRAND TOTAL EXPENSES(A+B) $ 53270
===========================================
GROSS PROFIT $ 21730

Please note that the cargo (30 vehicles) was less than 1/4 of the MV STROFADES IV cargo carrying capacity. The remaining 3/4 + of the vessel’s carrying capacity would be empty.
Moreover, note that in the above Gross Profit calculation, the depreciation cost of the MV STROFADES IV investment ($ 4.000.000) has NOT been included.

N.B. The above estimation is only for the SPECIFIC voyage of Derna-El Arish and by no means does it constitute a “base” for generally making voyage estimations, as the estimations always depend on different factors.

Now, that I have given you the voyage estimation and the actual costs involved, I would like to point out the following:
All ship-owners are entrepreneurs. The fact that they might be asked to carry a humanitarian cargo does not constitute a reason for them to carry it without profit. There are thousands of vessels in the sea and thousands of shipping companies around the world. I remind everyone that is was R2H’s broker who approached the ship-owners of MV STROFADES IV proposing them a potential business. The owners decided to make an offer for the carriage of the cargo in question.
However, if the charterers (R2H) were not satisfied with the freight offered by the owners, they could always search for another vessel and/or shipping company to ask for more offers.
It is worth mentioning that the MV STROFADES IV carried humanitarian for Viva Palestina 5 from Lattakia/Syria to El Arish/Egypt for a freight of $70.000 for a much shorter voyage (1 day), which only proves that the freight requested by the owners for the R2H cargo was indeed competitive.

Jubliant Americans

News during the last couple of weeks has rumbled in to shake an already rickety balance of world order. Perhaps one of the most disturbing images accompanying those headlines, though, was not that of more bruised and bulleted bodies. Rather, the image was of what the Associated Press termed a ‘jubilant crowd’. As though they had just won the World Cup Final, Americans waved flags as they sang and chanted their patriotic celebration.

Osama Bin Laden, they had just been told, had been shot dead. After nearly a decade-long manhunt, he had finally been pounced upon in Pakistan. The crowd cheered. And when President Obama made the official announcement, he coaxed the nation to cheer the same; he concluded by quoting the American pledge of allegiance:

‘Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all’.

‘Indivisible’. In this one word lies the notion that has fed American policy for many, many years: united we stand-divided they fall.

This is the disturbing aspect about the spectacle that accompanied a political assassination. The power that drives the ruin of lives has been reduced to a sports-style competition. The longstanding game strategy has become brazen: (1) unite ourselves to challenge a common enemy-of-the-day, (2) keep all designated enemies splintered with hostilities, and then (3) exploit the resulting instability. A 2005 report called ‘Dividing Our Enemies’, a report produced by the US Special Operations Command, admits frankly: ‘exploiting the rivalries or animosities among the insurgent bands clearly meets our goals’.

By way of example, just last month President Obama gave a speech stressing the importance of strengthening the nation by all working together. Meanwhile, American leaders were bristling at the renewed rumours of an impending reconciliation between the Fatah and Hamas parties of Palestine. They then promptly issued threats to cut off American support to the Palestinians should the Palestinians choose to work together themselves.

Within days, twenty-seven US Senators formerly demanded that President Obama ‘stand by its refusal to work with any Palestinian government that includes Hamas’. The Senators declared:

‘It is imperative for you [President Obama] to make clear to President Abbas that Palestinian Authority participation in a unity government with an unreformed Hamas will jeopardize its relationship with the United States, including its receipt of U.S. aid’.

Why had political support and financial aid been offered in the first place? Clearly not to facilitate a stable government of national unity. Repeatedly over the years, whenever the Palestinians have expressed their own unity, they have been rebuked for seeking their own terms of agreement. Only those Palestinians who were willing to abide by the terms of the Western “Israeli” Alliance were welcome.

This American pattern of provoking and prolonging internal hostilities amongst strategically targeted populations has been played out time and again in the Middle East. With protecting its “Israeli” project in the forefront, successive American governments have spared no effort to tame the Palestinians and Lebanese. Being unprocurable, Lebanon was played. From the 1950’s onward, relentless political manipulation and violent interference ensued.

Just as they had with the Palestinians, American governments offered political support and financial aid to select Lebanese-but only as a means of leverage. In the run-up to the Lebanese national election of 2009, for example, US Vice President Biden warned that his government would assess its willingness to continue aid to Lebanon ‘based on the composition of the new [Lebanese] government and the policies it advocates’. Years of open hostility toward Lebanese parties supportive of the Resistance clarified beyond any doubt what he meant.

Yet again in January 2011, the US cautioned that it ‘would have great concerns about a government within which Hizbullah plays a leading role’ and warned once again it could cut off aid, that tantalising carrot dangled in the faces of those pursued as strategic allies. A game played by house rules. But when the so-called assistance is bartered not for peace and stability, but solely for the political gain of the lender, then the role of the international community has gone terribly wrong.

Eleven years ago this month, the Lebanese thwarted the strategy of the Western “Israeli” Alliance to divide and conquer. The Lebanese Resistance rejected the presence of American-paid mercenaries and liberated its land from military occupation. The Resistance liberated its people from the dictum of imposed division. In so doing, the Resistance confirmed that the right to a durable national unity is not the prerogative of the Western world.

In similar fashion, the various calls for reform we are witnessing today in the Arab world are calls for integrity. They are resistance to a state divided from its people, resistance to a people divided from each other, and resistance to foreign states imposing their own agendas. In particular, the eagerness of the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples to achieve national unity is a key element of this developing global balance. Yet their eagerness has not been cheered; instead, it has been routinely met with stern disapproval from America-the self-proclaimed champion of united patriotism.

The concept of national unity, whether Arab or Western, should guide and grow with its people. It should be built on what is right about its own people-and not on what it perceives to be wrong about another. If we are ever to establish peaceful relations, the role of the international community is to be an honest broker in the pursuit of mutual benefit. When lives are at stake, it is simply not a game.

Brenda Heard is Founder of Friends of Lebanon, London. Details of the Lebanese Resistance & Liberation Day event in London, 25 May, ‘Reform as Resistance: emerging independence within the Arab world’ can be found here.

http://www.english.moqawama.org/essaydetails.php?eid=14083&cid=269


(Italian subtitles by Diego Traversa, French by Mirielle Rumeau)
To reply to the Gaza youth Manifesto, and with no additional words to the ones spoken with true heart on this video, we give you, The Manifesto. A simple, true, self-explanatory, expression of what we’re sick of.

As these days mark the 63rd memory of the Nakba, our people all around the world, revolt, and object to the injustice and hatred we are met with on a day to day basis, just because we’re Palestinians and just because we exist.

I urge your humanity and your conscience, to spread on this video, so the 15th of May 1948, wouldn’t ever be forgot, and so Palestinians would once more have their freedom and rights back; especially the right of return.

Salamat,
Two anonymous from Palestine.

كرد على بيان شباب غزة، وبدون أي كلمات إضافية للكلمات الصادقة من القلب التي قيلت في هذا الفيديو، نقدم نحن لكم “البيان” والذي هو تعبيرنا البسيط والصريح والغاني عن الشرح، الذي يعبر عن كل الأشياء “اللي احنا زهقنا منها”.

في هذه الأيام التي تمثل الذكرى الثالثة والستين للنكبة، شعبنا في مختلف أنحاء العالم ينتفض ويحتج على الظلم والكراهية التي نعامل بها على أساس يومي، فقط “علشان احنا فلسطينية”.

أنا أحث إنسانيتكم وضمائركم لتنشروا بياننا، لكي يبقى 15-5-1948 يوما لا ينسى في تاريخ الشعوب، ولكي يستعيد الفلسطينيون حريتهم وحقوقهم، وخاصة حقهم في العودة.

سلامات،
عشوائيان من فلسطين.

63 ans de Nakba

Par Deux anonymes de Gaza

Pour répondre au Manifeste de la Jeunesse de Gaza, et sans ajouter un mot à ceux qui sont dits du fond du cœur sur cette vidéo, nous vous donnons Le Manifeste. L’expression simple, qui se passe d’explications, de tout ce dont nous avons marre. En ces jours qui marquent le 63ème souvenir de la Nakba, notre peuple, dans le monde entier, se révolte et proteste contre l’injustice et la haine que nous rencontrons chaque jour, simplement parce que nous sommes Palestiniens et simplement parce que nous existons. (cliquer pour la suite du post et la traduction des sous-titres)
Nous en appelons à votre humanité et à votre conscience pour diffuser cette vidéo, pour que le 15 mai 1948 ne soit jamais oublié, et pour que les Palestiniens recouvrent leur liberté et leurs droits, en particulier le droit au retour.

Salamat,
Deux anonymes de Palestine

http://www.ism-france.org/temoignages/63-ans-de-Nakba-article-15565

63 ans de Nakba

J’en ai marre du mur
J’en ai marre des checkpoints entre les villes palestiniennes
J’en ai marre des colons israéliens illégaux et de leurs colonies
J’en ai marre que ma carte d’identité soit en hébreu
J’en ai marre que des gens ne connaissent rien de notre histoire mais qu’ils sachent tout de l’histoire juive
J’en ai marre que des gens ignorent le droit palestinien au retour et accepte le droit au retour des juifs
J’en ai marre de l’Accord d’Oslo que personne ici n’a d’abord voulu
J’en ai marre de l’Autorité palestinienne sans aucune autorité
J’en ai marre de voir mon père être humilié aux checkpoints par des gens de mon âge et plus jeunes
J’en ai marre que mes amis internationaux soient obligés de mentir quand ils viennent me voir, qu’ils soient interrogés, fouillés à corps et quelquefois expulsés
J’en ai marre que des gens ne comprennent pas ce qu’est “l’occupation”
J’en ai marre d’avoir tout le temps peur
J’en ai marre du syndrome de stress post-traumatique, un état normal ici en Palestine
J’en ai marre du Droit humanitaire international qui ne s’applique pas à l’État d’Israël
J’en ai marre de voir que combattre pour les droits humains de base des Palestiniens, ou critiquer la politique israélienne, est si souvent traité d'”antisémitisme”
J’en ai marre que tout le monde oublie que je suis une Sémite
J’en ai marre d’entendre les Israéliens se plaindre de discrimination quand l’État d’Israël a été fondé sur un principe de pureté ethnique
J’en ai marre de vivre à une époque où la discrimination raciale est devenue acceptable
J’en ai marre d’être constamment traité comme un suspect
J’en ai marre de la manière dont les médias nous décrivent, nous et notre situation
J’en ai marre que le monde entier se préoccupe de Gilad Shalit alors qu’il y a plus de 7000 Palestiniens dans les prisons israéliennes
J’en ai marre d’essayer de me défendre, moi-même, mes amis ou mes compatriotes et de me faire traiter de terroriste
J’en ai marre de voir, où je j’aille, le mur, une colonie ou une soldat israélien

J’en ai marre de 63 ans d’occupation israélienne

Traduction : MR pour ISM

In honor of the sixty-third anniversary of Israel’s independence from the proprietors of the land on which it was established, the Israeli embassy in Panama is issuing a four-part magazine series entitled “Israel: 63 years of constant progress”. The first 30-page installment arrived last week with the morning La Prensa and dealt with typical cultural themes such as hummus, shawarma, and the coexistence in the Israeli democratic “oasis” of various ethnicities enjoying equal rights. Cultural trivia items included that “Israelis drink 3.5 cups of coffee per day”, “A cup of coffee costs 4 dollars on average”, and “Because they are adventurous, Israelis love extreme sports”.

Higher-caliber trivia—such as the success of an Israeli invention for an electric hair removal device, which according to Israel’s Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs “makes women happy all over the world” and should thus be used in order to counter “barbs of criticism” levied against Jewish state on account of its barbarous policies—was not on this occasion made available to Panamanians. Nor was it explained whether the multiethnic democracy’s Afghan Jewish inhabitants, represented by a photograph of women in blue burqas, had access to alternate ensembles for use during skydiving and other extreme activities, or how vast portions of the Israeli population living below the poverty line can spend 14 dollars a day on coffee.

The theme of the second supplement in the anniversary series, which arrived yesterday, is Israeli-Panamanian relations. The magazine cover features a handshake, with one hand patterned after the Israeli flag and the other after the Panamanian one. Lest there remain any doubt as to economic motives for political obsequiousness to Israel, this installment—like the first—is transparently interspersed with full-page advertisements from Panamanian banks and related institutions congratulating Israel on 63 years of independence. Also interspersed, however, is the detail that the “land of Israel” was in 1947 “also known as Palestine”.

On page 15 of the magazine it is announced that “Panama played an important role in the processes that led to the creation of the state of Israel”, thanks especially to a certain Eduardo Morgan Alvarez who “understood the injustices that the Jews had suffered” and who was appointed by Panamanian President Enrique A. Jimenez to represent the country before the U.N. Palestine Commission. According to the magazine, Morgan’s most important achievement “was to persuade smaller countries, primarily in Latin America, to support the U.N. [partition] resolution”.

Regarding Israeli acquisition of an air force, meanwhile, consider the following paragraph:

The first planes arrived to [Israel] by way of clandestine operations, due to the arms embargo by the West. One such operation involved transferring 13 planes from the U.S. to Panama, registering them under the name of Líneas Aéreas de Panama, LAPSA, a company that was created precisely for this purpose. The first plane arrived to Israel on June 21, 1948.”

Other bright spots in the history of Israeli-Panamanian relations appear on page 17, where we learn that current Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli’s March 2010 visit to Israel and signing of five accords prompted the Israelis to “issue a page of postage stamps in his honor”.

As for the report that bilateral trade between Israel and Panama increased 35 percent last year and that “Panama is one of Israel’s best trading partners in Latin America”, the sanctity of the arrangement is not without constraints—something confirmed by recently WikiLeaked cables indicating that Martinelli bowed to U.S. embassy pressure to cease providing contracts to the Israeli security firm Global CST. Run by former Head of the Operations Directorate of the IDF Israel Ziv, the firm’s regional accomplishments include employing an Argentine-born Israeli interpreter who endeavored to sell classified Colombian military documents to the FARC.

Of course, such trivia is irrelevant to Israel’s sixty-third anniversary of promoting conflict at home and abroad. Far more important is the recognition that “Israelis understand and appreciate good coffee, and they drink it the same way the Europeans do”, and that “Israel has the most divers per capita in the world, who enjoy world-renowned diving spots”.

http://pulsemedia.org/2011/05/11/panama’s-underappreciated-role-in-the-creation-of-israel/

for their “museum of tolerance”.

EGYPT is 1 million square Kilometers of land located in the northeastern corner of Africa and through the centuries Egypt has been the link between Europe, Asia and Africa. It’s the cornerstone and the connecting nexus of this continental triad and that’s why it’s considered poly-dimensional. Through this post I’ll try to clarify how Egypt was ‘separated’ from its natural and cultural dimensions and how it was ‘isolated’ to prevent any further cultural contact, integration or fusion.

Since 1981, when Sadat was assassinated, and during the thirty years of Mubarak’s regime, Egypt has gone through two main stages in the relationship with neighbors. The first and shorter stage I like to call the ‘Openness & Reconciliation’ stage; when Mubarak was preaching his new reign and leadership, when Mubarak was trying to be the ‘wise’ leader who brought Egypt and glory back to the Arabs and the ‘wise’ leader who liberated Sinai and regained Taba without a drop of blood. The second stage is called ‘Chair First!’ , the Honeymoon was over, Mubarak began to wake up and realize that his personal interests lied with America and Israel only, not with the Arabs, Africans, Russians and others whose problems are more than their benefits, he thought. That’s when ‘Separation & Isolation’ in the reign of Mubarak began to take place on different axes and dimensions.

Asiatic dimension : 

Represented in Gaza (Palestine) and the Fertile Crescent region (historically parts of Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon), the Asiatic dimension remains the most vital and important because the Arab culture arrived to Egypt from there, because people in this region are closer to Egyptians in traditions, accent, food, culture and many other aspects than any other neighbor.Also because the parts of this ‘Fertile Crescent’ shown on the map complete each other and become very powerful when united. Remember that Baghdad, Cairo and Damascus dominated the cities of the world with knowledge, science and prosperity when they were united. You can guess now why the strange Zionist entity of Israel is existing and blocking the natural tide between Cairo and its Asiatic dimension. The regime of Mubarak strongly supported the Israeli-American policies in this region by unsubstantial rounds of negotiations and tightening the siege on Gaza. 

Sub-Saharan African dimension :

“Egypt is the gift of the Nile”, Herodotus said thousands of years ago. Life flows to Egypt from the headwaters of the Nile, from Sub-Saharan Africa. Egypt had a considerable influence in this region during the reign of Nasser, our relationship with Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and even with western African countries like Nigeria and Cameroon was very good; we sent them teachers, we invested in their industries and agriculture. This excellent heritage of connections with our Sub-Saharan African dimension was not respected by Mubarak and his regime and they let the soft power of Israel take over Africa and directly threaten our National Security.

North African dimension :

Accumulated problems and misunderstandings existed between us and this dimension from the 1960’s but Mubarak totally ignored this dimension, didn’t adopt any conciliatory approach and even created more problems and complications. 

European dimension : 

Politically, the relation between Mubarak and our European dimension was based on Mutualism, but compare between Egypt-Europe balance of trade and that of Egypt-USA to know what happened economics-wise. It is a crime against the Egyptians and the peoples of southern Europe adjacent to us. Imagine all the available jobs and investments if stronger economical relationships existed commensurating with the geography, history and needs. 

Who’s the enemy and who’s the friend ?

Mubarak, who followed the way of Sadat concerning this issue, created enmities, abandoned friends and friended enemies for others’ benefits and for his personal benefits not for Egypt. Why is Iran an enemy ? I don’t know. Why is Israel a friend ? I don’t know. Why don’t we have strong relations with Russia, Turkey, Indonesia, Brazil and India ? I also don’t know.

After what we have done and achieved in Jan25 revolution, I hope that reconsidering the policies and relationships of Egypt with its dimensions will be one of the top priorities for the next president.

We don’t know for sure as of yet who murdered international Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni. However, whoever committed this despicable crime must be a human beast walking on two legs.
 
Vittorio Arrigoni was abducted on Thursday, 14 April, in Central Gaza. Members of a notoriously fanatical group posted a video online saying they would kill him unless the Gaza government released detained Salafists from prison.
 
Within a few hours of the warning, Arrigoni’s body was found in an empty house.
 
Arrigoni’s death has infuriated Palestinians everywhere. Ismael Haniya, the elected Prime Minister of Hamas called Arrigoni’s murder a “nefarious crime that goes against our religion, norms and traditions.” A spokesman for the Gaza government described the perpetrators as “thugs and murderers of the lowest kind.”
 
One Islamist writer, Ibrahim Hamami, called the murderers, “the lowest of the low.”
 
The accused group, the Tawhid and Jihad, has denied posting the video or any involvement in the killing of Arrigoni. They hinted that the Israeli intelligence may have been the real killers of the Italian activist.
 
And while Israel can never be ruled out as an accused party, it is widely believed that the so-called Salafi group (Salafi means a true follower of the Prophet) remains the premier suspect. They are guilty until proven innocent, given the prima facie evidence that would indict them.
 
It is true that the Salafis are not carbon copies of each other. However, the militant Salafis have been accused of abductions, killings, attacking internet cafes, and calling for the expulsion of Christians from the Gaza Strip.
 
A group of Salafis last year carried out an armed rebellion against the Hamas-led government during which several people lost their lives. In one episode, an intermediary who was carrying a message to their leaders was brutally murdered by those who called themselves Muslims. Islam is absolutely against killing messengers even in war time.
 
One would hope to give these stupid fanatics the benefit of the doubt. However, their diabolic crimes in many parts of the Muslim world leave us no doubt as to their true nature.
 
They claim they are out to fight the armies of the disbelievers who have invaded some Muslim countries.  However, the falsehood and mendacity of their claims are made clear by the fact that for every western soldier they killed, they murdered at least a hundred Muslim men, women, and children.
 
And when they are confronted with these crimes, they often seek vague, erroneous, spurious and invalid edicts to justify and rationalize what is obviously evil.
 
Islam is not a vague religion, especially when it comes to human life. However, these ignorant fanatics seem to have been blinded by their misplaced zeal and ignorance.
 
They thrive and prosper and become quite gleeful upon killing innocent people, whether Muslims or non-Muslims. And they think that by so doing they endear themselves to the Almighty when the opposite is true.
 
Have the killers asked themselves what in the world would justify killing Arrigoni, a man who came all the way from Italy to identify with the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice? What wrong did he do? What crime did he commit? Didn’t they realize that Arrigoni may have done so much for Gaza which has now been besmirched by their cowardly crime?
 
Arrigoni didn’t come to Gaza as an aggressor or invader. He came to show solidarity with its wronged people and highlight the immense oppression meted out to be people by the Nazis of our time, the Zionist Israelis.
 
Hence, the claim that he came to the Land of Islam to spread corruption and disbelief should be treated with the utter contempt it deserves.
 
Again, there is no doubt that these ignoramuses are victims of their ignorance. They don’t represent the true followers of the Prophet (PBUH) who was quoted as saying according to authentic hadith that “whoever oppresses a Mua’hed (a non-Muslim resident or traveler in the land of Islam), or arrogated his rights, or takes something away from him against his will, or forces him to do that which is beyond his ability, I shall be his opponent on the Day of Judgment.”
 
In another hadith, the Prophet said “whoever killed a non-Muslim living in the land of Islam shall not smell the fragrance of paradise; verily its fragrance is smelled from a distance of a 40-year travel.”

we must work to get all instigators to this atrocious crime prosecuted legally and their evil doings blocked

(segue l’ italiano) Today I finally was able to talk to people at the Italian foreign office. Journalists who are card carrying ones get directed to an office, the rest of us have to fill out a form. this is the phone number: +39 06 36911 if you are a journalist. (They also have ability to receieve calls in English). If you are an ordinary citizen, you talk to someone at THIS number +39 06 36911, where a kind man listens to you and then tells you he is unable to do anything but ask you to use 3000 characters to fill out a written declaration. You may do it in Italian or English. I have written this (the English translation will follow) and I kindly ask all of you to please 1) call them to let them know this is an emergency, 2) fill out the form and ask all your contacts to fill it out as well, 3) pressure at least the Italian Foreign Ministry to do their duty to investigate an instigator to an Italian citizen’s assassination. 4) do the same with any other country you think can help, USA in particular, since this is where the site is. 

this is the URL for the complaint: 

http://www.esteri.it/MAE/IT/Ministero/Servizi/Sportello_Info/DomandeFrequenti/FAQRichiestaInfo.htm

http://www.esteri.it/MAE/EN/Ministero/Servizi/Sportello_Info/DomandeFrequenti/FAQRichiestaInfo.htm?LANG=EN 

Vorrei segnalare il sito www.stoptheism.com che celebra la morte di Arrigoni ed in più, il suo autore ha istigato alla morte già in data 2009, http://www.scribd.com/doc/53046178/Israeli-HIT-LIST-Includes-Vittorio-Utopia-Arrigoni. (con foto della istigazione compreso). Chiedo che Lee Kaplan viene indagato come istigatore della morte ed il suo site chiuso immediatamente. http://www.megachip.info/modules.php?name=Sections&op=printpage&artid=8532 (in italiano). 

in English what I wrote, feel free to use it or modify it as you wish: 

I would like to indicate the site www.stoptheism.com that celebrates the death of Arrigoni and in addition, its author has instigated to the death already on the date of 2009, http://www.scribd.com/doc/53046178/Israeli-HIT-LIST-Includes-Vittorio-Utopia-Arrigoni. (with photos of the instigation included). I ask that Lee Kaplan is investigated as an instigator to the assassination and that his site is immediately closed. http://www.megachip.info/modules.php?name=Sections&op=printpage&artid=8532 (in Italian).

ITALIANO

Oggi, finalmente ho potuto parlare con la Farnesina. Giornalisti che hanno le qualifiche professionali sono diretti ad un ufficio, noi altri dobbiamo riempire un modulo. Ecco il numero: 06 36911 se giornalista (possono anche ricevere in inglese). Se solo un privato cittadino, puoi parlare con qualcuno a questo numero: 06 36911, dove un signore gentile ti ascolta e dopo averti detto che non potrebbe fare nulla, ti istruisce di riempire il modulo di segnalazione, con 3000 caratteri a disposizione. (in italiano o inglese). Ho scritto il seguente e chiedo gentilmente a tutti di 1) telefonare per farli capire che è un’emergenza, 2) riempire il modulo e chiedere a tutti i contatti la stessa cosa, 3) mettere pressione almeno sulla Farnesina per fare il loro dovere nell’indagine nell’assassinio di un cittadino italiano, 4) fare lo stesso con ogni paese che crediate potrebbe fare qualcosa, in particolare gli USA dove è registrato il sito.

Vorrei segnalare il sito www.stoptheism.com che celebra la morte di Arrigoni ed in più, il suo autore ha istigato alla morte già in data 2009, http://www.scribd.com/doc/53046178/Israeli-HIT-LIST-Includes-Vittorio-Utopia-Arrigoni. (con foto della istigazione compreso). Chiedo che Lee Kaplan viene indagato come istigatore della morte ed il suo site chiuso immediatamente. http://www.megachip.info/modules.php?name=Sections&op=printpage&artid=8532 (in italiano). 

in inglese, usatelo o modificatelo come ritenete sia giusto: 

I would like to indicate the site www.stoptheism.com that celebrates the death of Arrigoni and in addition, its author has instigated to the death already on the date of 2009, http://www.scribd.com/doc/53046178/Israeli-HIT-LIST-Includes-Vittorio-Utopia-Arrigoni. (with photos of the instigation included). I ask that Lee Kaplan is investigated as an instigator to the assassination and that his site is immediately closed. http://www.megachip.info/modules.php?name=Sections&op=printpage&artid=8532 (in Italian).

UPDATE: THE JOB IS NOT OVER! THE SITE WITH THE SPECIFIC INCITEMENT HAS BEEN CLOSED (WHICH WE HAVE ON ARCHIVES) BUT A SITE WITH A DIFFERENT URL IS STILL THREATENING! DON’T STOP WRITING LETTERS OF COMPLAINT TO HAVE HIM SENTENCED! https://wewritewhatwelike.com/2011/04/18/re-arrigoni-execution-write-to-italian-foreign-office-to-close-kaplan-site-scrivete-alla-farnesina/ TAKE ACTION!!

By Luca Galassi, translated by Mary Rizzo

Lee KaplanLee Kaplan, its author, is being investigated by Interpol

The site of the Jewish fundamentalist Lee Kaplan has been closed. “Stop the ISM”, a site financed by the well-known American David Horowitz, urged on for people to provide information so that the pacifist Vittorio Arrigono could be localised and then eliminated by the Israeli military. For now, awaiting that the Interpol investigations run their course, the ferocity of the words of Kaplan have brought about a rightful elimination as the price to pay. We raised the question in this article (in English here with the archived copy of the original threat to Vittorio and the other activists), highlighting the very serious echo that the words of Kaplan would have had and reconstructing the links of the self-styled “journalist and political analyst” with the Jewish Lobby of the extreme Right.
The Italian embassy at Tel Aviv and the Italian Foreign Ministry, contacted repeatedly by us on the matter have evidently alerted the competent authorities to address this case that regarded our fellow Italian citizen. And, for once, our denouncement was not ignored. 

http://it.peacereporter.net/articolo/13782/Chiuso+il+sito+che+incitava+a+uccidere+il+pacifista+Arrigoni

Tradotto in italiano da Daniela Filippin (Questo omaggio a Vittorio di Jeff Halper è così bello, che non potevo sopportare che non venisse tradotto in italiano):

Dopo aver perso un altro amico e compagno meno di due settimane fa, Juliano Mer-Khamis, mi tocca piangere e ricordare il mio compagno di viaggio di nave Free Gaza, Vittorio (Vik) Arrigoni, brutalmente assassinato ieri notte da estremisti religiosi a Gaza. In realtà; Vik ricordava fisicamente Juliano, per la personalità esuberante e la sua insistenza nell’”esserci” quando gli oppressi avevano bisogno di lui.

Vik era davvero una persona che non potevi non notare. Era così pieno di energia, un misto di gioia, goliardia e impazienza entro i confini di barche e prigioni come Gaza, che all’improvviso ti avrebbe sollevato in aria, o si sarebbe messo a fare la lotta con te – era un ragazzo grosso, forte, bello, vivace e sorridente anche nelle situazioni più pericolose e oppressive, come a dirti: Yaala! A noi e ai pescatori palestinesi, queste navi israeliane che ci sparano, non possono prevalere sulla solidarietà, indignazione e la giustizia della nostra causa! (Vik fu ferito in uno di questi scontri). Ti arrivava da dietro dicendoti: L’occupazione cadrà esattamente così! (lottando con te fino a gettarti a terra, ridendo e giocando con te mentre lo faceva).

Vik, che come me ha ricevuto la cittadinanza palestinese e un passaporto quando abbiamo rotto l’assedio di Gaza salpando nel porto di Gaza nell’agosto 2008, era un esempio supremo di portatore di pace. Nonostante avesse una famiglia in Italia, si è dedicato ai palestinesi col cuore intero, come era solito fare. Sulla sua pagina facebook ha scritto: “Vive a Gaza”. Era conosciuto soprattutto perché accompagnava i pescatori che cercavano di fare il loro lavoro, nonostante gli spari quasi quotidiane della marina israeliana, che li confina alle acque già pescate fino all’esaurimento e sporche di fogna delle cose di Gaza. Almeno diciotto pescatori sono stati uccisi nell’ultimo decennio e circa 200 feriti, molte barche sono state distrutte e molto equipaggiamento danneggiato. Ma era intimamente coinvolto ovunque ci fosse bisogno di lui a Gaza, fra i contadini come fra i bambini traumatizzati, in tempi difficili – il suo libro, Gaza Stay Human, documenta le due esperienze fra la gente durante l’offensiva israeliana di tre settimane nel 2008-09 – e anche essendo semplicemente a contatto con la gente nelle caffetterie e nelle loro case.

Quando è stato appreso che era stato rapito sono spontaneamente sorti centinaia di appelli non solo dalla comunità pacifista internazionale, ma soprattutto dalla popolazione palestinese affranta di Gaza. Un memoriale sarà tenuto oggi a Gaza City e altre parti dei territori occupati.

Vik lavorava nella West Bank come a Gaza, ed è stato imprigionato tre volte prima di essere stato espulso da Israele. Ma il suo lavoro di pace non era solo sotto forma di attivismo. Vik era un maestro della comunicazione – fisica, verbale, scritta (il suo blog, Guerrilla Radio, era uno dei più seguiti in Italia), mischiando con naturalezza esperienze personali, reportage e analisi.

Vik era quello che chiamiamo un “testimone”, qualcuno che fisicamente si mette dalla parte degli oppressi e condivide con loro trionfi, tragedie, sofferenze e speranze. Eppure era uno che attraverso l’azione sperava di influenzare dei veri cambiamenti. Lui, come Juliano, Rachel e molti altri che si sono sacrificati per la pace e la giustizia in Palestina e in tutto il mondo, lasciano un grande vuoto nei nostri cuori, le nostre vite e nella lotta.

Mi mancherai, ragazzo mio. Ma ogni volta che mi sento stanco o scoraggiato, ti sentirò sollevarmi su in alto e sopra la tua testa e, col tuo enorme sorriso e la tua risata, minacciare di gettarmi fuori bordo se solo esito a coinvolgermi in una lotta. Tu eri e sei la forza terrena della lotta contro l’ingiustizia. Ci solleverai sempre su e ci ispirerai. Come i pescatori palestinesi che amavi tanto, noi e tutti gli altri che lottano per le fondamenta della vita in tutto il mondo ci impegneremo per realizzare la tua visione.

Ciao, amico.

Écrit par Pasquale Navarra pour Forum Palestina (traduit en français par Wassyla-Heyett). 

Les causes et la dynamique de l’enlèvement et l’assassinat de Vittorio Arrigoni, activiste et correspondant du Mouvement international de solidarité avec la Palestine dans la bande de Gaza, sont pour le moment en cours de reconstitution. Certaines informations et  évaluations peuvent néanmoins être données, même maintenant.

Vittorio était sur le point de retourner en Italie pour collaborer avec la mission de la flottille de la liberté qui avait décidé de briser en mai le blocus contre les Palestiniens de Gaza, que Vittorio avait systématiquement dénoncé en fournissant une documentation depuis des années.

Vittorio a été découvert déjà mort quand la police palestinienne, aidé par la population locale, a été en mesure de trouver l’endroit où il avait été retenu en otage. L’ultimatum 30 heures n’a été rien de plus qu’un prétexte. Les ravisseurs étaient très jeunes, y compris au moins l’un d’entre eux qui était un citoyen jordanien (et non palestinien). 

Le groupe qui a enlevé et tué Vittorio appartient à cette pléiade de groupes islamistes salafistes, très différents de l’actuel Islam politique que le mouvement Hamas, qui gouverne la bande de Gaza, a comme référence. Ces groupes sont beaucoup plus actifs contre les autres courants islamiques corrompus et les régimes arabes – accusés d’apostasie – qu’ils ne sont opposés à l’occupation israélienne de la Palestine ou de la présence des États-Unis au Moyen-Orient. 

Certains de ces groupes appartiennent au réseau de l’Islam politique qui a comme référence l’Arabie saoudite, est financé et armé par elle. Certains de ces groupes ont déjà provoqué des affrontements et des problèmes très graves dans les camps de réfugiés palestiniens au Liban. 

En ces semaines où les alliances au Moyen-Orient sont brusquement bousculées par les révoltes des peuples et les tensions qui sont présentes dans toute la région, la monarchie saoudienne a établi une alliance avec Israël pour marquer l’ennemi commun représenté par l’Iran et son influence dans la région du Golfe et du Moyen-Orient. Cette alliance a été renforcée par un récent sommet à Moscou auquel participaient à la fois Netanyahu et les dirigeants des services services saoudiens. 

Ces dernières semaines, les autorités israéliennes ont lancé une campagne d’intimidation contre les militants et les campagnes internationales de solidarité avec la Palestine, en particulier contre la flottille de la liberté qui appareillera en mai pour se diriger vers la bande de Gaza, et contre le mouvement de boycott, de désinvestissement et de sanctions contre Israël. Les autorités israéliennes ont demandé aux gouvernements des pays qui ont des navires en partance de leurs côtes ou dans lesquels les campagnes BDS sont importantes, d’intervenir contre les activistes. Le Premier ministre italien Silvio Berlusconi a déjà accepté la demande du gouvernement israélien. Les services secrets israéliens ont été activés pour utiliser tous les moyens nécessaires afin de maintenir les militants internationaux loin de Gaza et de Palestine.

Nous n’avons pas tous les éléments de preuve, mais nous considérons que l’enlèvement et l’assassinat de Vittorio correspond peut-être au sale boulot effectué par les groupes islamistes liés au réseau d’Arabie Saoudite aujourd’hui alliée avec Israël. Le message aux militants internationaux est fort, claire et déconcertant: “Tenez vous loin de Gaza, tenez vous loin de  Palestine”, “Aucune internationalisation de la question palestinienne ne sera tolérée par les autorités de Tel-Aviv et ses alliés”. 

Nous tenons à adresser un message fort et clair à tous ceux qui en Israël ou dans le monde arabe, en Europe ou aux États-Unis entendent ​​resserrer l’étau de l’isolement et de la liquidation autour du droit à l’autodétermination des Palestiniens. Nous le devons à cette population qui se bat pour sa liberté depuis plus de soixante ans et maintenant nous le devons aussi à Vittorio. 

Forum Palestina 

Carlos Latuff's homage to Vittorio Arrigoni

Written by Pasquale Navarra for Forum Palestina (translated by Mary Rizzo)

The causes and the dynamics of the kidnapping and assassination of Vittorio Arrigoni, activist and correspondent of the International Solidarity Movement with Palestine in Gaza, are at the moment being reconstructed. Some information and evaluations can nevertheless be given even now.

Vittorio was about to return to Italy so that he could collaborate with the Freedom Flotilla mission which in May was planning on breaking the siege against the Palestinians of Gaza, a siege that Vittorio had systematically denounced and for years had been documenting.

Vittorio was found already dead when the Palestinian police, helped by the local population, was able to find the place where he had been held hostage. The 30 hour ultimatum was nothing more than a pretext. The kidnappers were very young, including at least one who was a Jordanian citizen (and not Palestinian).

The group that had kidnapped and killed Vittorio belongs to that galaxy of Salafi Islamic groups, very different from the current of Political Islam that the Hamas movement, which governs the Gaza Strip, has as its point of reference. These groups are much more active against the other corrupt Islamic currents and the Arab regimes – accused of apostasy – than they are against the Israeli occupation of Palestine or the USA presence in the Middle East.

Some of these groups belong to the network of Political Islam that has as its reference, is financed and armed by Saudi Arabia. Some of these groups have already provoked clashes and very serious problems in the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon.

In these weeks in which the alliances of the Middle East are brusquely shuffled around by the people’s revolts and the tensions that are present in the entire region, the Saudi monarchy has established an alliance with Israel to mark the common enemy represented by Iran and its influence in the Gulf region and the Middle East. This alliance has been strengthened by a recent summit in Moscow in which present were both Netanyahu and the Saudi secret services leaders.

In these weeks the Israel authorities have initiated an intimidation campaign against the activists and the international solidarity campaigns with Palestine, in particular against the Freedom Flotilla which will leave in May, headed towards Gaza and the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel. The Israeli authorities have asked the governments of the countries which will have ships leaving from their shores or in which the BDS campaigns are strong to intervene against the activists. The Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi has already accepted the request from the Israeli government. The Israeli secret services have been activated to use any means necessary to keep the international activists far from Gaza and from Palestine.

We do not have all the evidence, but we consider that the kidnapping and assassination of Vittorio possibly fits into the dirty work carried out by the Islamic groups tied to the Saudi Arabian network that today is allied with Israel. The message to the international activists is loud, clear and disconcerting: “Stay far away from Gaza, stay far away from Palestine”, “No internationalisation on the Palestinian question will be tolerated by the authorities of Tel Aviv and its allies”.

We would like to send a loud and clear message to all those who in Israel or in the Arab world, in Europe or the United States intend upon tightening the noose of isolation and liquidation around the right of self-determination of the Palestinians. We owe it to this population that has been fighting for its freedom for over sixty years and now we also owe it to Vittorio.

Il Forum Palestina

Goodbye, Vik

Written by Luca Galassi for PeaceReporter. Translated by Mary Rizzo

Vittorio Arrigoni was strangled by his kidnappers during a blitz by the armed faction of Hamas in the flat where he was held hostage in Gaza City.

Vittorio Arrigoni is dead. His body was found during the night at approximately 1:50 in a flat in the Gaza Strip, in the Qaram quarter, in the outskirts of Gaza City. The news was first disseminated by the Hamas sources and then confirmed to PeaceReporter by an activist of the International Solidarity Movement. Hamas, the Islamic movement that controls the territory of the Strip was unable to mediate to bring about his liberation. Or perhaps they did not even try. According to what has been reported by the movement’s spokesman, following indications of one of the members of the ultra-radical group (as in original Italian) interrogated in the early afternoon, the security forces surrounded the area in which Vittorio was being held captive, giving way to a blitz that turned into an armed clash, the result of which was the injuring of some Salafi militants, two of them arrested, while the others are still being sought.

It is unclear how and when Vittorio was assassinated, even if the Hamas spokesman, Yiab Hussein, declared in a press conference held shortly after 3 AM that Arrigoni had been killed approximately three hours prior to the blitz, without however explaining how it was possible to establish the details of the death with such exactness. An ISM volunteer arrived at the place he was found and recognised the body at 3:10. “He had his hands tied behind his back, he was lying on a mattress.” The woman told PeaceReporter that Hamas security organs also told her and the other members of the ISM who went to the flat where Vittorio is said to have been killed that he had died several hours before their arrival. The pacifist has been strangled, even if, from the account given to PeaceReporter by the volunteer, there were various kinds of injuries behind his neck. “He still had the blindfolding over his eyes, and he lost blood from behind his head. There were marks from handcuffs around his wrists.”

The evening before the kidnapping, Arrigoni went to the gym. Then he had made a call to book a table at the restaurant where he often had dinner. He said he would be there around 22:00. At 22:30, not seeing him arrive, the restaurant rang him. But Vittorio did not answer. No one was worried, because often he would turn off his mobile phone. After dinner he was expected to meet with a friend and the next morning would have gone to Rafah to visit with some Palestinian families together with his colleagues of the ISM, who had also tried to contact him after the gym, but in vain. Vittorio was kidnapped as soon as he left the gym.

His body was transferred during the night to Shifa Hospital of Gaza, where a post-mortem examination was carried out and his death certificate was drafted. The Italian pacifist was kidnapped yesterday by a Salafi Islamic group that, in a film on YouTube, threatened to kill him if within 30 hours, starting from 11:00 local time, the Hamas government did not liberate some Salafi detainees. Vittorio was killed without even half the time that the kidnappers stated as the limit having passed, much earlier than the moment they announced in their ultimatum. He was killed without even an indication that a negotiation was started for his release. Unfortunately, there are many questions which are not easy to find answers to. With his death, the world loses one of the most fervent supporters of the Palestinian cause. A war journalist. And a friend. Goodbye, Vik.

http://it.peacereporter.net/articolo/27991/Lo+hanno+ucciso.+Addio,+Vik

Dershowitz

While some friends of the Jewish state are preoccupied with the possibility of a sushi shortage in Israel thanks to the disaster in Japan, Harvard’s crazed law professor Alan M. Dershowitz has more important things on his mind.

His most recent dispatch, entitled “Israel Now Has The Right To Attack Iran’s Nuclear Reactors,” begins with the assertion that “Iran’s recent attempt to ship arms to Hamas in Gaza is an act of war committed by the Iranian government against the Israeli government.”

As we well know, it is not necessary for Harvard law professors to specify that Israel has merely alleged that Iran attempted to ship arms to Hamas, or that the credibility of Israeli arms allegations has been called into question by the fact that the photographs published by the Israeli Foreign Ministry of the “weapons cache” found on board the Mavi Marmara last year ended up consisting of items like a metal pail and marbles.

It is meanwhile unclear why Dershowitz has chosen to include the word “Now” in his title, given that he immediately announces: “Nor is this the first act of war that would justify a military response by Israel under international law.” Other acts are said to include the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992: “That bombing, which was carried out by Iranian agents, constituted a direct armed attack on the state of Israel, since its embassy is part of its sovereign territory.”

Persons required to adhere to truth and logic, such as investigative historian and journalist Gareth Porter, have noted that in 1992 the Iranians clearly viewed with optimism the prospect of the resumption of transfer of nuclear technology from Argentina to Iran—thus removing the presumed motive for the attack. This suggests that the bombing may have instead been orchestrated by groups opposed to the Iranian acquisition of such technology.

Absolved of reason, Dershowitz spews on:

Two other recent events enhance Israel’s right use military means to prevent Iran from continuing to arm Israel’s enemies. The recent disaster in Japan has shown the world the extraordinary dangers posed by nuclear radiation. If anybody ever doubted the power of a dirty bomb to devastate a nation, both physically and psychologically, those doubts have been eliminated by what is now going on in Japan. If Iran were to develop nuclear weapons, the next ship destined to Gaza might contain a nuclear dirty bomb and Israel might not intercept that one. A dirty bomb detonated in tiny Israel would cause incalculable damage to civilian life.

Moreover, the recent killings in Itamar of a family including three children, demonstrate how weapons are used by Israel’s enemies against civilians in violation of the laws of war. Even babies are targeted by those armed by Iran.”

First of all, if anybody ever doubted the power of a dirty bomb to devastate a nation, both physically and psychologically, their doubts would most probably have been dispelled by events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 rather than current radiation leaks from nuclear power plants. Second of all, it would seem that civilian life currently suffers a greater threat of incalculable damage not from a hypothetical Iranian dirty bomb but rather from Israel’s sizable nuclear arsenal—not mentioned by Dershowitz—which exists in violation of the very same Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that is invoked as an excuse for attacking Iran. Lastly, the fact that Israel slaughtered 300 children in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09 indicates that those armed by the U.S. rather than by Iran are exceedingly capable of targeting babies.

After stressing the right of Israel to prevent its citizens from being murdered, our law guru concludes the following:

This is not to say that Israel should attack Iran’s nuclear reactors now. That it has the right to do so does not mean that it should not wait for a more opportune time. The law of war does not require an immediate military response to an armed attack. The nation attacked can postpone its counterattack without waiving its right.”

That the Palestinians do not enjoy the same right of response to military attack is obvious. A note to the Chinese, however: Remember that time NATO accidentally bombed your embassy in Belgrade? You can still retaliate!

And as for the United Nations, if you ever feel like attacking Israel, just invoke the 1996 bombing of your compound in Qana, or the 2006 bombing of your outpost in Khiam.

Israel meanwhile suffers fallout from Japanese disaster

Making rounds over the past few days is an item from the Business section of Israel’s Ynet news site, entitled “Israel fears sushi shortage after quake”. The article begins by noting that, while Japan “has yet to recover from one of the greatest disasters in its history, Israelis fear a shortage in the ingredients of one of their favorite dishes: Sushi”.

In case readers are still unclear as to the identity of the real victims of the Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear radiation crisis, the second paragraph of the article underscores the frightening dilemma presently facing humanity:

Many of sushi’s basic components come from Japan or are imported through the battered countries. Will Israelis soon suffer from a shortage of the beloved rolls’ necessary ingredients?”

That all is not lost is confirmed by the article’s subheading, however: “Rice shortage not expected”.

Sane observers appear to be confused as to whether the piece was intended for publication in The Onion, where it would certainly thrive thanks in large part to the article’s protagonist Dudi Afriat, sales manager of the Rakuto Kasei company that imports Kikkoman soy sauce and other sushi paraphernalia to Israel.

Among Afriat’s contributions are pronouncements about the role of Kikkoman in Israeli society:

Israeli chefs feel very connected to this product. After the tsunami I received phone calls from hysterical people fearing a shortage of Kikkoman.”

One thing The Onion editors might have done differently is to make Afriat less of a passive observer. His remark that damage to a Kikkoman factory in Japan has caused “delays in the supply” and fueled shortage fears, for example, might have been jazzed up with a suggestion that the Japanese technicians currently working round-the-clock and risking death to defuse the radiation crisis instead divide their time and energy between the Fukushima nuclear power plant and the Kikkoman factory.

Israel’s tendency to cast itself as uniquely entitled to victimhood is nothing new, of course, although it usually occurs at the expense of Arab and Muslim populations rather than Japanese. Given that the Israeli definition of victim extends even to IDF commandos who kill humanitarian activists in international waters, it is safe to assume that—if something even remotely as devastating as what has befallen Japan were to occur in Israel proper—the Israelis would not take kindly to articles in widely-read media outlets about fears of a decrease in production of Bamba snacks or the award-winning kosher pigs-in-a-blanket.

http://pulsemedia.org/2011/03/18/world-fears-shortage-of-kosher-hotdogs-in-event-of-nuclear-strike-on-israel/

freedom fighters in BenghaziThe author of the article I post below, Robert Grenier, rightly asked: “Where are the Arabs?” but in our opinion, we Arab Nationalists, also believe that he had also rightly volunteered to reply to his own question which is in his own words:

“…the primary motivating principles of the rebels have been clear: A desire for personal liberty, dignity and collective social empowerment.” 

Once an Egyptian Arab intellectual lady, Huda Hanum Shaarawi, replied after the 1948 Palestinian Arab Nakbah to the question: “How is it possible that seven Arab states and their armies were defeated by one state “Israel”? Her reply was simple and clear: “Because they were seven states with seven armies and seven ‘leaderships’ each quarrelling with the rest, while the enemy was one with one leadership, one army for one state.”, which the author has described below:

Robert Grenier was the CIA’s chief of station in Islamabad, Pakistan, from 1999 to 2002. He was also the director of the CIA’s counter-terrorism centre.” As a high CIA officer he should have known why did the British  Mr. Sykes and the French M. Picot come together to plan to divide the east Mediterranean Arab territories even before the defeat and  expulsion of the Ottoman Turks from it. They met and agreed to conclude on what is known as “The Sykes Picot Agreement”, that is, to  apply the principle of “divide and rule”, of course to create small weak Arab states that cannot defend themselves in the face of the colonialist powers and their colonialist ambitions, who were at the time in the first place Great Britain and France.

And lately why the old Zionist fox Shimon Peres to be joined at a later time by Condoleezza Rice, U.S Secretary of State under George W. Bush, further try to divide the present Arab states into a smaller states based on religious and ethnic minorities, which Zionists and other colonialist powers shall try to create between them feuds and enmities so as to resort to these colonialist powers for protection against their other Arab brothers… then Zionists and other colonialists shall be able to control them all, but fortunately enough what is known as the New Middle East colonialist conspiracy did not see the light, and with the domino theory of Arab revolutions presently taking place shall never be realized, and hopefully an Arab unity shall instead be realized to counteract these Zionist and western colonialist conspiracies.

Now the aim of young Arab revolutionaries is to get rid of these rulers who want to keep their control on what they consider as their subjects in collaboration with their colonialist protectors, but the young Arab citizens who want to be no more subjects of their corrupt ruers, but real citizens and be able to decide their own fate are struggling to overthrow all these rotten, corrupt and isolationist rulers. That is why those particular rulers shall not volunteer to come to give assistance to Libyan Arabs or any revolutionary Arabs citizens revolting against their rotten rulers… because as we said and saw that by the domino theory, revolutions shall pass from one Arab state to another. They, Arab rulers, want to keep their chairs under the seat of their pants and keep on riding on the backs of what they consider their obedient subjects. The young revolutionaries want their freedom and liberty from their internal and external rulers.

In a big and rich Arab state, an official and a member of the ruling family commented on the simple and rightful demands of their young citizens whom they consider “subjects” who gathered peacefully. As is the case with all Arab rulers, the official said after denying that there were gatherings and demands: “The cooperation of citizens with security men to confront those who call for anarchy was a good proof and spontaneous response against those calling for evil in a peaceful country.” He added that, “driving people to overstep matters to what doesn’t achieve demands or reform, calls for dialogue,and that is exactly what those in command in the state call for”!!!!

Another highly posted official said: “Some of those calling for evil gathered in front of the ministry of internal affairs,” he claimed that, “they want to make of the state a place of chaos, they are organizing purposeless demonstrations that have no high aims, but they proved that they don’t know the people of their state”!!!

From Libya, correspondent Ogharit Dandaash wrote the story of the engineer Almahdi Zeo:

“Before February 14th there was not a single exceptional matter or incident that makes it to informational mass media, nor was there a political stance, be it pro or con, regarding the regime that was in the activities of this Benghazi engineer who was in his forties. Engineer Almahdi Zeo was living a quiet life in Benghazi, his financial status was as described by those who knew him well as “better than good (kwaiseh)”. Zeo was the head of a family, and the father of two daughters studying at university, who never heard or noticed him fidgeting when Gaddafi and his men ruling from their stronghold of terror in Benghazi were mentioned.

On February 15th 2011 the young people of Benghazi didn’t expect the official birth for the February 17th revolution, to mount the winds of change that blew from their neighborhood. They demonstrated and were confronted from the Benghazi battalion of terror with fire in front of the court house… many of the revolutionary fell down martyrs…

While the young revolutionaries were marching in the funeral of their martyred comrades, Zeo was passing an ordinary day during his monotonous life. He passed in front of the headquarters of the battalion on his way to practice his ordinary daily routine work, it was inevitable that some incident should happen to attract his attention. Young people returning from the funeral of their beloved comrades, were, without notice, confronted with live fire, the source of which was from the battalion of Al-Fadel Omar, the headquarters of the soldiers of the regime, where any activists with political opposition to the regime, or with any ideas that contradict those of the Gaddafi Green holy Book. Zeo stopped to see the young people confronting the heavily armed soldiers with their naked chests, He returned home to tell his two daughters about 18 years olds fighting without help.

The following morning he returned to practice his ordinary work, believing that the zeal of the young couldn’t but be aborted with the regime’s brutality, but just in front of the same battalion tens of young people returned for another sit down with other supporters… Zeo realized after a long life of submission and looking aside shall not end with the feeling at ease required by other human beings, those youngsters realized, before it was too late, that there is a difference between living as ordinary human beings and a life full with a humanitarian meaning.

That night he hugged his beloved ones like he had never done before, he talked to them about small heroic incidents that history books didn’t mention, and about which no poems were written, but they leave their effect in people’s souls that had submitted to accepting life at ease, and as an ordinary matter… and left his house.

The place is the headquarters of the Benghazi battalion, date before the new Libyan history, attendants, the young persons seated on the ground, the occasion: drawing a new road map for the revolution.

The engineer said: “Success depends on the element of surprise: Clearly, we need to act quickly.

One of youth there understood: the moment the road opens, we attack.

Another youth pointed out to another group of young people, the brothers coming here are from Baida, they came to help us.

The engineer said, “I am going ahead”.

The engineer mounts his car that was loaded with gas containers for home use, and drives towards the wall of the two storey building housing the battalion’s headquarters, which is impossible to enter to or to break into. He steps on the accelerator to maximum speed, hits the wall, the car explodes, the wall crumbles creating an opening, the youngsters rush into the headquarters.

The element of surprise dispersed the soldiers who ran away, the revolutionaries took control and they obtained their first quantity of arms, they took control of the helm of the battle and thus the battle turned in their favor. After some confrontations, the Abu Al-Fadel Omar battalion fell and its leader fled to Tripoli along with Assaadi Al-Gaddafi (One of Muamar Gaddafi’s sons) who took refuge at the battalion’s headquarters after the outbreak of revolution. Then the weapons and ammunitions stores are now in the service of the revolution born on February 17th.

The fall of the battalion contributed to the liberation of Benghazi, and the revolutionaries gave credit in that to Engineer Almahdi Zeo for the morale and military help he gave to them, and encouraging many officers and soldiers to defect from Gaddafi’s forces and join the revolutionaries, and opening the door wide open for victories, which made the east of Libya fall from the hands of Gaddafi into the hands of the revolution within four days.

Martyr Al-Mahdi Zeo did not live to reap the fruits of the trees he planted, but those Libyan young men and women who had never heard of Engineer Zeo know now that the engineer of the realized revolution shall be the name who they shall tell to their children and grandchildren when their hair shall turn grey about a revolution executed by dreamers who didn’t wait enjoy its fruits.

So we should not expect from these decaying, rotten and dictatorial regimes to step in to help other revolutions against their equally decaying, rotten and dictatorial Arab regimes… they are equally bad and should be overthrown by young Arab revolutionaries.

“Where are the Arabs?” The other Arabs, are the young revolutionary Arabs, who are each cleaning the dirt the old Arab dictatorial and rotten Arab regimes left over by colonialism behind. Good things are coming with Arab liberty and unity. 

So we cannot but agree with Robert Grenier saying: A new day is dawning in the Arab world. The revolutions underway have only just begun, and there is much to be sorted out in the countries where the democratic wave has taken hold. The response of other regional regimes, under less acute and immediate pressure, but still grappling with the challenge of socio-political changes now set perhaps inexorably in motion, remains very much to be seen. For all that its common outlook is rapidly evolving, the Arab world has a long way to go in coming to a firm consensus about what forms of rule will meet its minimum standards of acceptability.”

 ORIGINAL PIECE

Opinion
‘Where are the Arabs?’ By: Robert Grenier 

If Arab states are serious about ending Gaddafi’s menace to his people, they must take the lead in helping the rebels.

Robert Grenier Last Modified: 13 Mar 2011 08:35 GMT
If Arab states do not act now, when the last Libyan rebel lies bleeding in the desert, his final words
may well be: ‘Where are the Arabs?’

It was August of 1982. For seven weeks, Beirut had been sealed off, under attack by Israel from land, sea and air. Water and electricity supplies were cut. The Israelis had secured the airport and much of the southern suburbs. The Syrians had been defeated, their air force wiped from the Lebanese skies. Chairman Arafat and the PLO were seemingly at the mercy of their enemies, utterly dependent upon the international community to arrange an evacuation of their fighters which would bring an end to the carnage. Isolated and alone, all the leader of the Palestinian movement could do was look into the cameras and plead: “Where are the Arabs?”

In January of 1991, a nominally extensive international coalition of armed forces, led by the US but including many of the Arab countries, stood poised in northern Saudi Arabia to drive Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. It might have seemed that much of the Arab world was unified, and had engaged the United States and the international community in their cause to liberate a brutally occupied Arab country.

But in many of the Arab capitals, and to a seeming majority in the Arab street, the armies massed in the Saudi desert were anything but a sign of Arab strength and unity. For in point of fact, the Arab countries had had comparatively little to do with organizing this un-authorized, largely Western coalition. Many Arab nationalists from across the region asserted strenuously that the Arabs should not rely upon the Americans to sort out their difficulties, arguing in favor of an “Arab solution” to the crisis. In fact, however, this was mere posturing: An Arab solution to the crisis would have amounted to meek acquiescence in Saddam Hussein’s intra-Arab aggression. Those Arab countries most threatened by Saddam were not about to entrust their fate to regional Arab councils. They did not wish one day to be left, alone, to make the entreaty: “Where are the Arabs?”

Today, in the deserts along the coast of Libya, patriots are fighting to liberate themselves and their country from over 40 years of brutal, arbitrary misrule. Although tribal and other social divisions are no doubt playing a role in determining the fault lines of the civil war progressively settling over Libya, the primary motivating principles of the rebels have been clear: A desire for personal liberty, dignity and collective social empowerment. In this they have been transparently inspired by the courage of their brothers and sisters in Tunisia, in Egypt, and in many other parts of the Arab world. But as they attempt to withstand the onslaught of Muammar Gaddafi’s better-armed loyalists, and as those rebels most hard-pressed repeatedly plead for at least limited outside assistance, well they might ask: “Where are the Arabs?”

Passivity and diffidence

A new day is dawning in the Arab world. The revolutions underway have only just begun, and there is much to be sorted out in the countries where the democratic wave has taken hold. The response of other regional regimes, under less acute and immediate pressure, but still grappling with the challenge of socio-political changes now set perhaps inexorably in motion, remains very much to be seen. For all that its common outlook is rapidly evolving, the Arab world has a long way to go in coming to a firm consensus about what forms of rule will meet its minimum standards of acceptability.

Nonetheless, the latest indications of Arab intent in the context of Libya are positive, if as yet insufficient. A clear message has been sent by both the GCC and the Arab League that Gaddafi’s brutality toward his people is not acceptable, and has effectively delegitimised his government. The Arab nations have taken a clear stand in favour of a UN Security Council-imposed no-fly zone, and for urgent outreach to the National Transitional Council in Benghazi.

So far, perhaps, so good. Still, troubling signs of traditional passivity and diffidence remain. The Arabs are deferring action to the international community without suggestions as to how that action should be implemented, and with no firm commitment for their own direct involvement. The Arab League ministers aver that a no-fly zone should only be for the purpose of protecting Libyan civilians, and should end as quickly as possible. They continue to express concern over foreign intervention, while requesting precisely that. Their ambivalence is palpable.

At the same time, evidence is mounting that the international fixation on a no-fly zone may be a distraction from more urgently-needed action, and may in fact be counter-productive. First of all, it is not at all clear how great a threat is posed by Gaddafi’s air strikes, per se. While the military situation remains confused, it seems more likely that Gaddafi’s armour and artillery pose the more lethal danger to both rebel and civilian targets.

Moreover, imposition of a no-fly zone would be no simple task. Security Council agreement is far from assured: The Council is divided, and the Chinese, in particular, will do what they can to avoid approving international interference in internal Libyan affairs, out of fear of the negative precedent it might set for themselves. While others might well participate, the US, clearly, would have to take the lead. (As far we Arabs are concerned, we have no trust with the United States and other western powers, their policies are equally colonialist, and we suffered enough on their hands and their rogue adopted and nursed our Zionist entity- A.S.K.)

Following its doctrine, the US would need to attack Libyan air defences first; the potential for significant collateral damage is considerable. The Americans would also require a helicopter-borne “combat search and rescue (CSAR)” capability to be in place for downed pilots before they would willingly act. And there are not nearly enough aircraft in theatre, yet, for an effective no-fly effort. Finally, it may simply be too much to suppose that the Americans, already engaged militarily in two Muslim countries, should now intervene in a third, when the risk to their already weak regional standing from those who may advocate international action now, but will no doubt quickly criticise any missteps, is so great.

Taking the lead
If the Arab League is serious about ending Gaddafi’s menace to his people, they should focus on providing the National Transitional Council with the means to defeat him and his loyalist forces. The US, the EU and NATO have all made clear that they will only act with a clear legal mandate and with regional support. Therefore, it is up to the Arab nations to take the initiative.

It is very likely that the softness in the Arab League stance is a reflection of the divisions between those members on either side of the “democratic revolutionary” divide. Hobbled by the need for consensus, the League as a whole has gone about as far as it is capable; it is unlikely to take the tough decisions and hard actions necessary to counter Gaddafi’s resurgence. Those whose commitment to support of the rebellion is notably strong – Egypt and the GCC countries in particular – must be prepared to take the lead from here.

First, they should move quickly to recognise the Council in Benghazi as the legitimate government of Libya, and immediately request modification of the current UN arms embargo to exclude its forces. Meanwhile, a rapid assessment of the rebels’ military requirements is needed; these would likely include ammunition, anti-armour weapons, and perhaps rockets or artillery. It is clearly within the capabilities of at least some of the Arab countries to provide these rapidly by air, most likely with logistical assistance from the US or NATO. In this context, it would become far easier, and more palatable, for the US and NATO to provide overhead intelligence, perhaps off-shore jamming of Libyan military communications, and other forms of assistance to the transitional government.

We can begin to imagine that such an Arab-led initiative on behalf of the Libyans could help to build a new, cooperative relationship with America and the West – one which flows from Arab empowerment and collective resolve, and not, as in the past, from Arab weakness.

The time has come, in short, for the Arab regimes to demonstrate regionally and internationally the will and courage to act demonstrated by many of their own citizens domestically. Otherwise, they run the risk, in what is supposed to be a transforming Middle East, that when the last Libyan rebel lies bleeding in the desert, the boot of a pro-Gaddafi thug upon his neck, his last gasp will be: “Where are the Arabs?”

Robert Grenier was the CIA’s chief of station in Islamabad, Pakistan, from 1999 to 2002. He was also the director of the CIA’s counter-terrorism centre.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.Source:

Al Jazeera

The arms of the Resistance, it has been suggested, should be abandoned as a matter of principle.  ‘From now on’, explains Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri, ‘the possession of weapons, decision of war and peace, and defending the country should only be under the state’s control’.  Political principles, it would seem, can be slippery.  ‘From now on’?  Perhaps this disclaimer is meant to ease the turnabout from the Hariri-Ministerial Cabinet Statement issued just over a year ago:

‘Based on the Cabinet’s responsibility to preserve Leba­non’s sovereignty, its independence, unity and the safety of its land, the government underscores Lebanon’s right through its people, army and resistance to liberate or regain authority of Shebaa Farms, Kfarshouba hills and the occupied part of Ghajar village and defend the country against any aggression’.

For the sake of argument, however, let us set aside the dictates of political expediency.  Let us look at the reality of what this stance entails. 

The crux of the grievance being voiced these days is that the Lebanese Army should have exclusive domain over national defence.  The grievance asserts that the Islamic Resistance of Hezbollah has usurped this privilege for its own advancement.  The puzzling bit of this accusation, however, is that it is being raised not by the Army—but by various politicians.

In contrast to the opinions of the 14th of March personalities, the Lebanese Army has for over twenty-five years maintained an efficient working relationship with the Resistance.  The developments in Lebanon over the past six years have left this harmony stronger than ever.  Building on the firm, longstanding commitment exhibited by Generals Michel Aoun and Emile Lahoud, the Lebanese Army remains a proud partner of the Resistance. 

When Lebanese Army General Michel Sleiman took on the role of President in 2008, he carried with him the experience to judge the elements required for an adequate national defence.  He stated that the success of the Resistance in defeating the occupier was ‘achieved by virtue of the support granted by the Lebanese people, the State, and the Lebanese Army’.  Such success notwithstanding, he continued,

‘the enemy’s persistence in threatening to violate our sovereignty imposes upon us to elaborate a defensive strategy that will safeguard the country concomitantly with a calm dialogue to benefit from the capacities of the Resistance in order to better serve this strategy.  Accordingly, we will manage to avoid depreciating the achievements of the Resistance in internal conflicts and subsequently we will safeguard its values and national position’.

President Sleiman reiterated his conviction just weeks ago in response to Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak’s warning that Israeli military may invade Lebanon yet again.  Barak ‘knows full well’, said Sleiman, ‘ that entering Lebanon is no longer a walk in the park.  The defence minister’s threat to send his forces into Lebanon again shows premeditated intentions of aggression.  The Lebanese people, army and resistance are ready to respond to any such aggression.’

President Sleiman’s confidence in the existing defence framework is shared by the head of the Lebanese Army, General Jean Kahwagi.  Addressing his troops last year, he advised them to ‘cling to the will of steadfastness and confrontation and to benefit from all the Lebanese capabilities residing in the capacities of the Army, the people and the Resistance as well as from the presence of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and its support’. 

Whereas the stance currently adopted by the 14th of March campaigners clearly resents the ability of the Resistance, General Kahwagi  openly describes all contributions toward the national defence as honourable:

‘Let us look with veneration and respect at the souls of our pious martyrs, whether soldiers, citizens or resistance fighters, who fell while defending their country. . . and drew with their innocent blood the path of dignity and liberation for a country that we can be proud of in front of the whole world since we are its true and loyal protectors’.

As the Israeli media grins at the banners being  waved in Beirut that read ‘We want only the arms of the Lebanese army’, again it becomes imperative to look at the reality of what this stance entails.  

The Lebanese Army remains committed to a cooperative national defence, to a formula of the Army, the people and the Resistance.  Just days ago, General Kahwagi reiterated:

‘The Lebanese Army abides by this formula since it is part of the decisions and guidance of the political authority represented by the Cabinet and it is totally convinced by this formula since experience has proved its primary role in liberating the greater part of south Lebanon and western Bekaa from Israeli enemy occupation in addition to its role in defeating this enemy in the war of July 2006 and in safeguarding Lebanon in these days’.

A system of mutual support has evolved.  To disallow the arms of the Resistance would be to arbitrarily disregard the consistent evaluation of the Army’s top leaders.  This is nonsensical.  Such a suggestion would leave Lebanon vulnerable; of this there is no doubt.  The only conclusion, then, is that such a suggestion is either gross negligence or wilfull acceptance of Lebanon’s being engulfed.   We have to wonder whether the current swirl of rhetoric over who gets to be commander-of-the-day has more to do with protection or politics.  If both the acting Army General and the President, a former Army General, embrace the contributions of the Resistance, then the state of Lebanon is already well in control of its defence. 

 By Brenda Heard For www.english.moqawama.org

Originally posted at http://www.english.moqawama.org/essaydetails.php?eid=13640&cid=269 

Don Quixote and Sancho PanzaHero or madman? Four hundred years ago Don Quixote, Cervantes’s cavalier clod, set out from La Mancha on a decrepit horse, Sancho Panza by his side, to win the heart of Dulcinea. Quixote was a dreamer with good intentions and his legend has endured, but for all the wrong reasons. We remember him for his misadventures, albeit chivalrous, but at the end of the day Quixote saved no one and made no difference except perhaps in the hearts of those he encountered. In truth, his righteous intentions and noble acts often led to grave consequences.

In a strange sort of way, it feels like we’re seeing these misadventures played out before our eyes, and as in Cervantes’s brilliant parody, with equally tragic results.

The quixotic endeavour known as the Freedom Flotilla is about to embark on its second act at the end of May 2011. The first flotilla, which reached its dramatic end on 31 May 2010, saw a tiny fleet of boats carrying peace activists – and according to Israel, a group of Turkish militants – face off against one of the most powerful armed forces in the world. Well, at least no one can accuse them of battling windmills but one must question the sanity and cynicism of organizers who deliberately sought acclaim through known adversity. Perhaps like Quixote, they truly believed they were “born to be an example of misfortune, and a target at which the arrows of adversary are aimed.”

So they got their headlines, but at such a cost. The incident, planned as a publicity-raising exercise more than anything else, set off a series of protests and diplomatic wrist-slaps around the world. Europeans very much want to see a negotiated end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. But significantly, the flotilla disaster has failed to hurt Israel’s international standing. Indeed, within a few weeks of the raid, Israel’s proponents were lining up to affirm their support. “Israel’s basic right to self-defense should not be questioned,” wrote one group that included Jose Maria Aznar, a former prime minister of Spain, David Trimble, a former first minister of Northern Ireland, Alejandro Toledo, a former president of Peru, and Marcello Pera, a former president of the Italian Senate.

Since the demise of Israel’s relations with Turkey (which, admittedly, began before the flotilla incident), Israel’s Mediterranean neighbours have been practically tripping over themselves to improve ties to Israel. Last November Italy’s air force conducted a joint training exercise with the IAF. In February, Israeli President Shimon Peres visited Spain where he met with Spanish PM Jose Luis Zapatero and the King of Spain, Juan Carlos I who hosted Peres at a royal reception. Last week, Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias arrived in Israel for the first visit by a Cypriot head of state in over 10 years. While in Jerusalem Christofias, Cyprus’ first Communist president, became the first European leader to publicly denounce the flotilla project. “Terror activities in Gaza are unacceptable,” stated Christofias, “and therefore we have prevented the flotillas from leaving.” http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/142898

No state is benefiting from Israel’s estrangement from Turkey more than Greece. Israel’s ties to Greece have been strengthening on an almost daily basis. It should be remembered that Greece initially withdrew from joint military exercises with Israel in protest at the raid. But within a few months, Greece was hosting senior members of the IDF, including navy head Eli Marom (who ordered the Mavi Marmara attack), and Israel’s PM and his wife.
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“We see the (European) market expanding to the Mediterranean and certainly we would like to integrate Israel into this European market,” said Prime Minister George Papandreou. “I think this is vital for Israel’s economy but also for its strategic security. “Last month, Greek’s PM promised visiting Jewish American leaders that Athens would help Israel forge even CLOSER ties with the European Union, particularly through gaining access to European markets. Not a word about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians or even the detention of 30 Greek activists on board Mavi Marmara. A non-issue!

Other European states have been equally nonchalant toward the tiny protest movement. Just a few weeks before the raid, on 10 May 2010, Israel had been invited by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries to become a member. One might have expected the deadly assault to affect the discussions. One would be wrong. The formal agreement was signed in Paris on 28 June 2010.

The love-fest has continued throughout the EU. Last month, the Dutch parliament passed a pro-Israel bill affirming Israel’s existence as a Jewish, democratic state and urging the EU not to recognize a unilaterally declared Palestinian state. The bill declared that the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state would not bring closer a lasting peace, and therefore the Dutch government will advance a European (EU) policy that rejects the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and means a European call to the Palestinian leaders to resume direct negotiations with Israel. In other words, a complete dismissal of Palestinian rejection of Jewish self-determination and agreement with Israel’s position that it has been the PA and its refusal to negotiate that is the stumbling block, not Israeli actions. It’s also impossible not to notice tightening relations between Israel and Poland which includes several recent military deals. In Jerusalem last month for the first ever Polish-Israeli governmental forum, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk declared, “You have a real friend in Europe and it is important that both countries will strengthen each other’s image.” (And again, not a mention of Israel’s treatment of Gaza’s population.) http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11858.shtml

If that doesn’t seem significant consider this: in July 2011, Poland will assume the rotating presidency of the EU.

There’s more. Last month, a computer scientist at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University was appointed by the European Commission to its Scientific Council, the governing body of the European Research Council (ERC). A few days later, Israel was selected to host the 2011/13 Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) European Under-21 final tournament. Yes, international organizations are still planning events in Israel, business is up (4.1% in 2010) and tourists are flocking to the country in droves.

Other than some public admonishment from known critics of Israel, such as Catherine Ashton, the British government has all but forgotten last year’s raid. Prime Minister David Cameron, who last year condemned the attack, has now reversed his position saying that Israel was “within its rights to search vessels bringing cargo into Gaza.” And last week, George Galloway’s Viva Palestina announced that it can no longer fund-raise in behalf of any future flotilla as a result of suspected ties to Hamas. Although no links have been proven, Viva Palestina obviously believes the investigation is ongoing. Was this inquiry ordered from above? The timing is certainly suspicious.

The incident definitely didn’t affect Israel’s relationship with the US. In August 2010, the two countries signed a formal co-operation pact between NASA and the Israel Space Agency (ISA). The US has continued to shield Israel from legal action and has endorsed Israel’s Turkel Report, an examination of the details of the raid, as a “credible and impartial and transparent investigation.”

The issue at hand is not the cause, which is worthwhile and laudable, but the methods and motivation of some so-called peace-activists who, like Quixote, are “spurred on by the conviction that the world [needs their] immediate presence.”

If, then, the Freedom Flotilla’s hope was to embarrass Israel into lifting its blockade of the Gaza strip, it was a dismal failure. A second flotilla planned for May 2011, will also likely end in disaster, the boats stopped by force, activists detained and possibly killed. The movement will succeed at getting more headlines for a cause that’s barely been out of the news for 40 years. Will international condemnation follow? Probably. Will it make a difference? It hasn’t yet.

That’s not to say the plan is meaningless: it empowers and validates human rights activists trying to make a difference; more importantly, the global movement gives hope to Gaza’s entrapped population. That sort of gesture shouldn’t be dismissed. But there is a troubling flip-side that must be addressed, and that is the powerful influence of a small group of narcissistic, self-righteous Don Quixotes (and I put Turkey’s PM Erdogan, who is seeing re-election just weeks after the scheduled flotilla, in this group) who may be championing a failed strategy at the expense of putting the time and effort into developing realistic strategies for real peace. Before another flotilla sails, I think it’s time this prospect is considered.

Cameron likes private Israeli security orgs

‘With me you have a prime minister whose belief in Israel is indestructible’, David Cameron assured over a thousand supporters of a private security organisation that polices the English Jewish communities.  While his commitment has long been common knowledge, his word choice underscores the need for concern.

When we say we ‘believe in’ something, we are making a personal value judgement.  Whether we ‘believe in’ God, or we ‘believe in’ drinking five litres of water a day, the phrase means that we think the concept is valid.  The British Prime Minister’s word choice points to a political phenomenon: Israel has never been a traditional state as much as it has been an ethos.  From the beginning, the Israeli project has been an ideology imposed at the expense of those whose only fault was to have been caught unawares on a coveted land. 

Indeed the whole of Cameron’s speech, which can be read here http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/46044/david-camerons-speech-cst, exudes a passion for a conceptual people under siege.  Cameron thus describes his belief in the Israeli project as ‘indestructible’—defensively and defiantly ‘indestructible’. 

The need for concern lies with his personal adulation dictating the terms of his political management.  Certainly, to guarantee equal rights for English people of all religious faiths is admirable.  But throughout his speech Cameron equates ‘Jewish’ with ‘Israeli’—as if all London Jews were pro-Israeli (they are not) and as if all Israelis were Jewish (they are not).   Such a stance discredits both demographics.  Likewise, his promise that he ‘will always be an advocate for the State of Israel’ denies the possibility of a conflict of interest with his sworn duty as Prime Minister to be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth: to be an advocate for the United Kingdom.

Equally as worrisome, though, is the Prime Minister’s characterisation of the recent upheavals in the Arab world.  Cameron notes that ‘this instability may seem a cause for concern for Israel’, but he then shrewdly reassures his audience.  This is a ‘precious moment of opportunity’, he says.  ‘We want to see Israel driving the process, which means seizing the initiative.  Doing so is absolutely vital’.

Vital to whom?  Is it vital to the Libyan people against whom Muammar and Saif al-Islam Gaddafi are using mercenary weapons outsourced from similar Israeli ‘security firms’?  No, not vital, but lethal to those seeking redress.

Cameron devotes a significant portion of his speech to discussing the Arab uprisings as an ‘opportunity’ for Israel and its Western patrons to remake the region to better suit themselves.  This myopic exploitation typifies the pattern of defining all matters and all peoples of the Greater Middle East in terms of the Western-Israeli Alliance. 

A spirit of entitlement and superiority has for many long and bloody years pervaded Western foreign policies.  Many of those who have been suffocated by such attitudes have at last realised that they deserve to decide for themselves their own business.

A state is a dynamic entity.  No state comprises people of identical values.  Its success lies in achieving a balance in the cultural expression of those values.   But this balance cannot be imposed.  It can be determined only by the people themselves. 

The Arab peoples have had enough of the condescending advisories from those who have their strategic eye on Aladdin’s cave.  The Arab peoples do not need the dubious money-maker George Soros to sort out on the BBC the Arabs’ handling of their own natural resources.  Nor do they need David Cameron’s vision of ‘stability and security for all.’  Because his vision is simply not for all.  He said it himself: he will always be an advocate for the State of Israel. 

The seemingly contagious quests for Arab autonomy throughout the region have been propelled by people who want and need and demand a voice.  Their own voice.  The uprisings are neither pro-Westernism, nor anti-Westernism.  Rather, the uprisings are about self-respect.  The uprisings are resistance to imposed ideologies.  Let us be clear: the region is not for sale.

www.english.moqawama.org

Originally posted at http://english.moqawama.org/essaydetails.php?eid=13593&cid=269  

Photo from http://thecst.org.uk/blog/?p=2359   

"peace" talks

When allowed to turn freely, the metaphoric Palestinian compass points in one direction — that of Palestinian struggle. But most of the time, someone is interfering with this compass, rigging it to other directions, as in the case of the continually failing peace process.

Now, with much of the Arab world up in arms against its autocratic rulers, the Palestinian compass is given another nudge, also in the wrong direction. The Palestinian public is seething, and yet Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) officials are telling us that the only way forward is through more negotiations. The “peace process,” we’re told, is the only thing worth saving from the current sea of Arab discontent.

It’s all topsy-turvy in the land of discontent. A Day of Dignity has been called to presumably restore unity in Palestinian ranks. Most likely it will lead to further disunity. Allow me to elaborate.

The Day of Dignity, held on 11 February, was not meant to end occupation but to terminate Gaza’s spirit of civil defiance. “Say no to division and occupation and yes to national unity,” is the slogan another group of organisers chose for planned protests on 15 March. On that day, the PLO plans to call for new presidential, legislative, and local elections in the hope of regaining enough credibility to pursue its favourite goal, that of negotiating for peace. The organisers tell us that they want a Palestinian state by next September. How many times have we heard this before?

WAFA, the PLO-run news agency, is trying to give the impression that this is the only path available to the nation. We’re either going to negotiate for peace, or we’ll protest and then negotiate for peace. If there is a point to this argument, I don’t see it.

Does anyone remember why the current split in Palestinian ranks happened? It all started when PLO officials, the endemic believers in peace, refused to honour the outcome of democratic elections held in 2006. So much of current dilemma is due to the simple inability of the PLO to reconcile peace with democracy.

So far, we’ve had a peace process that wasn’t so much about ending the conflict as it was about managing it.

The kind of negotiations we’ve been having, as Rashid Khalidi, the prominent Columbia University professor said, were never about self-determination or about ending the occupation, but about allowing Israel to impose its point of view, with US blessing every step of the way. This has been the case since the Madrid Conference of 1991. The only practical use of the peace process was to allow Israel time to build more settlements, with US approval. A US veto only a few days ago, on 18 February, should put to rest any lingering doubts in this regard.

But American officials are still conducting “quiet” talks with both sides, as Dennis Ross told the 2011 J Street Conference. Abbas thinks this is the only way forward, but some Israelis are not so sure.

Uri Avnery, long-time peace activist and founder of the peace movement Gush Shalom (the Peace Bloc), says that the Palestinians have other options. “What would happen if hundreds of thousands of Palestinians started walking to the Separation Wall and pulled it down? What would happen if a quarter of a million Palestinian refugees in Lebanon gather on our northern borders? What would happen if protesters gathered in numbers at Al-Manara Square in Ramallah and Al-Baladiya Square in Nablus to challenge the occupation?” he asked.

The Israeli peace activist is not saying that this may happen today or tomorrow. But, judging by the way things are going, it cannot be ruled out. This is perhaps why Obama’s chief Middle East advisor Dennis Ross admitted that the current situation was “untenable”.

And yet PLO negotiators are helping the Israelis prolong the situation, by giving the false impression that something will happen when everyone else knows that things are going to stay the same. The PLO seems to be holding out for the day when the US, or the EU, put their foot down and broker a fair peace. It’s not going to happen.

Meanwhile, the PLO continues to suppress the only two forces capable of turning things around: national resistance and a citizen-led Intifada. The PLO is blocking any chance of forward movement while giving everyone the impression that it is doing something for the people. All it is doing is to help the Israelis perpetuate a basically untenable situation.

On 2 March, the newspaper Haaretz reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was working on a plan for establishing a Palestinian state with temporary borders as part of interim peace arrangements. We’ve heard it all before.

The Netanyahu plan is nothing new. It is a reproduction of earlier plans, all aiming to give the Palestinians a reduced version of the West Bank. Former defence minister, Shaul Mofaz, who is now chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, came up with a similar idea that would have given the Palestinians back about half of the West Bank.

An earlier version of the Netanyahu strategy was tried by Labour when Ehud Barak was prime minister. Barak, unable to complete a promised three-phase withdrawal from the West Bank, dragged PLO negotiators to a summit in Camp David in 2000 and then made sure that the summit would lead to nothing.

Kadima tried the same thing when Ariel Sharon was prime minister. Arafat snubbed him and was subjected to a cruel siege that ended in his death. Were Abbas to snub Netanyahu, he may face a similar fate. But Abbas doesn’t seem too eager to take a stand.

Arafat stood firm, even when he ran out of options. He told his people the truth. He told them that he cannot give up their rights, froze the PLO’s participation in the talks, and told the Palestinians that they would have to live and die for their rights. “Millions of martyrs will go to Jerusalem,” were his famous last words.

You cannot have a national unity government without having credibility. The most Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad have so far proposed is a government of technocrats. How can technocrats resolve an issue that is so political at heart? Reconciliation is a political quest, and the concessions it requires are not “technocratic” in nature.

The PLO cannot partner with Hamas before reconciliation is achieved, Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Moheisen told Gulf News on 28 February. This makes a lot of sense, but reconciliation comes at a price. And so far I don’t believe that the PLO is willing to pay that price. The way I see it, the PLO cares more for peace talks than it does for national unity.

You cannot have negotiations without resistance, just as you cannot have democracy without fighting for it. We’ve always known that, and we have the Intifada to prove it. We cannot be united until we’re willing to struggle against occupation together. And we cannot be democratic until we’ve learned how to share. So far, the PLO is neither sharing nor struggling, and its quest for peace is therefore doomed.

The writer is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit in the West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian Territories. This article was translated from Arabic and published by Al-Ahram Weekly on 10-16 March 2011.

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