Archive for the ‘Rant / Musings / Discussion’ Category

Ken showing just some of the skin decoration he has. Of coure tattoos are invasive and of course they are not always safe, but health issues don't need to be consistent. Please note the T Shirt advertising his "investment" that raised money for Gaza, but vanished into the thin air.. anyone ever see the Ferry to Gaza? Any donors get their money back? I thought not.

Ken showing just some of the skin decoration he has. Of course tattoos are invasive and of course they are not always safe, but health issues don’t need to be consistent. Please note the T Shirt advertising his “investment” that raised money for Gaza, but vanished into the thin air.. anyone ever see the Ferry to Gaza? Any donors (cough cough, I meant INVESTORS) get their money back? I thought not.

Ken O’Keefe is a man who don’t take no one telling him what to do! After arriving in a country he hates (the USA) in order to participate in a conference in Mexico and do local talks in the LA area, he found out that at LAX there are mandatory whole body scans when one boards a flight. The full body scans have been the source of a lot of controversy, mainly due to privacy issues, but his issue with them is that they put stuff in his body – and he doesn’t want that. Yes. The guy who subjected his body to injections of ink in almost every visible part is freaking out (this is putting it lightly) about having to be like everyone else and submit to the waves that pass through his body to produce the image adopted for assessing concealed items on passengers, devised for security purposes and to substitute in most cases the metal detector and the full pat-down.

But, let’s reflect upon a few claims Ken makes in his Tourettes-inspired video. Exhibiting his unique ability to put “the F word” in all possible contexts, his coprolalia is meant to impress, since it is going to be “broadcast” and is supposed to make him look like a tough guy who takes no shit, but instead just makes him look like he’s having an awfully hard time keeping the histrionics out of his discourse, as usual. And again, as usual, he burnishes his “hero” persona in front of his outstretched arm and uses it to define the rest of the argument. Although, every time he paints himself as a hero, he goes into an incredibly annoying and undignified whine that sounds like he’s laying the victim thing on strong.

According to Ken, he is followed everywhere he goes by airport security, (as if suggesting he is on a no-fly list). It’s clear he isn’t on a no-fly list, because he would have flown out of LAX if only he spent his 15 seconds, (like the common passenger and the celebrity alike) is required to do simply by going through the scan box. He insists he opted out, subjecting himself (as he admits in his own colourful way) to a truly invasive and time-consuming and possibly humiliating full pat-down, but STILL, since he was on some special list, has to go through the scan and (dammit!) he shouldn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to do! What is this special list he talks about?

Ken obtaining the "Key to Gaza" along with the symbolic passport. If you don't want to be seen as having any connection with someone in charge of what the US considers an FTO, you don't take your picture with them. Or else, you stop acting surprised that "they know" and have you on a "list".

Ken obtaining the “Key to Gaza” along with the symbolic passport. If you don’t want to be seen as having any connection with someone in charge of what the US considers an FTO, you don’t take your picture with them. Or else, you stop acting surprised that “they know” and have you on a “list”.

According to Ken, given that he was on the Mavi Marmara that was attacked by Israeli commandos as it was heading a flotilla to Gaza, he has been classified by Israel as “Terrorist operative of Hamas”. No one is denying the insanity of Israel to define anyone they want to as a terrorist operative, but let’s look at facts: in 2008 Ken O’Keefe entered Gaza on one of the boats of the Free Gaza Movement, and every passenger on those boats was granted an “honorary Palestinian passport” and was welcomed by the party that was governing Gaza, i.e., Hamas, and photographed next to Haniyeh. Ken of course should KNOW that in the USA Hamas is still on the FTO list (Foreign Terrorist Organisations). If someone met with a Hamas leader, that doesn’t even mean affiliation, much less being part of the group, but it certainly is going to be noted by immigration for a person who boasts about it as much as Ken O’Keefe does, and that means that he’s going to probably have to go through a body scan if he wants to travel in an airport where they are mandatory! No one arrested Ken, they merely informed him that he had to go through what 99% of the travellers at that airport go through on any given day, and if he didn’t have a choice to opt out, he simply would not be allowed to board the plane, probably on someone else’s dime anyway!! Cuz that’s how Ken ROLLS!

What is unusual, of course, is his that his protesting being subjected the scan has  nothing to do with privacy but with the refusal that his body be subjected to the waves produced by the scanner. It’s a health issue, as well as being forced to do something he doesn’t want, which is a Mommy issue. Many millions of people who actually DO have health issues wilfully and gladly subject themselves to these imaging devices for much longer periods of time in order to diagnose situations within their body. The safety of the devices of course can be an issue for someone, why not? But it’s merely comical coming from the illustrated man! We all KNOW how safe tattoos are, don’t we? He drags into his victim spiel also the “sons and daughters” of America who served as soldiers overseas, like he did. It could very well be that Marines have been used as subjects (without their knowledge) in coercive chemical/biological tests, but frankly, what’s that actually got to do with his actual complaint about the body scan and why does he start in on vaccines in the midst of this rant? It’s as if he’s just so MAD, he’s complaining about everything that pops into his head. Soon we might be hearing he had too many lumps in his oatmeal as a child, because KEN FORGETS NOTHING AND KEN FORGIVES NOTHING!

But one little thing to be clear on is that Ken has a strange sense of entitlement. He claims to be a Palestinian, which is untrue. Just because he has a diplomatic passport given to him in 2008, it turns out it is purely symbolic and does not confer citizenship rights or even travel rights. As Amira Hass points out:

Some of the participants were evidently unaware of the fact that there is no such thing as “Palestinian citizenship,” since there is no Palestinian state, and that receipt of a Palestinian passport would therefore not confer such citizenship. Nor would such a document actually allow its holder to enter the West Bank or Gaza, since Israel, the occupying power, still determines who is permitted to become a “new” resident of these areas.

Hamas granted “diplomatic passports” to participants of the first three flotillas to Gaza, in the summer of 2008, but the holders later discovered the documents had no value beyond the symbolic. Three years ago, the PA issued a Palestinian passport to Israeli conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim as a gesture of appreciation, but this document, too, had only symbolic value.

So, Ken has a habit of stretching the truth a little bit and whining a whole lot. If he were truly Palestinian, he might not feel so damned entitled all the time, as if anyone daring to question him or make him go through clearance does it as a personal issue, all against him. Right or wrong, Ken feels so privileged he doesn’t bother to empathise with the millions who are subjected to daily checkpoints in their own country and in violation of their human rights… it’s all about HIM! Good thing for him he has a lot of people who don’t bother to fact check, don’t get irritated by his unbridled western white male privilege nor do they use some critical thinking whenever hearing his long-winded complaints and his “telling it like it is”. As long as he has his loyal following who believe he is going to “stop the endless cycle of war” by paying him to do so, “he’s good”!

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van a casa greta a casa

Written by Mary Rizzo

Hundreds of articles, thousands of comments and dozens of conjectures have emerged since the liberation of Greta Ramelli and Vanessa Marzullo from their imprisonment in Syria. Reading them, I am continually shocked by the content, mostly because the relationship of the content of these articles with reality is close to nil. And, of course, since those of us who know these women have acted responsibly, following the instructions of our government to keep press silence for their sake, it has given space to the vultures and monsters of orientalist, conspiracy, reactionary yellow journalism, who see in them all the ingredients for their “articles”: beautiful young maidens who are victims of the evils they embraced. Articles are coming out basing their research on the trash articles full of falsehood and insane conjecture, because during those endless 5 and a half months, the trash writers had free reign and their inventions, which will naturally be held up to scrutiny now that it is possible to respond to them, and certainly lawsuits will arise from the defamation they contain.

Five and a half months where those who know, and those who know better, were discouraged from expressing in public our solidarity, prohibited from making marches, creating petitions, even from something so simple as making a supportive page in Facebook. Asking activists to go against their instincts of protesting, getting into the streets and involving the general public in awareness raising activities is asking a lot of them, especially if the thing they are being asked to do is to keep silence regarding persons they know and love very much. But this was done, some of us suspending our feelings of disappointment in how our government works, and simply trusting them and obeying them. Our government pulled through and fulfilled their obligation to bring back our co-citizens who were victims of criminals in a foreign country. We are so grateful to them for their efforts and thrilled at their success.

There are other Italians who are not so happy about it though. One of them, for instance, is a former minister, Luca Zaia who says, (taking the words of some unknown “Tweeter” account statement as legitimate against the word of his own government that states that no ransom was paid and international laws were adhered to) “there has to be a norm for whoever gets themselves in trouble, they have to find their own way to get out of the mess.” He suggests that the goods of the families of Greta and Vanessa should be confiscated for life, to repay the Italian State, in fact.  All of that is pretty rich coming from someone who, when he was minister of Agriculture brought upon the Italian State fines amounting to 2.4 billion Euros for not adhering to EU limits of milk production, “The smooth operators and cheaters in the milk quotas have cost us Italians 4.5 billion Euros. In 2009 then Minister of the Northern League Zaia bailed out the “tax evaders” and denied the Revenue Agency Collection the right to get back the amounts paid by the State on their behalf.”

Then there are those who say they were involved with Jihadis and militias of every kind. Others who say they ought to have stayed in Italy and taken care of our many poor and needy. Still others say they had no preparation to go where they went to do what they claimed they were there to do. Neither of the first two groups have the faintest idea of who Greta and Vanessa are. They don’t know that they have been involved in the humanitarian aspect of what is a war zone. They have absolutely a point of view, given their interest and knowledge of the situation, and it is impossible to remain “neutral in the face of oppression” or pretend that there is not a war going on and know how it started and what areas are suffering the most. They don’t know that they also have volunteered and been trained in Italy and other countries, and that they were not “sent” by anyone. It seems peculiar to these people that young adult women can have a grasp on a very complex situation. Just because those condemning them don’t have a grasp, they assume it should be the same for Vanessa and Greta. The third group of critics has a slight advantage in that while they are wrong about them being totally unprepared, they are right that this kind of volunteer work in a war zone has absolutely no rules and anything can happen, even to the most prepared person, so this is all the more true of two individuals representing a humanitarian group they were the founders of, without a history of safety regulations and a staff to organise every particular up to the smallest detail.

Those who doubt their sincerity, however, or why they should be so involved in Syria, evidently have not had the same exposure to the information that the women have had. Ones who are informed of the situation of the Syrian population, who have learned about the suffering and the slaughter of innocent people, particularly children, simply can’t just shut it off. It becomes a sort of obsession, a constant suffering. There are simply people in the world, empathic and humanitarian people, and Vanessa and Greta are two of them, who when they see the suffering of others, enter into a state of profound com-passion. They feel it fully, they share in the pain and it becomes so deeply felt that they feel that their duty is to help, they cannot NOT help. They believe in the power of love and the human duty to not look away but to do like others have done before them throughout the history of the world, where the people we are given as examples for life go to the den of the leper and embrace him, to make him feel that he is not alone in the world and to try to heal his wounds. They knew that their aid might be a drop in the bucket, but the power of sharing the suffering, taking part and witnessing, that is something that they felt compelled to do, and all the friendly advice of those who love them could not change the path that they set before them, to BE THERE for others. If there are those who doubt this sentiment can exist, I say, they are surrounded by grey people, and when they find themselves alone and in pain, they may not have someone there to stand by them, that kind of thing is not contemplated in their world. But this is the world of Greta and Vanessa, the world of compassion and sharing in the burden.

It is disgusting to read the various comments by people who only criticise them or even smear or defame them. But it is good to realise that they come from a world that is alien to mine and to that of Greta and Vanessa, who are thankfully enjoying the support of many, despite the louder voices of the vile and vulgar ones. In schools across Italy (if I take for an example my own child’s high school) the “hour of religion” – yes, Italian public schools have this, and given that the students prefer to stay together during the day, even those who are not Catholic participate and they are basically classes where ethics and current events are discussed – all of the students applauded the girls, said they were proud of them, admired them, thought they were the best representative of humane ideals, but simply that they were wrong to have underestimated how dangerous it was and to have caused their families the worry. In Italy, unlike America, young people often live at home even after they reach 18, and independence is not complete, though the right to make important decisions is recognised, it is still considered necessary to obtain parental approval for some things, and in this case, the students of my child’s class thought that this was the only thing they did wrong. It seems that 17 year olds have a better understanding than 50 year olds sometimes…..

But there is one subject that remains to be discussed, and that is how it happened. All we know is that despite the media circus, the “jihadi” theory is ridiculous and so is the one that they were working for the FSA. The dynamics are going to come out in time, and rather than the weak little Pollyannas that some may have thought they are, the two Italian women are proving to be stronger than lions. They not only had to undergo the horrors of their imprisonment, but they are fully collaborating with the magistrates who are investigating the kidnapping. They, in the first place, who believe in justice and dignity, are not going to withhold any information that leads to the arrest of those who are responsible for their abduction and detainment against their will. It is possible that those who are responsible don’t live in a war zone, so justice may indeed be served.

It is said that in their auditions before the investigators, who have opened the case to investigate and ultimately prosecute those responsible, they were aware of the reason they were abducted the moment they were taken away, because they asked, “Why??” and the response was, “For money”.

Yes, this is where those of us who not only love and admire Vanessa and Greta now have to take a stand. We, like them, believe in justice, human rights and most of us also support the revolution against Assad. We are quite willing to condemn any and every group and individual who not only has violated the rights of humanitarians but who have betrayed the very cause of opposition to Assad if they engage in actions that are against human rights and harm innocent people. If it is true that, as they admit, they were in a place considered as safe, only for it to instead have been a trap artfully set up by those who acted like friends only to betray them, then this is not going to be buried under the rug because it is shameful. Instead, we trust more than ever our authorities to investigate, find the evidence that will prove that they have been set up by guys who boast of their importance inside Syria with the oppostion and their excellent and safe connections, and there is going to be no rest if it turns out that these are individuals who are hiding behind the Syrian revolution flag or acting like they are for the overthrow of Assad or even if they are (as they may claim) greatly respected by the revolutionaries and even influential in Syria. If their tactics are the same, treating innocent people like merchandise, a cheap form of human trafficking, it is all the more shameful because it has brainwashed itself that it’s for “the cause”. It’s not for any cause that Vanessa and Greta and the rest of us stand for. If it is a person or persons involved in the opposition militia, my personal wish for them is that they simply keep on as they are doing, because even if they achieve martyrdom, they are not going to ever achieve Janna (paradise) because they have committed a crime so heinous that there is no way to atone. They will learn what imprisonment is, eternally.

If they have even the thought that the lives of these women have X value and they tricked them or led to them being tricked, then they are no different than what we are against, and they, hopefully soon exposed, should be made to pay their debt with justice until their last day on earth. They are not going to find any “friends” who cover for them or pat them on the back or who justify what they have done. Whoever it is, may they feel that the circle is closing in on them, and the sooner the Syrian people are rid of such traitors, the better. It is also unfortunate that thanks to situations like this, other humanitarian efforts are thwarted, relief to the suffering Syrian population is going to be denied and the end of the Assad regime is going to be set farther ahead. Yes. Thanks to the betrayal of such kinds of persons against all that is good and right, who abuse trust and good faith and the purity of decent people. They betray all of Syria by their actions.

Lastly, we thank Greta and Vanessa from the heart for proving to us that there is indeed humanity, for being the beautiful people they are. We wish for them only the joy, happiness, serenity they deserve so much and we are thrilled that they are reunited with their families who strongly supported them and went through their own suffering, but who are not punitive, because there is nothing to punish heroes for, because it is a blessing to be in the midst of heroes, humanitarians and persons who know the meaning of the phrase, “stay human”. No matter what choices Vanessa and Greta make in life, we stand by them, we trust them and we love them, and hope we are going to be worthy of them.

Written by NOT George Sabra. [Submitted this to any number of publications, none picked it up. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone after Rania Masri…]

The anti-war movement in the West got what it wanted: the war in Syria grinds on without the involvement of the only force capable of ending the bloody stalemate, the U.S. military.

The anti-war movement in the West accomplished what it set out to do: American F-16s remained grounded while the Assad regime’s MiGs returned to the skies to bomb hospitals for the first time since Bashar al-Assad crossed President Obama’s “red line” on August 21.

The anti-war movement in the West succeeded: the big guns aboard America’s battleships parked off the Syrian coast remained silent as the regime’s big guns opened fire once more on defenseless civilian neighborhoods.

The anti-war movement in the West won a great victory: while the war-making regime in Damascus enjoys the unlimited and unconditional financial, military, and diplomatic support of Iran and Russia, the popular uprising still stands alone as the red-headed stepchild of the Arab Spring, without a steady source for the heavy weapons it needs to survive.

These are the bloody real-world consequences of this so-called anti-war movement’s triumph in the West.

This movement that arose on the basis of Sarah Palin-style concern for Syrian lives – “so we’re bombing Syria because Syria is bombing Syria?” – is nowhere to be found now that the regime’s savage campaign to end their lives has resumed in earnest. This movement that was so worried about the fate of innocent Syrians in the face of American bombs has not uttered a single word, not called a single Congressman, nor organized a single demonstration to demand the Obama administration send Syrians gas masks, something the administration has steadfastly refused to do despite its talk about basic human decency and the sanctity of children’s lives. Thus, the administration and its anti-war critics are united as one in treating Syrian lives as fodder for their political agendas, as a rhetorical device in finely-worded speeches about high-minded principles and universal ethics.

Leading figures of this movement like Rania Masri (who should know better because of her workaround Israel-Palestine) continually draw a false equivalence between the infrequent atrocities committed by a poorly armed, untrained, undisciplined, disorganized rag-tag opposition desperate to save themselves and their families from an oppressive dictatorial regime that uses sarin, tanks, jets, scud missiles, and artillery against them daily. Imagine blaming “both sides” for the carnage of the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising and you get an idea of how monstrous this is.

What is worse than this “anti-war” movement’s highly selective faux outrage over the plight of the Syrian people are the bald-faced lies it continually spreads to substantiate its position.

In the run up to the 2003 Iraq war, the anti-war movement fought the Bush administration’s lies with pure, unadulterated truth. Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter declared that Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed by the U.N. in the 1990s and pointed out that Iraq was a basket case militarily thanks to a decade of crippling U.N. sanctions. For his trouble, Ritter was shut out of the halls of power as lawmakers in Washington, D.C. authorized President Bush to disarm a disarmed Iraq by invading and forcibly occupying it.

In the run up to the 2013 Syria war that wasn’t, the anti-war movement fought the Obama administration’s truths with pure, unadulterated lies. Antiwar.com founder Justin Raimando saidthe Assad regime’s sarin gas attack in Ghouta on August 21 was a “hoax” and referred to it sarcastically as a massacre – in quotation marks. Retired CIA officer Ray McGovern and his Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) claimed that the Ghouta gassacre was a false-flag attack staged by the opposition in a bogus, unsourced Curveball-style “report” that VIPS plagiarized from Global Research, a conspiracy theory website founded by a man withdirect ties to the Assad dynasty.

“Bush lied, people died” is what the anti-war movement said when the Downing Street memo revealed that the Bush administration fixed the facts and the intelligence around their policy of regime change in Iraq. This time, the movement lied, Syrians died as anti-war activists went into overdrive to spin the facts and intelligence coming out of Syria in 2013 to fit the Iraq template of 2003. U.S. politician Dennis Kucinich even recapitulated in his own way Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous handshake with the Butcher of Baghdad as he was gassing Kurds and Iranians by having friendly sit down with Bashar al-Assad in the middle of his killing fields.

The movement to stop U.S. military action failed in 2003 and succeeded in 2013. In both cases, the result was needless bloodshed and brutality borne by people far from our shores.

WHEN YOU AREWRITTEN BY RUTH RIEGLER

What is it that the world doesn’t ‘get’ with Syria that leads to the continuing reluctance to unequivocally condemn and speak out against Bashar Al Assad’s regime among so many otherwise intelligent people?

The Assad regime is using warplanes, helicopter warships, tanks, Scud missiles, cluster bombs, phosphorous bombs, TNT-filled barrel bombs, rocket launchers and assorted other weapons against civilians. Over 70,000 Syrian people have been officially documented killed to date, more than 5,000 of those are children. The real death toll may be twice that and it is rising by the day. Hundreds of thousands are imprisoned, ”missing,” maimed, crippled, over four million in the country need urgent humanitarian aid, over 2.6 million are displaced, over 700,000 are refugees…the horror statistics go on and on…and the world collectively shrugs, sighs and turns away.

I realise that people have the right to say this isn’t happening. They also have the right to say that the sun doesn’t rise in the east, although repeating the latter patent falsehood at least doesn’t make them tacitly complicit in genocide, as repeating the former one does.

Of course, people have the right to believe what the Assad regime and its supporters tells them – that it is a heroic and embattled state fighting heinous and possibly fanged radical Islamists and jihadists intent on its destruction, who are part of a foreign plot by the CIA to overthrow The Only True Anti-Imperialist State In The Region.

People also have the right to believe what Israel and its supporters tell them – that it is a heroic and embattled state fighting heinous and possibly fanged radical Islamists and jihadists intent on its destruction, who are part of a foreign plot by Iran to overthrow The Only True Democracy In The Region.

Both arguments, for the Assad regime and for the zionist state, have exactly the same amount of legitimacy and merit and stand up equally well to even the briefest scrutiny or analysis, which is to say none and not at all.

People have the right to say that they wish to remain neutral on Syria. In the end, however, as Desmond Tutu wisely noted, ‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.’ ”Neutrality” – or simply indifference – from the outside world is what all abusive spouses, all dictators, all totalitarian regimes, all brutal and oppressive states rely on in order to continue with their brutality and oppression. Neutrality in such monstrously unjust situations is not an admirable and objective stance, but a tacit nod and wink to evil.

People have the right to suggest that maybe dictators are better for some – if they themselves are prepared to give up their own freedoms and live under dictatorship since of course they wouldn’t be hypocritical enough to wish for others what they don’t wish for themselves (perish the thought…).

People also have the right to say that Western democracy is a sham, and I would agree wholeheartedly that it could certainly be massively improved. But oddly I don’t notice the Western totalitarianism groupies actually rushing to renounce their citizenship of horrid sham democracies in favour of emigration to glorious people’s republics, or indeed campaigning for fewer rights in order to feel less oppressed by the horrors of democracy.

People have the right to say that Western leaders and governments are monstrously hypocritical, amoral and indifferent to human life, paying only lip service to the ideals of freedom and human rights while actually opposing them whenever expedient for their interests. And I would agree wholeheartedly without reservations. I’d also suggest that this is one more reason why we should not exhibit the same monstrous hypocrisy, amorality and indifference to human life – because if we pick and choose which people’s freedom and human rights to support or oppose we are no different, no less hypocritical, amoral and indifferent to human life, and certainly no better than those governments we condemn.

In the end, people have the right to say, do (or not do) and believe whatever they want, about Syria or any other issue. But that right comes with the attendant acceptance of responsibility for the results of their words, action or inaction and beliefs. The results of neutrality of indifference towards Assad’s war on Syria are tacit support for and complicity with it. The neutral and indifferent people around the world are not flying Assad’s warplanes, dropping the cluster bombs and phosphorous bombs, carrying out the rapes, torture, massacres, but their silence gives their consent for the regime to continue doing so, tipping Assad a silent nod and wink to ‘Carry On Killing.’

Take a look at the following screenshot. You may need to enlarge it by clicking to read the text. Believe me, it is pretty incredible.

sd2

Pretty sickening that someone considering himself something of the vanguard of activism for Humanity, to be at the helm of a new era of collective consciousness (in his own words), uses a public internet site (Salem News) to depict a violent rape scenario and to then somehow twist it, thinking others will agree with his logic, that it is the “victim’s” own sexual fantasy, but that he of course will resist even if doing so would cause permanent bodily harm to the victim. This is just a snippet of the grotesque dossier amounting to a whopping 122 pages when copied onto a Word document, which, if it is not socially deviant, is at least the result of an obsession. Should a person respond to someone like that? The advice anyone would give to someone who was the target of such sociopathic “interest” would be to beware that he is sick and to not even deal with his disorder, as response to it might just “excite him more”.

Yet, the fact is that there is a tiny little galaxy of persons who do circulate around Siraj Davis, despite the fact that he is the only one who “likes” his own posts on FB, and one of these persons decided some time ago to confide in others about her relationship. However, as Aretha Franklin sang, it’s important to know “who’s zoomin who”.

A Shepard’s Facebook Guide to Hypocrisy.

Little did the American hero in the Middle East Siraj know that another heroic American in the Middle East was weaving little webs of deception. Yet, he wrote:

Siraj Davis Michael Langston and Mary Shepard , we have another saying from the region here… athou athouee sadeeqee

(the enemy of my enemy is my friend) . I am sure that circumstances can form new friendships and alliances, and if those friendships and alliances are a far from ascertainable, then toleration and respect can be the least  I want us all to focus on the positive and I am sure we ALL can agree, Kim is not part of that positive.

Yes, friendships and alliances can form on account of circumstances, in fact, most friendships do form thanks to providence and circumstances that bring people to establish alliances, but one has to be more than a little DUMB to refer to someone as his SISTER who has this to say about him, (a day after their public love fest): (you can click on all the shots to enlarge them)

 ms4

Should this story be of interest to anyone? It’s just some stuff that a few people have written on Facebook after all. It probably is nothing more than just a bit of local colour to the insane world where activists spend more time biting each other’s noses off than actually changing the lives of people they claim to be dedicating themselves to. However, when some of the players are demonstrating an interest in me that is almost pathological, it might be more useful to just show them a mirror, show them how they are considered in their own world, especially when they are out there soliciting others for money.

People should be what they say they are and they should not be hypocrites, right? Even though the players here are all extremely minor, as they are, if they are expecting others to trust them, they should be consistent. Siraj Davis is an obscure ESL teacher who seems to think he is at the cutting edge of activism, But, this isn’t about Siraj. This post is about his Sister Mary. (One of the Three Mary’s, which some may remember). Mary has a public persona where she engages in discussion with the hardcore Ken O’Keefe supporters underneath a screenshot by Siraj in a smear campaign against some woman who asked for the return of money she had lent or given to Siraj. Unfortunately, it was not possible to take a screenshot of the comments, as Siraj had to cancel the photos on his wall, due to the embarrassing nature of documenting his interest in porn clips of the “Sex with Mommy” genre, but I did copy the material in a document at the time. Mary Shepard promises enticing screenshots to give to Siraj. ENJOY the loving relationship!

Mary Shepard Carolyn, you don’t know anything about me. I’m definitely not Kimberly. But this is not about me, it’s about her. My brother Siraj asked me to contribute. He and I respect each other and I am happy to be his friend. I don’t care what anyone else thinks, I know who I am and what I believe in. In my comment I was not addressing you, nor did I insult anyone. Picking a fight is not the way to deal with the problem at hand, which is Kimberly Amatullah, not me.

Tuesday at 21:06 • 1

Mary Shepard And I’m not asking for anyone’s forgiveness. What for? I was never a part of anything to do with Ken O’Keefe. I was a commenter asking questions. I walked away after a very short while. I lost friends over the whole thing – I didn’t think name calling and making accusations without hard evidence was very wise. I’m tired of these stupid and pointless facebook feuds. I have more screenshots for you, Siraj, if you want them. Otherwise, I’m finished here.

Tuesday at 21:10 • 1

Siraj Davis Mary Shepard We are all a team and I would appreciate your help sis. It would benefit me, Michael, Daniel, and Ken. Any truth would be a help/ Thanks

Tuesday at 21:12

Mary Shepard You have all my respect, Siraj, you’re a courageous man. And Allah is the best of planners – I’m still amazed at how small he has made this world. I stood on your shoulders in Amman. Your students loved you and you were a tough act to follow.

Tuesday at 21:19

And, to the accusation that Mary Shepard was one of the combination of people that the Kenophiles referred to as “the Three Marys”, Mary Shepard replied:

Mary Shepard I was not one of the “Marys,” Mr. Mabsout. I was not involved. Mary Rizzo used to be my friend, but not anymore. I closed the door on the whole thing and I want it to stay closed, I’m bloody tired of it. The issue is Kimberly Amatullah. I am not here to ask for your trust. I’m giving Siraj my screenshots of her. He and I have both agreed that we are fed up with cyber bullies like her.

Exactly right, I am no longer one of her friends, but upon being told that Siraj was fixating on me and seeing some of his obsessive focus on his FB wall, I wrote a message to Mary and to others. A conversation began and here are some interesting screenshots of it. ENJOY!

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And at that point, Mary Shepard realised she was “contributing clarity” to someone who already, paraphrasing her own words, “trusts her as far as she can throw her”. She left the conversation and probably hoped that everyone in the conversation group forgot all about it, especially if one was so supportive, close and affectionate with a guy who clearly has some issues with women and might find out that she was zooming him. Or was she? Remember, we are living in the weird and vampiristic world where today one is BFF and the next they are “someone’s ally for the moment” only to privately slam them as “fucking crazy crazy crazy” with those who question the extreme negation of being ever at any time considered as having been against Ken O’Keefe in the grouping labelled as “the Three Marys”.

There are quite a few other interesting and revealing quotes from Mary Shepard and from those in the Ken world.  But, they are for a future post.

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.

100 Syrian civilian vicitims in 2 days of attacks against them

WRITTEN BY MARY RIZZO

“You may as well be born an animal rather than a Syrian. You would have been given more protection.”

I have been wondering to myself and at times aloud, “What the hell has happened to the empathy and humanity of the activism movement? When did they start deciding whose blood was expendable? Where did their compassion, empathy and sense of justice go?”

There are a few qualities that an activist should have as a mandatory part of their baggage.  Not all of them are required to have a solution to the problems that are afflicting the victims or the weak in the causes that they are advocating. Nor are they even required to dedicate a lot of time or money to the cause. One can be an activist nowadays locally or even if they are disabled and unable to leave their homes, as they can express their views, share information and engage in solidarity by means of internet. The qualities however that should be part of every activists’ tool kit include empathy, a bit of courage and a strong desire for “good” to overpower and defeat “bad”.  And, that this vital and obligatory baggage has become so selective, has got to be the most fatal blow to the activism universe. It makes it reek of hypocrisy and plays directly into the hands of the oppressors.

Empathy is a social and emotional response to the conditions that other sentient beings are in. Since we all can agree that pain and suffering (including being a victim of abuse, starvation, deprivation) are negative things, it is not difficult to feel bad, “as if” what is happening could be happening to us or to the people or animals we love. If we are able to unplug the empathy because we have an ideology that we buy into, accompanied by a kind of strange peer pressure, something has gone wrong very seriously. If we are selective in such a subject as human pain and our acceptance of it, we need a major time out to rethink what we are doing in activism. We should remember that empathy can be a tool towards change, we should put it to use and understand that suffering people (and to some extent animals) are aware of our involvement or our detachment, and they tap into the capacity of (especially) activists, to make the feelings of empathy manifest and bring about an end to the suffering, which is the primary and immediate goal.

By understanding, witnessing and realising the extreme suffering that some are subject to, an activist has the ability to concretely help to change the condition of pain and suffering through the recognition of the condition followed by acts that aim at intervening in favour of the victims. On the other hand, their indifference can empower the abuser and oppressor, who believes that there is justification for his violence.

There has been no lack of evidence for many many months coming from Syria that the situation in Syria is a humanitarian crisis of an extremely severe nature. To cite some statistics, much of them from international organs that are considered to be highly authoritative such as the UN, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others, in eleven months since the first protests against the regime in power took to the streets, there have been a confirmed 6000 civilians killed, by snipers, shelling, bombs and beatings, though other sources claim that the actual number is much higher, since discovery of mass graves and bodies of “disappeared” protesters is a constant occurrence. 70,000 persons have been arrested, most of them charged with nothing or charged with crimes that would not stand up in any normal court of law, including thought crimes and crimes of intention. There have been constant and documented abuses and torture, with corpses bearing the signs of brutality one can hardly imagine. The scenes are so horrible and devastating, in years and years of activism for human rights and especially Palestinian rights, I have never witnessed this level of depravity, this level of gore.

Last week, the town of Idlib had a most gruesome event: a group of people were victims of the explosion of a nail bomb, sending tiny projectiles into the flesh, damaging internal organs and causing internal bleeding until painful death comes. They were brought to the civil hospital for holding before their funerals, but 60 other bodies were discovered in the refrigerator cells, all of them bearing signs of gruesome torture. The hospital was occupied by the regime’s militia who also prohibited any wounded from receiving treatment. Hospitals were now simply for serving the regime’s fight to stay in power at all costs. What came to mind to an activist I know who had seen the still shots of the bodies face down in pools of their own blood was scenes of Sabra and Shatilla. But these are Syrians, and for some strange reason, most activists for Palestine are ignoring this. Are they wearing blinders or are they unable to empathise with the Syrians?

That there are over 20,000 refugees who have sought refuge in Turkey in a tent facility is another number that should cause any activists to tremble. We know the fate of refugees, the way they often never come back and mostly, the dire living conditions they are faced with. An activist should be concerned about this problem. How many Syrians have fled to Lebanon or even farther? No one knows the numbers because often these people continue to be threatened and hunted even in exile.

Why do the activists fail to understand the severity of the situation? Why do they denounce the protesters in the same exact terms used by the regime with mountains of evidence against it being a humane government? Why have they tweeted, blogged, shouted for weeks about pepper spray in the eyes of American demonstrators, yet the mortal assaults on civilians (including 300 children who have had a violent death at the hands of the regime, many of them subjected to arrest and death at the hands of their torturers) are all but ignored? Are Syrians children of a lesser God? Are they less worthy of protection and concern? Is it possible that American university students who later in the day can go to their dorms and realise their lives are not in danger get more sympathy and empathy from activists than innocent Arab children who have lost their lives under the cruelty of a repressive militia?

Some will say, “Why do you say that it’s worse if someone is killing their own people?” as a kind of excuse to then talk about a different geographical place, a different situation. Others will say that the Assad regime is the last bastion against imperialism, which is the sole argument they seem to be able to muster. They are certain there is an imperialist plot behind all of this, something they were reluctant to say with the same protests in Tunisia, Egypt and to some extent, to the Palestinian Intifadas. Many of these people who are proclaiming it can’t be a sincere popular revolt or revolution live in affluent societies in Europe and North America, where they have the right to say what they want to without being arrested and yet, have never taken part in a revolution or revolt. Others will say that there should be no outside intervention, but they root for Russia, Lebanon and Iran continuing to arm the regime and give it economic solvency for as long as possible. Others will say that the Free Syria Army is an imperialist militia (???!!!) and that it is fomenting war and is not a true resistance militia. Yet others are claiming that both sides are to blame, putting them on equal footing, something they would never dare do if this were Palestine. How can an armed power that controls government, the economy, can turn off water, electricity and gas at a whim, arbitrarily arrest people in the thousands, close down hospitals and invade cities with tanks, bombarding people as they are within their own homes and placing snipers on the roof should they dare seek to escape be equated with the civilians?

A Syrian friend of mine said to me a few months ago, “If only we were animals, then I think that more people would feel for us and care.” After a few weeks, he noticed even the total abandonment of the Activists for Palestine, who are touting the Assad line without a practical reason to do so unless they are inhumane or blind. He said, “We should just tell everyone we are Palestinian, perhaps they will then be upset about how we are dying”. I would take it further: several years ago Vittorio Arrigoni wrote a piece that was very poignant. I ask especially the activists for Palestine to read it and reflect upon it.

“Take some kittens, tiny little cats and put them in a box” said the surgeon at Gaza’s main hospital called Al Shifa, while the nurse placed a couple of big boxes on the floor right in front of us, covered in splashes of blood. “Seal up the box, then with all your might jump on top of it until you hear the little bones crunching, and the last suffocated “meow”. I’m astounded and I stare at the boxes. The doctor goes on “Now try to imagine what would happen straight after the broadcast of a scene like that, the justifiably indignant reaction of the world-wide public, the denunciations of the organisations protecting animals…” The doctor goes on with his account and I can’t take my eyes off those boxes placed by my feet. “Israel has enclosed hundreds of civilians in a school as though in a box, dozens of children, and then it squeezed it with all its might using its bombs. And what were the reactions of the world? Almost nothing. You may as well be born an animal rather than Palestinian. We would have been given more protection.” At this point the doctor leans towards the box and takes the lid off in front of my eyes. Inside there are mutilated limbs, arms, legs, from the knee down or whole femurs, amputated from the people injured inside the Al Fakhura United Nations school in Jabalia. Up until now there are more than 50 victims. I pretended I had an urgent telephone call, I told Jamal I had to go, but actually I ran for the toilet, I bent over and threw up.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NewWorldOrderWhistleBlowers3/message/32547

Right now those victims are Syrians. At this moment, the average of 40 victims each day, at times close to 100, belongs to Syria.  “You may as well be born an animal rather than a Syrian. You would have been given more protection.”

Part 1: Who’s afraid of accountability? Getting ethics back on the table

How is it possible that the noble causes of liberation of oppressed peoples has in some ways taken on the connotations of a business venture that has no regard for ethics? Is there even a danger that it is more sinister than that and we are actually witnessing a devastation of the role of activism into actions that resemble pyramid schemes or cons? A closer look at the matter certainly seems like a good idea.

There is a subject of enormous importance in the management of things that are considered to be of “public interest”, be they government, the third sector and companies, and that is the issue of ethics. Ethics has evolved as such a necessary topic even in private industry and corporate management that there is no longer any serious company that has not invested in an approach that makes them “competitive” even regarding ethical conduct, something that mistakenly has at times been considered only a problem for volunteer or non-profit organisations. On the surface ethics may seem abstract and complicated, and thus ignored by the vast public, (allowing the violation of ethical standards to become the norm since they are not even on the table) but ethics are instead really extremely basic and simple to understand and, it goes without saying, essential.

Ethics are not just for philosophy students anymore, they are a fundamental component in any fair social contract, and there are parameters that exist to determine whether or not conduct is ethical or unethical, not only for profit-making activities, but for those involving activism and in those entities that are NGOs. Since we are involved heavily in activities “for causes”, we can’t subtract ourselves from scrutiny regarding ethics.

For a very long time, based on a perceived need to enhance effectiveness regarding causes and mostly in order to remove the governmental (and thus political) interests from things that are considered “charitable” such as environmental and heritage conservation, human and animal rights and global poverty issues, hundreds of thousands of groups have emerged (in fact, given the tax benefits they obtain while collecting money, there is a virtual explosion of them) and set themselves up to accomplish tasks that are separate from governmental control and policy. There is the further advantage in this setup in that they can tap into a greater spectrum of the public (or even a better one) if they are perceived as removed from mainstream political interests, since many people have come to associate politics with special interest groups that seek to obtain power. And again, power itself has the perception as being negative though it is sought fervently. But remember, it is only someone else’s power that is perceived as a threat to the common good.

These charitable groups and NGOs are often run like businesses, and yet, they depend upon private financing or support from foundations without any personal return on investment beyond the image factor in order to administrate and deliver their services, (development programmes, aid and the like). Yet, no matter what it is they do, they would cease to exist without private financing. Usually these services have an aura attached to them that is positive and as such, they are attributed a further layer of values, and it is only with this intangible item (selling power of the idea/value) which they promote heavily that they obtain the private financing necessary for their survival. As an entity that requires money and handles other people’s money, they have to comply with specific standards to be able to operate and also be subject to a different and more favourable tax regime, but they also are expected to adhere to ethical standards that support their mission statement and make whatever is written there as their primary objective. They are “good guys” after all, we believe they are doing charity work with our hard-earned money, money which we freely accept to donate for someone else’s benefit, thus fulfilling various needs, making us feel better that we “save the world” and concretely obtaining material benefit for those who are the beneficiaries. There is an exchange going on that often translates into a kind of symbiotic need for one another and there are thousands of charities that hook us once, but other thousands that have us contributing to them on a regular basis. It can even become an emotional issue and at times we donors identify so deeply with the charity that we buy their stickers to put on our cars, we promote them in social networks and we even start to use their slogans in our speech. We do get a return of sorts from the arrangement, and this is something the charities tap into as part of their campaigns, since group belonging is a timeless social need and doing good for others is a positive human value.

In activism, we can argue back and forth all day about what is ethical and what is not, (some might say that the ends justify any means, but others will disagree) but to cut to the chase, in this paper we are not dealing with the vast and interesting subject of ethics, but simply concentrating on the ethics in the aspect of activism concerning most specifically an economic agreement, determining what is the core of the relationship between the “charitable organisation” and its “lifeblood”, i.e., its donors, and that can be summarised briefly in adherence to several key parameters. These are not in any way based on abstract principles, because if your bank, which is interested in making a profit off of your need to obtain liquidity to live on or loans so that you can develop your own projects (personal or collective) is required to fulfil the obligations of ethical standards, how much more should a charitable organisation be ready and willing to comply with them in order to obtain your support and money with no personal return on your contribution except that feel-good sensation and being able to tell your friends how generous you are!

What are the parameters available for assuring that a charity behaves ethically regarding its donors and members of the organisation? Accountability (being able to justify decisions made, making them in a manner that is in line with core principles and philosophy of the organisation and assuring that the decisions truthfully reflect the adherence to the mission statement or purpose and respect legal and financial norms as well as internal codes of conduct), Transparency (rendering the bookkeeping, organisational structure and purpose available to donors and auditors and even to possible donors so that it is clear how much money is spent where and a level of monitoring and control can be applied), Responsibility (liability towards members, donors, beneficiaries that the work done and the money obtained fulfils the purposes of the mission and responding formally according to statutes and legal norms if there are violations). These principles should be self-evident, but they are far too often lacking in some entities that obtain or spend other people’s money in the name of a cause’s mission statement, (granted that they even have one!). Some leaders of organisations will even insist they are exonerated from meeting these requirements, that they have special status that releases them from compliance to these three core principles, and that is what one can call the idea of exceptionalism, present more often in a cult than in a legitimate charity organisation.  It is logical to assume that this kind of organisation has the tendency of morphing its cause and its actions from one purpose to another, the only consistent element is the leader, and in fact, the leader often finds himself in a no-win confrontation with the members of the organisation, as the “right vs right” dilemma I will describe below does not sublimate into the benefit of the common good but in the predominance of the
individual.

It is obvious that if we are responsible persons, we must be aware and accept that at the basis of those three principles is one core value, honesty. The moment that honesty is lacking or that demands for honesty are met with brutal hostility, one can be certain that ethics are simply not taken into account, or we can assume that they are twisted so that there is no compliance with standards that all can consider obligatory for any social contract, which most of the time is an unspoken (tacit) agreement between parties, but in the case of charity, has a further series of rules and expectations. There is nothing more sickening and disgusting as knowing that money donated to feed the poor is spent in obtaining personal benefits, privileges and power for those who are part of the charity’s organisation. Deviation of resources is the worst possible offense that a charity can commit, and it endangers even “clean”  charities who are painted with the same brush as thieving and unreliable cons. The only way to avoid this charge is full disclosure, as well as it being a legally binding task in most countries, it is also morally necessary to comply with basic ethics.  The charity can only survive as such an entity if it conforms to ethical standards, since we know, the competition for our donations is fierce.

Since I mentioned that we must comply with a social contract, let’s take a step back for one minute and define what a social contract is, and doing that, we need to define what a contract is and realise the vast majority of humanity lives in a contract-based society and that the contracts begin the moment that humans have been weaned, they are not necessarily signed documents, but they are an agreement on the equitability of an exchange (fairness). It is part of our lives and activities on a constant basis. This makes it in our interests to be conscious of what is ethically acceptable in charity which moves dangerously into becoming “the solidarity industry” and what just as dangerously, uses privilege and inequitable contracts as its core value and modus operandi, using outsiders (donors and beneficiaries) as the pawns in a game of profit, and to allow us informed consent before we decide to give to one organisation and not another, conscious of the risks all of this entails.

The basis of social living is the acceptance of transparency of rules and acceptance of the equitableness of agreements made between parties (assuming to live in a society with the rule of law and justice as being fundamental values). In order for people to live in society, they have to know that there is an agreement made for everything, and for the most part, the negotiation of it can be avoided, as the acceptable terms are tacit, but somewhere down the line there are norms and standards that regulate these things. The agreement predates them and almost every single time, it is an agreement that has terms they did not have an active part in establishing.

With free choice, we have continual and constant tacit contracts in all of our activities, and especially those involving money, since they are regulated by law. It is up to us to expect those we are involved with to be legitimate, and to prove that they are legitimate is their moral obligation. There is no exceptionalism where justice is concerned, if there is privilege, we need to be aware of it and then we decide if the privilege can be allowed or not.

If we begin to consider that there are rules for others, but not for us (privilege), we are then indeed not respecting or considering as valid a social contract of equality before the law and society (and these things I am calling laws may only be social mores and values that a certain interest group  considers as essential). If this is the case, we fall on the side of those who are not adhering to ethical standards of justice and equality, and we need to be aware of that. Ethics in anything that seeks consensus or donations in order to exist and function is required to adhere to minimum standards, ones that even businesses for profit have realised they must respect and conform to, since the division between private and public interest has become far less distinct.

It should not surprise us that there are ethics committees for almost all major industries, because not only are they accountable to their shareholders, they are aware that there are laws in the countries they operate in that require disclosure. They also know that internal conflicts, a physiological part of any social construct, which academics categorise as “right versus right” (for instance, in a business ethics situation it is positive to obtain greater profits for their shareholders and have large returns on investments while at the same time it is positive to maintain low prices so that consumers do not abandon their purchasing of these goods and services) can only be resolved by a process known as “entrepreneurial wisdom”, where the “greater good” is striking a balance between the two in the increased perception of one’s own role as party of a “contract” requiring the sublimation of the factional interest. Emerging from these conflicts is the success or failure of what can be considered to be in the end a decisional style that must favour one of the “right” principles at the expense of the other, or instead accepts that there is a benefit in being subject to ethical compliance not only to stay competitive or in business, but because of the acknowledgement of the synthesis between being dependent (part of a system) and independent (individuals and companies). In the end, each party “monitors” the other as well as is affected by the actions of the other, and adjusts behaviour in order to keep the “right vs right” conflict manageable and not destructive.  The rules for this conflict resolution are none other than those basic tools of ethics, accountability, transparency, responsibility. This means that for corporate and commercial society, and even for charities which imply a social contract involving monetary investments or goods and services exchanges of any kind, there should be no question that there is an expectation of compliance with the instruments that are the barometer of ethical conduct in this relationship.

So, that brings us back to the requisites of an ethical charity. Do they comply with the core standards stated earlier? Accountability, transparency and responsibility? How do we check that they are in compliance? By being aware of the levels of disclosure, both internal (within the charity) and external (between the charity and the donors or the charity and the control organisms). If they comply and we agree they are equitable, great, if they do not, they must undergo complete rehaul and assume liablity for damages to trust of donors and beneficiaries, or not continue to exist, taking away vital funding from other legitimate causes and charities and if they do not disclose anything, run for the hills! My conclusions are based on many years of campaigns for fundraising for causes and association with many charitable organisations both in the USA and Europe, with beneficiaries in every continent. I am certain that a legal expert could further explain the basic needs and even add others that I neglect, but in my own experience, these are the requirements to make a group legitimate. It is not like giving money to a friend when we give to a charity, where there is a specific set of minimum standards.

Each organisation or charity that takes collections or accepts donations is bound to draw up a mission statement which defines the entity’s purpose and scope. Those who are part of the organisation will have further contracts or agreements within that organisation which define their roles in within the group in order to obtain the goals of the mission statement. They will determine their limitations, duties, decisional powers as well as entitlements such as compensation (rights and obligations). There is a well-defined organisational structure that is agreed upon, including the
organisation’s terms (until the conclusion of a specific project, until a date, until the collection of a certain amount of donations, forever and ever amen, etc.) and decisional and administration procedures (internal management and accounting up to external auditing procedures which will necessarily mirror the minimum requirements of the laws in force in the country the groups are registered in). They can be compiled in an acts of association or statute, at times they contain annexes laying out the projects clearly with budget estimates and actual feasibility projects with blueprints and the like, but however, they must be explicitly expressed and agreed upon for them to be legally binding in case of dispute, at times they must even cite and reprint the specific legal regulations that support and give legitimacy to the project including obtaining permits and determination of liability for violation of norms. To be clear, having a website may not be considered enough to stipulate a contract of this sort, since sites are subject to change without notice. Organisations and even committees at the very least have an internal organisation that is evident to those within the organisation and may be obtained by external parties upon request if they are in any way public and ask for donations from anyone, and it often would look very boring on a website, but these things should exist. Why? Because shit happens. Money gets diverted, accidents happen, people with power leave organisations and the organisation itself is then challenged as if it is still legitimate or not, organisations change their purpose while maintaining the same name, laws change or there is the violation of laws. Things need to be on paper and it is not a luxury to have them on paper, it is the bare minimum, unless you are a street committee that sells pies to raise funds for someone’s college education.

Those who donate are often unaware of who is behind an organisation, but it has for a long time been established in activist circles that to avoid conflict of interest and association with organisations or donors that could compromise the mission statement, that the body of the organisation is rendered public as well as their compensation. This has now become the norm in charity, and the publication of this information is not a privilege. In fact, it should be expected. Any connection with other organisations is also necessary to obtain for reasons ranging from compliance with local laws to being assured of the validity of the organisation and its track record (if it is able to accomplish the goals of its mission statement or if it is unrealistic and doomed to failure, and thus, to the disintegration of the funds obtained). All of this falls under the concept of ethics and involves the core elements of transparency, accountability and responsibility. So, in addition to being necessary for the needs of activists to be assured that there is correct use of donations, there is a practical basis which makes these things mandatory.

And that is why for years and years, activists are demanding that they obtain accountability. The charismatic leader is no longer enough for most people, unless they have an attraction to the cult of personality, which is how that particular public will be targeted, and especially important in this methodology is assuring that the leader is worthy of such a task. If the leader has a success rate close to zero in fulfilling any of the previous charity purposes his name has been involved in, it might just be a cult and not a bona fide charity.  Success is measured in the cost/expenses vs. gains – in this case the gains are translated in low overhead and maximum use of resources by the beneficiaries. Example, if X amount of money is raised to bring in tonnes of concrete to Gaza, one bag is not going to cut it unless all that was collected was 5 Euros. This is not an acceptable exchange at all, unless all that was raised was 5 Euros, and someone should check if an organisation capable of raising what we spend in coffee each day is worth any investment or if it is a big joke. There are other criteria that are necessary beyond the image of the leader, and they all centre around ethics. There can be bad structures due to inexperience and faulty consulting, there can be deception and mismanagement due to the belief that all that is required is the “I feel good giving my money and you feel good taking it” kind of trust which is an ego-based exchange, but in the middle of it is something as fundamental as the fulfilment of a mission statement that is supposed to benefit the recipients of the charity (the poor or those in need). If they are not the primary and dominant recipients of the donations, it’s time to think really seriously about what is wrong with that charity and ask if it is instead a business using the idea of solidarity to get money.

There is currently a heavy dispute in activism for Palestine where one organisation that has split has been engaged for several months in a battle for legitimacy and donations that were collected by all the people in the organisation. At the end of the day, the only parameter that counts is whether or not there is a legal and ethical basis that will support the claims being made by both sides. That the explosion happened at all was only a matter of time, as this writer and several others were pointing towards the ethical gaps that were not slight cracks but gaping holes in this way of DIY activism that ignores basic rules. If our suggestions and warnings were not heeded, it still might not be too late to rectify for the future and avoid the same errors repeating ad infinitum. Things can be ignored as they have with the other campaigns that never provided accountability and are related in some way by the presence of the same people involved, or it is time that clarity and honesty and truth start to mean something. At this point, the only criteria left is “let’s see the books” for anyone who has donated or anyone who has committed to participating in the charity organisation at any level. Based on transparency, accountability and responsibility, in other words, on ethics, the conflict should be resolved without much room for dispute and in the only way possible, by evidence and adherence to ethics.  There have been some who have been calling the necessary respect of ethics as being “on a witch hunt”, as if there is something wrong in seeking this in actions that are going to have an effect on a cause. This leads this writer to believe that instead of a charity, we are dealing with something that has sinister connotations, a cult, and that will be the topic of the next paper.

Protesters for Libyan freedom in London

It seems like years ago, but only a few months have gone by. The anti-imperialist world raised their virtual glasses in a united toast to the people’s revolutions. When I say this phrase, it seems I need to define every term, so bear with me. I will try to not take any concepts for granted.

The anti-imperialist world as I have come to know it is generally comprised of generally well-to-do intellectual-type folks who engage more time in discourse and social networking than they actually do in developing strategies or training individuals for a radical change in society where local (indigenous) people are their own leaders and determine for their exclusive benefit the policies and economic organisation of their own territory. They however are generally very passionate about the need to seek justice against tyrants and they believe that the people themselves want the same thing, so they do what they can (far from the places themselves) ninety-nine times out of one hundred by raising awareness through their articles, videos, comments, social network activities and fundraisers for more public events to raise awareness (and this cycle continues until it exhausts itself into the next fashionable group of unfortunate others).

With all that awareness-raising, you would be sure that by now, this formidable band of selfless virtual warriors would have convinced all of the world that there is no way on earth that the will of the people should be trampled on and that sooner rather than later, each people will achieve its own autonomy and self-reliance. These people who have concretely moved towards self-liberation might even be so inclined as to bite the hands that looks like it feeds them, if this has to happen for them to truly be free, but an anti-imperialist should never look at his or her own interests as a member of the empire who enjoys the privileges of that status, and should even tolerate great levels of aggression against the empire he calls home.

That said, when first Tunisia, then Egypt, began staging independent demos to demand change in their government systems, inspired by their sheer numbers, they seemed to be fully successful. There was bloodshed among civilians, but it ended, and this was a revolution that was almost like a dream, almost too easy and certainly so full of promise and hope. It even adopted the name that will remain with it for all time, “Arab Spring”, the long-awaited renewal of Arabhood connected to the idea of development of a new society that was going to put people before anything else. That it gained support at a global level probably was intrinsic to its success.

Protesters in Gaza

How did that happen? Well, we all know it was through mass communications, some of it entirely spontaneous between those directly involved, and some of it presented to a wider community to enlist their sympathies and support. It was the fact that the world was watching that perhaps hastened the demise of Ben Ali and Mubarak, and it could also be the fact that a barrier of fear had been broken. Make no mistake, I have been  documenting Egyptian uprisings for at least 3 years, and there are others who like me were not under the impression that Egyptians were passively accepting a lack of political expression and a worsening social crisis. Several of us had commented that it was necessary to break through the impression that Egyptians were incapable of rebellion and to show that there was the emergence of a protest movement that was non-confessional, and was tying together the idea of the rebirth of Arabhood as well as an Egyptian national identity that was as vibrant as the Egyptian people. We could have been some of the few who were not surprised by the revolution, but what did surprise us was the enablement that  this gave to nearby peoples.

Living in the European country closest to Libya and with a colonial past which as recently as 1972 has seen mass expulsions of Libyans of Italian descent, whatever happens in Libya is going to be felt directly. In the past years, hundreds of boats full of refugees have headed toward our shores,  and as has been documented thoroughly, the Libyan regime had utilised the African migrants as a playing card to obtain many things from Italy. The Africans who were brought to Libyan Migrant Detention Centres were actually imprisoned there, and the thought of dying at sea on unsafe and overcrowded ships was a risk almost all of them were desirous to take after months of torment from the military and police branches of the Libyan government. There were truckloads of them driven to the confines of the desert and left there to die, documented by Italian film crews, who were concerned about lives in the face of the “Bilateral Agreements” so that Gaddafi could keep a foothold in Italy’s economy and obtain “aid” worth billions of Euros for infrastructure (some of it I can personally testify was for bunkers), weaponry and telecommunications in exchange for a policy of limiting African immigration from Libyan shores.

Gaddafi’s racism thought it found another foothold in the sensitivities of the Italian government, and his words were carefully used to obtain what he  wanted, a combination of greed and rank racism that I witnessed few anti-imperialists getting upset about.  It deserves being read word by word:

“Europe runs the risk of turning black from illegal immigration, it could turn into Africa. We need support from the European Union to stop this army trying to get across from Libya, which is their entry point. At the moment there is a dangerous level of immigration from Africa into Europe and we don’t know what will happen. What will be the reaction of the white Christian Europeans to this mass of hungry, uneducated Africans? We don’t know if Europe will remain an advanced and cohesive continent or if it will be destroyed by this barbarian invasion. We have to imagine that this could happen but before it does we need to work together.”

Gaddafi's recent "Rome By Night" outing

Gaddafi would come to Italy, honoured by Silvio Berlusconi and the best that the Italian government had to offer by way of hospitality, in order to seal more deals and to re-establish that these two neighbours had the same interests at heart: especially a thirst for petroleum and a provider who would make sure there would be preferential treatment under certain conditions, including keeping Europe white. Berlusconi was also an honoured guest in Libya, promising billions of Euros for schools, retirement homes, infrastructure and other things. It is curious that those continually claiming Libya was fulfilling all of its people’s needs on its own seem to not question why they would need so very much Italian money to do what they claim has already been done. During these visits, our news shows were almost suffering an embarrassment at how to represent it. The feelings run deep, and we had known of the abuses that were going on in Libya. Many of us know Libyans, some of them in exile, “You mean  you can’t go back? What do you mean you can’t go back?” Others who come on scholarships and seem to never want to talk about politics either. I would joke with two friends (one in each category) and call it the Libyan black hole. However, both would easily admit that Libya could be much more than it is, if only it could have the chance for that.

So, I watched the revolutions with other anti-imperialists, and the Libyan revolution had quite a few of us excited at the first moments because  Libya is not a Middle Eastern country and it also has ambiguous and collaborative relations with the empire, and with my nation in particular. I  was naively convinced that true anti-imperialists would welcome the will of the people as sovereign and that the information constantly withheld from us regarding many human rights violations would cause one of those powerful moments of decision: supporting an action that really was going to mean conflict and risk for my own nation. As February 17th approached, (with its planned march in Benghazi of the family members of the 1,200 political prisoners of Abu Salim who had been executed by Gaddafi ) I noticed that a few would start to say it was not a real revolution because a) it was against a leader who claimed to be anti-imperialist, b) it was a tribal conflict that we should not take part in, as it would lead to division of Libya (as if they actually knew or cared!), c)the protesters had some problems that did not make them revolutionary, with the sub-groups of 1) they are seeking the restoration of the monarchy, 2) they are religious fanatics that will turn back the clock on progressive revolutions and make Libya a theocratic state. I asked them if they had the right to determine when a revolution was valid and when it was not, and I was surprised to hear that they were putting conditions on the support of a people, and didn’t they notice the people were demanding their freedom?

I started to check into all my favourite anti-imperialist sites, most of the relevant articles indicated to me by friends on Facebook, and lo and behold, most of these were articles by Westerners. If I had kept count, and I should have, I would have the evidence in front of me that out of 100 articles perhaps 3 were actually penned by Libyans. I got to wondering what was happening when I had been reading and hearing the reports from Benghazi by Mohamed Nabbous, killed by Gaddafi’s squadrons and in the many comments surrounding these interventions, and noticed the enormous gulf in what the Pundits were saying, and what Libyans were saying. It was as if there were two worlds colliding. All of these people claimed to love freedom and to want to do anything necessary to obtain it, but there was that nasty issue of Gaddafi actually threatening to exterminate those who tried. At this point, one would think that this would be enough for one to firmly side with the Libyan people and wonder what the pundits were going on about.

And, at this time, many things entered the scene, such as NATO, which all of us detest, and transitional governments and Libyan officials abandoning their leader and an upsurge in refugees flooding into Tunisia and war and death in the land that only a few weeks before was the next domino with a tyrant’s face that had to be knocked down.

We read of infiltrations of Al Qaeda, (this was what Gaddafi claimed the Thuwar (“rebels” to those who hate them and “freedom fighters” to those who love them), of deals with Empire, of CIA infiltrates and anything else that you can imagine by way of establishing that those who were commemorating the massacre of their loved ones and who were massacred while doing so were SO BAD and if we supported them, we were dupes. I guess it would take a very self-assured person to still want to see the Thuwar and indeed the people opposing Gaddafi in a decent light.

Already involved in a few discussion groups regarding the events in the region, I was invited by friends to join a few private mostly-Libyan discussion groups. I wanted to observe the discourse, and since my sympathies and antipathies were known to me, but not backed up by enough concrete information, I took it as my “personal fact finding mission” to learn as much as I could about the situation from Libyans. Indeed, the discussions in these groups are lively, and shockingly, almost everyone in the groups (which are by no means small either) has a martyr for the cause and has family living in conditions of siege. It is quite a shocker to log in and see someone receiving condolences for his father, his uncle, her brother, a daily litany of suffering and loss… And even more shocking was the coming into contact with a world I should have been more aware of, that of the acceptance of the will and wisdom of God.

Yes, religion plays a big part in many of these struggles, and while this is not a religious war, (and all Libyans practice the same religion for the most part), the element of faith and perseverance that these people surely learned from over four decades of negation of their political freedom is omnipresent. I would also peek into Pro-Gaddafi boards and oddly, there was a sort of violence and lack of humanity that were not even hidden very well. It became almost apparent to me that there was a lot more to this situation than meets the eye.

I got into discussions with American Communists (self-proclaimed, naturally) and leftists in general and when they started to stress that they didn’t like the religious symbolism that they were seeing (as if their taste was going to matter) I had to ask them why they thought they knew better than the Libyans what was best for Libyans. I was told that the Libyans would put the monarchy in. I stated that the TNC issued a statement and it was supported by those I was discussing things with, that there were to be elections and there was going to be an establishment of democracy. These AC + Leftists told me that the Libyans were dupes for the empire and religious fanatics and that if they were not working for a world revolution but for a repressive and authoritative patriarchal set-up, and thus, as AC + Leftists, the Libyans would not be worthy of obtaining their support. I thought that was some cheek. So what I decided to do was to serve as a filter, I invited Libyans to use my board to engage with these anti-imperialists, and many willingly did so. They presented the Libyan point of view, they were kind, patient and tried to explain what the situation was so that it could be understood.

I admit I was shocked at the violent verbal reactions they got. I admit it was the classic Western Pundit thing of orientalism and ignoring the voice of the common man if that common man was not “politically advanced”. It was the thing I see time and again in Palestine activism: the great Western hero (usually white, male, often Christian or Jewish) determines that he or she knows what is best and becomes the spokesman and mouthpiece for Palestinians. It is denial of Palestinian agency, but it is so common and so normal that we tend to not notice it as the alarming trend it is.

McKinney not looking too objective there.

Working for the Man

So, when Cynthia McKinney stepped onto the scene, it is as if the secret prayers of the Gaddafi supporters who also are against the Libyan people’s revolution (they want to deny it’s what it is, but they are unable to turn off our memory cells that far back) had been answered. Black, female, present in the past in brave gestures for Palestine, outspoken against the robbery of the Democratic vote in the Bush elections, pacifist and they can plug their noses on the fact that she actually might represent empire by being involved in the presidential elections as a candidate and as a Roman Catholic. She does fine to complain against NATO abuses and even their involvement, but to become the mouthpiece of Gaddafi went above and beyond the call of duty, even going so far as to follow the game plan he provided while establishing the proper narrative to put forth. She did this as well on Libyan State TV, yes, the same state TV that has been accused by Libyans as sending out calls for ethnic cleansing of the Amazigh people (a linguistic minority in Libya) and those living in cities where protesting became resistance and then revolution.

And it seems, once again, we have thousands of eyewitnesses who the anti- imperialists, Leftists, American Communists refuse to listen to or when they are given the opportunity censor them or hurl insults their way, but when an American “eyewitness” (who has been shown where the Gaddafi cronies have taken her and nowhere else) speaks, she is the one who must be listened to, because she will not change anything, because she has no loved ones there, so whatever happens is politics, because she will have her hardcore followers and for all the ones she loses, she will pick up more, sensing where the anti-imperialist (banter) winds blow, feeding the fundraising machine for awareness-raising in an endless cycle. Those who actually are Libyans are treated to the usual “shut up” that is reserved for “counter-revolutionaries”. All from the comfort of these Western Anti-Imperialist homes far away from where the blood is being shed.

So what is my final remark to anti-imperialists, that group which I had felt I had proudly belonged to for decades? Quit lecturing with such an attitude of cultural colonialism and start listening to those who are actually the directly interested party. Answer them at least once when they ask  what alternative you would have offered when it was clear that their people were being violently crushed. Realise they are not interested in anything but their own freedom, and that includes freedom from you and your ideology and platitudes that contain nothing concrete for them to use towards obtainment of their freedom. If the anti-imperialists can’t understand that, then Khalas, because shutting up is golden.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

No state is benefiting from Israel’s estrangement from Turkey more than Greece. Israel’s ties to Greece have been strengthening on an almost daily basis. It should be remembered that Greece initially withdrew from joint military exercises with Israel in protest at the raid. But within a few months, Greece was hosting senior members of the IDF, including navy head Eli Marom (who ordered the Mavi Marmara attack), and Israel’s PM and his wife.
http://multimedia.jta.org/images/multimedia/bibius_0/F100817GPO05_m.jpg

“We see the (European) market expanding to the Mediterranean and certainly we would like to integrate Israel into this European market,” said Prime Minister George Papandreou. “I think this is vital for Israel’s economy but also for its strategic security. “Last month, Greek’s PM promised visiting Jewish American leaders that Athens would help Israel forge even CLOSER ties with the European Union, particularly through gaining access to European markets. Not a word about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians or even the detention of 30 Greek activists on board Mavi Marmara. A non-issue!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gheddafi and Chavez

If one, like myself, is raised with the love of “the worker” and “the people” which exceeds any love of a party, an ideology or even a nation, it is difficult to really fit in with any established left. While the left claims that it seeks power of the people, too many times its public statements make it clear that the people to protect are instead the people already in power, despite what they might actually have to do in order to maintain that power.

In the past, I have been critical of the massive investments Fidel Castro allowed to be made by Rafi Eitan and have been told that expressing how wrong the policy of “anything at all to uphold the Cuban revolution is good, even if it means trampling on Palestinians” was. I was accused of siding with dissident Cubans. It seems that there is a belief that this leader is beyond criticism.

Again, when I have criticised Ahmadinejad (who is not a leftist leader, but currently a leader some of the anti-imperialists who do not accept pan-Arabism look to as being “the voice of truth”) for the lack of what I consider political savvy in some of his speeches and how easily they are used to deflect attention to Israel as victim and away from Palestine as real victim, I have been accused of being a Zionist… and to my eyes, the automatism of Ahmadinejad=the real anti-Zionist seems like rote dogmatism without true reflection of what precisely Iran’s role in the region’s in/stability might be. Iran deserves to be free of all instrumentalisation and to have a truly autonomous and independent domestic and foreign policy, no matter if Ahmadinejad is the leader or not, but those in the West who insist upon singing the praises of Ahmadinejad as a symbol and condemning those who don’t are using simpleton logic and do nothing that is different from those who use him as the banner for what is evil.

Today my inbox has gotten another jolt. It seems that the “Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity” is supporting Muammar Gheddafi and accusing the uprising in Libya as being the work of foreign services. Like classic dogmatic leftist propaganda, their press release attempts to equate the person of Gheddafi with the nation of Libya. Like all pieces of dogmatic propaganda, it contains some elements of truth, such as lamenting the lack of media attention for the crimes against humanity committed against the Palestinian people as well as the tendency of the forces of power in the West to attempt to hijack any popular movement and take control of it. As well, its statements about Gheddafi’s son being a benefactor in an NGO are also true, as his foundation donated 180 vehicles to the Viva Palestina mission as well as having assumed the exaggerated costs of the doomed and ill-planned Road to Hope Convoy, which did not factor in the amount of money to actually bring the goods to Gaza by boat, as is (unfortunately in these horrible times we live in) the only means possible. However aside from some facts and truth in the press statement, the core truth is that once again, the “left” sides by the power of a leader who states himself to be anti-imperialist, (despite evidence to the contrary) and instead tyrannically controls the business and wealth in a sort of State Capitalism where only a few gain and where democracy is seen as counter to the interests of the State. 

It is sufficient to read the press statement to see that the great blindspot blocking many who speak in the name of the “left” is a lack of awareness of the unstoppable force and legitimacy of the Arab masses. People in the MENA lands are divided into nations, religions, political orientation so that they can be used for a huge variety of dogmatic reasons. This is done even by their friends and supporters who neglect a very basic reality – unity across every artificial divide. There are those who blame/praise the recent uprisings on Islam, but that is again untrue. Though these are nations with a vast Muslim population, the uprisings are not religious rallies and are indeed joined by Muslim groups, but not lead by them, just as they are joined by internationalist groups, but are not lead by them. It is simply the power of human beings who live in the “Middle East” and North Africa who are demanding their political and human rights. It is their identification as a united front which brings them en masse to the largest squares in their countries, allows them to face bravely the very real threat of bodily harm and even death. 

It is the Arab human being who is being buried on the beaches of Tripoli, the cemeteries of Soussa, Manama and Cairo. It is the Arab human being who is arrested in Palestine for sharing his or her solidarity with other humans fighting for their rights. There is no limit of age, sex, religion, political credo or even social class. There is one uniting factor, the factor of Arabhood, Arab Consciousness that is drawing these people to demand to have a say in their own future and to construct their own country, and protect it for all the nationals abroad who are in exile or diaspora, ousting corrupt and tyrannical leaders who have at times used patriotism of the nation to inspire “brand loyalty” to the leader. 

Yet, these same feelings of patriotism, the beloved flags of all the independent nations, are being waved in a mass statement of unity. Arab people are supporting other Arab people across the globe, seeking to empower the individual national struggles in the name of Arabhood and humanity as a whole. The Algerian, the Moroccan, the Jordanian, the Tunisian, the Iraqi, the Egyptian and all the other national identities are not abandoned, but are instead joined together in solidarity as a sole people rising up against any outside forces or internal pressure that seeks to strip them of their power and determination to be the protagonists of their own stories. 

Just as it is wrong and improper to impose sanctions against a people to bring down a leader, as is attempted from the West and the imperialist powers (US and EU sanctions against Iran, Iraq, Gaza, to name only some), it is also wrong to have attempted to call for an economic boycott of Egypt to bring down Mubarak. To boycott an Arab nation at this time, as is expected soon from the USA towards Libya, never brings down the leader, it only weakens the masses and makes them further victimised by the oppressive powers, their own and those from outside. Boycotts are to change policy, not to bring down leaders, and they do nothing but increase suffering to the population which does not possess any kind of powers or economic clout. 

So the left, rather than support Gheddafi, should condemn the proposed boycott of Libya while at the same time accept the power of the people and abandon the dogmatism of the charismatic “revolutionary leader” when it is evident that his leadership is in place only by means of oppression. I would expect that true revolutionaries and leftists will ignore the appeal of the Chavez Foundation and will take their place alongside the Arab people in their struggle for freedom. 

(thank you Ali Baghdadi for bringing this missive to my attention).   

HUGO CHAVEZ INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR PEACE, FRIENDSHIP AND SOLIDARITY

HCI-FPFS

“To love one’s neighbor is also to love one’s enemy. Although in reality that qualifier-‘enemy’ does not exist in my vocabulary. I recognize that I only have adversaries and I have acquired the capacity to love them because in this way we do away with violence, wrath, vengeance, hatred and substitute them with justice and forgiveness.” 
Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet Gonzalez (1999)

Press Statement                                                                       23 February, 2011.

Bamako, Republic of Mali                    Tel: 00223-6413027.

This is the second statement to the Press issued by the Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCI-FPFS), in the light of the situation in Libya. It is no more a secret to state in this Press Release that foreign powers, opposed to peace, unity and progress of Africa are in action again, leading a wicked campaign of treachery, deception and terrorism against Libyan leader, Muammar Al-Qathafi and the people of Libya. This time, the enemies of Africa are hiding behind the corrupt foreign media in their criminal attempts to attack and destroy Libya.

The international conspiracy to destroy Muammar Al-Qathafi through a carefully-calculated media frenzy constitutes the burden of each of our position statement on current events in Libya, especially the wide, vicious, hypocritical gap between the US and Western powers’ “democratic” avowal and the state terrorism associated with the activities of these so-called civilized nations towards the people of Africa, Middle East, the Caribbean and Latin America. In the first place, the Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace,
Friendship and Solidarity (HCI-FPFS) wonders how British Foreign Secretary William Hague can feel so comfortable in the company of anti-Libyan organized crime groups that seek the devastation and destruction of Libya. For instance, it was the British Foreign Secretary-turned-coat anti-Libyan, anti-Qathafi, anti-Africa, anti-Arab, anti-Hugo Chavez, anti-Venezuelan whom led the malicious lie to the world that Libyan leader Muammar Al-Qathafi had ran away and sought refuge in Venezuela. The malicious lie was doctored at a time British Prime Minister David Cameron was on an unannounced visit to Egypt, ostensibly to urge the military junta in Cairo to respect the so-called timetable for holding elections.

The other lies, deceptions and ill-thought-out propaganda associated with the ongoing anti-Libyan campaign in the corrupt media include the following misguided allegations, that:

LIBYAN WAR PLANES BOMBED CIVILIANS.

It is innuendos and reckless dissipation for any foreign government, organization or the corrupt media to suggest that the competent authorities in Tripoli used Libya’s fighter jet planes against Libyan civilians. It has never happened and there is no evidence to convince any sane person to believe that the Government of Muammar Al-Qathafi ever used fighter planes against the Libyan people, since the dawn of the era of the Great September 1st Al-Fateh Revolution in 1969. As a matter of fact, there are all evidences available to conclude that the Government of Muammar Al-Qathafi does not need importing foreign mercenaries to protect Libyan life and property against the terrorist activities of organized crime groups and the corrupt media.

It is now clear that the “corrupt international media” disproportionately covers human rights violations in Libya beyond an attempted distraction from the actual situation on the North African nation. For example when Israeli army massacred Palestinian men, women and children in the occupied Arab lands and territories, there is little media coverage compared to the coverage generated over the drown attacks directed by the White House in Washington against tribes men, women and children in Afghanistan. The extrajudicial execution of Egyptian opposition leaders by US/Israeli trained agents of former government of the disgraced dictator Hosni Mubarrak was not covered by the “corporate media” despite it being a heinous crime against humanity. We assert that, the assumption that Libyan fighter planes deployed by the Libyan Government against civilians is without basis. This is further evidence that the corporate media’s claims about happenings in Libya are without substance.

SAIF AL-ISLAM QATHAFI THREATENED THE LIBYAN PEOPLE.

The corporate media got it wrong from the beginning when it made and repeated the claim that Saif Al-Islam Qathafi, the President of the Gadafi Foundation threatened the Libyan people. When weighing the claims of the corporate media against the President of the Gadafi Foundation, one should look at Saif Al-Islam’s background. This is a man who leads a respectable Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), the Gadafi Foundation that has been instrumental in enforcing the principles of the Green Charter International (GCI), for peace, human rights, rule of law, democracy, freedom and human dignity in Libya and world over.

Saif Al-Islam’s statement on attempts by criminals to rob the Libyan people of their peace, freedom and dignity was crystal clear and made to urge the Libyan people to resist any foreign attempts to destroy their country. The accusations against Sail Al-Islam are false and reveal that the corporate media is ever willing to blatantly lie in order to attempt to damage the reputation and illuminating personality of Sail Al-Islam.

Thus far we have seen how a simple, clear-cut national security case became a wider, more serious problem through unwillingness on the part of the enemies of Libya to respect the sovereignty and independence of the North African nation. Instead they (the enemies of Libya) deliberately buried facts and began a campaign of gossip, tale bearing and slander against Sail Al-Islam. We have also learned how the US and Western imperialists encouraged the corporate media’s anti-Libya terrorism by listening to their unfounded and baseless allegations and treating them as true.

NO FLY ZONE RHETORIC.

A number of heretics, racists and anti-Libyans have gone mad and resorted to advocate for a “no fly zone” be imposed on Libya. The objective, it is now clear-to create a corridor for aggression and violation of Libya’s sovereignty and integrity. Those who advocate for this subversive action plan are themselves collaborators of organized crime groups intending to destroy Libya.

On whether Muammar Al-Qathafi is in control of Libya, we would leave it to the sane international community to read the writings on the wall. There is no gain saying the fact Muammar Qathafai is well, kicking and performing his duties as Leader and Guide of the Revolution, and remains the legitimate leader of the Libyan masses. The Libyan Government is fully in control of its country’s internal situation, and as repeatedly said by Muammar Qathafi, the Libyan Government would not sit idle and allow any body pursue vested personal agendas, or derail the country from path of economic prosperity and sustained development.

The competent authorities in Tripoli have undertaken full duties and responsibilities through decisive action in the face of a well planned international covert agenda, and managed to restore security and protect human life and property in Libya. The US and Western governments hate-filled attacks on Colonel Muammar Qathafi are mere “propaganda” aimed at diverting growing international concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Iraq, occupied Palestine, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Anger and frustration at the collapse of the anti-Arab, pro-zionist regime in Egypt is completely understandable and shared by us, in the Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCI-FPFS), yet that anger must not be directed at destroying.

Concluding we call upon the civilized international community to exert pressure on the military junta in Cairo not to allow any part of Egypt be use as staging posts for the destabilization of Libya.

Signed:………………………….

Alimamy Bakarr Sankoh

President of the Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCI-FPFS),

For, and on behalf of the Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCI-FPFS).

This subject’s always been on my mind, but I felt that I really have to write about it after the 25th of January and how the former president and his gang succeeded in making many of our fellow Egyptian citizens turn against us and our revolution. I started with searching about definitions of Brainwashing (AKA Mind Control) and how it started and when, so bear with me a little during this short journey through definitions and historical background.

Brainwashing is a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas or the application of a concentrated means of persuasion, such as an advertising campaign or repeated suggestion, in order to develop a specific belief or motivation. Alternatively, it simply refers to a process in which a group or individual “systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator(s), often to the detriment of the person being manipulated”. The term has been applied to any tactic, psychological or otherwise, which can be seen as subverting an individual’s sense of control over their own thinking, behavior, emotions or decision making. The world started talking about it during the Korean War and after many American soldiers became defected to the enemy’s side after becoming prisoners of war.

Now allow me to proceed with ordered questions and answers.

Who supported Mubarak?

1-        Climbers, parasites and those who have a relation of “mutualism” with the regime.

2-        Emotional people (and they are too many, unluckily). Those who love the person of “Mubarak” as an Egyptian figure and idol, those who shed tears during his speeches and a word can turn their opinions 180 degrees.

3-        The Brainwashed, and they had several flags, each represents one of the lies or viruses installed on their brains as I’ll explain later.   

What were the means of brainwashing during the reign of Mubarak?

I guess everyone knows the answer of this question, in a third world country like Egypt you don’t have many choices, people are simple and so are the means of brainwashing them. Media in general; TV, radio, newspapers. Simple means don’t necessarily mean simple techniques.

What are the most common techniques followed?

Repetition:  A simple but very effective way, it’s even used in Marketing! Make the customer see your product every second on TV, hear about it every second on the radio, read about it in every newspaper and his mind will accept it and want to buy it, same concept.

One of the techniques they depend on (and Egypt is such a fertile land for it) is making a rumor out of something they really want to do and it’ll find its way to every Egyptian ear in few hours! Your sister tells you and you tell your friend who tells his mother who tells her aunt and so on, at some point you’ll hear the rumor everywhere you go and for many days then sooner or later you accept is as a fact. Example: They wanted to make Mubarak the son the future president of Egypt and they released a rumor, the rumor spread and began to be part of every Egyptian discussion for months and years till some people surrendered and began to accept it as a fact, as a reality, fait accompli.

Assault on identity:  They kept focusing on the ancient Egyptian Pharaonic heritage and identity and did marginalize other eras or periods when councils or those elected or loved rulers existed, they kept consolidating the idea of the worshipped ruler with all the powers, the god king, they make you totally in peace with Totalitarianism.

Guilt:  They make you feel so guilty that you hate yourself, lose hope and self confidence. Example: you are 80 million human beings, you keep reproducing, you are the reason we can’t feed you, you are the reason of the bad education, you are the reason that the country is poor and you stole the pants of Homer Simpson! They make you reach a state of self-betrayal.

Breaking Point:  That’s when you are nothing but a wreck, that’s when you are raw again, that’s when you keep wondering about who you are and what you should do, and of course they’ll have the answers for you, they’ll fill your head with what they want and persuade you to do what they want too.

What are the biggest lies in the reign of Mubarak?

Mubarak is the wisest leader one earth (no comment).

Without Mubarak, chaos will prevail, we don’t have others who can lead (you insult Egypt and the whole Egyptian nation by saying this, there’s no single man with leadership skills and political awareness among 80 million citizens? epic fail).

Mubarak is the hero of the 6th of October war (Did Mubarak make the war plan? Did he fight in field or in air? Army leaders do not fight as I know, true heroes are those who died, got injured, and are those who fought).

The reason for all the problems in Egypt is that Egyptians make love everyday and bring new babies to the crowded country (I’m against having many babies but for god’s sake! Some countries exceed the double of our population, have less resources of income and they are living in prosperity, democracy and peace).

We can’t open our borders with Palestine because all Palestinians will leave their land to settle here and destroy our economy (no comment).

Uncountable lies, no space or time to mention all of them.

Prevention is better than treatment, how can we protect ourselves from Brainwashing?

Always make sure to write your goals in a notebook or something, always remember them, add to them, and edit them if necessary. Constantly visualize your goals.

Always smile, yes smile.

Stay positive and find the full half of the cup no matter what happens.

Stick to things that motivate you!

Pay more attention to your spiritual side.

Don’t be a loner! Make sure you have some good friends with some concepts, standards and goals in common between you and them.

Be more selective, throw your TV away and instead of letting them decide what you watch, go watch whatever “you” decide on the internet.