Archive for the ‘Palestine’ Category

pilgerWRITTEN BY SAM CHARLES HAMAD    For people like Pilger, Arabs have absolutely no agency – they either have to be the passive masses living under an ‘anti-western’ strongman like Assad, wherein their very real suffering is even reduced by Pilger and his ilk to a ‘western conspiracy’ (or it’s just ignored), or they are these seemingly mindless ‘proxies’ being manipulated by all and sundry. 

In the recent piece by John Pilger  he writes:  “Syria is the current project. Outflanked by Russia and public opinion, Obama has now embraced the “path of diplomacy”. Has he? As Russian and US negotiators arrived in Geneva on 12 September, the US increased its support for the Al-Qaeda affiliated militias with weapons sent clandestinely through Turkey, Eastern Europe and the Gulf. The Godfather has no intention of deserting his proxies in Syria. Al Qaeda was all but created by the CIA’s Operation Cyclone that armed the mujahedin in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. Since then, jihadists have been used to divide and Arab societies and in eliminating the threat of pan-Arab nationalism to western “interests” and Israel’s lawless colonial expansion. This is Kissinger-style “realism”.”

Let me just make something very clear: John Pilger is basically saying here that the Syrian rebels are ‘jihadists’ being used to destroy the regime of Bashar al-Assad because it somehow represents a threat to ‘western interests’. It’s not just that Pilger’s understanding of the conflict is so utterly stupid and bereft of any logic or historical fact, but it is also is in its content a very definite form of apologia for the regime’s crimes. Unlike most of the other witting and unwitting apologists for Bashar al-Assad on the left, Pilger doesn’t even bother paying lip service to Assad’s crimes (or the wider crimes of the Assad dynasty), but instead ‘treats’ us to the now familiar narrative of the conflict, wherein Assad is cast as the righteous protagonist, who was presumably just keeping on keeping on, when these vicious antagonists, the jihadist Al-Qaeda proxies, appeared from nowhere and started causing all kinds of fitna. Basically, it’s all a US plot and Assad’s ‘war on terrorism’ is very real and very righteous (unlike the west’s ‘war on terrorism’, every aspect of which Pilger was, as you might expect, dead against).

For people like Pilger, Arabs have absolutely no agency – they either have to be the passive masses living under an ‘anti-western’ strongman like Assad, wherein their very real suffering is even reduced by Pilger and his ilk to a ‘western conspiracy’ (or it’s just ignored), or they are these seemingly mindless ‘proxies’ being manipulated by all and sundry. The only time that somebody such as Pilger would ever comment on, let alone turn up with a camera to document, the suffering or resistance of the Arab peoples is if they are ‘victims’ of what he perceives to be the West, or, in other words, if they are Palestinians living under and resisting the Israeli occupation or Iraqis being ravaged by US sanctions or fighting against the imperialist occupation forces. However, if you are a Syrian who has been living under the cruel tyranny of the Assad dynasty, Pilger will not merely ignore your suffering or apologise for it, but if you resist such tyranny, he will actively essentialise you as being an ‘Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist’ or a mere proxy for the West. His entire worldview is in essence the mirror image of the worldview of the defenders of US power and hegemony, who, for example, care only about the very few Israeli victims of rockets fired on Sderot from Gaza, while they actively deny the suffering of the Palestinian victims of Israeli state terror – or, as Pilger implies with Syria, they actually justify the death and destruction inflicted upon Gaza by Israel as being necessary in a ‘war on terror’.

To various different degrees (some more subtle than others), events in Syria have allowed this kind of facile ‘anti-imperialism’ to come to the fore among significant sections and individuals of the left, and you’ll notice that there has been – over the past two-and-a-half years – a gradual coalescence of not just the type of language used by some on the ‘anti-imperialist left’ and that of the pro-imperialists, but the actual substance of the arguments are basically the same, albeit with different ‘sides’ corresponding to the similar content and form of the arguments. This is not a type of leftism that I could ever accept or be a part of.

Sryrian Children. Worth more than all the "pundits" put together. They should be seen AND heard.

Sryrian Children. Worth more than all the “pundits” put together. They should be seen AND heard.

Written by Mary Rizzo
For well over two and a half years, there has been a war in Syria. Some will call it a Civil War, and yet… these same people who call it a civil war (despite having been repeatedly corrected by fighters on the ground that it is an Intifada, an uprising and a revolution) are now finally taking to the  streets to chant, “No War – Hands off Syria” as if it is currently waiting for a war to start and are simply being targeted by the West for imperial expansionism. A variant on the theme, they shout, “Stop the War” and again, they don’t mean to in any way address the bombing that has destroyed most of Syria, they mean the air strikes that a very few Western leaders are threatening to do to a very limited amount of targets inside Syria. Why on earth would the Western leaders do something like this when for two and a half years they have not done anything more severe than “deplore” the use of barrel bombs and carpet bombing of residential areas? Because they had to in some way establish a point of no return and it randomly fell on the use of Chemical Weapons.

It is beyond all reasonable doubt that the Syrian regime (which had admitted they possessed these weapons and have the only means to have implemented their use on a massive scale this August, exposing 15,000 people, including the elderly, women and children, to lethal nerve gas while in their beds) used Sarin Gas against its own people. Many more details about its acquisition will come out in the future, but at the current moment, over 1,500 have succumbed to it immediately (including hundreds of infants and children) and thousands more who have been exposed have had to deal with its very dangerous effects. So, I would think that any human being would be against the use of this weapon, considering it to be an atrocity that should not be ignored or even in the slightest way defended.

But what has instead happened? After the international news agencies, refusing to support the revolution also due to the fear that the western public has of any change of regime in the Arab world and an allergy to revolutions in general, finally displayed a fragment of the visual evidence of people suffocating to their deaths, their bodies writhing in pain or struck by uncontrollable spasms, the solidarity world started to move. But how did it happen that instead of condemning the atrocity, they are rallying around the Syrian regime and demanding the contradictory “no war” and “stop the war”. It seems that the western solidarity industry (yes, that part where people make a living as “activists”) again has been working overtime to keep its overwhelmingly white, male, western and older pundits on their pedestals. From these pedestals, they lament of the terrible hypocrisy of the very West (where most of them thrive and are “alternative media stars”. (Hint: the Syrian people sure have very little use for them, if they even know who they are).

The Western activists who have not opened their mouths in support of the popular revolution that they have pretended to have supported for the Palestinians but when push comes to shove, even over 1,600 Palestinians murdered by the Assad regime and tens of thousands sent into further exile, have been silent and uncaring, are disgusted by the hypocrisy of their own leaders. This is the argument they use: The West didn’t come in and in any way strike those who were using chemical weapons against the Palestinians, so the West is comprised of freedom hating hypocrites.  And this position begs the question: does this mean that if the US and the West had acted in this way for Palestine, it would not have been intervention, but something else instead? And if it is something else, what would they classify it as? Could it be exactly what the Syrians who are besieged in many parts of Syria and subject to ethnic cleansing and massacres have been begging for?  This seemingly contradictory stance (intervention for Palestine is considered as “good”, intervention for Syria is considered as “evil”) is at the core of what I will call “the Waffle Syndrome”. Waffling on a position and changing it according to a specific point of view fuelled not by a revolutionary vision of liberation and freedom, but by an ideological position of “anti-west” activism and money to be made in a cause that has long ago entered into the discourse thanks to the hard work of many activists (in primis Palestinians and Arabs, with the support of some Westerners who run the gamut from pan-arabists to anarchists, Marxists and anti-imperialists).

If the sudden interest in the death of Syrians (which of course, if you follow the discourse of these pundits, will only start when NATO bombs the living daylights out of Syria, so the “humanitarian” thing to do is to wash “our dirty hands that have always been evil” of it and stay out now… in stark contrast with the calls to support the Intifada and Arabs that were part of the discourse until the Arab Spring actually happened!) is going to do anything for Arab-Western relations, it is going to heighten the distrust not only of the West, which never does what it says it will, or which uses the pain of other people as a means to get involved in international disputes, but it is going to bring the level of hatred for western ACTIVISTS who are showing now, like never before, that they have not got a grasp on even the very basic and core ideals of revolution or struggles to liberate oneself from an oppressor.

sarinWhen push comes to shove, when the most widely condemned atrocities are added to atrocities that started from shooting peaceful protesters and arbitrary arrest and torture of civilian political opposition and even of children, leading up to the absolute destruction of most of Syria where the majority live (leaving the minority who sustain the bombing of their own country by their own leader unscathed because it maintains their privilege- similar to the theory of “if you want an omelette, you have to break a few eggs” of imperialist memory) it is clear that the bulk of the activists stand by the perpetrator of the crimes and against the common people, the refugees and the unarmed. They are following the hasbara (Israeli propaganda that knows it is propaganda and a narrative) tricks used against the Palestinians, accusing them of using their homes and people as human shields for terrorists. It is a new version of hasbara, but applied to the Syrian people: claiming to be with the Syrian people but selectively ignoring any crimes against them except for the few that the Syrian regime and propaganda machine want them to be scandalised by, specifically if they are backed by flags with Islamic or Islamist slogans. The problem is not that Assad is bombing the Syrian country into oblivion and driving one quarter of its population into refugee status. The problem is that there are evil foreign agents who will impose their will on Syria. They are imperialists and Islamists, and in a three-card-shuffle, these two diametrically opposed entities are scratching one another’s back, as if they have the same goal and interests. As far as the Wafflers are concerned, they are the same, and they use the same reactionary rhetoric that the hasbarists use against the Palestinian struggle for liberation.

But what is worse than the lack of interest of the “activists” and their support of the regime “because the alternative is worse FOR THE SYRIANS”, if you follow their rhetoric? It is the hypocrisy they have regarding the very issue of intervention and the role of the international community.

They have not seemed to have ever taken the streets or set the internet on fire with their calls against intervention in Syria before. They seem to ignore that for years there has been foreign intervention in Syria, that Russian weapons and experts, troops from Iran and Hezbollah, have been waging the war already, fuelling it and at times even bringing their own soldiers home in flag draped boxes. Are they unaware that Russian intervention has also used the tool to advance their personal agenda and interests, the tool that every single one of us for years had believed was the “original sin”: the UN Veto of a resolution condemning an act of war or imposing a restriction on intervention. It seems that the arms embargo against the revolutionary Free Syrian Army has been in force while there has been no such restriction in arming the regime. If it is a civil war, it is indeed alimented with great gusto by the Russians by means of the unethical tool of their power to impose their will by means of a veto.  It is this waffling and hypocrisy that will deepen the gulf of “misunderstanding” between the people of the Arab world and the “caring” West, which is represented by impotent leaders or reactionary, counter-revolutionary activists who are expert navel-gazers.

PLEASE don't tell the Syrians things will get bad once they start getting bombed. They might think you are insane.

PLEASE don’t tell the Syrians things will get bad once they start getting bombed. They might think you are insane.

Because, when it comes down to it, the counter-revolutionaries are going to scream bloody murder when a protester in Berkeley gets pepper spray in her eyes by the cops and at the same time defend the ruler in a regime where rule of law and democracy has never been in force, there is some heavy-duty orientalism/superior thinking going on. Evidently, a single protester in the USA is worth more, or the belief that Americans deserve full rule of law and justice but Syrians just must persevere because they have to resist “Western Imperialism” is rife. And why is this idea so common? Because (as usual) the Western activists have a great deal of trouble accepting that maybe they don’t know better than “the other” what’s better for them. They impose their fears on them, their ideology is naturally “revolutionary” but it does nothing in the slightest to back the revolution, and in fact, uses the terminology that the reactionary right/hasbarists have been using against the Palestinians for decades. They say that they would really support the Syrians, but they “know” that the Islamists are worse than Assad. How do they know this? Because they watch Press TV (run by an Islamic Theocratic state that incidentally finances Assad’s regime because it is holding back the majority rule in Syria, which would likely be democratic or in the lack of that, Sunni dominated) and they read who I have been referring to for years as the “fat white male western pundits”.

For years, I have managed and run various sites for Arab freedom causes, and for years, I have placed at the top of those sites articles and commentary written by Arabs. I believe that if you are able to serve a cause, the first task is to listen, then if you can, amplify the voice of the oppressed. But, while the names I published and translated on my site were overwhelmingly Arab, the names getting the big circulation on the web and doing the well-paid speaking tours were non-Arab, many times they were actually Israelis (ostensibly speaking “for” the Palestinians), almost all the time they were male, the educated élite of punditry and most of them were at least a generation older than those who were marching in the streets for their own rights. It was a rare thing to see the actual protagonists saying, “this is what I think, this is what I want, this is what I want from you”.

All of that has changed so much recently. There is a vast range of articles written by Syrians about their situation, by Palestinians about their situation as “double refugees” and by Arabs around the world who want to express solidarity with those of their language/culture and often religious affiliation. More than that, any week of the year, you can see the posters from the marches INSIDE Syria. Yes. After two and a half years, they are still marching in their streets and expressing what they want. They are not props set up by anyone, they are not the pawns of someone else’s interests, they are THOSE WE ARE SUPPOSED TO LISTEN TO AND EXPRESS SOLIDARITY WITH. What are they saying? Are they begging for the world to ignore them and let them sort it out on their own? No. In fact they are saying what they have been saying since the beginning, “if you don’t help us, we will be killed”.

Can the message get any clearer?

Can the message get any clearer?

Are you prepared to understand what kind of help they have been begging for from the start? They have been first of all asking for protection from the bombs. That means that those who are in the streets in the West have ignored for two and a half years that an entire population has been bombed night and day and that hundreds of thousands of them have lost everything they had. How could the “No War” people have missed this? Oh, that’s right, they have been listening only to the well-paid, popular, fat, white, western guys who get money from Press TV or Al Manar to tell them what is happening in Syria. They don’t actually have to LISTEN to Syrians or watch their videos that they load with constancy despite the difficulties, because they WANT us to know and to do something. They have been asking for the lifting of the arms embargo against the Free Syrian Army, which they recognise as their liberation force. The first commander of the FSA said (two years ago) that if the FSA were armed adequately, they would finish the revolution in a matter of weeks with no direct foreign intervention. He also said that if this did not happen, there would be other forces around who would not wait to form militias and enter into Syria, without the same revolutionary goals, and definitely not with an interest in a Syria for all of its people, even those who currently support Assad.

I suppose the most ironic part of the waffling hypocritical “activism” world that woke up now to “stop a war” that they aren’t even sure exists or not, and if it does, what kind of war it is, is that they claim to be anti-Zionist, but when for the first time a true threat to the Zionist state has been uttered by the regime and some of its supporters (Iran and Hezbollah) as the Syrian regime Army Generals warned “in case of attacks on Syria, ‘Israel will burn’ and that if Syria weakens, ‘certain irresponsible groups’ will be formed that would endanger Israel,” they don’t seem to understand the actual regional dynamics – or else they really don’t want anything to threaten Israel, whose own “security” has always trumped Arab rights and Arab lives.

Now, here is the core of the hypocrisy. Evidently, a Syria that accepts the provocations of Israel without responding, that accepts for decades the occupation of Syrian soil and helps to actually displace once again more Palestinians and to engage in a “scorched earth” policy with regard to what is supposed to be a threat to Israel (Syria itself), is considered as “resistant”. It is considered as an idea that is beyond the pale to bring Israel into any kind of conflict, and if there is such a thing, it can only be considered “irresponsible”. Israel has got to be left alone, not even a slap on the wrist, the Syrian regime is the one that sees to their protection, they are their border guardian not only throughout the decades, but more than ever now that Syria might actually lose Assad as its leader.

The expansion of the conflict is not what anyone wants, and in fact, Assad has seen to it to be the exact party not only to maintain the Israeli status quo, but to also keep any kind of anti-west or anti-pluralism elements at arm’s reach. If nothing else, this statement alone shows the fundamental flaw of the reasoning of at least a portion of the “solidarity activists against the war”. Now, not only will they be used to enhance the totalitarian, Arab-hating and Islamophobic forces in the area, but they will be given the legitimacy that they don’t get from their own people. Once again, Imperialism Wins! The Westerners know BETTER! And there is an important lesson to be learned, and repeated by any kind of “oriental despot”: massacre your own people in their sleep and the “solidarity” champions will make a hero of you.

 

No "more" bombs...the ones from Russia and Iran dropped by Assad's army can keep coming though... there are terrorists, you know.

No “more” bombs…the ones from Russia and Iran dropped by Assad’s army can keep coming though… there are terrorists, you know.

RE: Stop the War in Syria

Hello Antiwar Activist,

How are you? It’s been 2 and half years. I’ve missed you. I hope all is well. Thank you for writing back. Yes you’re right, we have to stop this war!

I am glad you are here now. We can use your help. You are against war, right? So you must really care about the Syrian people and want to help save them from the tragedies they have endured for far too long. Let me catch you up to speed so you can join the effort to help end this war.

The media is telling us that the West is about to attack Syria. You seem concerned. Just a heads up, Israel attacked Syria a month ago. The West attacked Mali last year, Libya the year before that, and continues to use drones worldwide every day. I didn’t hear from you then so you probably just didn’t get the memo. The war isn’t just about to start. It’s actually been going on for 2 and half years. 100,000 people are dead. 1 out of every three people is displaced. 1 out of every 3 people needs humanitarian assistance. The medical system has collapsed. And third of the country is in rubble because conventional weapons are being used indiscriminately every day.

So, the West is about to attack. We don’t want foreign military intervention right? Oh but Iranian and Lebanese forces have been there for some time now fighting with The Government’s army, and along with Russia have been arming them with sophisticated weapons. I guess that doesn’t count as foreign because those are not western countries. Israel attacked Syria a few times too but they are not Western so let’s forget about that too.

What’s important now is to stop the West. They’re always looking to start wars. They are the bad guy. So that means Syria must be the good guy. Oh you don’t know much about them. Let me fill you in. There is a dictatorship there. It’s been about 40 years. It comes with all the stuff you expect from good guys, no freedom of expression, no democracy, gross human rights violations, political prisoners, and complete theft of the economy. In fact one guy owns 60% of the entire Syrian economy! Hmm, let me see what else. Oh yeah they were responsible for the killing of an entire city of Hama killing over 20,000 people in 1982 and are a designated a state sponsor of terrorism since 1979. And in case you forgot they attacked, kidnapped, tortured, and killed peaceful protesters for the first 6 months of the conflict while people asked for their basic rights and freedoms. Most recently chemical attacks were used against people while they slept killing over a thousand men, women, and children. In case you were wondering, Syria has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world.

But they are not the bad guys, right? It’s more important to stop the West because they cause collateral damage. Never mind the existing collateral damage caused by The Government that has reduced a third of the country to rubble and killed tens of thousands in the process. No need to protest against the daily indiscriminate missile strikes being used by Syria’s military because the 3 days of missile strikes by the West will be much worse for the people of Syria.

I mean who does the West think its fooling? After their claims about Iraq, who can believe them? There is no proof that a war exists in Syria and that The Government is responsible for anything. Maybe we should check with someone else who we can really trust. Let’s see what AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, UN-OCHA, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS, AND REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS have to say. What? You’re kidding me? There actually IS a war going on and The Government IS responsible for the vast majority of crimes against humanity. You mean they have been using tanks, airplanes, helicopters and snipers indiscriminately against the population? You know, I don’t think I have heard you mention this war. Maybe you believe that war is only bad when other countries get involved, and that it is not a war when the government attacks its own people?

Let us be clear. When you say stop the war, you don’t just mean that West should not attack? You also mean that The Government should stop indiscriminately attacking its own population? I don’t think those countless reliable sources are wrong when they have repeatedly documented that a war has been going on, that The Government is largely responsible, and that this is not acceptable? You are against war, right? Or maybe it’s okay if the war is just inside the country itself? I mean the government’s crimes against humanity are needed because their enemy is foreign jihads who eat human hearts. That’s the real bad guy. Oh didn’t you know? The foreign jihadis have always been there. They have been there for 40 years so that’s why it was okay to have a dictatorship that trampled people’s freedom for decades. They were there during the peaceful protests, that’s why The Government had to attack and kill peaceful protestors for 6 months. And they are everywhere now. No Syrian has ever picked up a gun to defend himself after seeing his wife raped, his children slaughtered, and his home razed. The 100 000 people killed and 6 million people displaced are all foreign jihadis.

Don’t you know that dictatorship, oppression, waging war, and committing crimes against humanity does not cause a local population to resist? This is all just one big conspiracy by the West. Syrians don’t have a problem from 40 years of oppression. The scenes of millions of people across the entire country protesting peacefully for the human rights were all faked. And if they weren’t, well they must have been orchestrated by the West. I mean any human rights activist can tell you how easy it is to mobilize nationwide protests in the millions for 6 months. Even in the face of torture and death, they continued to protest because the West wanted them to. It had nothing to do with any internal desire for their own basic rights. We all know how easy it is to brainwash millions of people to go in the street and protest day after day when you’re facing possible death.

I mean in the end, it’s the people you care about right? That’s why you don’t want the West to attack. Protesting against a limited Western attack will help the people much more protesting against a war that has destroyed the country for 2 and half years, calling for more help in the largest humanitarian operation in the history of the UN, or demanding our governments do something, anything REAL to stop the bloodshed. Protesting against a limited Western attack will help the people by stopping the war all together. That’s what you really care about after all, the people. It has nothing to do with protesting yet another American foreign attack. You are there to protest because you truly care about the people.

Hmmm but where have you been. I haven’t seen you protesting and lobbying your government to increase humanitarian aid to the people of Syria. You do know it’s the largest humanitarian disaster of the century? That there are over 7 million people who need humanitarian assistance? I haven’t seen you asking for more pressure on the Syrian government to stop attacking civilians indiscriminately. You do know not a single UN Security Council on Syria has been passed?

Well you are here now. Nice to have you. I hope I can count on you to help the people of Syria. We need all the help we can get. We need to stop this war. We need to help the people. Let us stand together in solidarity and call for an end to the war in Syria. Let us stand together and demand protection and aid for the people of Syria. That’s why we are here right. It’s not just about stopping a small scale limited Western military intervention. It’s about ENDING THE WAR! It’s about helping the people of Syria. We are activists for a reason, right? Stopping wars is not our end goal, it’s just a means to saving our fellow man from oppression.

I have been here for some time now. I am exhausted. It’s nice to have you next to me. This war will likely not end anytime soon. I hope you will stay for the long haul.

Thank you,
A Human rights Activist

There will always be a Palestine, Liberated by the Palestinian Men and Women who Strive for LOVE OF PALESTINE

There will always be a Palestine, Liberated by the Palestinian Men and Women who Strive for LOVE OF PALESTINE

WRITTEN BY FIDA SHURRAB

Ever since the nation was lost, and all the efforts to gain it back were forged. Over time, they have taken the shape of a false glory.  Unfortunately, it was the “glory of selfishness”, and instead of going forward, all of this is taking the nation backwards to the land of darkness and despair. Greed, corruption, hatred and divisions are weapons that are keeping “The Lost Nation” forever lost.  Nobility is missing, honorable efforts do not exist anymore. As if it is the land of devils, and the people of the land are being handcuffed and victimized one after the other!

Those who are in control know nothing about the ethics of glory, they are very ignorant about the true meaning of nationalism, and  the only language that they are aware of  is selfishness, they lost track of their humanity, and instead of serving the nation, they are being enslaved by the enemy. The nation is being totally swallowed by the enemy, and its identity is being brutally raped! Standing still is their way of handling the enemy’s violation against their nation.

The word should not be in the hands of those who sold their nation, it is time that people must have their say and must revolt according to the following ethics:

  • Fight against the “glory of selfishness”!
  • To end the division, put aside all the factional interests!
  • To improve the status of our country, put aside your personal interest and greed and work with honesty to contribute in the developmental of your country!
  • To free the nation, resist for the sake of the nation, not for factions, parties or individuals!
  • To achieve ONENESS, act as a true human!

And seek these golden types of glory:

  • Love is a glory
  • Faith is a glory
  • Helping those in need is a glory
  • Being united is a glory
  • Launching your country towards a better status is a glory
  • Oneness is a glory
  • Resisting for the freedom of your country is the most glorious glory

PEOPLE MUST GIVE BIRTH TO THE REAL MEANING OF GLORY OF THE NATION

A woman showing her devotion in the Pro Assad rally in Rome

A woman showing her devotion in the Pro Assad rally in Rome

WRITTEN BY MARY RIZZO

When one has the opportunity of having two events in Rome on the same day concerning Syria, it provides an chance of seeing not only the focus of our campaigning and the current state of the “narrative” in our relationship to what everyone can agree is a debacle, but it crystallises the strengths and weaknesses that we have as activists.

Even with a war going on, with the crackdown against protests in areas that are still under control of the regime, and with the enormous dangers and risks that protesters in liberated areas face, we can’t seem to truly mobilise the European public to come anywhere close to making a mass  solidarity movement that will have any kind of echo. We have to deal with perhaps a bit of expense or inconvenience, but we pretty much can be assured there is no one that might kill us for going to protests. We have to follow a procedure to get the permits and do some work to mobilise people, but in comparison, we have nothing to hinder us, so our turnouts should reflect our effectiveness in reaching a critical mass in the public opinion. We have of course had some great marches, there have been countless events, conferences, exhibits, but we have not really engaged the general public that is not already highly politicised or directly involved  into any kind of meaningful action. There are a very few people expending a great deal of energy and in essence, singing to the choir. And this is true ON BOTH SIDES.

So we take into consideration Saturday, 15 June. Back in April, a group labelled “European Front for Syria” called for an international march in Rome, the poster reading (in screaming capital letters): DON’T TOUCH  SYRIA! EVERYBODY TO ROME / 15 JUNE RALLY. In the call to the event, they prospect that there will be thousands of lions to sustain their President and Army (and if we trust their promotional videos, their Secular Socialist State) against those they label as Rats. Yes, they actually do make a long list of who the Rats are, and of course they don’t forget who their friends are: beacons of freedom Iran, North Korea, Russia, China, Venezuela and Cuba, and naturally, a party that is anything BUT Secular or Socialist, Hezbollah. Who exactly is the European Front? I don’t know, but they “joined Facebook in January of 2013”, evidently after 2 years of war and probably combining parts of various pro Assad groups.

Given that in a free society, such as is the Italian one, the right to assemble is guaranteed by the constitution, and all opinions are constitutionally protected. However, given that in order to achieve this free society, Italy was forced to undergo the a long and painful war to overthrow two decades of Fascism (a totalitarian system with no tolerance of dissent and no guarantee of rights). Therefore, a Constitution was written by the constituent entity that had to build a democracy from the ground up, incorporating segments of provisions that place some limits on rights that would be essentially a threat to democracy. Thus, in Italy, our constitution prohibits the reorganisation of the Fascist party, and the Scelba Law (known as the law against the crime of Apology of Fascism L. 645/1952) was introduced to implement its enforcement. The text of the law punishes “whoever constitutes an association, a movement or a group having the characteristics and setting the objective as the reorganisation of the defunct Fascist party, or whoever publicly exalts the exponents, principles, facts or methods of Fascism, or its anti-democratic objectives.”

moment of the Anti-Assad rally

moment of the Anti-Assad rally

One can and should ask if this provision though present in the Constitution, and subsequent Law place limits on freedom assembly and expression, actually violating constitutional legitimacy, given that freedoms of opinion are guaranteed by the articles of the Constitution and this constriction does not regard any other ideology, since in modern times, no other ideology had been effective in undermining freedoms and pluralism in Italy. But, leaving the rhetorical question to the side, the Italian government, given that it protects our rights of assembly must however guarantee that assembly meets constitutional and legal requirements. Any assembly in a public space, a rally, a march, even the setting up of a stand to sell oranges, requires the obtaining of permits. In the case of a political rally or demonstration it requires the approval not only of the Municipality but of the State Police. Whoever has organised any event in Italy has spent time at Police Headquarters and contacted the Cabinet of the Mayor. The state provides permits and public security (in many cases escort, officers in riot gear and a motorcade). Most marches in Italy have a massive presence of police, and like it or not, they help with the traffic flow for the streets being closed off, they serve as a barrier in case there are elements that threaten the public safety; at times they are discreet and at others, they are omnipresent.

So, with all of that in mind, if a march/rally is called, with the cost and inconvenience it is going to bring to the general public, it is conditional upon being within the law.

In the call for the Pro Assad rally, the associations that supported it were the bulk of the extreme right of Europe, and this could never have surprised anyone that took even the most random of glances at any of their publications, promotional material or the sites where they held their meetings. Some Romans active for the rights of the oppressed people in Syria and Palestine came to the conclusion that the organisers are part of groups that perhaps are not reforming the Fascist party, but certainly are proud of their roots in Fascism and make no secret of it. It is time to face the fact that while not ALL those who support Assad are Fascist sympathisers, ALL Fascist sympathisers support Assad. Would there be a danger of a march turning into a Fascist rally? Indeed, the supporters of Assad sought confrontation during a pro Revolution march in April in Rome, with the police (upon their own initiative) identifying  19 of them and a pile of stones at their feet, documented by independent photographers, were what was left behind as they were asked to leave the premises. With such precedent, the activists in Rome issued a petition which was signed by hundreds of people, Italians and internationals, and presented to the authorities:

“Called for Saturday, June 15 in Rome is a gathering of European nazi-fascist movements that support the criminal regime of Syrian dictator Assad. The Italian organisations involved are the most well-known groups of the extreme right-wing, from Casa Pound to the archipelago of neo-Nazi movements and apologists of Fascism.

The support of the nazi-fascist movements towards the Syrian regime is the consequence of the shared identity of views with a repressive, murderous and corrupt system; one that has been oppressing the people of Syria for decades and has responded with unprecedented ferocity to the demand for freedom and dignity advanced two years ago with demonstrations and peaceful demonstrations. The current military drift is the result of the regime’s brutal repression against a movement that remained peaceful for many long months, despite the assaults, murders, arbitrary arrests, the widespread use of torture.

We believe that the Syrian people has the right to live in peace and freedom to determine their own future and that, to achieve these objectives, they have the right to resist oppression, just as the Palestinian people and all the peoples of the world. For this reason, we stand against the dictatorship of Assad and any imperialist military intervention, including intervention from the States of the region.

We are on the side of the Syrian people, the Palestinian and all the peoples who struggle for dignity and freedom, against the occupation, repression, torture and massacres, this is why we are anti-fascists.

A rally of rogue Nazis from across Europe in support of the dictatorship of the Assad clan is an insult to Rome, the Gold Medal in the Resistance, and an insult all freedom-loving people. Do not let this shame pass in silence, let us build solidarity with the Syrian people.”

In addition to the petition, a counter-rally was organised in a public square just outside the historical centre to express dissent with the issuing of the permits and to give another voice to the Syrian struggle, that which seeks the end of the Assad Regime.  It added as a second theme the rights of Palestinian to self-determination and freedom. It certainly did not have 3 months to be planned, nor could it mobilise “thousands” from all over Europe to come, given the short notice during high season, when finding accommodation or economic transportation to Rome is nigh impossible. It had to adopt a local character, at the most people from the nearby regions could make it, and yet, calls were made through some posters and some messages on Facebook to bring activists and the general public to convene, no matter where their point of departure was.

Pro Assad rally in Rome

Pro Assad rally in Rome

Then…. The unexpected happened: two days before the Pro Assad rally, both the City of Rome and the State of Italy withdrew their permits to allow this event to take place in a public square. Not defeated, the group simply moved the rally into their Clubhouse, which is the space that is occupied by Casa Pound, a well-organised group of the extreme right, certainly not neutral or apolitical terrain! Definitely that would exclude that the message would reach the general public that did not already have an opinion on the matter, and definitely would restrict its scope. Any way one looks at it, it lost its character as a Roman Rally, and the hopeful descent of thousands of lions would just have to be more folklore along the lines of the popular mandate of Assad and the “millions” of lions in the streets of every city of Syria to support his regime.

So, absolutely, efforts made by those dissenting from the public rally were fully successful. Free speech was preserved, but NOT the violation of our spaces with the blessing of the authorities.

Our rally, as scheduled, continued and the speakers would also comment upon the successful efforts, as well as explaining the situation in Syria to the general public.

One can look at both rallies and one can make some observations: the first is, both of them were successful in some ways, and unsuccessful in others. The Pro Assad rally, while not drawing thousands, and most likely not a massive presence of Europeans, in the arc of an entire day it did several hundred, they claim on their page 400, maybe half of them were hidden since they certainly don’t appear in photos or videos, yet, in spite of that, whether 200 or 400, it is not a bad number. The Anti Assad rally, while not aiming at an international presence and in concomitance with some other major events for Syria the same day, drew around 100. There were many organisations that gave their moral support and adhered to the call, though they did not bring their numbers to the square.

The Pro Assad rally was highly professional, and it should not surprise anyone! As a matter of fact, in 2 and a half years of war, it is rare (and perhaps it does not exist at all) that these people have been engaged in any efforts to support anything but the permanence of Assad. While decrying specific horrors and lamenting of massacres and destruction at the hands of the rebels, these groups NEVER organise to bring any kind of humanitarian aid in. You will never see them raise funds for ambulances, clothing, medicine, food, blankets, tents and even water. Any efforts they make are solely and exclusively to support their own propaganda. In fact, their Facebook pages included all kinds of information so that people could donate to the Roman event. That, as you see, is the extent of their work, to win the information war with private donations. And they DO invest!!! They provide themselves with a fancy set, organise entertainment, video presentations, bring in TV troupes, have an infinity of gadgets, most of them bearing the face of Assad, organise press conferences and posters… they get loads of posters and banners out there! Definitely, they have economic leeway for these things. Which is what is the problem with the Anti Assad activism. Most activists are not just doing information work, but they are constantly raising funds for humanitarian relief. They are giving sometimes all the money they have to send a bit of goods here, a bit of money there, spreading it out to many projects, so that all the projects have some level of success and serve the Syrians in the refugee camps and the internally displaced. They are building field hospitals, supplying the Syrians with the basics that their own government does not supply them with.

You can watch some of these Pro Assad people go on and on about how Assad provides all, like a good father. They must certainly believe it, because they only open their wallets to find more ways to repeat those myths. Those against Assad are aware of the reality, and not only do they not “get paid” to go to rallies, as was the case with the sixteen models suing an agency that did not pay them for their participation in a march in a public square where they were to chant slogans praising Assad in Arabic and hold his picture and a Syrian loyalist flag. No, those against Assad open their wallets again to bring themselves to marches and rallies. They open their wallets to get a sound system, the minimum things necessary for a public assembly. Things are often on a shoestring budget, and often, met with resistance by others who are in the movement for the simple reason that, “our money has to go to the people who are suffering, not in marches”.

And, this is why, on a date when there was a fundraiser, most of the Syrian community attended that. This is why, while the political paradigm for Assad is almost the property of the extreme right, for their sharing of a common worldview, it also is shared by some in the extreme left who undersign the paradigm, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”: forgetting that whoever kills his own people is by definition an enemy of the people, whoever engages in arbitrary arrest and torture is an enemy of the people, whoever kills Arabs is an enemy of the Arabs and a danger for the entire Mediterranean.

Those misguided people probably didn’t go to the Pro Assad rally, as most of the pictures showed some families, with kiddies in strollers and grannies kissing the picture of Assad on a paper fan. The self-declared leftists perhaps would have felt more comfortable with the Revolutionary Socialists who were a large part of the Anti  Assad rally than with those dressed up in military fatigues and praising the army. They perhaps don’t even notice that while they are screaming against the “Salafis”, they are praising the theocratic State of Iran, taking the words of a Nun and a Priest with regime links as gold dripping from heaven and raising Nasrallah up as some kind of resistance icon. They probably even think he runs a secular party!

But then again: the Pro Assad folks know how to fight their information war. That is because they do not need to disperse their personal resources in aid. They apparently either do not care about the humanitarian crisis, or since the millions of victims who have lost their homes and possessions are probably persons the regime would be happy to exterminate, they can feel legitimated in claiming to be pro Syria, but ignoring the suffering of the Syrian people. They can’t teach us any lessons about humanitarianism, or even about resistance. But they can teach us how to promote themselves professionally, despite the gigantic downsizing of their event.

CONCLUSION: The Pro Assad people have a different focus, it is on “winning the information war” and to hell with the humanitarian disaster in Syria. The Anti Assad people throw most of their energy into raising funds to provide Syrians with the basics of survival. The Pro Assad people, despite all that work and economic investment that crosses borders to create a massive international event, managed to gather together a very small crowd. The Anti Assad people didn’t have the same mechanisms and certainly haven’t got a political space to fall back on. We have to work harder at convincing people that these events are ALSO important to attend, by Syrians and anyone who is a freedom lover. They present us a chance to stand in solidarity with the Syrians, to discuss among ourselves and with the general public and to in that way build the movement so that the sole beneficiaries of ALL efforts are the Syrian people seeking their rights and freedom.

the two posters of the events:

siria poster 2

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refugee camp of the Palestinian Nakba, 1948

refugee camp of the Palestinian Nakba, 1948

Commemoration Day of the Nakba is approaching. It is an important date that we must never ignore. All who know me are aware that my major interest for the past 3 decades has been to raise awareness of the Palestinian struggle and for those people to obtain their rights and justice, and for this reason, I have operated sites and written, translated, edited and shared articles on the issue, hoping to always allow the voices of the oppressed to have a venue to be heard. This Nakba day feels different from the others, though. For the first time, I feel that I am on the opposite side of the fence of many with whom I’ve campaigned for decades. I’m not talking about the Palestinians, who, by and large share the same views I do on the events of the Middle East, but I’m talking about the activism community in the West, the Left and those who consider themselves anti-imperialists.

What is the problem? The problem is that the focus in not at all about the plight of refugees and humans who are subjected to the greatest loss of all, especially in the moments of war or invasion, it is only about repeating a mantra that Israel and the West are the only enemies and anyone who is “VERBAL” about that, (it’s not required to actually DO anything to liberate occupied lands or to bring refugees back home!) has got to be backed and helped out no matter what any other policy is, particularly those internal policies that involve ethnic cleansing, oppression of part of the population, violence, arrest of any opposition, no matter if they are political or just average people on the street, extra-judicial killings and a vast list of crimes against humanity.

We have seen those who have fought for the rights of the Palestinians completely back the policy of genocide and ethnic cleansing carried out by Assad. All of this not based on his deeds, which include the active participation in the massacres and exile of Palestinians in Syria and prior to that in Lebanon.

refugee camp for Syrians in Turkey, 2013. Photo by Rana Sammani

refugee camp for internally displaced Syrians, 2013. Photo by Rana Sammani

We are seeing them deny the Nakba of the Syrian people because they are more convinced by fiery speeches than by a true liberation position that vows to protect the lives of Palestinians and at the same time mows them down along with the Syrians, because they dared to not take an active role in support of the regime or if they openly support the opposition. That is enough for the Palestinian camps inside Syria to be subjected to sieges worse than those in Gaza, carpet bombing, checkpoints, massacres and starvation, along with the destruction of their homes and exile, refugees once more, but this time with the denial of the proper documents by Syria so that they can register as refugees where they escaped to, a perverse strategy the Syrian regime uses to prevent them from obtaining their rights. The same fate of collective punishment of the Syrians. This alone should alarm ANY human rights activist, and even more so, those who campaign for Palestinian rights.

Shall we compare the numbers of the victims of these two crimes of displacement and forced exile?

During the 1948 Palestine War, an estimated 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled, and hundreds of Palestinian villages were depopulated and destroyed. (sources agree on this, from Benny Morris to Walid Khalidi)

Palestinian refugees in 1948

These refugees and their descendants number several million people today, divided between Jordan (2 million), Lebanon (427,057), Syria (477,700), the West Bank (788,108) and the Gaza Strip (1.1 million), with at least another quarter of a million internally displaced Palestinians in Israel. The displacement, dispossession and dispersal of the Palestinian people is known to them as an-Nakba, meaning “catastrophe” or “disaster”.

Syria (since the start of the uprising in 2011)

In August 2012, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that the number of registered Syrian refugees had reached over 200,000, exceeding the UNHCR estimate of 185,000 for the entire year. Also according to the United Nations, 6 million people inside Syria needed help and about 4 million Syrians were internally displaced because of the Syrian civil war.

By the early months of 2013 the UNCHR announced that the number of refugees had topped 1 million, and by March 2013 had risen to 1,204,707 people. A spokeswoman for UNHCR, Sybilla Wilkes, also reported that the rate of flight from Syria was increasing. “In March an average of 10,000 people crossing per day. In February it was 8,000. In January it was 5,000. The numbers keep going up and up.” It has been estimated that by the summer, the number of refugees will be 4.25 MILLION, only some of them registered with the agency because they have found refuge with families living abroad or are internally displaced, which does not record them at all.

700,000 is a lot of people displaced. It is a crime against humanity.

4.25 million is an astronomical number that barely is able to be imagined. The crimes against these people are also crimes against humanity.

If supporters of Human Rights for Palestinians ignore the displacement of Arabs, it is because they are in bad faith, ill-informed, or they do not have human rights as their core agenda. They hate the West (which most of them live in quite comfortably) much much more than they love the people who are subjected to oppression, and seek that they are not denied safety and rights. Justice and dignity are not what they care about, it is something else, and the sacrifice of the Syrian people and the Palestinians inside Syria has exposed all of this.

But, to be completely fair, it is not the concern of the Syrians themselves what the activists out here think. Many of them tell me they do not care about what the activists think and they no longer are interested in their support. They have shown their suffering to the world, they do not need the approval of anyone out of Syria. Even the hypocrisy does not faze them. They basically ignore what those people think, as it has no bearing on their lives. A just cause is a just cause, and the causes of Palestinian and Syrian people are just causes, and they do not get diminished by the neglect or double standards of activists. It is the luxury of activists like me, out here, safe and comfortable, to despise the hypocrisy and hope that this vile thing would change over time, as more and more people regain their reason and reject the empty rhetoric that for decades fooled a lot of us, and still does fool some. The Syrians have the conviction that victory will come to the righteous, that God will not allow them to lose, and that it is only a matter of time, but justice will come. This is why they are so much better than I will ever be, they do not waste energy on the useless emotions, they know the battle is where they live, fought on their soil, and they strive towards their goal.

pal ymPALESTINIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT
In general, the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, and particularly Yarmouk camp, formed as the capital of the diaspora, are among the largest groups of Palestinian refugees and have been the starting point for many resistance operations, fueling the Palestinian revolution in its various stages and sacrificing many lives for Palestine. The last demonstration of resistance to their just cause was shown with their bodies alone during the commemorations of al Nakba and al Naksa at the border of the occupied Golan heights between Syria and Palestine, with eagerness for their stolen land, carrying with them the keys of return to their homes from before the brutal Zionist occupation, which they were forced to flee. Undeterred by the threats of the enemy, fire was opened and the bullets brought down many young martyrs.

Under the tense and disastrous circumstances in Syria, the camps have shared a large portion of what is happening as a result and it has led to the displacement and dispersion of many Palestinian families as well as their fleeing to different places within Syria, to neighboring countries, and European countries, effectively repeating the tragedy of Nakba once again to the very details, and in even worse conditions than before in light of a worsening Arab climate preoccupied with their own internal affairs. Further, the PLO has ignored any responsibility it has toward our Palestinian people present in the camps, without even minor levels of communication with the stakeholders of this situation to even mildly alleviate this tragedy.

For months, the Palestinian people have suffered numerous partial sieges and blockades imposed to prevent the entrance of aid and relief, from food and medicine for the camps to preventing the wounded and injured from seeking medical treatment outside the camps, having lost medical supplied at hospitals within the camps. In these past days, a full siege has been imposed on Yarmouk camp, which positions potential for a human catastrophe and which is threatening the lives of our families and brothers and sisters trapped inside the camp.

We, in the Palestinian Youth Movement, reject and condemn the policy of collective punishment against our steadfast families, brothers and sisters in the camps and we call on all concerned international actors, and UNRWA in particular, to exercise its role and fulfill its duty of providing relief to the Palestinian refugees. Furthermore, we call upon the PLO in request for the declaration of a state of emergency and for the PLO to intensify its efforts and pressure to lift this blockade, for the claim of legitimacy and representation is not just a slogan to chant as they please, but rather it is a responsibility to its people.

As the 65th commemoration of the Nakba approaches, we recognize that the tragedy of al Nakba is carried on as part of our daily lives, and rests on the shoulders of our brothers and sisters in the camps in unparalleled ways. However, our brothers and sisters in the camps remain steadfast as always and will remain the foundation of the Palestinian experience, and the meaning and basis of representation is lost if it does not represent the nucleus of its people, especially in the worst and most difficult of conditions.

Until Return and Liberation

www.pal-youth.org
in Arabic
http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1383031/6f86706c4a/ARCHIVE

By Wissam Al Jazairy

There are two ways of experiencing a social upheaval of epic proportions: directly or indirectly. Naturally, if one is directly affected by restrictions, uprisings, detention, revolution, attacks, blockades, shortages of utilities, medicine and food, migration and so forth, they are going to be connected to the event in a visceral way and this of course helps to define the nature of the event as being positive or negative.  There is a DIRECT relationship between what is happening and an improvement or a worsening in their lives. It is a relationship that is dependent upon reality and the “timeline” of their narrative is going to be “before” the event and “after” it. There is little abstraction going on, as, for example, you simply know that “before” you lived in your home and “after”, you were marching towards a refugee camp because not only your home, but your entire town no longer exists, and you know who did that to you as well!  No one has to inform you that this is a bad situation. No ideology could ever be more meaningful to you than the fact that your life has been totally changed (for the worse) from what it was before.

It’s obvious that those who live outside areas of upheaval are not going to have these experiences in order to judge the events, and judging them is what we tend to do naturally if we are “activists”. We tend to see them in a bigger picture and part of a greater struggle. Therefore, as indirectly involved, we have a few choices at our disposal. We can view events (and people) in a prism that comforts us or at least fits into what we think we already know (our ideology or beliefs), we can take the road of empathy and identify with the persons directly involved, we can remain indifferent, uninvolved and choose to ignore any information until it DOES directly involve us, if it ever would have that destiny. We can even attempt to tightrope walk in a combination of all of them, depending upon our mood, our social interactions, our interests.

Then there are degrees of indirect involvement. It often relates to the concept of “identity politics”: where a person relates to an event according to a perceived degree of identification with those directly involved in any event. Taking the Syrian uprising into consideration in this paper, it is clear that all Syrians around the world have a connection to Syria and have its interests at heart. I doubt that there is even one Syrian who washes his or her hands of the entire situation, even if they may find themselves on diametrically opposed sides. However, one important matter must be acknowledged: that there are indeed persons who are directly affected and whose lives have been shattered, and that the facts supporting the amount of destruction, the number of deaths and refugees and even the dynamics of the various massacres can in no way be denied. It is beyond ridiculous to imagine that we can turn back the clock to a time when we were not connected in real time, when news of massacres only reached a small public in whispered tones, knowing that the details were too horrible to even be believed. Any town in the world that has some sort of access to communication is fully able to see documents such as photographs and films of the real events happening in Syria at this very minute. They can judge if there are protests, battles, massacres by what they see.

Dealing with cognitive dissonance

There is actually a tricky part of this whole thing though: if we AREN’T directly involved, whatever decision we make will turn out to be an ethical choice. Unless we are completely alienated and detached from the suffering of others, not to mention living in a vacuum, the suffering going on in Syria smacks us in the face day after day and hour after hour. If the sight of torture, destruction and death makes us feel bad, chances are we are normal and we will experience some level of cognitive dissonance. We know that things we are witnessing (or being shown) are “bad” or even “unacceptable” or “evil”, depending on our linguistic habits, but since we are not in the habit of outspokenly endorsing evident ethnic cleansing and carpet bombing of Arab cities and villages, we may find ourselves taking refuge in the cosy world of “punditry” and “analysis”, where the idea and intention (real or imagined) bears more weight than isolated events (even if they are repeated thousands and hundreds of thousands of times). It is clear that punditry is the easiest road for the self-identifying human rights activist, because we all have a body of literature that slips all events into a meta-narrative (in the case of punditry that calls itself “anti-imperialist”, but is actually the sum equivalent of counter-revolutionary thought, where the leader is preferred and supported over the rebelling masses for perceived value he has in an ideological framework) and we can selectively analyse specific events in order to prove our points and especially settle our painful cognitive dissonance.

It’s a bit of a disaster though, because it assumes that the indirect experience, nay, the ANALYSIS is actually more relevant than the direct experience. It puts us in the even MORE uncomfortable position of being the “great white hope”, the one who “knows better than “the other” what’s Best for the Other”, though we attempt to not let that fact bother us, as we are cognisant that most of us are unwilling and unable to leave the comfort of the West and its trappings such as banks, iPads and all the pluggable things we adore more than humans. We have the opportunity of justifying what we normally would not be able to justify by means of adopting a “more important” ideological stance, and we assume others will be able to understand that we are not any kind of privileged person, but instead we benefit of our years of activism and awareness and just plain “intelligence”, seeing things ordinary folk can’t see!

A few anti-interventionists in London are selective about what intervention they reject

In addition to our ability to be physically far from war, we are even lucky enough to have the assistance of critical distance, the only thing that allows analysis and lets us paint over the grey areas (we can decide even which meta-narrative we can focus on, tailoring our interventions to our public. If the consumers of punditry are Westerners like us, (as 90% of them are) we can assume they do not want to be involved in interventionist wars (Western intervention, that is) and they will respond to a group of code words, they will take on and utilise in discourse new ones such as “sectarian” without requiring mental strain of figuring out if this is truly the case in point. We can vary the theme a bit by going for the generic pacifism/no war framework if the complexities of historical events in mass movements in the Arab world is beyond our grasp. And there is a beauty to all of this: we can still consider ourselves as superior ethical beings, because we are not ignoring (and we would never admit we are facilitating something negative!) the situation, but instead we can remain great humanitarian activists who are looking out for the best interests in those populations who do not have the dialectical positions we have. We resolve our painful cognitive dissonance and at the same time give ourselves hefty pats on the backs for being so very clever and anti-imperialist.

I believe I am like most of the others reading this: not directly involved, but not able to avoid the empathic response of shock and disgust at the violence, yet also deeply entrenched in my “activist identity” that seeks to analyse what is seen within a larger framework. This means that I am a consumer of punditry, and for better or worse, the vast majority of it is done by those who might move onto the next “hot spot”, and that means that whatever the outcome, it’s not going to affect them personally, because it’s someone else’s lives, someone else’s country. So, the logical assumption is that if you are not personally involved, your stakes in the situation are completely different than those who are involved, and your “personal” stakes may not at all be lofty ideals such as “saving the Arab people from the evil empire”, since the evidence that imperial interests are the driving force in the uprising of the Syrian people is nil. The personal stakes may quite simply be learning to live with yourself after seeing what is objectively “unacceptable” violence committed by the regime with very little excuse for this except that they CAN.

How is that done? Simple! Claim that the justification of the violence is a greater cause or that “both sides” commit unacceptable deeds. The fact that you will always find a bit of evidence to justify that thesis comes in handy, and it avoids the need to actually ANALYSE, but to stick selected evidence into a pre-conceived analysis. You can use even contradict yourself, no one is keeping score! If in January there was NO such thing as Al Qaeda, in August they can be the driving force of the “rebels”.  If you spent years stressing the absolute right of the Palestinians to select for themselves parties that are overtly Islamic, no one will spend too much effort to point out the hypocrisy of determining that Assad “needs” to stay in power to guarantee a Secular Syria. No one will point out the vaguely Islamophobic comments that you might make as you lump all the freedom fighters into the “Salafist” bag. And do not worry that people are going to argue that the concept of a wider “homeland” has always been a part of uprisings in the Arab world, that the Umma should at least theoretically participate in the struggles and armed conflicts where called upon.

The kitsch aesthetic reigns supreme in self-styled pundits

If you are like me, you have read dozens of articles that bear lots of information but almost no factual data. Much of this information is by self-styled pundits, quite kitschy most of the time, who have no direct access to information, and what they actually do is pass off regime dispatches as being their independent analysis. RT, Press TV and Global Research are going to tell you about hundreds (and at times thousands) of troops of Libyan soldiers fighting in Syria, but that is pretty much all you will ever find out about them, though meaningless and fact-deprived mega titles like this will float from article to article:

The “Free Syrian Army” is Al Qaeda, led, armed, funded by Western-backed LIFG (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group) terrorists.

No need to prove any of that! Just saying it is enough, and throw in the word “terrorist” referred to Arab fighters and you can actually take almost any analysis by the Neocon Think Tanks and arrange it to suit your needs.

And this is the problem: Those who are closer to the revolution / uprising because they identify with the persons actually undergoing these events are reacting empathically, humanely and emotionally. They believe that it is sufficient to show the world what is going on and human decency will do the rest, will stop saying “this is unacceptable” and will MAKE it unaccepted. Those who are farthest away, whose involvement with it is fickle, transitory and laden with the cognitive dissonance that forces them to justify atrocities are the ones analysing the situation. They are not presenting all that is seen, but are clipping out those things that support the effort they are making in order to continue to back a regime that is objectively engaged in violence against a civilian population that is obscene. They will point to the Palestinian cause, repeating the regime’s slogans that have no support in truth! It is clear that if the regime has shelled the Palestinian refugee camps (bringing about destruction and also the death of over 400 Palestinians) because these places are considered as supportive of the revolution, there is something in that argument that is enormously flawed!

Russian Veto serves Assad

If they are using the “no intervention” argument, they simply ignore the fact that there is heavy intervention and actual material support of the regime from Iran, Russia and Hezbollah. It is not a theory, it is actual fact. If they claim that the UN veto serves the interest of imperialism and the West and has been a grotesque miscarriage of Justice regarding Palestine, the veto of Russia and China to sanctions is seen in a completely different light. If the No Fly Zone was slammed for Libya, is labelled as a NATO device when applied to Syria we have to simply ignore that, “I Support a No Fly Zone Over Palestine” was a campaign that was adhered to particularly by these same pundits. Or, could it be that there are some humans who are more human than others and whose rights are worth stopping at nothing to protect?

The range of arguments that these people use is often contradictory, almost always lacks research and most of the time is detached from the will and reality of the persons who are directly involved. Even the idea borrowed from the pro-Assad people outside Syria who do not see the pro-regime intervention but are obsessed with that of the uprising, whether that intervention is real or imagined which states: “let Syrians settle it among themselves”. This is a way to avoid the internal conflict of being an “activist” in someone else’s struggle and urging that all issues are resolved without others butting in. Non-intervention is selective, and it follows the trends.

I would like to close this paper by making two points. The first is that since we have shifted much of this war into the “social sphere” where communication happens, we are aware of the weight of conformance to social conventions in our interactions. We are horrified at the prospect of clashing with those who in the past have had such accurate insights or at least who along general lines followed the same ideas we did, those of the revolutionary struggle for freedom from oppression and a people’s rights to self-determination. This means that many of us, accepting these paradigms of justification of human rights violations have removed our critical abilities in a lazy manner. We simply fail to recognise the hypocrisy that exists where Pro-Palestine activists are posting up hateful pictures of icons of the resistance, Shiehk Raed Salah, Azmi Bishara, or journalists and writers such as Khalid Amayreh or Elias Khoury only because they have insisted that the Syrian liberation struggle is a struggle of an oppressed people against a tyrant and that this tyrant has continually put the “rights” of Israel before the rights of the Palestinians and Syrians.

One of the more intricate “proxy war” maps, though it ignores Israel, unlike some of the simpler ones circulating

It is ironic that these pundits specialised in revolutionary slogans are busy labelling the uprising and revolution, brought ahead heroically by the brave Syrian people almost single-handedly, as a “Proxy War against Iran”, which is not only a meaningless phrase but it takes away any agency that the Arab and Syrian people have in determining their own fate and making their own history. They will also tie into this concept all the regional and international powers, as if they are the point and Syria is not an issue. And it’s not only the anti-imperialists who have a problem, there is something really wrong in pacifists who are busy equating the massacre of almost 700 people in a day to the throwing off the roof of two snipers who had been killed in combat. It simply defies a sense of measure, a sense of perspective and reality!

The second point I want to make is that while the pro-revolution faction outside Syria is very busy in the noble task of disseminating the information that leaks out of Syria, at times with enormous difficulty, informing the entire world of the situation there, and honouring the martyrs with the testimony of their suffering, it is missing out on the “analysis” aspect. It is a shame that of the thousands of analytical items to read, half of them are reprints of the same 3 or 4 articles by faraway pundits (often without experience or credentials) in London, Chicago, Naples or Florida. If some of them are nearer, they have a specific dog in the fight, and they themselves are “obsessed” about sectarianism, so they see it in everyone else, whether it is there or not. I believe that we activists who are both empathic and who support the people of Syria in their struggle for freedom have to make an extra effort to fight the propaganda, to debunk the fallacy of the information presented as argument (lacking the evidence, the big words such as Imperialist fly!) The truth is on our side, but the Assad-supporting activists are beating us in the information game only because they are required to play it so that they can look at their faces in the mirror and not hate who they see.

Lebanese novelist and intellectual, Elias Khoury

Syrians, you are alone!

Written by Elias Khoury published in al Quds al arabi (Translation from Arabic by Giacomo Longhi, translation to English by Mary Rizzo)

Ghiyath Matar, the martyr in Daraya who, with a gesture that confirms the nobility of the Syrian revolution, had distributed water and flowers to the Syrian soldiers, was kidnapped by the secret service on 6 September, 2011 and returned to his family four days later as a battered corpse.

Ghiyath Matar today weeps for his city, Daraya, as he sees more than three hundred martyrs assassinated by the blind machine of the Assad army thugs and shabbiha that have devastated as the Tatars had done, eliminating anyone who they had at the range of their guns.

But the regime, not content with this inhuman massacre, ratcheted up their ferocity by sending a reporter from Addounia TV, owned by Rami Makhlouf, to traipse around with tele-cameras among the corpses still fresh with blood to interview the injured, including a woman who seemed to be at her last breath.

Two massacres: the first an expression of the drunkenness to kill anyone around with an incredible bloodlust, the second an expression of insensitivity, meanness and contempt, she wanted to record the voices and images of the event in order to terrorise Syrian men and women with the prospect of a similar fate to that of the inhabitants of Daraya, Baba Amro, Azaz and other places.

The criminal does not erase the traces of his crime, but he is actually proud in front of everyone, convinced that the support of Russia and Iran will save him from the abyss, preventing the any sort of fulfillment of his own end.

Yesterday the torturer Bashar surpassed his own father the assassin, resolving his psychological conflict with the father figure, whose effigies filled Syria of the phantom threat of a new Hama.

Last Sunday, as I watched the images of the victims of Daraya, I was reminded of a meeting in Beirut, in the house of the Arabist, Frenchman Michel Seurat, who was killed after a kidnapping. It was 1981, Beirut was experiencing devastating moments under the Israeli invasion.

That day I asked the Syrian intellectual Elias Morcos, who came from Lattakia, how the situation in Syria was, from where he received the news of the massacre in Hama. Morcos did not answer directly, but told me about Genghis Khan. When I showed surprise that Morcos, a Marxist-realist, took refuge in a metaphor, he looked at me: “What do you want me to say?”. Then he told me how the secret service men had raided a bar in Lattakia, where he was having coffee, ordering everyone to kneel.

The pain veiled his eyes with water that did not look like tears. This authoritative man, who had been a leading intellectual of our generation and whose political and moral conduct was irreproachable, found himself on his knees with others.

I was reminded of Elias Morcos not because the secret services humiliated those men like they did with the entire Syrian people, but because instead of speaking of the Assad regime, or perhaps precisely to talk about it, he had to turn to the image of the Mongols invading the Arab Levant.

They are the Mongols and with them there is no truce, nor under the oaks – as Mahmoud Darwish once wrote – or in the darkness of the tomb.

A bloodthirsty appetite dominates the machine of the regime, which has lost all legitimacy and power. The lie of its anti-imperialism became apparent. The aircraft MiG and Sukhoi never dared to stand up against the Israeli Air Force when it bombed Syria. The mission of the regime has nothing to do with anti-imperialism and resistance, its real mission is to bend his knees and humiliate the people of Syria.

The Syrians are alone in front of the machinery of death.

All verbal support of the United States and Europe is a false, misleading, cynical lie.

The deafening silence of the world in the face of the repressive machinery of Assad is not due, as is often said, to the fact that Syria lacks that oil that arouses appetites for profit and domination by the West, but it is due to Israel. The destruction that the regime has inflicted on Syria, Israel could not even dream about. When the regime will fall, and it will be inevitable, Syria and the Syrians will have ahead of them long years of reconstruction.

Do not believe the analysis that the reason for the lack of support for the Free Syrian Army is the fear of the Arab states regarding Islamic fundamentalists.

The reason is neither the lack of oil nor the fear of fundamentalists. Western countries and in particular the UN does not fear political Islam, which in fact it is building alliances with States where there are such parties in power.

The only reason is to strengthen the racist component of Israel, whose insolence and arrogance has reached the point of making accusations of racism against South Africa which has decided to apply a special label for the goods produced in the occupied West Bank.

Bashar Assad is carrying out a task that for others has so far been impossible: he is destroying Syria and its social fabric. Then what good does it do to supply arms and aid to those who want its fall?

If it remains forever, whether its Russian and Iranian allies merrily dance to the rhythm of bombs and massacres, Assad will lose power after destroying the country from north to south. His allies will be covered with shame and hated by all Syrians and Arabs.

The perpetrator of Damascus has never been so vital to Israel as he is now, so do not expect anything from those who claim to be a friend of the Syrian people.

The Syrian people are alone.

They are alone in defending the dignity of the human being in the entire Arab world. Alone, shedding their own blood, giving humanitarian and moral meaning to politics.

What can I say to you who are alone?

Your solitude, my brother, you can only compare to that of the Palestinians, who have found themselves in front of every bloody turn taken by Israeli savagery. I know well, brother, that these words do not stop the bleeding, do not dry your tears, do not console the heart of a grieving mother.

I tell you that you’re alone.

I tell you to persevere in your solitude, your insistence on taking ownership of the dignity submerged in the blood of your sons and daughters, your efforts in defending the ruins of houses destroyed by cannons and fighter planes, are the road that you have to singlehandedly defeat the torturer who would like to once again make you go down on your knees.

I know that you do will not kneel. I know that your mission, crowned by blood, is now the value of our human dignity. I have nothing but these words of mine that bow in tribute to your sacrifices and your victims.

 

http://www.sirialibano.com/siria-2/siriani-siete-soli.html

100 civili siriani, vittime di 2 soli giorni di attachi

SCRITTO DA MARY RIZZO

“Sarebbe stato meglio nascere animali piuttosto che siriani. Avresti ricevuto maggiore protezione.”

Stavo riflettendo tra me e me, ed a volte a voce alta, “Che cavolo è successo all’empatia e all’umanità del movimento degli attivisti? Quando hanno deciso quale sangue non valeva molto? Dove sono andate la loro compassione, empatia e senso della giustizia?”

Ci sono alcune qualità che un’attivista dovrebbe possedere come parte obligatoria del proprio bagaglio. Non tutti devono avere una soluzione ai problemi che affligono le vittime o i deboli nelle cause che sostengono. Nemmeno devono dedicare molto tempo o soldi alla causa. Si potrebbe fare l’attivista oggigiorno localmente o anche se si è disabili o si  hanno difficoltà a lasciare le proprie case. Ci si può esprimere, condividere informazioni, e fare azioni di solidarietà attraverso internet. Le qualità, però, che dovrebbero essere a disposizione di ogni attivista includono l’empatia, un po’ di coraggio ed un forte desiderio che “il bene” abbia il sopravento e sconfigga “il male”. Che questo bagaglio così cruciale e obligatorio sia diventato così selettivo deve essere il colpo più fatale all’universo dell’attivisimo. Lo fa puzzare di ipocrisia e serve principalmente la causa degli oppressori.

L’empatia è una risposta sociale ed emotiva alle condizioni in cui vivono altri essere senzienti. Siccome tutti noi possiamo concordare che dolore e sofferenza (compresso quello d’essere vittima di abusi, fame e privazioni) sono cose negative, non dovrebbe essere difficile sentirsi male, “come se” quello che succede potesse succedere a noi o alle persone che amiamo. Se siamo capaci di sconnettere l’empatia perché abbiamo un’ideologia cui fare fede, accompagnata da una sorta di strana pressione sociale, qualcosa è andato storto. Se siamo selettivi per un concetto quale il dolore umano e la per nostra capacità di accettarlo (per gli altri), abbiamo bisogno di una lunga pausa di riflessione per pensare ex novo che cosa stiamo facendo nel mondo dell’attivismo. Dobbiamo ricordare che l’empatia potrebbe essere uno strumento per il cambiamento, dobbiamo metterlo al nostro servizio e capire che la gente che soffre (e in alcuni casi gli animali) percepisce il nostro coinvolgimento oppure la nostra indifferenza, e possono servire delle capacità tipiche degli (soprattutto) attivisti per far sì che i sentimenti di empatia si manifestino e vadano verso la fine della sofferenza, che rimane l’oggetto primario ed immediato.

Per poter capire, testimoniare ed identificarsi con la sofferenza estrema che è la realtà di alcuni, un attivista deve possedere la capacità di aiutare in una maniera concreta il cambiamento della condizione di dolore e di sofferenza attraverso il riconoscimento della condizione, seguito da azioni atte a    intervenire a favore delle vittime. Dall’altra parte, la loro indifferenza potrebbe dare sostegno al violento, all’ oppressore, che crede che la sua violenza sia giustificata.

Non c’è stata mancanza di prove per moltissimi mesi che in Siria la situazione attuale è una crisi umanitaria di gravità estrema. A citare alcune statistiche, molte delle quali provenienti dagli organi internazionali considerati come altamente autorevoli come l’ONU, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International e altri ancora, in undici mesi dalle prime manifestazioni contro il regime, ci sono stati 6.000 civili uccisi, da cecchini, da  bombardamenti con mortai, bombe e pestaggi, anche se altre fonti dichiarano che il numero vero è molto più alto, visto che la scoperta di fosse comuni e la “sparizione” di manifestanti è un evento frequente. 70.000 persone sono state arrestate, la stragrande maggioranza senza accuse specifiche oppure accusate di crimini che nessun tribunale normale potrebbe sostenere, compresi crimini di pensiero e di intento. Ci sono stati casi documentati in modo costante di abusi e tortura, con i corpi segnati dalla brutalità che è difficile immaginare. Le scene sono così orribili e devastanti, che in anni ed anni di attivismo per i diritti umani e soprattutto per quelli palestinesi, non ho mai visto questo livello di depravazione, questo livello di crudezza.

La settimana scorsca, la città di Idleb ha subito un attacco molto sanguinoso: un gruppo di persone sono state vittime dello scoppio di una bomba di chiodi, che ha conficcato piccolissimi pezzi di metallo nella loro carne, daneggiando gli organi interni e causando emorragia interna fino ad arrivare ad una morte dolorosa. Sono stati trasportati all’ospedale civile per il loro funerale, ma lì, altri 60 corpi erano scoperti nelle celle frigorifere, tutti con segni di tortura estrema. L’ospedale è occupato dalla militia del regime che ha sparato alla gente e proibito a qualsiasi ferito le cure. Gli ospedali ora servono soltanto al regime per rimanere al potere a tutti i costi. L’immagine che è venuta alla mente di un’amica attivista che ha visto le foto erano le immagini  di persone faccia in giù nel proprio sangue a Sabra e Shatilla. Ma, questi sono siriani, e per un motivo che non riesco a capire, la maggioranza degli attivisti per la Palestina preferiscono ignorare il tutto. Stano portando gli paraocchi oppure sono incapaci di provare empatia con i siriani?

Che ci sono più di 20.000 rifugiati che hanno cercato la salvezza in Turchia nelle tende è un altro numero che dovrebbe essere un dato insopportabile per un attivista. Sappiamo bene quello che è il destino dei rifugiati, il fatto che spesso non possono mai tornare e soprattutto, le condizioni atroci in cui sono costretti a vivere. Un attivista dovrebbe essere preoccupato per tutto questo. Quanti siriani sono fuggiti in Libano o anche più lontano? Nessuno conosce i numeri perché spesso questa gente continua ad essere minacciata e ricercata anche in esilio.

Come mai gli attivisti non riescono a capire la severità della situazione? Perché denunciano i manifestanti negli stessi termini che sono usati dal regime, nonostante montagne di prove che dimonstrano che non è un governo umano? Come mai hanno fatto uso di Twitter, Facebook ed i blog per settimane contro lo spray al pepperoncino negli occhi dei manifestanti americani, ma gli assalti mortali contro civili (compreso più di 300 bambini che sono morti per mano del regime, molti di loro soggetti alla detenzione e alla morte per torture) sono ignorati? Sono i Siriani figli di un dio minore?  Sono meno degni di protezione e di interesse? E’ mai possibile che studenti universitari americani che dopo la manifestazione possono tornare nei loro dormitori e sanno che le loro vite non sono in pericolo ottengono più comprensione e empatia dagli attivisti che bambini arabi innocenti che hanno perso le loro vite sotto la crudeltà di una milizia repressiva?

Alcuni diranno, “Perché dici che è peggio se qualcuno uccide la propria gente?” come una scusa per poi parlare di un altro luogo geografico, un’altra situazione. Altri diranno che il regime di Assad è l’ultimo baluardo contro l’imperialismo, che è l’unico argomento che riescono a trovare. Sono sicuri che dietro tutte le proteste c’è un complotto imperialista, qualcosa che non dicevano  per le stesse proteste in Tunisia, Egitto ed a volte, verso l’Intifada palestinese. Molte di queste persone che dichariano che non può  essere una rivolta sincera e popolare oppure una rivoluzione vivono in società ricche in Europa e Nord America, dove hanno il diritto di dire qualsiasi cosa vogliono senza avere paura di essere arrestati. Però, non hanno mai fatto parte di una rivoluzione o di una rivolta contro il governo al  potere. Altri dicono che non ci deve essere l’intervento esterno, ma fanno il tifo per la Russia, il Libano e l’Iran perchè continuino ad armare il regime perché lo sostengano per il più lungo tempo possibile. Altri diranno che l’Esercito della Siria Libera è una milizia imperialista (???!!!) e che sta fomentando la guerra, non essendo una vera milizia di resistenza. Ancora altri dicono che entrambi i lati hanno la colpa, mettendoli sullo stesso piano, una cosa che non si azzardarebbero a fare se fosse la Palestina. Come è possible mettere a pari merito civili con un potere armato che controlla il governo, l’economia, che potrebbe togliere l’acqua, la corrente e il gas per proprio sfizio, arrestare persone in modo arbitrario a migliaia, chiudere ospedali, invadere città con carri armati, bombardare le persone mentre stanno nelle loro case e mettere cecchini sui tetti,  dovesse mai qualcuno provare a scappare?

Un mio amico siriano mi ha detto qualche mese fa, “Se solo fossimo degli animali, credo che ci sarebbero più persone a provare la compassione per noi.” Dopo alcune settimane, ha preso atto anche dell’abbandono totale degli Attivisti per la Palestina, che ripetono le posizioni retoriche di Assad senza nemmeno un motivo pratico per farlo se non la loro mancanza di umanità oppure la loro mancanza di occhi per vedere. Mi ha detto, “Dovremmo dire a tutti semplicemente che siamo palestinesi, forse solo allora si sentiranno male per come stiamo morendo.” Io lo porterei ancora avanti il pensiero: alcuni anni fa Vittorio Arrigoni ha scritto un pezzo molto toccante. Io chiedo agli attivisti per la Palestina in modo particolare di leggerlo e rifletterci sopra.

“Prendi dei gattini, dei teneri micetti e mettili dentro una scatola” mi dice Jamal, chirurgo dell’ospedale Al Shifa, il principale di Gaza, mentre un infermiere pone per terra dinnanzi a noi proprio un paio di scatoloni di cartone, coperti di chiazze di sangue. “Sigilla la scatola, quindi con tutto il tuo peso e la tua forza saltaci sopra sino a quando senti scricchiolare gli ossicini, e l’ultimo miagolio soffocato.” Fisso gli scatoloni attonito, il dottore continua “Cerca ora di immaginare cosa accadrebbe subito dopo la diffusione di una scena del genere, la reazione giustamente sdegnata dell’opinione pubblica mondiale, le denunce delle organizzazioni animaliste…” il dottore continua il suo racconto e io non riesco a spostare un attimo gli occhi da quelle scatole poggiate dinnanzi ai miei piedi. “Israele ha rinchiuso centinaia di civili in una scuola come in una scatola, decine di bambini, e poi la schiacciata con tutto il peso delle sue bombe. E quale sono state le reazioni nel mondo? Quasi nulla. Tanto valeva nascere animali, piuttosto che palestinesi, saremmo stati più tutelati.”A questo punto il dottore si china verso una scatola, e me la scoperchia dinnanzi. Dentro ci sono contenuti gli arti mutilati, braccia e gambe, dal ginocchio in giù o interi femori, amputati ai feriti provenienti dalla scuola delle Nazioni Unite Al Fakhura di Jabalia, più di cinquanta finora le vittime. Fingo una telefonata urgente, mi congedo da Jamal, in realtà mi dirigo verso i servizi igienici, mi piego in due e vomito.”

In questo momento, queste vittime sono siriani. In questo momento, la media di 40 vittime al giorno (ma cresce negli ultimi giorni), a volte 100 vittime ogni giorno, è ciò che accade in Siria.

(grazie a Eugenio Dacrema per l’aiuto)

SCRITTO DA Iyad Abou-Rabii
Tradotto da Mary Rizzo
Torniamo indietro fino al 1967 quando Hafez Al-Assad era il Ministro della Difesa siriana. Era considerato come direttamente responsabile per la sconfitta nella Guerra di Sei Giorni nel 1967.

Il 15 settembre 1970, King Hussein dichierò la legge marziale. Il giorno seguente, carri armati giordani (La Brigata 60° dell’Esercito Giordano) attaccarono la sede delle organizzazioni palestinesi ad Amman; l’esercito ha anche attaccato campi in Irbid, Salt, Sweileh, Baq’aa, Wehdat e Zarqa. Quando una parte dell’esercito siriano sotto il commando della divione siriana dell’Esercito per la Liberazione della Palestina (PLA), decise di assistere i loro fratelli palestinesi, trovarono con loro la 40° Brigata dell’Esercito Giordano. L’Aeronautica Militare Siriana, sotto gli ordini di Assad, non entrò mai nella battaglia. C’erano tra i tremila e i cinquemila soldati palestinesi uccisi.

Dopo il danno d’immagine causato dal totale fallimento dell’Esercito siriano di prendere parte nella Guerra dei Sei Giorni nel 1967, e iracondo dopo l’abortito intervento nella guerra Giordana-Palestinese di settembre, all’interno del governo iniziò un conflitto tra le varie posizioni. Quando il Presidente Nureddin al-Atassi ed il leader de facto, il Vice Segretario Generale del partito Ba’ath Jadid, si resero conto della situazione, ordinarono che Assad e Tlass fossero privati di ogni potere di partito e di governo; ma era troppo tardi. Assad iniziò velocemente un golpe intra-partito senza spargimento di sangue, la Rivoluzione Correttiva di 1970. Il partito fu epurato, Atassi e Jadid imprigionati ed i lealisti di Assad si istaurarono nelle posizioni chiave in ogni settore del governo.

La guerra con Israele nel ottobre 1973 (per me è la “Recita d’ottobre” e non la Guerra d’ottobre) che era stata presentata dal governo siriano come una vittoria, fu in realtà un disastro, poichè alla fine della guerra l’esercito israeliano aveva invaso grandi porzioni della Siria, con posizioni fino a 40 km da Damasco. Dopo questa data, fino ad oggi, il confine siriana con Israele è stato il più sicuro, calmo e silenzioso di tutti.

Il 12 agosto, 1976, l’esercito di Assad con alcune fazioni libanesi (Phalange, Guardiani dei Cedri e Tigre forze di milizia) attaccò il più grande assembramento di soldati palestinesi nel campo di Tel al-Zaatar. Fu un massacro; il campo ospitava oltre 60.000 rifugiati palestinesi, più 2.500 soldati del OLP. Furono uccisi 1.500 palestinesi, (1.200 di essi civili), tra i leader della fazione armata libanese (Michel Aoun), l’attuale amico del regime siriano.

Un’altro colpo duro inferto ai palestinesi dopo il suo ruolo nel Settembre Nero fu il 19 maggio, 1985 quando scontri pesanti si sviluparono tra Amal e la milizia del campo rifugiati palestinese per il controllo dei campi di Sabra, Shatila e Burj el-Barajneh a Beirut. Amal, era sostenuta prevalentamente dagli sciiti della 6° Brigata dell’Esercito Libanese. Essa a sua volta si trovava sotto il comando di alcune divisioni dell’ 8° Brigata, prevalentemente cristiana, fedele al Generale Michel Aoum (di nuovo), il quale era stazionato a Beirut est. Praticamente tutte le case nei campi furono ridotto a macerie.

Amal fu supportato fortemente dalla Siria e sostenuto indirettamente da Israele (Sì, Israele), mentre l’OLP non ha goduto di molto sostegno dall’estero. Amal ebbe anche il vantaggio sull’OLP per quanto riguardava equipaggiamento, soprattuto veicoli corazzati (forniti direttamente dall’Esercito siriano); Amal fu inoltre sostenuto dall’Aeronautica Militare dell’Israele (IAF) che lanciò alcuni raid aerei contro postazioni palestinesi (Saidon 1986).

Questa guerra (La Guerra dei Campi) finì con l’espulsione di ogni militante palestinese dal Libano (un’altro ruolo sporco giocato da Assad contro la resistenza palestinese).

Ecco il sostegno che il regime degli Al-Assad ha dato alla resistenza palestinese! E ancora volete considerarlo un’eroe che sostiene la resistenza contro i sionisti?!

Ecco suo figlio

In 2000, quando Bashar andrò al potere, tutta la popolazione siriana lo sostenne, anche se non fu eletto democraticamente, ma per il popolo – che a questo punto pensò con un po’ d’amnesia –cambiamenti radicali avrebbero potuto portare il Paese al caos, e preferì accettare Bashar, che promisse loro cambiamenti politici ed economici di grande portata. Fu quindi creduto da tutti, me compreso.

Infatti, moltissime persone avevano creduto in lui, come Aref Dalila che nel 2001 fu tra gli attivisti incoraggiati dal senso di ottimismo mentre Bashar al-Assad, il giovane nuovo presidente stava facendo i suoi primi passi come capo dello Stato. Ecco quale fu lo spirito del periodo che fu chiamato la “Primavera di Damasco”.

Ma una dura presa di coscienza con la realtà fu necessaria nel settembre di quell’anno, quando Sig. Dalila e nove altri furono rastrellati ed arrestati in una repressione governativa. Il suo crimine? Promuovere l’idea di riforme e di parlare contro la corruzione ad ogni livello – una questione in cui senza dubbio poteva dire di avere possedere autorevolezza, essendo stato uno dei principali economisti del Paese che servì come professore alle Università di Aleppo e Damasco. Alcuni fanno menzione di come lui fu un caso davvero particolare, essendo una rara voce critica dalla setta Alawita, la minoranza cui appartiene il presidente e quello che ha sempre dominato il potere dal momento che Hafez al-Assad prese il potere in 1970.

E mentre il governo siriano ebbe goduto di una considerevole rivalutazione diplomatica, gli attivisti per i diritti umani sostennero sempre che pochissimo cambiò in questo campo dal momento che Sig. Dalili fu sequestrato dalla sua casa dagli agenti della sicurezza in borghese. Un numero di attivisti molto conosciuti furono arrestati con Sig. Dalila e poi rilasciati e ora sono di nuovo sono dietro le sbarre, insieme con decine di altre persone che sono detenuti per motivi politici.

Pochissimi attivisti pensano che la situazione potrebbe migliorare, a dispetto del miglioramento dei rapporti internazionali.

14 rami dei servizi segreti erano attivi, mentre solo 5 università funzionavano, facendo si che fosse molto più facile per i cittadini siriani di essere arrestati o cominciare a lavorare per uno di questi servizi piuttosto che fare gli studi universitari.

In 11 anni, nulla è cambiato, se non in peggio. La corruzione è il pane quotidianno di ogni siriano, la disoccupazione è al 20%, il capitalismo si è lentamente istaurato in Siria, e non esiste più nulla del socialismo, se non un nome senza significato sui testi ufficiali.

Perché scrivo questo?

Perché vedo che ci sono persone che non conoscono affatto la faccia vera del regime degli Al-Assad, e il loro scopo nella vita è di andare dove nessun imperialista o politico americana mette piede, quindi, vedono nel (non esistente) sostegno degli USA alla siriani che protestano un’indicazione che la loro rivolta non è niente altro che una aspirazione occidentale.

Questo è assolutamente e totalmente sbagliato….

Sbagliato perché gli Usa e i sue alleati non stanno sostenendo il popolo siriano, regalando a Bashar tutto il tempo necessario di mettere la parola “fine” alla loro rivolta (ma loro mantengono nelle dichiarazioni pubbliche parole di sostengo verso il popolo siriano, per il motivo di continuare di tenere il bastone al centro.)

Abbiamo visto gli USA che invadono Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Iraq, Groenlandia e altri Paesi senza ascoltare l’opinione russa o cinese o cercando di ottenere il loro consenso, perché proprio ora stiamo talmente interessati in quello che pensano e di quello che faranno con la risoluzione all’ONU?

Stiamo ora vivendo questa repressione brutale in Siria. Che cosa è la risposta adeguata quando l’impulso democratico di un qualsiasi Paese è calpestato dall’ecessivo e disumano uso di forza dello Stato?

Alcuni parlano ancora di una transizione pacifica e democratica! Non è crudele di occupare la mente con fantasie di trasformazioni democratiche di fronte a uccisioni di massa? Quando la gente mette la sua vita in pericolo ogni giorno per gli ideali rivoluzionari, non è quello dei critici solamente un gioco intelletuali irrilevante? Noi, progressisti o gente di sinistra, non dobbiamo comunque dubitare la paradigma di una trasformazione in ogni caso?

Poi, ci sono i fatti. Uno di questi fatti è che il regime siriano ha da molto tempo posseduto uno dei più brutali meccanismi di controllo nella regione. E mentre i massacri indiscriminati piovano sulle teste dei civili, gli studiosi della storia non possono non vedere gli echi del massacro sanguinoso in 1982 a Hama.

Quello che serve al popolo siriano è solamente l’umanità con la sua coscienza.

Io continuo a credere, come è stato detto da Martin Luther King Jr, che “l’arco della storia va verso la direzione della giustizia.”

Originale: http://iyadabourabii.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/al-assad-story/
GRAZIE Eugenio Dacrema per l’aiuto.

Razan Ghazzawi (photo by Gillian York)

Following the arrest of Syrian-American blogger Razan Ghazzawi on December 4 by Syrian authorities, Razan subsequently faces various anti-state charges that carry up to 15 years of imprisonment. Today, a group of Palestinian bloggers and activists issued the following statement of support, which appeared on a range of internet outlets and blogs and follows weeks of campaigns for her release. The statement read:

We, a group of Palestinian bloggers and activists raise our voices loud and clear in solidarity with all the prisoners of the Great Syrian Revolution. We stand with all the prisoners, activists, artists, bloggers and others, all who are shouting in the streets or on various platforms demanding freedom and justice, while decrying the huge amount of injustice and oppression practiced by the Syrian regime for more than four decades.

We issue this statement in solidarity with all those Syrian activists, and with the blogger Razan Ghazzawi who was arrested on December 4th, on the Jordanian-Syrian crossing border. Razan was adamant in her support for the Palestinian cause. She was the first to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian bloggers who were not granted a visa to enter Tunisia in order to participate in the Arab Bloggers Conference. Razan posted a blog in 2008 during the massacre on Gaza titled, “The Idea of Solidarity with Gaza.” She wrote, “I understand when Cubans, Brazilians, and Pakistanies stand in solidarity with Gaza. But what I do not understand is when Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians, and also Palestinians in exile stand in solidarity. What is the meaning of solidarity in this context?”

Not only do we stand in solidarity with Razan and the other prisoners, but we also affirm that our destiny is one, our concerns are one, and our struggle is one. Palestine can never be free while the Arab people live under repressive and reactionary regimes. The road to a free Palestine comes with a free Syria, in which Syrians live in dignity.

Freedom to all of the prisoners in the Syrian regime’s cells. Long live the Syrian Revolution, free from dictatorship, sectarianism, and foreign intervention.

If you wish to help #FreeRazan, repost this on your own blog and spread the call.

Signatories:

Abir Kopty

Abrar Agil

Ahmed Fahoum

Ahmed Nimer

Alaa Abu Diab

Ali Abunimah

Ali AlMasri

Ali Bari

Amal Murtaja

Amani Ighbaria

Amra Amra

Anas Hamra

Asmaa AlGhoul

Bashar Lubbad

Budour Hasan

Dalia Ghorab

Dalia Othman

Deema AlSaafin

Diana Al-Zeer

Doa Ali

Fidaa Abu Assi

Hala AlSafadi

Hamza Elbuhaisi

Hanaa Mahameed

Huwaida Arraf

Ebaa Rezeq

Irene Nasser

Jalal AbuKhater

Khaled AlShihabi

Linah AlSaafin

Maath Musleh

Maha Rezeq

Majd Kayyal

Mariam Al-Barghouti

Meera AlBaba

Mira Nabulsi

Nader Al-Khuzundar

Nadine Darwish

Nalan Al Sarraj

Nihal ElAlami

Nisreen Mazzawi

Ola Anan

Osama Ghorab

Osama Shomar

Rasha Hilwi

Rowan Abu-Shahla

Saed Karzoun

Saleh Dawabsheh

Thameena Husary

Yusra Jamous

Israeli drilling plans

As a little flotilla passes overhead, the Leviathan Reservoir slumbers deep below. A vast oil and gas deposit, little has been said about it in the American press since its existence was confirmed in 2010. But Israel is ecstatic, Lebanon is vigilant and Gaza is getting screwed.

Job 3:8 “Let them curse it …who are ready to raise up a leviathan,” i.e. necromancers who rouse and control wild beasts at will… In Isaiah 27:1; “leviathan  the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked (wriggling) serpent,” (Gleaned from Bible-history.com.)

“In Israel’s deep waters, in virgin territory, a monster natural gas discovery has been made.” Noble Energy CEO Charles Davidson.

“With Israel suddenly awash in gas… the discoveries put Israel on the global energy map long dominated by oil-rich nations in the Middle East.” Houston Chronicle  Jan. 5, 2010.

According to Press TV (June 18,) Noble Energy was granted permission by Israeli officials to begin developing a natural gas field off the Gaza Strip coastline. Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructure is claiming the shortage/disruption of natural gas from Egypt is the reason it granted approval.

That Israel has any right to Palestine’s resources is negated by UN Resolution 3005 states clearly that the natural wealth and resources of the Gaza Strip are to be controlled by the citizens of Gaza.

Kanan Pbeid, a Gaza Energy expert was quoted in the Press TV article saying: “This is nothing but theft of Palestinian’s natural resources. Palestinians are the only ones who should benefit from natural gas reserves.”

But the Gaza deposits are only part of a huge gas and oil reservoir that Israel is trying to claim as its own.

The Leviathan Reservoir lies within the Levant Basin Province (LBP), which itself lies under the continental shelf off the eastern Mediterranean coast. Estimates of the gas deposits within the LBP run to 16 trillion cubic feet and are worth an approximately $95 billion. It’s the largest natural gas discovery anywhere in the last ten years.

The Israelis already have, among others, an active drill site located 129 kilometers (80 miles) off Haifa. It dwarfs the discovery of the Tamar 1 drill site 47 kilometers (29 miles) to the southeast. That reserve is estimated to be worth US $15 billion.

These realities may also explain why Israel is attempting to keep prying eyes away from the deep-water sites. Is that one reason why the IDF boarded the Free Gaza flotilla in international waters, waters it’s trying to claim according to its interpretation of International Maritime Law? Does a closer inspection show that Israel is also disregarding International Maritime borders on top of those it’s ignoring in Palestine?

there's gas in them thar waters....

The accompanying United States Geological Survey (USGS) map shows the Levant Basin Province layout published Dec. 29, 2010. To access the full report look for “Assessment of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources of the Levant Basin Province, Eastern Mediterranean” at the USGS site. A rough triangle, LBP is divided into three groups of subterranean rock and encompasses 83,000 square kilometers or 51,573 square miles.

The USGS actually discovered the untapped field before 2008, but it was the publication of the above Assessment and the “simultaneous discovery” of productive drill sites that caused the excitement in 2010. Because the drill sites are off the Israeli coast, Israel and the funding consortium are acting on the assumption that Israel has pretty much exclusive access to the shelf’s resources. They point to Israeli-issued extraction licenses granted to the Matan and Dalit /Michal drill sites as their legal basis to develop and drill. Israel and Cyprus are also in talks about development rights.

The Leviathan consortium is a joint venture between the Houston based Noble Energy Inc. and the Israeli companies Delek Group Ltd. Isramco, Dor Oil, Avner Oil and Ratio Oil Exploration. With certain stipulations, this consortium already accounts for approximately half of Israel’s oil and gas recovery activity. Other Israeli companies, such as Zion Oil, are also players with drill sites near the Dead Sea among others.

Some of the CEOs of these companies have strong fundamentalist Christians and Hassidic views. Devoutly religious, they readily admit applying their religious views to their work, viewing the discoveries as Yahweh’s “Blessing on Israel” to allow it to be energy independent. Others are more business oriented and plan on exporting to Europe and/or Asian.

What the Leviathan reserve will eventually yield in benefits to Israeli is being furiously debated. The Tamar gas site alone could generate annual revenues of NIS 2-3 billion in the next 30 years. The Israeli government commissioned Sheshinski Committee recommended the income be used to retire Israel’s external debt.

However! Despite the jubilation in Israeli financial markets over the country’s future prosperity, there are a couple flies in the ointment.

Within a week of the announcement in 2010, Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Aki al-Shami asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to “exert every possible effort to prevent Israel exploiting Lebanon’s maritime hydrocarbon resources, which fall within its exclusive economic zone.”

The United Nations rejected this appeal not on lack of merit but because the UNIFIL’s mandate under resolution 1701: “does not include the demarcation of maritime borders. National conflicts and maritime conflicts are two separate things.”

That means the case passes to the appropriate commission, perhaps the International Maritime Organization, which is mandated by the UN to handle legal matters pertaining to international shipping or perhaps under a wing of the courts in The Hague. There are legal avenues.

The Levant Basin Province situated on the Eurasian-Arabian-African continental plate intersection is 51,573 square miles, hardly within the internationally recognized maritime borders of 12 miles from the shore of any country. There was an effort in the late 20th century to extent this maritime border to 400 miles but was never adopted due to problems related to contiguous national borders in Europe and the like.

According the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and using its map as a visualization tool, the Levant Basin Province starts in a sharp point under the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula close to the Israeli border and runs up the Levant Transform Zone through Israel, Lebanon and Syria as it bumps against the Jordan Rift Valley on the east. It ends inland from the Turkish coast then juts out in a triangle reaching into the Mediterranean and into Cyprus’ territorial island waters. The last leg of the triangle shoots south in a wide curve under the Mediterranean until it rejoins the Sinai point. It’s divided into three sub-strata reserves.

The Levant Margin Reservoirs western edge runs north/south a mile or so off the shores of Israel, Lebanon and Syria. Its land mass is pushed upward causing the ripples that form the hills of Jerusalem and the Lebanon Mountains until they bump into the Jordan Valley It contains mostly natural gas and some oil.

The Levant Sub-salt Reservoirs are under deep water and abuts the Levant Margin Reservoir off the Lebanese, Syrian and Turkish shores then fans west to Cyprus. It holds the best oil and much of the natural gas of the entire Levant Reservoirs.

Adjoining it and formed by the rising seabed and shallower waters, the Plio-Pleistocene Reservoir begins at the Lebanon/Israeli border, reaches west to the Eratosthemes Seamount south of Cyprus then turns southeast to travel the Nile Delta Cone to the Sinai Peninsula. In shallow waters, it contains mostly gas and some oil. The Levant Margin Reservoirs contains oil and gas fields. The Plio-Pleistocene Reservoirs includes eight gas fields, and the Levant Sub-Salt Reservoirs have two discoveries (Tamar, Datil). This accounting does not include development sites at the proposed Leviathan drill site or elsewhere.

Israel claims the Tamar and Leviathan drill sites are within Israel’s coastal territory and therefore theirs to exploit. However a look at the USGS map shows a roughly even split at the Lebanon/Israeli border of the Plio-Pleistocene and Levant Sub-Salt Reservoir vast amount of coastal territory belongs to Lebanon.

Then there’s Palestine. For years Israel has tapped into the oil/gas reserves off the northeast tip of Gaza and which were once part of the Palestinian territories. British Gas drilled two wells: the Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. These fields are estimated to be worth at $4 billion.

“I think,” Haidar Eid, a political analyst said in the Press TV article, “this comes in line with Israel’s consistent policy of stealing Palestinian’s land,
stealing natural resources and I think that Israel knows very well that it can get away with murder due to an international conspiracy of silence.”

The truth is, according to epalestine.com, Gaza is sitting on a major gas field contain an estimated 1.4 trillion cubic feet of gas. In addition Palestine has an oil reserve 22 miles off the Gaza Strip. There is no reason, except for Israeli greed, that Palestine couldn’t achieve self-sufficiency when it is recognized as an independent state.

www.presstv.ir/detail/184762.html

USGS/ Assessment of Undiscovered
Oil/Levant Basin Province

World Petroleum
Resources Project

Funeral in Gaza City

Gaza, deux mois après l’assassinat, deux mois avec Vittorio Arrigoni

DE Michele Giorgio (à Gaza city pour ” il manifesto” 15/juin/2011)
traduit par Mariam S. (Mimi Loves Gaza)

“L’espace de jeux des enfants sera par là,  on rénové la salle de bain et la cuisine sera là”…

Saber Zanin se déplaçait rapidement d’une pièce à l’autre dans le local de l’association “Forsan Al Ghad ” pour les jeunes de Beit Hanoun.

Juste quelque temps auparavant il avait guidé une manifestation de presque trente volontaires occidentaux d’ISM (International Solidarity Movement) aux marges de la “Buffer Zone” (zone tampon),  la zone agricole la plus fertile de toute la bande de Gaza.

Ce sont ces secteurs dont Israël bloque l’accès aux palestiniens, pour des “raisons de sécurité”, même à ceux qui y possèdent des terrains.

C’est une mesure qui s’accompagne de tirs d’armes automatiques contre quiconque ose violer l’interdiction qui a affamé des centaines de familles qui vivent grâce à l’agriculture familiale.

“Vittorio a lutté avec nous, nous avons fait plusieurs marches ensemble le long de la “Buffer Zone”, c’était un frère pour moi, Saber réfléchit  en
nous montrant sur son ordinateur portable, des photos de Vittorio faites il y a à peine quelques mois.

Aujourd’hui  sera inauguré un camp d’été  appelé “Stay Human, Restiamo Umani”, à la mémoire de l’activiste italien kidnappé et tué il y a deux mois. Nous allons accueillir 60 enfants et adolescents entre six et seize ans, explique Saber. ” Et en plus de jouer et s’amuser ils vont apprendre à mieux connaître l’engagement politique et l’histoire humaine de Vittorio. Et aussi ils vont apprendre des notions de droits humains qui les prépareront à suivre les pas de notre frère décédé.”

Une dizaine d’ONG italiennes qui travaillent à Gaza sponsorisent le camp d’été,  Saber a la possibilité de voir son rêve devenir réalité, “Vittorio a toujours protégé les enfants de Gaza,  il serait heureux que cette initiative lui soit dédiée.”

Deux mois sans Vik, au contraire deux mois avec Vik continuellement, parce que à Gaza les amis et les camarades ne l’ont jamais oublié. Ses mots sont comme des pierres, son image fait partie de la mémoire collective. Daniela Riva, une volontaire du GVC  (groupe de volontaires chrétiens) de Bologne a passé les quelques dernières années a Gaza, travaillant sur des projets de développement.

Vittorio était un de ses amis proches, “quand je m’écroulais face à ceux qui en comprenaient pas mon engagement pour Gaza”, raconte Daniela, “Vik me disait que je devais répondre, qu’être engagé pour la justice et la liberté voulait dire être en vie, est ce qu’il y a autre chose qui mérite qu’on vive ou meure pour elle ? Qu’y a-t- il au monde de plus précieux ?… Quand, il y a quelques mois, un fermier que j’ai  vu seulement pendant quelques minutes a été tué par les balles israéliennes, Vittorio m’a dit de tout faire pour ne pas pleurer aux funérailles et de tenir ma tête haute,  on en pleure pas les martyrs, je l’ai fait. J’ai essayé de faire la même chose à ses funérailles aussi mais les larmes sont tombées en dépit de mes efforts.

Des souvenirs, d’intenses moments d’émotion, pour un jeune homme qui a perdu la vie à seulement 36 ans, un jeune homme qui a envoyé, via internet, quotidiennement et  durant des années avec honnêteté et constance,  des informations sur le siège israélien de Gaza. Sans omettre l’aspect économique et social, des informations qui ont été encore une fois confirmées hier.

Un rapport  de l’UNRWA précise que dans la seconde moitié de 2010, le taux de chômage dans la bande de Gaza était de 45.2%, l’un des plus élevés au monde. D’un  autre côté le niveau des salaires ne cesse de baisser. “Ceci est un signal d’alarme.” A déclaré Chris Gunness, le porte parole de l’UNRWA, “il est difficile de comprendre la logique d’une telle politique planifiée (par Israël note de l’auteur) afin d’appauvrir délibérément et qui a condamné des centaines de milliers de personnes à une vie de misère abjecte. Si le but du siège est d’affaiblir le Hamas”, continue –t-il “ces chiffres montrent qu’ils ont échoué, en même temps ils ont eu un grand succès dans la punition de quiconque puisse être considéré comme parmi les plus pauvres  des pauvres du moyen orient.

Les parents de Vittorio, sa sœur, ses amis, tous ceux qui l’ont connu personnellement ou qui ont fait sa connaissance à travers internet,  ceux qui l’ont écouté attentivement durant son tour d’Italie, ils sont tous impatients de connaître la vérité sur son assassinat. Ce moment pourrait être proche, des sources autorisées du ministère de la justice et des services de sécurité du gouvernement de Hamas, qui ont préféré rester anonymes, ont dit au manifesto que la court martiale allait rendre publique un communiqué officiel à la fin du mois de juin dans le cour des investigations et qu’au moins deux personnes, impliquées dans l’enlèvement et l’assassinat de Vittorio, allaient être jugées. L’une d’elles est Mahmoud al Salfit, le seul survivant des trois membres de la cellule Salafite autoproclamée (qui ont quitté le groupe Tawhid wal Jihad) responsable de l’enlèvement.

Les deux autres, le jordanien Abdel Rahman Breizat et Bilal Omari ont été tués dans l’assaut donné a Nuseriat mené par les forces spéciales du Hamas, quelques jours après le meurtre de l’activiste italien.

Des sources du ministère de justice ont expliqué que l’enquête, close à la mi-mai a été rouverte après l’échec de deux tentatives d’enlèvement de jeunes citoyens américains, un coopérant (résident de longue date dans la bande) et un activiste de ISM (le dernier près “de la Galerie”, le café que Vittorio fréquentait avec divers activistes locaux et internationaux).

Le cerveau derrière l’enlèvement est le jordanien Abdel Rahman Breizat, qui a préparé le plan un mois et demi auparavant, à l’aide de plusieurs habitants de la bande de Gaza dont certains proches  de Vittorio, la plupart d’entre eux ignoraient ses intentions.

Au début, ont ajouté les sources, le plan n’incluait pas le meurtre de l’activiste italien cependant lorsque les ravisseurs ont comprit qu’ils allaient être découverts dans l’espace de quelques heures, ils ont décidé de s’enfuir et d’effacer leurs traces. C’est Breizat qui a tué Vittorio parce qu’il était convaincu qu’en laissant l’homme kidnappé en vie ils seraient très vite découverts (Vik connaissait au moins deux de ses ravisseurs, en particulier Bilal Omari qui fréquentait la même salle de sport que lui).

Pour la confirmation de ces informations il ne reste qu’à attendre le début du procès. A ce moment là on pourra consulter les actes d’accusation et nous connaîtront finalement les déclarations faites par les accusés durant les interrogatoires.

En attendant, le mystère règne sur la disparition de huit objets ayant appartenus à Vittorio en particulier son ordinateur portable, disparus après l’enlèvement. Hamas avait déclaré les avoir récupérés et déposés dans les locaux de la centrale de police, maintenant ils nient cela.

en anglais: https://wewritewhatwelike.com/2011/06/15/hamas-the-report-with-the-truth-on-vik%e2%80%99s-homicide-at-the-end-of-june/

 

image from the video released by the kidnappers

Sheikh Abu Musab: “Killing him was an error”

By Michele Giorgio
in Gaza City for il manifesto 15 June 2011 www.ilmanifesto.it
translated from Italian by Mary Rizzo

The kidnappers of Vittorio Arrigoni declare to be members of al Tawhid wal Jihad, a formation following al Qaeda that less than two years ago made itself known in Gaza, forming its own cells, often in competition if not actually in opposition to Hamas (accused of not applying “true Islam”). They affirm to have carried out the kidnapping of Vittorio in order to obtain the release of the Egyptian Sheikh al-Saidani, known also as Abu Walid al-Maqdisi, arrested a month before. Tawhid wal Jihad denied being involved in the kidnapping of the Italian activist, but in Gaza there is still talk circulating about the connections between this group and the kidnappers. Sheikh Abu Musab, one of the leaders of Tawhid wal Jihad, has accepted to answer the questions from il manifesto regarding the Arrigoni kidnapping. He welcomes us in a small house in the refugee camp of Jabaliya, in northern Gaza, armed with a machine gun and with his face partially covered by a keffiyah.

You deny to have played any role in the kidnapping and assassination of Vittorio Arrigoni, yet you are still being accused of that.

Someone wants to involve us at all costs in this affair, but Tawhid wal Jihad did not in any way plan or participate in the kidnapping of the Italian. Our denial was immediate, from the very start we made it clear that the kidnappers were not part of our Jihad project. Those young men used our name because it is known and they wanted to gain some attention.

Yet, the Jordanian, Abdel Rahman Breizat, the mind behind the kidnapping, was close to your organisation.

Yes, but only up to a certain point. Many of our combatants knew him. He was a religious young man who wanted to make Palestine the starting  place of a new rebirth of Islam, for the victory of the Jihad in dar al Islam. But he never was part of the structure of Tawhid wal Jihad, he was external to us and everything he did he organised together with his friends (those of the kidnapping of Vittorio, author’s note) and without our knowledge.

But you personally knew Breizat?

Certainly, because as soon as he arrived in Gaza (at the start of 2010, author’s note) he immediately made contact with the salafiyya (the al Qaeda cell of Gaza that follows Salafist thought, author’s note). I remember that I spoke with him more than once, of the greatness of the prophet (Mohammed, author’s note) and of the duties of Muslims. He dwelled very much on the lack of respect by the Islamic peoples of the precepts of the Qur’an and of the teachings of the prophet. The indifference of many Muslims towards religion irritated him.

But what did Vittorio Arrigoni have to do with any of that? He was not a Muslim…

I think that the kidnapping of the Italian was used by Breizat and his comrades in order to affirm the existence of his cell, of his group. In exchange for his liberation he asked for the release of Sheikh al Saidani, unjustly arrested only for having spoken in the name of Islam. Breizat set up a spectacular operation to get some attention for himself.

You mention the liberation and prisoner exchange, but Vittorio was killed immediately, the killers themselves hadn’t respected their own ultimatum.

Because Breizat and his comrades organised something they were unable to manage. They felt strong pressure straight away, they felt entrapped and they killed the hostage.

But knowledge of the kidnapping that took place on the 13th of April was only made public just before sundown on the 14th and the Hamas police intervened when everything fell into darkness. According to one theory, Vittorio Arrigoni could have been killed in the early afternoon, perhaps in the video that the kidnappers sent out, he was already dead or in coma.

Pressure is not only that of the police and the investigations, but also that of lack of preparation, lack of mental and military organisation. It is complex to manage a kidnapping and only a group that has determination and is well-structured can carry out something of the sort. Breizat and his comrades perhaps were overcome by confusion.

And what do you say of the rumours of a hidden management, seemingly from the Sinai, of the kidnapping of Arrigoni?

I know nothing about that, but I can’t exclude that Breizat had someone behind him, someone who convinced him to act and strike that Italian. Perhaps behind it all is the Mossad (Israeli secret services). With certainly I can only say that Tawhid wal Jihad did not kidnap Vittorio Arrigoni.

You knew Arrigoni, were you aware of his presence and his activities in Gaza?

I once saw him in an ambulance in the north of Gaza during the Zionist aggression (the Israeli offensive “Operation Cast Lead”, December 2008-January 2009). Sometimes people talked about him. For me, he was a friend of the Palestinians and not an enemy of Islam. His assassination was a crime. We do not oppose the presence of Westerners in Gaza, if they come to help the Palestinians and Muslims, they must not be harmed. Our religion protects them.

See also: https://wewritewhatwelike.com/2011/06/15/hamas-the-report-with-the-truth-on-vik%e2%80%99s-homicide-at-the-end-of-june/

Funeral in Gaza City

GAZA, TWO MONTHS AFTER THE ASSASSINATION: Two months with Vittorio Arrigoni

By Michele Giorgio
in Gaza City (from il manifesto, 15 June 2011) www.ilmanifesto.it
translated from Italian by Mary Rizzo

“Children will be playing in these spaces, we have renovated the bathroom and the kitchen will be here,” Saber Zanin moves quickly from one  room to another in the “Forsan al Ghad for Youth Association” of Beit Hanoun.

Just a short time before, he led a demonstration of about thirty Western volunteers from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) at the margins of the “buffer zone”, the most fertile agricultural lands of Gaza.

It is in those areas where “for security reasons” the Israeli army does not allow Palestinians to gain access, not even those who own property there. It is a measure that is accompanied by the fire of automatic weapons against whoever dares to violate that prohibition that has brought starvation  to hundreds of families who live by means of family farming. “Vittorio struggled with us. We have had so many marches along the buffer zone together, he was a brother to me,” Saber muses, showing us some photos of Vittorio that had been taken in recent months on his laptop. Today in memory of the Italian activist that was kidnapped and killed two months ago in Gaza, the summer camp “Stay Human, Restiamo Umani” will have its inauguration. “We will welcome 60 children and teens between 6 and 16 years of age,” Saber explains, “and in addition to them being able to play and have fun, they will also learn about the political and human story of Vittorio. Not only that, they will learn principles of humanitarian rights, preparing them to follow in the footsteps of our fallen brother.” Sponsoring the summer camp are a dozen or so Italian NGOs that work in the Gaza Strip. Saber has the possibility of making a dream come true. “Vittorio protected Palestinian children, he would be happy that this initiative is being dedicated to him.”

Two months without Vik. On the contrary, two months always with Vik because in Gaza, friends and comrades haven’t forgotten him. His words  are like stones, his image is part of the collective memory. Daniela Riva, a volunteer in the GVC of Bologna spent the last several years in the Strip,  working on development projects. Vittorio was a close friend of hers. “When I used to break down in front of whoever could not understand my involvement with Gaza,” Daniela says, “Vik would repeat to me that I had to answer that being involved in a struggle for justice and freedom means being alive, is there anything worth living or dying for that has more value than that?… when months ago (the shootings from Israeli soldiers) a farmer was killed, one who I’d only met with a few minutes prior, Vittorio told me to try hard to cry no tears at that funeral, but to keep my head held high. One does not cry for martyrs. I did it. I tried to do the same at his funeral too, but the tears fell despite my efforts…”

Memories, intense moments of emotion for a young man whose life was taken at only 36 years of age, who with honesty and constancy, through  the Internet, had for years sent out daily information on Gaza under the Israeli siege.  Not omitting the economic or social aspects of the situation. News that yesterday had once more been confirmed. An UNRWA report records that in the second half of 2010 the unemployment rate of Gaza is at 45.2%, one of the world’s highest. On the other hand, the level of salaries keeps sinking. “This is an alarming trend,” the spokesman of the UNRWA Chris Gunness says. “It is difficult to understand the logic of a policy that was carefully planned (by Israel, author’s note) to deliberately impoverish and that has condemned hundreds of thousands of persons to a life of abject misery. If the purpose of the policy of the closure of Gaza  was to weaken Hamas,” he continues, “these numbers show that they have failed, while at the same time there has been massive success in punishing whoever can be counted among the poorest of the poor in the Middle East.”

Vittorio’s parents, his sister, his friends, everyone who knew him personally or who had met him through Internet, those who had listened  intently while he spoke in tours throughout Italy, all of them are impatiently waiting to know the truth about his assassination. That moment could be near. Authoritative sources of the Ministry of Justice and of the Security Services of the Hamas government – who have asked to remain anonymous – have told il manifesto that the Military Court will issue an official communiqué at the end of June on the course of the investigations and it will bring to trial at least two persons involved in various levels in the kidnapping and assassination of Vittorio. One of these is Mahmoud al Salfiti, the only survivor of the three members of the self-proclaimed Salafite cell (who had left the Tawhid wal Jihad group) responsible for the kidnapping. The other two, the Jordanian Abdel Rahman Breizat and Bilal Omari were killed in the armed clash at Nuseriat with a special forces team of Hamas several days after the having killed the Italian activist.

Sources of the Ministry of Justice have explained that the investigations that had closed in mid-May had been reopened following another two failed kidnap attempts of two young American citizens: a cooperation worker (long-time resident in the Strip) and an activist of the ISM (the latter near the “Gallery”, the coffeehouse that Vittorio frequented along with various local and international activists). The mind behind the kidnapping was the Jordanian Breizat, who had prepared the plan about a month and a half earlier, using the help of various inhabitants of Gaza who were close to Vittorio, most of them unaware of his intentions. At the start, the sources add, the plan didn’t include the killing of the Italian. However, when the kidnappers were aware that they would have been discovered in a matter of hours, they decided to make a run for it and cover their tracks. It was Breizat who had killed Vittorio, because he was convinced that by leaving the kidnapped man alive they would have been discovered immediately (Vik personally knew at least two of the kidnappers, in particular Bilal Omari, who went to the same gym he frequented in Gaza City).

For the confirmation of this information, there is nothing to do but await the start of the trial. In that moment the acts can be consulted and we can finally know the declarations made during the interrogations of the accused parties. In the meantime, mystery reigns over the eight objects  belonging to Vittorio that disappeared after the kidnapping, in particular, his laptop. The Hamas authorities have referred in an earlier moment that they had been recovered and were being held at the central command of the Police. Now, they deny this.

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)
****
“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]
*****
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:

*****
“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]

*****

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.
*****

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.
*****

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.”

*****
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:
*****
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:

*****
“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

*****
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]

*****
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.
*****

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