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Welcome Mustafa! We know who hurt you!

Posted: 01/22/2022 by editormary in Uncategorized
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Italian author Roberto Saviano has shared this picture with the following commentary on Facebook. Of course, the Assad regime fans in Italy go into full-on denial, but there is not a word in the caption to his picture that is untrue. (Translated in English below)

“Mustafa, this child who wonderfully smiles in his father’s arms, was not mutilated, he was born without hands and without arms [and legs]. The malformations were caused by the gases inhaled by his mother during Assad’s bombings. The Syrian regime has dumped its chemical arsenal on the country’s civilian population.

This shot, “Hardship of life” by Mehmet Aslan, portrays Mustafa and his father in a refugee camp. Mustafa’s father lost a leg due to a barrel bomb dropped from a regime helicopter.

Last year, this photo last year won the Siena International Photo Award (SIPA), and, thanks to SIPA itself that organised a fundraiser, yesterday Mustafa and his family were able to disembark at Fiumicino airport and will be welcomed in their new home made available by Caritas and the Archdiocese. At the Budrio Prosthesis Centre, little Mustafa will have his limbs given back to him.

The war in Syria continues, though completely forgotten. For years, most Italian populists have argued that the use of gas was a lie, despite evidence brought by independent bodies and hundreds of journalistic investigations. The Assad dictatorship has remained standing thanks to the propaganda of those who claim it’s better to keep him than to be getting ISIS, but in reality, Assad has destroyed any hope of democratic life. It is Assad who has destroyed the democratic Syrian spring that sought to create a secular and free democracy in Damascus. It is Assad who has driven many of the opponents of his regime to flee in exile or enlist in the ranks of Islamist troops.

Assad is among the worst tyrants history has ever known, yet he enjoys a strange fortune: to have managed to be considered a “lesser evil” compared to ISIS; having obtained protection from the Putin regime without facing a real contrast from Western democracies; and to have clung to power at least until the pandemic wiped Syria out of the media narrative.”

📸 @mehmetaslan.photoarts

Photo: Il Fatto Quotidiano

Written by Mary Rizzo
Italy is probably going to get another major lockdown. After weeks of closure of many things in the cities, to contain the spread of this deadly disease, “suddenly” it looks like a normal Christmas. Streets resemble oceans of people, exactly like they always have in years before the plague. Yes, I repeat that… in the days when the recommendation is to lower the risk by giving the virus less hosts to infect, the streets in major cities were as full as any Christmas in the past. But, did this human flood violate the restrictions? Absolutely not. People were actually encouraged to go to the shopping districts and to purchase something in at least 10 stores, because that was how they were being “rewarded” by a special bonus (with public money earmarked for it) that was supposed to help all those shops closed during lockdown and restrictions and give a boost to the economy in the period when the fate of businesses is sealed by sales that are the equivalent to a quarter of their annual turnover. The “Cashback” was announced during the televised speech by the Prime Minister to present the measures to contain the spread of the disease, and to illustrate the exceptional lockdown measures on three of the key days (when stores are closed but families traditionally gather). We were again to be told that the government was working hard on saving the health system and the economy, so we had to take these sacrifices in stride (the tradition of the family gathering would be affected due to a restriction on leaving town) but we were also being offered the carrot of discounted shopping with a scheme to prevent the use of cash and the tracing purchase through credit cards and debit cards, to fight tax evasion.

All of that stick and carrot that every Italian is used to would even have been somehow acceptable if that speech were not given on that single day when almost 1,000 Italians died from Covid. The bland measure to encourage shopping was announced in pompa magna, as if THIS was what we had been waiting for, in a week when the deaths were climbing, but all of our awareness of death has been tranformed into waiting for the number shown on the screen every evening, when they announce the statistics, and feeling a twinge of pain, but also jumping immediately into “analysis of the trend”.

Death has become nothing but a statistic if you are an ordinary Italian, and rather than acknowledge this “event” of at least one or two jumbo jets of Italians dropping off into the sea every day, the PM unveiled a rebate system for shopping in physical stores. He made absolutely no mention of the deaths. The deaths from Covid, and therefore, deaths in general, have become normalised and the trend to ignore them has continued. It was deemed more important to our well-being, morale and society to give us the hope of €15 back on a purchase of €150, and if we want to enjoy the full extent of the measure, to spend €150 in ten different stores. Not online stores, stores in cities, where people are all clamouring for gifts to give their loved ones and need to see them before the holidays because on the 24th and 25th they will be prohibited from doing that.

When people get mixed messages, and what the government gave to us was a mixed message, they ignore the part that they don’t feel is convenient and they are still doing the right thing, because they are respecting the law in fact and in principle. And now, talk is ongoing of a corrective lockdown measure because people “exaggerated” by actually going shopping as they had been encouraged to do. When someone is upset, they fall into mechanisms to feel better. “Shopping therapy” is something a lot of distressed and traumatised Westerners are familiar with. But they also recognise that they are reacting to a negative event or a trauma, and shopping alleviates feelings of loss.

But the people of this country have undergone a trauma that they are not allowed to actually process in the natural and normal way. They are not allowed to discuss it because, “the holidays”, “the economy”. No other country in Europe has been so hard hit by Covid. There are quite a few reasons for it, including the economy of Italy that is so dependent on tourism, culture and the movement of people, all aspects of life and the economy that took a beating or even have been slaughtered. Given the population density and lack of employment opportunities, Italian social life is largely spent outdoors and with a “promiscuity” of generations, with grandparents taking on a role of babysitters. Even the physical proximity and gestures of greeting that involve the handshake together with the kiss on both cheeks have been radically altered in the space of only a few months. You would think it is difficult to strip a culture of such an ingrained habit, but it isn’t. People can adapt if they need to, they do get used to it and they change. If it means survival, yes, you change. But the suffering soul of the Italians has not been addressed. The need to mourn, the acknowledgement of the loss of loved ones, all of this has not been in any way addressed.

It is a trauma for a country that loses so many people to see their citizens represented solely as a statistic, with merely a few exceptions, which I will mention later. In Italy, during the first wave there was the shock that this virus had actually taken hold here and turned so deadly so fast. There was a feeling of grief that the entire country felt at the death toll, watching our hospitals being converted into places where many entered just to die, where the only services were life support for Covid patients, and this kept the lockdown going. Every time you heard an ambulance, your heart ached, every time a helicopter flew overhead you knew that was because your local hospital had all the beds full and this was someone being brought to a place to die far from home. The only traffic in those days was a traffic of death and police, to enforce the lockdown. Because you knew that death was involved as well as the weight on the healthcare system, people quickly complied and the disease was nearly eradicated after almost 3 months of enforced quarantine on an entire country of “individualists”. But in the second wave, when the deaths are at peaks unheard of back in the Spring, talk of death has been erased. Higher numbers of deaths do not automatically repeat the mental process of the Spring, because the government cannot save the economy from an even worse depression if they close the country down again. It is the economy that is front and centre in the discourse. Sickness and death are just statistics mentioned a few times during the news.

If a country does not allow its people to process the death of their loved ones, because in addition to the lack of funerals, there is an absence of memorial services, there is a mutation to the natural order of things, which have historically included the acceptance and awareness of death as an event every family would face many times, bringing them together to contemplate and support one another. It always involved a period of mourning to process the sudden painful separation from those we love. One of the main victims of Covid is the status death has been given and the way it has been shoved out of our awareness as a reality and exists only as a statistic.

The end of life is only “acknowledged” and celebrated if you are a football star. We have just witnessed the televised funeral in a stadium of Paolo Rossi, the hero of the World Cup in 1982, and this happened just weeks after the death of another football legend that meant a great deal to Italians, Maradona. Neither of them died of Covid, since death finds other ways to abruptly end a life. There were television specials and the usual amount of mystification of their (real or imagined) heroism. Everyone knows and accepts the wild trajectory of Maradona, his tarnished personal life was vastly compensated in the public opinion by his great talent. It’s a good idea to draw the sums on what he meant to this country and to the spirit of an area that felt he was lifting them from a kind of misery, but inserted within a culture that was more than capable of a Hosanna on a Sunday and a crucifixion of the same saviour the following Friday. When his dedication to his own national team prevented him from accepting the defeat his Italian home turf public thought was owed to them, he was dismissed as rapidly as possible and the tax authorities sent him running. His substance abuse, which was not a problem earlier, was suddenly an issue. The blind eye was blind no more when he could be chewed up and spat out. But, at least, he played that match of matches fairly. He did not cater to anything but to a sport ethic at that moment, and his team’s victory forced Italy to be left out in the cold in our own World Cup. It could be that THAT was the beginning of his downward spiral on the pitch, his human story was as glorious as it was pathetic, in equal measure.

But, Italy wants “its own” heroes that didn’t have to be imported. They are to embody a unifying national sentiment that serves a social purpose. Something we can all “feel” as well as “feel the same about”. The tributes lasting many days, almost to the same level as those for Maradona, not once mentioned that Rossi was involved in one of the most squalid economic and sport scandals in the history of Italian football. It cost him 2 years of disqualification for having accepted to fix the games for the betting of the criminal world, he “paid” his debt, and miraculously, his image also became as pure as the driven snow.  That “football betting/calcio scomesse” wasn’t mentioned during any of the televised comments of “all of Italy being in mourning for our great champion”, nor was it mentioned that he was a candidate with Alleanza Nazionale, (a far right party) for the European Parliament. He had to be depicted as a unifying figure and he was somehow “selected” to be the one every Italian mourns, if you take the words of all the tv channels seriously.

National mourning has been chosen to take place for one individual. Where are the State funerals commemorating the 65 thousand deaths and the pain and loss of 65 thousand families and the communities they were part of? Why is the State so silent about this ghastly haemorrhage? Why do they suggest the “shopping cure” for depression of every sort rather than deal realistically with this trauma and even allow us that sobering moment of acknowledgement of the national tragedy and the catastrophe? Why?


In 2019, from the left, Chinese president Xi Jinping, Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi, Italian Vice president Luigi Di Maio and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (afp)

The economic crisis that opened the door to coronavirus in Italy

Mary Rizzo

There have been many theories about why Coronavirus has struck Italy so violently. At first, it was approached as if it were a logistics problem to resolve, and the solution to it would be to trace and track down “Patient Zero” and quarantine travellers from Wuhan within the Spallanzani Infectious Diseases Hospital of Rome. It was simply understood that it could be contained with precisely these careful measures, because there was an awareness that it involved direct contact with regions in China affected by the virus. It was considered as likely, at least by the financial and political sectors of the country, that cases would be concentrated here, given the extensive business and economic ties of Italy with China that led to intense international travel between the two countries. However, almost a year to the date of Prime Minister Conte signing on to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative Infrastructure project, in Italy poetically called “Silk Road”, the number of deaths from Covid-19 surpassed the 10,000 mark in Italy, and the primitive containment effort of those early days is nothing more than a blip on the radar of our Coronavirus crisis. It was believed by the Italian government that the economic agreement so dear to the heart of China, to expand its already saturated trade with Italy beyond imagination, with the injection of cash and investments, would be the remedy to lift Italy out of its recession. It’s stated aim was to provide some oxygen to the faltering and struggling Italian economy, but what hadn’t been taken into account was that this oxygen might be drawn, literally, from the lungs of Italian citizens.

The Italian economy, based on some unique sectors such as cultural and naturalistic tourism, agri-food and high quality manufacturing, as well as a circuit of micro-businesses and a widespread submerged economy, 12% of the country’s GDP, for quite a while has resembled a haemorrhage whose blood flow is relentless, as more and more entrepreneurs find themselves forced out of business or forced to lay off their employees, and skilled workers enter into the underground and consequently, untaxed economy or they emigrate. Arable terrains are abandoned as Italian grain prices plummet, yet still can’t overcome the Canadian and Ukrainian competition, that have even become the primary suppliers of our renowned pasta companies. The small factories that produce high fashion and top line ready-to-wear or quality furnishings and building materials such as marble and ceramics are with growing frequency keeping the design offices in Italy, but outsourcing labour due to the incredibly high costs that no government seems to be able to relieve. The outsourcing is primarily to Turkey and Poland for cars, China for clothing, shoes and sheet metal.

It is true that “Made in Italy” is a concept that carries with it a bit of a deception. With every passing year, the focus has been in promoting under the banner of Made in Italy primarily the idea of the Italian lifestyle and Italian taste, concepts such as design and the style that are considered by the world as uniquely Italian. The focus is moving away from the actual production stages happening in Italy with increasingly less Italian-produced materials and workmanship. China had the appetite and the market and the workers and the industrial philosophy to produce our products, products that demand a high price tag, leading to many of our companies transferring their factories to China in order to maintain profits, as well as Chinese investors taking command of uniquely Italian companies and institutions. Even the quintessence of Italian national spirit, Serie A football, has a Chinese stamp on it, particularly in the region so hard hit by Coronavirus. The two major teams of Milan have recently or still have Chinese ownership.

chamber of commerce china

Photo: Camera di Commercio Italo-Cinese

There came to be a growing realisation, with the unfolding of the scientific information about this virus, that contagion would not necessarily involve direct contact with the original Wuhan hotspot, but was bound to happen with more frequency where Italian and Chinese business relations were a consolidated fact. After this information of the virus that originated in Wuhan spreading beyond China was made public, the Italians reacted in two dramatically different ways, but ways that are very much within the cultural and social psyche and very much from “the gut”, and it took only seconds for the deeply conflictual political parties to draw their lots with one or the other of these sides as they encouraged a specific public conduct, not from a scientific point of view, but from the polarised gut whose main concern is the vox populi that can ensure that these parties either remain in power or obtain power if they are in the opposition.

One view encouraged avoiding Chinese businesses. While part of this call to action could be quite logically seen as a health recommendation, it rang out as a discriminatory and xenophobic approach, given that those promoting it are parties that have incitement of xenophobia as their driving factors in the electorate. However, there was some justification of this approach also within the Chinese community itself. Every spokesperson of the Chinese communities in Milan and Prato had been claiming that they had already been self-isolating for at least a month before the first case in Italy had been announced, as well as encouraging their co-nationals in China to put off trips to Italy until after the emergency, offering this as the explanation for having no cases of contagion in their expatriate community, and deeming themselves as not being carriers of the virus, but rather, unfairly affected by a wave of discriminatory populist politics.

sweatshop in naples

Image of a Chinese sweatshop in Naples where workers earned €2.50 per hour and had 15 hour workdays 

Apparently, the leaders of the Chinese community and representatives of it in the Chamber of Commerce were aware of the severity of the situation before Italians were, and took the necessary precautions, or it is likely that some things have not yet come to light, since the Chinese community in Italy, which has a crucial part of its economy in the “underground”, with sweatshops violating every health and safety code being located in every manufacturing region, has been suspiciously absent from any health effects of this virus, which has instead stormed through the general population with alarming speed and severity.


Mayor of Turin Chiara Appendino meets with 14 Chinese Associations to condemn “fear and racism”

The other view, to counter the restrictive approach, likewise with an appeal to the gut and sensitivities of the Italians, went overboard the other way. It was not only encouraged to frequent, in particular, Chinese business establishments and support their economy, but it was communicated by the more progressive wings as possibly being racist to distance oneself from Chinese people, and the typically Italian physicality of embracing and touching was encouraged toward this community that for the most part considers itself and is considered as outsiders and separate. The concept of “Milano da bere”, the socialising of the aperitif, the adoption of the Movida a few months before its natural lifecycle in the spring, was encouraged also by these political parties and progressive movements. The leader of the Partito Democratico, in late February, posed in photos engaging in these very social activities, only to announce in early March that he tested positive to the virus and was putting himself in self-quarantine.
In a matter of days, the situation of contagion skyrocketed in the productive regions of the north. Efforts to lock down these towns in “red zones” were rapid, and united the two vastly different political sides in their recognition of the need to isolate and quarantine for the common good. However, in spite of efforts that currently look mild, but at the time were quite radical, day after day, it became clear that the virus was spreading rapidly beyond the red zones, so efforts were stepped up to lock down the north in order to slow down the growth of the contagion, and particularly, to prevent it from spreading to the south, where it would create an unprecedented crisis within the crisis, since it does not have the health structures to handle the demand for intensive care that this virus, in many cases, requires.

There have been some good analyses that take into consideration the reasons for the particular virulence of the virus in Italy, many of them based on cultural factors such as human vicinity and the very reduced physical distance Italians use in their daily lives. Others cite geographical factors such as population density. There are logical assumptions about the quantity and frequency of social contact as well. There is much commuting in daily life in Italy, with most children using public transportation to get to school in lieu of the school buses so common in other countries. Most schools do not provide extra-curricular activities, so many children also attend oratories for after-school activities if their parents work, or frequent sport structures. But, most of the smaller children spend a great deal of time with their grandparents, who take care of them in their own homes or in the homes of their own children. The amount of time that different generations spend together, relatively high in comparison to most other countries, is determined not only by a sense of family and affection, but also out of economic requirements when parents have no other alternative. Children are “notoriously” very effective carriers of viruses and the elderly are “notoriously” very susceptible to complications from a virus turning into something extremely severe and also fatal.

foto ansa

Naples Photo ANSA

Another cultural factor is that Italians have a habit of going out each day for the required ingredients for their meals. You don’t need to have a Spritz in Milan to be in the firing line for the virus, it’s enough to get your bread, milk and meat fresh daily together with hundreds of others in your neighbourhood. You might grasp their arm, give them a kiss, take hold of their hand as you do it. Italians, for the most part, live in small flats within densely populated cities and towns, and the public space is used not only as a social space, but also as an extension of the living space. It has been a hard blow to lose all of it, suddenly and completely, but given the particular configuration of this country, it was inevitable to require national lockdown as soon as possible and for it to be as thorough as possible.

All of these factors cited above, and many more, contributed to such a virus spreading and searing its way through Italy in the first months of 2020. Italians are aware that their own social, economic and cultural situation can be considered as related to the cause, and, with incredible sense of responsibility, they have been sacrificing so much of their affections, freedoms, spaces and habits.

Douraid, Rifat and Firas

Firas, Rifaat and Douraid al-Assad. Photo published on Douraid al-Assad’s Facebook page

Introduction and Translation by Amr Salahi

The following Facebook post was written by Firas al-Assad, one of the sons of Rifaat al-Assad. It is addressed to his brother, Duraid. Rifaat al-Assad is the brother of Hafez al-Assad and uncle of Syria’s current President Bashar al-Assad. In the 1970s and 80s he was a powerful figure in Syria, taking charge of the feared Defence Companies. He is widely held responsible for the 1982 Hama Massacre, in which up to 30,000 Syrians were killed following a failed uprising against Hafez al-Assad’s regime. In 1983, when Hafez became seriously ill, Rifaat attempted to take charge of the country, trying to overrule the six-member emergency committee Hafez appointed to rule in his stead. When Hafez’s health improved, he sent Rifaat into exile. Rifaat has lived in France and Spain ever since, so far escaping prosecution for the Hama Massacre and other crimes he committed in Syria. When Bashar succeeded Hafez in 2000, Rifaat opposed his nephew’s assumption of the presidency. Firas has distanced himself both from his father Rifaat and his cousin Bashar. Duraid however, remains loyal to his father and supports the Assad regime. The two brothers are currently engaging in a Facebook war, which has widely been reported in Arabic-language media.

To Dureid the Son of Rifaat La-Assad (The Non-Lion)

It’s not my fault, Dureid, that your uncle was victorious over your father, and it’s not my fault that your cousin became the ruler of Syria and left you to rule a Facebook page as a consolation prize.

And it wasn’t certain that you would inherit the leadership if your father had defeated your uncle, as you had hoped, because you know that your younger brother is everything to your father. And there’s no doubt that the Khayyir family – and you know who I mean by the Khayyir family – would have finished you with all their might and put you to one side, out of the way of your brother.

Their influence would have been without a doubt many times that which Syrians attribute to Mohammed Makhlouf and his sons, taking into account the difference in the relationship between the Khayyir family and Rifaat Al-Asssad on the one hand and the Makhlouf family and Hafez al-Assad on the other. And everyone around your father knows what our share of.. the Khayyir family means and their total control of him.

It’s not my fault, O son of the leader of the Defence Companies, that you didn’t become the commander of the horsemen and a great leader.

It’s not my fault that the late Basel [Al-Assad] deprived you of competing in the horse-racing championships and told you – according to what you said – that “people won’t be able to take two heroes from the Assad family”.

It’s not my fault that your dreams of ruling Syria crumbled before your eyes.

It’s not my fault that your father didn’t attack your uncle in Kafr Sousseh – as you wished – when he had the opportunity and the tanks of the Defence Companies around him, while your uncle had only a few observers around him, including Basel, whose presence you said was an opportunity which would never present itself again.

It’s not my fault that you accuse your father of cowardice and hesitation and hold him responsible for your dreams falling into a swamp of disappointment.

It’s not my fault that “their Makhlouf” felt superior to “your Makhlouf” and put him in a position different from the one you wanted.

It’s not my fault that you’re living glories which only exist in your own mind.

It’s not my fault that your cousin refused your father’s conditions – and they’re conditions he took from the Khayyir family – for his return to Syria.

It’s not my fault that I was shocked to learn in Europe – under your father’s care – that everything I had learned about nations and patriotism was lies and hypocrisy.

It’s not my fault that I was flabbergasted at your father’s requests to Julian Emery and Francois De Grossouvre.

It’s not my fault that I discovered in Europe the extent of the lies that every citizen in Syria lives.

It’s not my fault that you have cut me off for 21 years because I refuse to visit your father or even speak to him on the phone.

It’s not my fault that you love power, leadership, and rule and I love peace, love, and equality between people.

It’s not my fault that the Syrian people rose up against you because you have led them to a state of despair and revolt.

It’s not my fault that I refuse the killing and torture of innocents and the rape of women in prisons… It’s not my fault that I wasn’t created with a criminal, predatory, or savage nature.

It’s not my fault that my heart breaks for every Syrian child who dies in criminal bombing by a vile hater or despicable occupier.

It’s not my fault that my heart breaks for tens of thousands on poor young Syrians who were martyred or found themselves fighting in the ranks of the Syrian army to protect your regime, which could have avoided all this by showing some modesty towards its people. Would your Uncle Hafez have accepted that Lavrov and Suleimani have the last word concerning Syria and the Syrian people. I swear by God that he would have hanged Atef Najib and Rami the Thief in the squares of Daraa and Damascus to satisfy the Syrian people and prevent the collapse of the country.

Why do the people of Qardaha have to die while the young men of the Assad family make a commotion in the street with their Mercedes, smoke shisha in cafes and fill Facebook up with their posturing posts?

Why do the sons of Muzaira, Jableh, Masyaf, Tartous, and Homs have to die while the son of Rami Makhlouf shows off his car and plane in Dubai?

Why don’t you and your brothers fight?

Even your brothers in Europe come and go to Damascus… well go on a visit to one of the frontlines for a couple of days!

I swear I don’t wish harm on any of you but what about the blood of hundreds of thousands?! Aren’t they humans like you? Are your children more precious than the children of the poor?

Those who tell people to fight… should themselves fight, o son of a leader!

Those who ask the children of other people to die… should have their sons standing in the front rank.

Really there’s something I can’t understand… did God create you to be leaders and create poor Alawis to die for your leadership?

Why is it my fault, o son of the doctor, that you are killers, criminals, and mass murderers destroying your country, crushing your people and causing hundreds of thousands of people to die, while giving up your country to foreign occupation just for the sake of your position.

It’s not my fault that I don’t want to carry the burden of this on my conscience and in front of God.

It’s not my fault that I don’t want my children to carry the burden of all this killing, criminality, and cheapening of the lives of millions of people.

It’s not my fault that I wanted to break with all this history so my children could respect me when they grow up and so I could be the link that broke off the chain of criminality and attached itself to a new chain full of love and humanity.

It’s not my fault that many of our people believe you while you want to lie forever and ever.

It’s not my fault that many of our people don’t know what a nation is and consider that those who steal their whole country and give them a house or car or salary to buy their loyalty is doing them and their children a favour.

It’s not my fault that my conscience forces me to tell the truth to the people so I can light a candle in the darkness that you’ve kept people’s minds in for fifty years.

It’s not my fault that my heart breaks for Fadi Al-Qauzi, my poor driver, who was killed by this damned war of yours.

firas al assad + father

Rifaat and Firas Assad with François Dougrossover, Adviser to Françios Mitterand, then President of France.

It’s not my fault that I refuse to belong to a family with a thousand faces, which doesn’t know right from wrong, which doesn’t know God and conscience, and which God and conscience don’t know.

It’s not my fault that you’re increasing your stores of gold, diamonds, and ancient artefacts in the “Fusch” cellars [reference to Rifa’at al-Assad’s Paris address] while poor people are dying on the front lines while chanting your names.

It’s not my fault that I couldn’t be proud of you while knowing the truth.

It’s not my fault that I refused to be a cheap agent for foreigners.

It’s not my fault that I shouted in the face of that Saudi colonel and told him to carry that case of money to the car himself.

It’s not my fault that your father wanted me to humiliate myself in front of other people for money.

It’s not my fault that I refuse to care about my portion of your father’s inheritance while you grasp at it with your teeth and claws, and that’s why you rush to answer me every time I go deeper and deeper into my memories, so that your father can be satisfied with your good perfomance.

It’s not my fault that I have a brother who never thought of leaving off even the price of a cup of juice of his brother’s bill for years while he is eating in his restaurants.

It’s not my fault that money is your god, Dureid… but not my god!

It’s not my fault that you only see Alawis as cattle to milk and donkeys to ride.

It’s not my fault that your father refused my repeated requests – through your brothers – to break with the past, confess to sins, and place all his material means at the service of poor and needy Syrians inside and outside Syria and the children of martyrs.

It’s not my fault that money to you is more precious than the blood of millions.

Tell your father that I tell him “fie” and “fie” and “fie” [mentioned in the Quran as something rude and forbidden to say to your parents].

Inform him that the Quran – which he never believed in for one day – didn’t mean him personally in that blessed verse. That verse was talking about parents who are human, children of Adam.

Tell him that the old fear has now been erased from my heart.

Tell him that he shouldn’t have hesitated to throw me in Lake Geneva when his knights, commandos, and valiant men carried me there… he would have been rid of me and my writings.

Tell him that my will today cannot be destroyed. My mother is now over 80 and her illness doesn’t leave her any space for more worries… like the worry of him.

Tell your regime in Damascus that I will see my mother, who they are preventing me from visiting… if not in Damascus then at the gates of heaven.

Tell them that my mother’s shoe is worth more than all of themselves.

And lastly Dureid, son of Abu Dureid..

Don’t ever say again that you are my brother, we were never brothers for a single day, and your father was never my father.

Search on my page for the last eight years until today… search through the hundreds of times I talked about your father in my memories and comments, you won’t find a single time where I called him my father – not one – and I only say “my father” so that I can clarify my words and so that people don’t get confused and misunderstand what I’m saying… he is not my father.

Between me and you is the blood of a hundred thousand poor Alawis – or more – who were killed to preserve your thrones.

Between me and you is the blood of 500,000 poor Syrians – or more – who were killed because you told them that our corruption is their fate, and our oppression is their fate, and our prisons are their fate, and our annihilation is their fate, and we are their supreme lords who they will worship.

You even told them that the corrupt Atef Najib and the thief Rami Makhlouf are their fate… so the people stopped believing in you and the nation and fate.

Between me and you are the remains of thousands of Syrian children whose bodies were torn apart by your barrel bombs and indiscriminate strikes and who you buried in the ruins of their houses.

Between me and you is the blood of my poor, gentle driver Fadi Al-Qauzi..

Between me and you is a huge desert, every grain of sand in which cries out that you are oppressors…

Between you and me are seas, in which every wave rises up to declare your arrogance and your persecution of people…

Between you and me are a few words…

Be quiet…

I will not be quiet!

ken hitWe are used to Ken O’Keefe addressing his public and followers, and the world itself, in terms of his revelation of a simple fix to solve all the world’s problems. Yes, ALL of them. Ken says that “Just by changing this one thing”, there would be “world class education, infrastructure, everything that a healthy society requires can be had, even in the most corrupt African country”. He is sure that with JUST THIS ONE THING we can “solve every other problem!” and, most importantly, given Ken’s precedents, there will be an “Abundant supply of money for all of us”.

In a video from last year, but which has been making the rounds in recent days with the title “How to Solve all the problems in the world” (you can’t say he sets low goals), he presents his idea in the tried and true format of talking head rant. He puts out some vague concepts, clearly sure that his followers may not really know how banking and finance and currency systems work. First of all, Ken begins with defining who is making the problems in the world exist, and he comes upon a SHOCKING discovery…. He certainly is the first to ever realise that financial systems hold enormous power and control.  We await his next video release when he reveals to us that night follows day.

But, don’t be discouraged from watching it by realising that he holds no secret truths and solutions. The actual video is really worth it for the freak moments where he espouses his theories (and we will later learn, he borrows them from a historical figure). He allows debate among reasonable people to discuss “who” literally runs the world… he knows, but he ain’t sayin’ in this video, that information is available elsewhere. This current video has to circulate among the new cultists he’s trying to woo, court, influence and ultimately fleece.

He’s going for a new target after his World Citizen Solution fizzled into absolutely nothing except a spectacular exposure by all of his former cohorts about it being a pyramid scheme and at any rate, without any basis in reality. All of this while Ken has been based out of Dominica, with speaking engagements in white-power summer jambourees to keep the finances liquid. He has pretty much drained the old target, so he can rebrand as an economics expert, particularly to those who are into fiat currency and to those who suddenly are interested in Bitcoin, because it seems to hold some promise of what really matters to Ken, an “abundant supply of money”.

So, he doesn’t say WHO runs the world, but you can still be debate whether it’s the “Jesuits, Reptilians, Illuminati or Freemasons”, all of course the NATURAL subjects in any debate, right? Well, among Icke fans, certainly.

Ken talks about loans, which is basically how banks finance themselves, only having to keep a 10% reserve of the money deposited, the banking system certainly has devised a clever way to make money with other people’s money. But, people who actually have money aren’t forced into putting it in banks, nor in asking for loans. Ken surely doesn’t need to ask for a loan, he asks his followers to finance his lifestyle, which, as noted, includes purchase of land and international travel.

Now, after Ken does this preamble, things get more interesting: “Those of us who cannot be bought because we operate on a level that goes way beyond the material” (so much for his abundant supply of money and constant crowdfunding efforts), “we are not rewarded for such behaviour” (because you need a reward for not being bought and various other ethical behaviour?) “we are punished. We reward the paedophiles, we reward the liars, people with no morals at all.” (pregnant pause).

So, how can those running things (finance, right?) keep control on everything? By sex video tapes of people who have political power! Get ready for it: “Maybe Barack Obama is gay. Maybe we have a videotape of him having sex with another man.” Then he continues, “Maybe we have videos of political leaders having sex with little boys or little girls. If I was (sic) in charge of the world and I was (sic) a psychopath (cough cough) and completely drunk on my own power, you can bet damn sure that’s what I would do.”

Never mind that this really doesn’t have anything to do with the argument at all, unless it makes some sense to those who debate whether it’s the Illuminati or the Jesuits or the Jews who control everything. Attempting to fit it into the KOK world, we do learn that it is ALREADY his modus operandi when he defends himself against those attacking him. After he finishes accusing opponents of being traitors, infiltrates and paid shills to thwart his mission, he accuses them of suffering from jealousy or some other uncontrollable emotional connection to him, and he is required to counter them as was illustrated in his example above. A recent example is someone who was once his fan and who went public with a post against him and was “outed” by him on the basis of “sex tapes” he found of her in some ritual she was high priestess of (bear in mind the world he moves in, folks). So, he’s not a psychopath, he just acts like one. His own rebuttal is here, where he dubs his former follower Jew Nice.

Now, we get to the meat of his proposal, “Let’s take back control on the issuance of money and not just on a national level”. Yeah, let’s. How can we do that? Well, economics expert that is KOK, he instructs that “Every country should be issuing its own currency”. Most of the countries of the world actually do that already, Ken! But there has to be a twist on it, right? “In that way we can free ourselves of the banking debt.” Got it? All clear right?

Not really. So, how can we get more details on how to do Just That One Thing? We go to seek other videos by Ken, such as “Ken O’Keefe explains why Hitler was right”. There are loads of versions of this talk he gave, many of them with newsreel footage of starving Germans and Hitler basking in the glory of the Germans he saved from starvation. Ken doesn’t waste time pandering to the Reptilians Control the World set, he goes straight for the real target, the Jews. More specifically, “Jewish Bankers”. According to Ken, “the major crime of Hilter was to get Germany out of a banking debt. He had the nerve to say ‘Fuck Off’ to the bankers.” According to Ken, Hitler “brought that nation back to a powerhouse within several years just by using their own (sic) money supply.”


Ken-OKeefe-HitlerNow, one doesn’t have to be either an economist or a historian to realise the enormous idiocy of the claims of O’Keefe. First of all, Hitler’s economic policy was not about abundant distribution of money to all for world class everything. His was a war economy based on the idea of the supremacy of a command economy. The wealth was not about fair distribution or creation of wealth, but it was obtained via expropriation and the looting of German Jewish wealth. It was based on forced labour, not only of the conquered people, but also of the domestic population. Ken can call history “Bullshit! Bullshit!” but his ignorance of how that economy actually worked and the immense human exploitation and suffering surrounding it is clear. Just as his idea that the moeny was “their own”. When Hitler occupied the various countries, he robbed them of their gold reserves and also had access to (mainly) private capital. When Hitler commandeered the Reichsbank, his dummy currency expansion was able to fraudulently strengthen the Reichsbank. That this could be in any way praised as a model staggers the imagination.

When Ken says something about interest-free money, well, of course the printing of money or creation of money independent of any reserve or economic situation isn’t weighted down with interest. It will affect only inflation (which is limitless, as Zimbabwe’s 79.6 billion percent inflation in 2008 teaches us), which can be a far greater problem than interest charged on money being loaned. Ken seems to lose stock (if he ever had it) of the theoretical aspect of money as a unit of account, store of value and medium of exchange. The printing of dummy money is yet another pyramid scheme, but with a bigger picture, ill-defined, but all the same, THAT ONE THING! And, for all those countries (most of them) that have their own currency? Why is everything so bad and so unfair?

If we follow Ken’s logic, it seems that the (final) solution to all the world’s problems involves a lot of unethical, inhuman and historically failed scenarios. We’ll pass on this one.



One of the celebratory posters of the Syrian General plastered in various Italian cities. It bears almost all the signs of the Fascist and Neo-fascist propaganda, (use of this stylised alphabet, the declaration of HONOR!) Interestingly enough also the Italian far left celebrates the same “hero”.


(Translator’s note: CasaPound is an Italian political movement that is proudly “far right”. It is the first “centro sociale” (youth and student movement starting in the 90s that is primarily far left) that considers its inspiration Fascist. Like many far-right movements in Europe, it maintains a very active base, which often makes up for its lack of “official” political recognition, though it currently participates in elections with its own candidates and in coalitions with other right-wing parties. Though the militants of CasaPound are renowned for their frequent episodes of violence and xenophobia, they also are very active in ideological recruitment in campaigns that are nationalistic, at times having a social character, such as proposals for interest-free public housing, and together with groups such as the European Front for Syria, are involved in the dissemination on the street level (literally) of international issues with propaganda for the regime in Syria in particular, because, in their own words: “For Six years Assad has been the best defence of Europe against terrorism”.) 

Sunday morning. The British press reported that Sahar Dofdaa, who was only one month old, had died in Damascus. She starved to death. She was born in the village of Hamuriya in al-Ghouta, an area that has been besieged for years by troops loyal to the government of Damascus and controlled by a fundamentalist group, the Jaysh al-Islam, which keeps a tight hold on the town’s inhabitants. It is the same area where Assad’s army, in 2013, used chemical weapons to massacre civilians, even if the UN has been unable to officially declare the culprit, because since 2012, the UN peacekeeping troops have been removed from Syria. The British newspaper The Guardian has published the statements of Dr. Yahya Abu Yahya, who speaks about a great number of cases of severe childhood malnutrition such as that of Sahar, born from a mother who did not have the strength to nourish her child, citing seventy infants who are dying of starvation and four thousand children who suffer from nutritional deficiencies. And the sample from which he refers is limited to just nine thousand children.

If not even this fact can shake us, it is probably because the propaganda machine has convinced us that in al-Ghouta, just as in other areas controlled by fierce jihadists, everyone is a terrorist, even children who have lived just one month of life. Instead, this is in all probability precisely the dramatic outcome pursued with ferocity by the regime since 2001. This is also the case with Idlib.

Tuesday morning. Although in Italy very little media time has been dedicated to it, there is an interesting piece of news from the International press: Russia has vetoed the resolution that would allow prosecution of the investigation in regard to the chemical weapons massacres in Syria, the Joint Investigative Mechanism, whose mandate expires in November. A report was scheduled to appear by the end of October concerning the massacres perpetrated this summer at Khan Shaykhun near Idlib by means of chemical weapons. In this massacre, just as in the Ghouta massacre with chemical weapons, many children were killed. Russia sought to discuss the report on the Khan Shaykhun massacre before renewing its mandate.

Wednesday morning. It should be mentioned that one hundred Italian cities have woken up discovering that Casa Pound and the European Front for Syria have plastered walls and monuments with slogans written to celebrate one of the most notorious Syrian army commanders, Issam Zahreddine, a war criminal responsible for crimes against humanity, recently killed in combat in Syria, supposedly struck by a landmine planted by ISIS. This General of the Syrian Republican Guard, has been placed in the “short list” of individuals that are subject to special and personal sanctions on behalf of the European Union, with the accusation that he was the organiser of the chemical attack on Khan Shaykhoun.

The General had become famous for a photograph that portrays him standing close to hanged bodies that had clearly been tortured prior to their execution, as well as a film that shows him walking in front of a row of corpses so long that he cuts his walk short before even finishing the entire review. According to family members of Marie Colvin, the journalist that was assassinated in Syria, he ordered the artillery attack that killed her when he learned where the famous reporter was staying. Among his last public actions, an interview released just a few weeks ago. Turning to the millions of Syrian refugees who fled abroad after losing everything, Issam Zahreddine said, “If you know what’s good for you, you will never again set foot in Syria.” It’s important to know that in addition to the far right who signed the banners, among the environments that sympathise with him are also groups of the radical left.



So, March came and went, lots of people sent money to Ken O’Keefe for what was guaranteed (by him) to be the “Solution” to the endless cycle of war. March was the announced date of the unveiling/launch of the exciting, ground-shaking, earth-changing plan!!! We’ve pointed out that the project assumed the name of Mission by its guru, and in guru fashion, he made big, (impossible) promises of a perfect world led by him, he got his followers, got his money (that’s the most important thing, and you need followers to get the paper and coins), and then… the huge change mankind was waiting for would be announced!!!

It’s July. Let’s see, that’s March, April, May, June in the middle where he did a self-promotional tour of the hated USA (you know, the place he keeps getting a new passport for), and nothing on the WSC Mission, except that he needed more followers for it. No plans announced.

BUT WAIT! Finally! Ken released a video entitled: Ken O’Keefe – World Citizen Solution Update – June 25, 2016! The Guru has spoken! Finally, he has made good on his promise to explain what he’s been asking money for since October. But… but… if you watch the video, you are going to realise he spends 15 seconds talking about the Solution. He talks about … perks, subversion, money, silver coins, people he actually seems to fear, because the way he refers to other people is entirely defensive (a bit passive-aggressive even, because as usual, HE is good, OTHERS are “subversives, slanders, libelists”).

What does he talk about for nearly ten minutes then, since he doesn’t update on the solution at all?

Here’s a little summary (and some facts for those who can handle that kind of thing):

“We” have been continuing our work on the “Mission”. Lots of people want to volunteer, but that never works out. All he gets is (his) wasted time, sub-par work and in the end subversion. But they (whoever they are) continue, despite the drastic delay of THE PERKS! Ken spends a few minutes saying why people who are expecting their perks, stuff like a sticker, a decree (try not to laugh!) and the famous TJP Silver Coin, weren’t getting them… i.e., a combination of force majeure and other people’s fault. But the project manager behind the failure is gone, they move on!

Then he gets into an interesting lie… yes, it’s a lie, but he expects people with internet to believe that “we lost ten grand” because a Start Join server was “attacked”. He fails to mention that what happened instead was that greed was getting the best of him, and his base isn’t as big as he thought… the elastic can only stretch so far and he broke it. In a first online fundraising campaign, his target was 40 thousand dollars. He got under $8,000 (promised). Unfortunately, he couldn’t see a penny of it until he reached his target, so when the campaign closed, he reopened it but with a lower target… also asking people to not ask for their money back, because he was extending the project. The second campaign with a more realistic target (10,000) got just a little over 1,000. As the site says: This project will only receive funds if the target is met by its deadline. Neither of the targets met, and thus, the little story of how the site got “attacked”.

startjoin 1startjoin 2

He was fine with the Start Join thing while he thought he could manipulate it:

though a couple of the fans were getting edgy:

start join 1

The plan, the plan… GUYS, it’s about the PERKS! If you didn’t shell out big money, can you just shut up about a plan already! Now, back to the video, there are ANSWERS there!

Indiegogo money, that’s stuck in banks, but what you must know is that he hasn’t paid himself any of the money… while admitting that he knows this because…. HE IS THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS ACCESS TO THE MONEY. Uhm…. He can prove that others are lying when they say he is using the money… Good, great! But no one will ask him to show them the books, so he’s cool!

Now, those who are used to Ken’s video will recognise his Tourettes style of speech whenever he’s too nervous to handle conflict. He has to go into conspiracies about subversion of HIS mission, but has to make sure you know that he’s a victim, he’s (again!) been betrayed and tells his fans they are NOT supposed to listen to anyone saying anything not-less-than-glorification of him. The red herring fallacy mode of thinking comes out (appeal to accomplishment): I am good, therefore, they are “fucking wankers, dipshits”, and YOU are good, so you will believe me and agree that they are the enemy… and he never leaves out his famous “some of them are paid”.

(Side note here, this blog has often been critical of Ken, of his failed “missions”, of his lies and exaggerations and scams. We’ve been accused of being paid for writing what we do about Ken. Could Ken kindly tell us who is paying so we can collect? We too have a “necessity for the truth” and would like to have some money for speaking the truth so, if there is somebody paying, tell us who! Could he name ONE person being paid and by whom? No, we didn’t think so either.)

Now, back to the cult leader’s video: the mission is above himself, he has saved it from subversion, which he admits ALWAYS happens to his missions (rather than asking himself if there is a reason all his missions fail he introduces the subversives among my ranks canard). Then he talks a lot about the TJP Silver Coin… for a guy talking about the evil banks, he sure is hung up on money and coins. He announces that he might sell more of them to make (more) money for himself.

Finally, at 8’45” into the video he says people are waiting with baited breath for the launch of the mission. Well… (are you ready?!)

There will be another video announcement in a few months or maybe even in the winter.

There you go! That met the necessities of the followers to know what all this money and stuff was going for.

Until then, he praises the Brexit and says that he truly believes in his solution, that he is never going to let go of it and thanks people for being dedicated to him and the mission.

Satisfied? Of course his fans are. They praise this amazing video because I am sure they were all so worried about their perks, decrees and TJP Silver Coins (those go to the folks who shelled out $250), evidently the Mission is just a detail.

Was there a voice of dissent? As usual, the sheep baaaa their praise, but one person had a few interesting questions:

tjp pound 1

tjp pound 2

tjp pound 3

yeah, indeed.

In the never-ending saga that is “how much money is Ken O’Keefe asking for today and where did it go?” this blog presents yet another chapter. As anyone who regularly follows this blog knows, Ken O’Keefe is really good at one thing especially, asking other people to financially support him. We’ve simply stopped counting the amount of times he’s opened some kind of Indiegogo or other online form of begging, because there are so many of them. There was Trade for Aid, Tahrir for Gaza, Ferry to Gaza, Aloha Palestine, the Samouni Project, the Gaza Ten and many more, most of them can only be defined as a flop, though the money was sent. However, while one is happy to (and should) give what they can to help the unfortunate, the poor, the victims of oppression and war, which is at least the subterfuge used in some of the “charity” campaigns, one probably should have a little less willingness to “shell out” (Ken’s own words – see photo below – when he started asking for donations/investments for the failed David Icke project he was part of, The People’s Voice, which some refer to as a two million dollar scam) when they don’t know what the money is used for. Obviously, Ken gives them an idea… it’s for the “mission” and as a missionary, he claims that he needs the money to pay his bills, because they won’t get paid by themselves (never mind finding a JOB or actually working!) He considers what he does highly valuable, actually, calls it an investment, and that he makes no bones about his right to also get people’s money for it. Quite clearly, for Ken, Charity, as they say, begins at home.


But, this time, differently from TPV, the project isn’t clear, and he doesn’t really talk about paying the bills, he’s put forward that he’s going to absolutely save the world with what is referred to (in the most amazing misuse of hashtags in the history of the punctuation) as a #solutionary #speech #visionary #artist #worldcitizensolutions #kenokeefe #inspiring #microcosm #macrocosm #bethechange #gamechanger #movershaker #dreambeliever #infinitecreator #standup #stopfundingwar #endwarcrimes #startpeace #samanthabachman #sachastone. You get the idea… it’s the stuff dreams are made of! It’s about peace! It’s about change! It’s a GAME CHANGER of both the macrocosm and the microcosm. Make no mistake.

But why in the world does the game always remain the same! When our great missionary went “on the road” to the dreaded USA to promote himself, as we documented in the post: Would you Like some Cheese with that Whine, Ken?, during the time that the plans for this great and amazing “World Citizen Solution” were supposed to be unveiled to the waiting masses who shelled out (his words!) despite the promise that he would put most of it into his salary, that he’d tell them as soon as the goal was reached just what they were throwing money at, and work would start at the creation of videos talking about the plan. They would have to be patient, they’d have to TRUST HIM because HE is the man with the plan.

kok sopHis tour brought about some new fruit, such as his new relationship, announced as any love-struck teen does on facebook, with the (very) young lady in the photo. Thank goodness for his wife, to have already been relieved of the role as “Mother” in the defunct Aloha Palestine C.I.C. (yes, that’s the role she is registered as in the Companies House), because it could get sloppy, as much as a “come to yer uncle” picture hints at.

But, one’s personal affairs are their own business and in no way should doing selfies with a woman half one’s age be seen as beneath heroic status. It’s all love. What instead DOES seem strange is that in the past few days, one of the supporters claimed that he was worried about the disappearance of Ken, because Ken (always the drama queen) insists that his very life is in danger and that people want to kill him. Evidently, he doesn’t think that anyone who has sent him MORE money and was again let down would do anything but hang a lei around his holy head, no… nobody’s running with a pitchfork in their hands… they shelled out because he asked them to. His murderers are all “the Powers that be” because he’s just SO on to their game. No one before him EVER said that the government lies to people and that bankers run the world and that taxes finance wars! Well, anyway, he thinks no one else ever said these things before he did, and his fans see this all as so illuminating. He had HIS deadlines for the plan to be financed, but now that he’s got the money, he doesn’t think he owes anyone any answers. And that is exactly how he reacted to the question of his whereabouts.

The typical knee-jerk claim that he’s laying low, his plan is being worked on and that NO ONE should question him because he is simply so important and what he is doing is so movershaker and so he should be TRUSTED, no questions asked, and none tolerated either in his typical passive-aggressive approach. And how did people react? Did they say, “actually, Ken, trust is good but you made a promise”. No. They back up his excuses for suckers. Ken is a good man, he is telling it always like it is so honest by default, brother Ken should not be questioned, and the classic to beat all classics, “those who attack him are paid shills”. Far as anyone could see, there were no attacks, there were simple questions, coated in layers of esteem and support. The only one PAID and quite copiously, is KEN HIMSELF. He’s the one that has other people’s money in HIS bank. He’s the one whose bills are being paid, who gets to go to restaurants instead of making do with whatever one can scrape together for dinner on little or no money. There are dozens of photos others have put up of his comfy lifestyle. It might not be in the nice townhouse in London (I guess the “Mother” of the company he closed gets that since she does have to raise two small kids alone), but it’s got fancy hotels with gorgeous sheets and wi-fi.kok sop2

“Make no mistake”, “Bank on it”… Ken is going to censor anyone who questions him, as he did the comments actually asking where Ken had been and what this famous plan that has already been financed is. Comments eliminated, the mobbing of the one asking questions commenced. All in a missionary’s work.

Most of us recognise this picture as being from Aleppo. Aftermath of one of the market bombings by the Syrian regime against a civilian population. It circulates also as Gaza, where those who are then corrected, instead of saying, "this is terrible and  a crime against humanity" say instead, "Well, it REPRESENTS the suffering of the Gazans". The point is lost and truth is not served.

Most of us recognise this picture as being from Aleppo. Aftermath of one of the market bombings by the Syrian regime against a civilian population. It circulates also as Gaza, where those who are then corrected, instead of saying, “this is terrible and a crime against humanity” say instead, “Well, it REPRESENTS the suffering of the Gazans”. The point is lost and truth is not served.

The question invariably arises when one loses faith in the narratives of the news media: If the mainstream media sets forth aspects of an issue in order to put forth a particular agenda of the dominant or powerful sector of society, and even the so-called alternative media presents its own narrative to push ahead its own ideologies or values and effect the situation with its own “solutions”, where is one to turn to if one seeks to know the truth?

The answer is simple and complicated at the same time. One has to find the truth oneself. The truth is indeed “out there”. The problem though is that it is an enormously cumbersome and time-consuming task to get to it, so difficult and depressing, in fact, that too many give up on it and fall back on whatever the media narrative is, even when we know and have the proof that it is full of lies, full of holes or full of propaganda. The truth can be found not in the various narratives of the news media, but in the vast and bottomless well of the body of evidence. To get to the truth, one has to do one’s own digging, sorting, one has to do one’s own thinking. One can only get to the truth on one’s own and only with great determination and persistency.

It is absolutely frustrating to look at the news on TV or read it in the paper and see things that not only “don’t look right” but “don’t feel right”. We claim (well, most of us who are interested in civil justice and world peace) that we are supporters of human rights. But do we realise that often what we feel as a violation of our own rights on our own soil we shrug off as just “the way they do things” when it is on a vast scale in another country. Mass arbitrary arrests, bombing of civilian areas, torture, policies of terror and starvation to subjugate a population are wrong in our own lands as they are wrong in other lands. However, for a very long time, the extent of these policies has been kept hidden from us, that is, our media only reported on institutionalised (policy-based) violations of human rights when at some level our own interests were involved or there has been what is perceived as a connection between “us” and “them”.  Somehow, the bigger the atrocity is, the more distant we feel from it and the easier it is to keep us away from this reality. We accept as well the media narrative, which sometimes is just the echo of the regime or dominant narrative because the truth, the reality is far, far worse than what even our wildest ideas of it could be.

Orphans in Ras al-Ain, survivors of a Syrian regime aerial raid; the winter clothes alone should tell observers to look beneath the "insta-pundit labelling" of the sufferers as Gazans.

Orphans in Ras al-Ain, survivors of a Syrian regime aerial raid; the winter clothes alone should tell observers to look beneath the “insta-pundit labelling” of the sufferers as Gazans.

There is a reason  why reality is not presented fully to us and why so many populations have been presented as “other”. The people are depicted as deserving of the oppression because they are primitive, not ready for rights and still needed to be controlled by a powerful figure that would take care of their interests, though at times he might be a little rough, he’s probably some kind of oriental despot that we have to learn to live with out of some perverted idea of “relativism”.

We extend our disgust in various ways towards the population and their ignorance. If they voted, they never did it “right”. If they didn’t vote, that was because they didn’t view democracy as a value and therefore if internal movements towards democracy arose, they would be depicted as being driven from reactionary forces abroad who would then throw the rulers out of power and establish their own protectorate. In essence, the individuals and the geographical/ethnic/linguistic/religious groups they belonged to did not have their own agency to affect their own change, and if they are not “willing” to help themselves, it’s very easy to promote the idea that they are impermeable to change or that it has to be imposed from outside if there is going to be any. Otherwise, they get what they deserve.

One of the innocent victims of the bombing of Azaz. The Assad regime kills them an the world lets them dig the dead infants out with their bare hands.  This picture has also circulated with great success as having happened in Gaza.

One of the innocent victims of the bombing of Azaz. The Assad regime kills them an the world lets them dig the dead infants out with their bare hands. This picture has also circulated with great success as having happened in Gaza.

Only those who  have forgotten (or who haven’t realised) that personal freedom is a right for every human on the planet and that there is a series of rights that belong to every human being in order to truly be considered as being a free individual, regardless of the geopolitical situation in which he or she was born or currently is living will be interested in finding the truth and rejecting the “story”, “spin” or “narrative” that any news providers is giving. News providers don’t appear out of nothing, they obtain their information and disseminate their information according to their own interests. If they support a particular ideology, they will have a bias towards only giving information that supports the tenets of their ideology. If they claim to be media providers that are free of ideological bias and hidden agendas, however, they are going to have to have an ethical code of some sort, they are going to have to follow some kind of criteria for the selection of the material they present.

This is the reason that the only way towards knowing and obtaining the truth is to sort through the body of evidence. We can’t pretend to know everything about everything or even something about everything, but if we are interested in international affairs, if we are interested in civil and human rights, we can’t afford the luxury of laziness. We can’t accept everything that is handed to us as “news” and what IS handed to us under that guise has to be scrutinised very carefully. We have been presented with a multitude of “instant pundits” and experts under various titles who assure us that they have a very consistent response to all the issues they speak about and yet, the only thing they are consistently doing is neglecting the bulk of material that comprises the body of evidence. Their arrangement and analysis of information is sometimes even based on no evidence at all, but mere speculation and repetition of what anyone could recognise as propaganda if they actually look at their sources of information or the repetition of specific images over the course of time.

A body of evidence, on the other hand is not sorted, is not usually accompanied by “analysis” of experts and it has a scientific criteria that we can apply, it has a rationale that we can use to judge and verify its strength. First of all, we have to have access to information that is as close as possible to those affected by events. We unfortunately know that witnesses to events, particularly in the worst and most inhuman situations, are too busy trying to survive or escape than they are in trying to inform the outside world about what is happening to them. Outsiders who make it in often themselves become victims of the same situation, so the number of outsiders must be dramatically reduced in order to prevent complications. But, in situations such as war in Syria, the body of evidence is overwhelming in its immensity. There are literally millions of photographs and videos available to anyone at any time. There are millions of witnesses who are able to tell what is happening instead of just posing for a photograph in their miserable setting of an overcrowded and disease-infested refugee camp. There is actually SO MUCH information that we are numbed by the overwhelming quantity of it… but mostly, it is surprising to find that despite the fact that the consistency and veracity of it (given strength by its size, range, content, precision, directness) is overwhelmingly constant: and almost always pointing in the same direction and the news media still seems to ignore it in favour of its own bias which is that of ignoring the voice and evidence of the oppressed in favour of a different narrative with its own appeal and history.

One of the hundreds of banners by the Kafranbel Media Centre... direct, to the point, and with no need for interpretation.

One of the hundreds of banners by the Kafranbel Media Centre… direct, to the point, and with no need for interpretation.

Since the onset of the uprising, protesters were determined to document the events in every way possible and to disseminate what they gathered outside of Syria. They did not own media providers, they were not part of an information “system”, they simply were providing evidence, most of it videos documenting the events and photographs of places during a protest or march or immediately following a sniper attack, a bombing, and later, a massacre. What has developed in Syria is a multitude of independent media aggregators, the Sham News Network, the Aleppo Media Centre, the phenomenon of the Young Lens photographers, the Kafranbel Media Centre and hundreds of others in every province and town, no matter how small. They collect, subtitle, disseminate and identify the evidence of the hundreds of thousands of witnesses to the war in Syria. They open YouTube channels, Facebook pages and blogs where anyone and everyone, INCLUDING mainstream and alternative media providers can tap into their evidence, and luckily, some outside news aggregators have picked up on their evidence and helped spread it far and wide. The problem is, the media providers that have a long history and prestige or are financed by advertising or political interest groups don’t tell a “sexy” story if it’s just about the (now four-year-long) struggle for survival of a besieged and oppressed people who have the misfortune of neither being of interest to the “imperialists” or the “anti-imperialists”, which are by the way, simply code words to express two variations of reactionary ideological thinking, where individuals don’t have rights, collective rights are also selective and all people can be fit into the prism of the narrative or spin of their administrations, regimes or leaders.

There is no shortage of evidence, the evidence provided meets all the criteria to be accepted as valid, even if it contradicts the story of the mass media, which often just serves as an amplifier of those who have the most power, preserving their interests. There is a clear causal chain that is evident to anyone who decides to access the body of evidence. The causal chain’s importance is heightened by the sheer magnitude of the evidence available. Literally, there are thousands of photographs and videos available that document the enormous quantity of atrocities committed against the people. It is not difficult to corroborate the evidence of the perpetrators of a massacre, and while the “pundits” will take the word of one “anonymous insider” whose words seem to mimic the regime narrative regarding who is responsible for the nerve gas attacks against the populations of the “free” towns that were resisting Assad and often victim to the regime’s violent attacks with more “orthodox” means, they refuse to study the evidence of experts who state that the only possible perpetrator is the regime and produce convincing argument that stands up to scrutiny, likewise corroborated by third party investigators who see more than the films, but have access to the sites or can scientifically test the tissue of survivors.

Infant victims suffocated in their sleep by Sarin in Al Ghouta (at the Arbeen field hospital). The fate of these innocent vicitms was "too horrifying" to be shown, but that all changed when they were recycled as victims of Israel and not of Assad and our indifference.

Infant victims suffocated in their sleep by Sarin in Al Ghouta (at the Arbeen field hospital). The fate of these innocent vicitms was “too horrifying” to be shown, but that all changed when they were recycled as victims of Israel and not of Assad and our indifference.

Yet, how could anyone in their right mind continue to even question or doubt such an obvious massacre as that of Ghouta? How could the proof of the culpability of the regime be in doubt for even one minute when their sponsors and patrons in the UN Security Council vetoed decisions made in Human Rights Commission following a detailed war crimes report to support the effort to bring the matter to the International Criminal Court which would judge the body of evidence in a legal seat and then exercise Justice, which then the world powers would have a leg to stand on when they took positions for or against Assad? By closing their eyes to the evidence, despite how great, consistent, direct, precise and applicable (i.e., bearing all the qualities that give what is known as “strength” to a body of evidence) they are able to hide the truth, but not to stop it being true.

Not only the massacre of approximately 1500 men, women and children by suffocation from exposure to nerve gas, but hidden or distorted are the numerous and well-documented “white weapons massacres” by knives and bayonets that are the signature of the Shabbiha thugs who operate for Assad, terrorising villages and leaving hundreds murdered despite their age, condition or innocence. The massacres of Houla, Banyas, Deir Ezzor and countless others have left in their wake hundreds and hundreds of photographs, videos and eyewitness testimony. If one looks at most of the news media though, you are going to find very little reference made to these events and they are simply not providing information on them, often with the ill-disguised goal of exclusion of the videos or pictures due to “the excessive cruelty of the images”, where they fall into the vacuum of oblivion, where our consciences can’t be reached and therefore our outrage can’t be aroused.

Instead they promote “massacres that weren’t” or at least that have no consistent body of evidence such as the “Adra Massacre” or the “Kessab massacre”. The “Hatla Massacre”, depicted as a sectarian attack against Shi’a Muslims by the agencies of the regime, bears a great deal of evidence that it was an armed conflict between anti-regime and pro-regime fighters with civilians caught in the crossfire and not a premeditated massacre to terrorise the population, though as a result, for a time the civilian population fled, as is the case in the entirety of Syria given the amount of urban warfare involved.

What are the images that people remember from the news? They see a “rebel” (not even a member of the Free Syrian Army) eating a heart, they see a “Christian” crucified by Islamists, and to them, the vision of these two images, out of context and factually incorrect (at least in the case of the crucifixion, the victims were Free Syrian Army soldiers, who by their identification are Sunni Muslims) become “the icons” and the real atrocities that matter. The tens of thousands of photographs of the torture of starved prisoners in regime jails was just a blip on the radar. The atrocities committed against Syrians who are tortured to death for crimes they did not commit are too vast to even contemplate. So, see the pictures, then forget them, that is how it works. It is much easier to bear one image and give it any meaning you want or you have been told. It’s not worth it to differentiate between types of atrocities and their intensity of occurrence.

a composite photo of some of the thousands of Syrian infants slaughtered in every way possible, one of them even wrapped in a Syrian Independence Flag... they finally got some interest when they ceased to be victims of Assad.

a composite photo of some of the thousands of Syrian infants slaughtered in every way possible, one of them even wrapped in a Syrian Independence Flag… they finally got some interest when they ceased to be victims of Assad.

But the opposition to Assad, the suffering population has its own iconic images. Millions of them, some of them so familiar to those who have been seeking truth and evidence from Syria for these four years that it comes as a painful shock to see them “recycled” as being Palestinian victims of Israel’s brutal attacks in Gaza. To see the photos cropped to cut out watermarks, Syrian flags or anything that identifies the identity of the victim and the circumstances of his or her death has been a genuine shock and additional accumulation of suffering when one considers that these photos and videos have been shared for years, in the vain effort to inform the world of the situation and the extent of this crime against humanity that is the genocide of the Syrian people, first by Assad’s regime and its infiltrate forces and since the past two years also by the rogue “Islamist” forces that are conducting their proxy wars for the domination of either Iran or Saudi Arabia in the name of their stated objective of the creation of a Caliphate in the Levant.

ISIS, as well as Hezbollah, makes the claim that their enemy is the West, but they are only good at slaughtering and oppressing other Arabs, including Muslims or those who have come to witness and share the information of the besieged and oppressed people, including journalists and human rights workers and volunteers. To the distracted observer, the war is a sectarian war that is now in the face-off stages of secularism vs obscurantism and there is no interest in investigating the facts, but to act “better late than never” against the enemy that is perceived as dangerous to the West, forgetting in essence the actions and objectives of the tyrant whose policies were at the genesis of the entire uprising and who has only consolidated his power in farcical elections that would never be accepted by anyone if they were to happen in their own countries under such condition and lack of democracy or legitimacy. His “election” has given him the perceived license to kill as much and as brutally as possible, and it is a license that he has taken full advantage of.

A roof in Aleppo, again, not surprisinging attracting interest only when it is mislabelled as being the destroyed home of a Gazan.

A roof in Aleppo, again, not surprisinging attracting interest only when it is mislabelled as being the destroyed home of a Gazan.

It is indeed frustrating to realise that the body of evidence proving the total destruction of Syria, its people and its infrastructure, including those who are living in the Palestinian refugee camps who have been subjected to siege, torture, arrest and death no less than their brothers and sisters in Gaza and in the rest of Syria, has been ignored for years, only to be carted out and presented as a different war, a different enemy, a different sponsor. Sometimes the Syrian independence flags that are used by every faction against Assad with the exception of the “black flag Jihadis” are not even cropped out or the subtitles changed. It is with a sickening Orientalism that these victims are passed off as someone more worthy of support, and at least for them, some support has been forthcoming. It is as if Arabs are interchangeable and a defiant Aleppo survivor who painted his ultimate resistance on the ruins of his bombed out roof has become a Gazan. The situation is not identical, though similar, but only one defiant resistant soul is honoured at the expense of another, whose suffering again is buried under rubble and debris. Nothing to see here, move along!

Another iconic image of Syrian grief and suffering,  mislabelled and blamed on anyone but Assad!

Another iconic image of Syrian grief and suffering, mislabelled and blamed on anyone but Assad!

There are shameless people who spread pictures and videos that depict persons in a state of shock after their loved ones are carried off dead in blankets among the buildings that were made to explode and collapse on top of them after air raids in civilian areas. The viewer should use a bit of healthy scepticism to realise that in July winter coats are not worn in Gaza and this event is someplace else, the victims are someone else. The perpetrator of such heinous crimes is not Netanyahu but instead it is Assad.

All of this evidence, the weight of which presents a picture that again and again shows the reality of the situation, the true story of what is happening, stripped from agendas and narratives, all of it is there for us to view. It is a deliberate choice we can make to ignore it and take the easy way out of accepting the stories told by the media that are deliberately hiding or altering this information in such a way so that the struggle to know the truth is stifled, and it is out of our hands to effect change in a positive way to those who are suffering (those whose side we have to be on, no matter what other considerations might influence us such as proximity or religious/ethnic affiliation).

If those who survived a massacre decided to document it, and took all the risks linked to that, they did this so that the truth would not be hidden. They did it in the hopes that those who had the power, influence or ability could help and protect them. They did it not because they want to shock us or draw us into a world that has nothing to do with us, but because this is our world already, it is only a short flight away from many of us or even has touched our shores with its outpouring of survivors of unspeakable atrocities. If we refuse to be lazy, we can look for the truth and we can find it. We are no longer bound to being complicit in genocides and then claiming in the same breath, “we didn’t know” and “never again”. It will be never again ONLY if we make it so NOW. Our task is to be an amplifier of the voices of the people, not a substitute or interpreter of them.  We have the enormous possibility of affecting change simply by not keeping information buried or tearing it out of context. If we choose to, we can save lives and make a better world. It’s up to us. Can we be up to the task? Isn’t it a noble goal to seek the truth and serve the truth?

The Syrians know the Media isn't divided into Mainstream or Alternative. Until evidence is all that matters, they will hold the high moral ground.

The Syrians know the Media isn’t divided into Mainstream or Alternative. Until evidence is all that matters, they will hold the high moral ground.

“Breaking the Silence” in the Palestinian Camps.

Affiches géantes, pour rappeler au peuple qui commande.

Ruth Riegler a interrogé un activiste syrien afin de mieux comprendre sa vie dans la Syrie révolutionnaire. Il apparaît sous un pseudonyme. Traduit par Eric Lamy.

R. R. : Comment décririez-vous la vie en Syrie avant la révolution, et comment définiriez-vous les causes premières de celle-ci ?

S. L. : Mon nom est Syrien Libre. Je veux que le monde sache pourquoi nous faisons la révolution contre Bashar Al Assad et son régime. Chacun sait aujourd’hui que c’est une révolution majeure, mais personne ne sait, en fait, quelles en sont les raisons profondes. Je vais vous le dire. Je veux que le monde sache comment nous vivions avant la révolution, qu’il en sache les vraies raisons. Nous vivions dans un monde où nous n’avions qu’à obéir comme des esclaves, quelque soit l’ordre du maître. Nous n’avions qu’à obéir et nous exécuter. En cas de désobéissance, nous étions punis ou exécutés.

Nous vivions dans un état de haute sécurité, ce qui signifie que nous étions gouvernés par un président unique avec ses militaires, ses services secrets, ses officiers, sa police militaire, sa police, ses indicateurs et ses shabihas [gangs armés]. Pour faire quoique ce soit, il vous fallait d’abord obtenir une autorisation et vérifier que la loi vous permettait d’agir ou non ; ce qui signifie que vous n’aviez aucun droit d’agir de vous-même et que vous auriez à affronter des obstacles si vous persistiez. Seuls les tenants du pouvoir pouvaient vivre librement et en dehors des lois. Ils pouvaient agir en toute liberté sans rien demander à personne, tout en contrôlant chaque quartier, y compris le système politique, le secteur industriel du pétrole et du gaz, l’économie du pays, les banques, le commerce, l’armée, l’agriculture et l ‘éducation. Dans les faits, ils se considéraient comme des dieux.

C’est Hafez (et ensuite Bashar) qui ont permis à Israël d’occuper militairement les Hauteurs du Golan.

Nous avons vécu sous ce régime qui prétend être anti-sioniste, mais c’est, en fait, un autre mensonge : il n’a jamais tiré un coup de feu contre Israël et il a maintenu la paix dans les Hauteurs du Golan, interdisant à tout syrien d’attaquer l’État Juif ou de réclamer ce territoire annexé. Tout homme qui l’aurait osé eût été jeté en prison, puni et probablement exécuté. Nous vivions comme des esclaves, sans aucun droit. Nous n’avions pas celui de choisir un candidat au poste de président ou d’organiser des élections libres, de créer des partis politiques ou de choisir des députés, d’élire un parlement. Seuls Assad et ses services secrets pouvaient choisir des députés, et leurs choix allaient invariablement vers les plus corrompus, les plus dénués de moralité ou de conscience. Si vous vous opposiez à la moindre de leurs actions, vous étiez jetés en prison. Ils faisaient de vous ce qu’ils voulaient parce que vous n’étiez rien. Les gens avaient peur de s’opposer, d’être en désaccord avec le régime ou avec quelqu’un qui fût proche des services secrets : les Syriens ont appris à courber l’échine et à se taire. Si vous osiez maudire Bashar, les hommes du régime venaient vous saisir où que vous soyiez pour vous embarquer à l’antenne locale des services secrets. Personne ne savait où vous étiez passé, personne n’osait s’en informer ou même prononcer votre nom. Si jamais vous vouliez créer un mouvement politique, ils agissaient de même : en Syrie, il n’y avait qu’un seul parti, et tous les syriens étaient obligés d’y adhérer. Au cas où vous aviez l’intention d’échapper au service militaire obligatoire, vous étiez jeté en prison pour au moins trois mois, puis forcé de servir quand même.. S’il vous arrivait de mourir pendant votre incarcération dans les geôles des services secrets, personne n’aurait cherché à savoir comment et pourquoi. Personne, évidemment, n’aurait pu être tenu responsable de votre mort car la constitution syrienne garantit au président, à ses services secrets, ses militaires et ses collaborateurs une immunité totale. Les syriens étaient traités comme des insectes qu’on écrase sous une botte. Leur vie importait peu.

On ne peut représenter l’oppression, mais on peut la ressentir.

Le système permettait au président, son armée et ses services secrets d’arrêter, de torturer et de tuer n’importe qui, de disposer de nous et personne, en dehors du pays, ne savait ce qui s’y passait. La corruption, le népotisme et les faveurs étaient la règle à tous les niveaux de l’état, et les gens ont appris à survivre et à ne s’occuper que de soi, sans poser de question, sans s’occuper des autres. Seuls Assad et les proches du régime pouvaient agir à leur guise. La Syrie était une grande ferme et les syriens en étaient le bétail.

Il faut que je vous parle de l’économie du pays. En dépit de la découverte de réserves de pétrole et de gaz dans le Nord-Est de la Syrie ainsi que d’énormes gisements en Mer Méditerranée, nous nous sommes toujours étonnés de ce que ces matières premières étaient si chères pour nous, et pourquoi devions-nous les importer d’Iran, d’Iraq et d’Égypte. Nous avons découvert que c’est parce que Bashar et sa famille volaient le gaz et le pétrole syriens pour le vendre au rabais à la Russie et à l’Europe. Ils se mettaient l’argent dans la poche, pendant que les Syriens n’ont d’autre choix que d’acheter leur carburant et leur gaz à un prix élevé dans les centres de distribution de l’état, quand on avait la chance d’en trouver un. Le gouvernement a constamment gonflé le prix du pétrole et du gaz. Conséquemment, les prix des autres denrées, pain, riz, sucre, habillement, appareils électroniques, maisons, tout, enfin, à augmenté et continué d’augmenter sans jamais diminuer. Quand on pense aux réserves de notre pays en énergies fossiles, cette situation est tout à fait grotesque.

L’économie syrienne toute entière est une farce : lorsque le gouvernement recevait une aide d’autres pays, toute question de notre part relative à la destination de ces fonds restait sans réponse. Quand nous voulûmes nous pencher sur le développement du système éducatif de notre pays, de la santé, de l’agriculture, du secteur industriel ou du réseau électrique national, le gouvernement nous répondit que cette idée entraînerait une hausse des impôts ainsi qu’un surcroît de l’aide internationale parce que la Syrie n’avait pas les moyens de telles réformes.

Les agences de services secrets et les espions : le contrôle de la vie du peuple est total. Telle est l’existence sous le règne d’Assad.

Si un Syrien, désireux de vivre dignement voulait créer une entreprise, manufacture ou import de produits finis telles des voitures, de l’habillement ou de l’équipement électrique, le régime ne l’autorisait qu’à la condition qu’il obtienne une part des bénéfices, un pot-de-vin régulier, en plus des taxes habituelles. Si vous acceptiez cela, on vous accordait votre licence. Si vous refusiez, votre demande était rejetée, et les obstacles à votre projet commençaient à se dresser devant lui. Toute personne désirant ouvrir un commerce de quelque nature que ce soit (échoppe de rue vendant de l’épicerie, stand de bouquiniste, supérette ou cybercafé) devait en premier lieu obtenir l’aval des services secrets avant de faire sa demande auprès des services d’état concernés, à qui il devait verser un pot-de-vin. Si, par exemple, vous vouliez ouvrir un cybercafé, il vous fallait obtenir l’aval des services secrets. Ensuite, après vous être rendu au siège du ministère de la communication (et acquitté un backchich pour les fonctionnaires afin que votre demande soit prise en compte) il vous fallait vous rendre au bureau du gouvernement local puis à l’organisme financier d’état et naviguer au sein de cet écheveau bureaucratique pendant des mois avant d’arriver à un résultat. Même si vous vouliez vous marier et organiser la fête de la noce, vous deviez d’abord en obtenir la permission de l’état. Pardonnez-moi d’être un peu cru, mais c’est une boutade syrienne que de dire que “si tu veux coucher avec ta femme, il te faut l’autorisation écrite du gouvernement”.

En Syrie, tout homme d’un âge donné doit se soumettre à la conscription obligatoire. Beaucoup de mes compatriotes, dès qu’ils ont 18 ans, s’envolent pour l’étranger afin d’y travailler ou faire des études. Grâce au pot-de-vin, on peut échapper à la conscription. Mais si vous n’aviez pas les moyens de prendre l’avion, de travailler ou de suivre des études à l’étranger (et pas de moyen d’échapper à la conscription), il vous restait la possibilité d’être le domestique d’un officier, ou bien chauffeur, ou garde. Si vous pouviez verser un tant par semaine à un gradé, vous pouviez être dispensé de servir et être autorisé à trouver un travail au lieu de rester au chômage. Si vous aviez les moyens d’un gros backchich (un poste TV à un gradé, le paiement de ses factures de téléphone, l’entretien de sa voiture ou tout autre service) vous pouviez éviter le service militaire pendant deux ans. Après ce délai, il vous fallait recommencer votre vie à zéro.

Les syriens veulent la liberté !

Voilà le genre de choses qui nous ont conduit à nous dresser contre le régime d’Assad. Nous voulons la liberté. Nous voulons décider de nos vies. Nous voulons organiser et affermir notre pays de nos mains. Nous voulons construire, produire nos biens de consommation nous-mêmes. Nous voulons produire de nos propres mains. Nous voulons améliorer le système éducatif, le système de santé, l’agriculture et tous les autres secteurs d’activités qu’Assad à laissé en friche. Nous voulons innover. Nous voulons être les premiers Arabes à produire des voitures, des trains. Oui, comme tous les autres peuples du monde, nous réclamons la dignité. Pour toutes ces raisons, nous continuerons de nous battre et nous ne reculerons pas. Nous vivrons dans la dignité, ou bien nous mourrons en martyr. Nous réclamons la liberté.

R. R. : Pour donner au lecteur une idée de ce que vous et vos compatriotes vivez
aujourd’hui, pouvez-vous décrire une journée habituelle en Syrie ?

S. L. : Imaginez-vous un beau matin ensoleillé… Vous vous levez, faites votre toilette, prenez votre café, en souriant à l’idée de tout ce que vous allez faire aujourd’hui, en dépit des obstacles que le gouvernement met en travers de votre chemin. Ça, c’était avant la révolution. À présent, dormir la nuit, se lever tôt le matin, c’est terminé. Tout à changé depuis le début de notre chère révolution, le 15 mai 2011 à Deraa. Bien… Voilà ce qui a changé dans mon programme et dans ma vie en général. D’abord, je ne dors plus que très tard ou très peu, sans cesse réveillé par les bombardements, les obus, les coups de feu et les manifestations, matin ou soir. Mes habitudes ont changé également.

J’avais l’habitude de fréquenter une école de langues près de chez moi pour étudier l’anglais afin d’être traducteur. Cela me permettait, en outre, de rencontrer un ami et de dénicher une meilleure place pour obtenir une maîtrise de traducteur. J’avais trouvé une place à Preston (GB), mais je n’ai pu malheureusement répondre à cette offre d’emploi car je n’ai pas de passeport, et les cours au centre linguistique américain (cycle TOEFL) ont été suspendus. Bien que j’aie contacté le Conseil Britannique pour tenter de les persuader de dispenser un cours  (cycles TOEFL ou ILTES) au Royaume-Uni, je ne pense pas pouvoir commencer ma maîtrise cette année. Je pense que l’occasion en est perdue. Mais ce n’est pas le seul problème que j’ai rencontré : après avoir cherché du travail quelques temps, j’en avais trouvé, l’an dernier, dans une société privée de communications. C’est tombé à l’eau, également, depuis que la situation, ici, n’a cessé d’empirer.

En plus, le fait de ne pas avoir fait mon service militaire signifie que je ne peux ni travailler, ni voyager pour passer ma maîtrise. Cela m’a vraiment déprimé : pas de travail, plus d’espoir de maîtrise, je perdais l’envie de vivre. Puis le régime s’est mis à tuer notre peuple. D’abord à Deraa, où les troupes d’Assad utilisèrent des balles réelles contre des manifestants désarmés, puis vinrent les chars à l’intérieur des villes. Nous autres, jeunes de Syrie, nous n’avons pas du tout aimé cela et nous avons commencé à manifester. Alors le régime à commencé à utiliser des nervis en civil et des casseurs, des brutes comme les shabihas pour nous terroriser.

Depuis lors, le régime d’Assad n’a rien épargné contre nous. Avant la révolution, je faisais trois repas par jour. Aujourd’hui, un seul. Avant la révolution, je dormais huit heures par nuit. Aujourd’hui, je me contente de cinq heures de sommeil, mais je veille bien souvent jusqu’à l’aube. Je me suis débrouillé pour aider au mieux les compatriotes qui en avaient le plus besoin, en les cachant ou en aidant quiconque avait besoin de traduire des infos ou des vidéos envoyées par d’autres activistes. Je reçois des tas d’infos : je les traduis, je les partage au mieux, je discute avec mes amis et nous échangeons nos points de vue sur ce qu’il convient de faire. Notre principal sujet de conversation tourne autour de l’idée que chaque nation au sein de la Communauté Internationale soutient le régime de Bashar parce qu’elle ne veut pas perdre le toutou docile qui protège Israël et maintient la sécurité dans la région.

À présent, le régime à dressé des checkpoints dans toutes les villes et villages, sur tous les axes principaux, et il a fermé toutes les rues qui conduisent au palais présidentiel, à Damas. Il a placé également des snipers un peu partout, surtout dans les zones contrôlées par les rebelles. Si vous voulez faire des courses ou bien vous rendre à la salle de gym, voir des amis ou aller n’importe où, les troupes du régime vous arrêteront aux checkpoints et vérifieront votre identité sur une longue liste de noms : si vous êtes recherché, convaincu d’être un activiste ou que vous n’ayez pas fait votre service militaire, ils vous arrêtent ou bien vous tuent sur place. Il nous faut passer ces checkpoints tous les jours. Récemment, je me rendais chez des amis pour travailler à notre cause. J’ai été arrêté pendant une demi-heure. Je commençais à me faire du soucis. Un soldat m’a appelé. Je me suis approché pour demander ce qui n’allait pas. Il m’a regardé puis a dit : “Voilà  tes papiers. Tu nous fais perdre notre temps avec des recherches inutiles. File.” Après cette aventure, j’ai décidé qu’à chaque fois que je sortirais, j’emprunterais des chemins de traverse pour éviter les checkpoints. Une autre fois, récemment, je me suis rendu à Barzeh pour voir les parents de Salim, un ami abattu par un sniper. Je voulais leur présenter mes condoléances. Au même moment, de violents affrontements avaient lieu dans le secteur, entre des troupes loyalistes et l’Armée Syrienne de Libération. Comme je me rendais à l’appartement des parents de Salim, un sniper à tiré et m’a manqué de peu. J’ai seulement réalisé ce qui arrivait quand un inconnu m’a tiré dans l’entrée de l’immeuble en disant : “Tu es cinglé ? Tu as donc envié de mourir ?”

Ce porc de Bashar à donné ordre aux snipers de se positionner un peu partout et de descendre qui ils veulent. J’ai beaucoup d’amis qui ont été tués par des snipers. D’autres ont survécu à leurs tirs. Anwar, un ami qui n’avait peur de rien et qui était de toutes les manifs, à pris une balle dans la tête. Après un séjour de six mois en soins intensifs et une balle qui lui a traversé le crâne, Allah n’a pas voulu qu’il meure. Certes, il a survécu, mais il est a demi-paralysé et il peut à peine se servir de sa jambe et son bras droits. J’ai d’autres amis qui ont purement et simplement disparu depuis leur arrestation par les forces du régime. Personne ne sait où ils sont et s’ils sont en vie. L’un d’entre eux, Bilal, un ami proche, avait l’habitude de ne pas manquer une seule manif pour encourager la chute du régime… Tous les jours, j’entends parler d’amis kidnappés contre rançon, d’autres sont enlevés dans la rue ou à un checkpoint. Certains d’entre eux peuvent appeler leurs parents pour demander de l’argent. Tant que la rançon n’est pas versée, les ravisseurs ne donnent aucune nouvelle aux parents.

Il est impossible de décrire notre enfer. Plus d’ordre, plus aucune stabilité, et la Communauté Internationale qui regarde faire et se tait. Des tas de jeunes gens s’envolent à l’étranger pour survivre. Les autres rejoignent les rangs de l’ASL dans laquelle on retrouve de nombreux éléments qui ont déserté l’armée régulière où ils étaient obligés de servir. Voila ma vie en Syrie aujourd’hui. J’ai décidé de rallier l’ASL. Honnêtement, j’ai souvent envié de fuir le plus vite possible. J’ai songé à m’enfuir à l’étranger mais, comme je vous l’ai dit, je n’ai pas de passeport. Bien que j’aie demandé de l’aide à des tas d’amis et de connaissances, il est quasi impossible de sortir de Syrie sans passeport.

Conséquences du passage des tanks qui ont pénétré dans le camp palestinien de Yarmouk, près de Damas.

R. R. : Que répondez-vous à ceux qui continuent à prétendre qu’Assad est une figure emblématique de l’anti-sionisme ?

S. L. : Tout le monde sait que Hafez Al Assad (que Dieu le maudisse, lui et son fils !) a vendu les Hauteurs du Golan à Israël et qu’il est responsable de la mort de nombreux Palestiniens au Liban et en Syrie, et ce pour garantir la sécurité d’Israël au Liban. À présent, son fils Bashar fait la même chose mais d’une manière différente. Il a attaqué de nombreuses zones où vivent les Palestiniens établis en Syrie, surtout au camp de Yarmouk, près de Damas, et je l’ai vu de mes propres yeux. De même, il est tout à fait faux de croire que Bashar soutient le Hezbollah libanais dans sa lutte contre Israël. C’est pur mensonge. Chacun sait qu’Assad à donné le feu vert au Hezbollah pour assassiner le leader sunnite Rafiq Al Hariri au Liban. De même, le soutien syrien pour redorer le blason de Nasrallah [chef du Hezbollah libanais] afin qu’il puisse se poser en héros de guerre ; la guerre de 2007 contre Israël était pourtant un autre mensonge, un stratagème pour permettre l’expansion du Hezbollah au Liban, et donner aux chiites l’occasion d’accroître leur mainmise sur ce pays, en permettant à l’Iran de renforcer son contrôle sur la région. C’est le projet de Téhéran au Moyen-Orient : constituer un croissant chiite qui s’étendrait de l’Iran à l’Iraq en réunissant la Syrie, le Liban, l’Égypte, l’Arabie Saoudite et le Yémen. Bashar Al Assad souligne sans cesse qu’il lutte contre Israël, qu’il mène la résistance contre l’État Hébreu. Je répondrai ceci : en ce cas, pourquoi emprisonnez-vous, pourquoi torturez-vous, pourquoi tuez-vous tous mes amis ainsi que des dizaines de milliers de Syriens ? Pourquoi tuez-vous mes frères Palestiniens et Iraquiens ? Pourquoi n’avez-vous rien fait quand les avions israéliens ont violé l’espace aérien de notre pays ? N’essayez pas de mentir au peuple syrien : nous vous connaissons mieux que personne. Nous savons tous que votre boulot, c’est de nous liquider et de protéger Israël. Que Dieu vous maudisse, fils de l’adultère !

Homs, au pire de la violence.

R. R. : Comment ça se passe pour vous qui devez vivre dans une vraie zone de guerre ?

S. L. :  Il nous est très difficile de subvenir à nos besoins dans les circonstances actuelles ; on vit avec prudence, on n’achète et on ne consomme que l’essentiel. En ce qui me concerne, c’est plus dur parce que je suis sans emploi. C’est mon père qui m’aide financièrement. Je vis chez mes parents et je les aide. Aujourd’hui, en Syrie, les branches d’une même famille sont regroupées sous un même toit, ce qui fait qu’on trouve parfois de trois à dix familles vivant dans la même maison. La situation est dramatique : entre 65 et 75% de la Syrie est détruite. On se débrouille pour acheter, pour stocker la nourriture qu’on peut trouver, mais il y a des secteurs où il n’y à plus rien. À Homs, il n’y a plus ni nourriture, ni quoique ce soit pour se protéger du froid. Dans deux mois, l’hiver sera là, et nous voudrions que cela finisse le plus tôt possible. La plupart des villes syriennes n’ont plus rien : Assad à brûlé les récoltes et détruit les habitations. J’ai de quoi manger la plupart du temps mais d’autres non, et ça, ça m’inquiète. On leur envoie de l’aide mais le régime encercle ces zones, bien que l’ASL fasse de son mieux pour distribuer aide et médicaments.

Personne n’a idée de la tragédie que nous vivons, mais nous avons bon moral car nous savons tous qu’Allah est à nos côtés. Nous tuerons Bashar, inch’Allah. Nous allons continuer à nous soutenir mutuellement avec nourriture, soins médicaux et tout ce qui sera nécessaire pour remporter la
victoire. J’insiste sur le fait que que l’armée de notre pays, c’est l’Armée Libre de Syrie, l’ALS, et nous en sommes très fiers. Nous sommes tous syriens et nous resterons unis : c’est ce que nous chantions pendant les manifestations “uni, uni, uni, le Peuple Syrien est uni!”

Même après de nombreux mois, le monde se contente toujours de regarder le génocide.

R. R. : Que ressentez-vous devant l’apathie de presque toute la Communauté Internationale à l’égard de la révolution syrienne, et est-ce que votre opinion à son égard a-t-elle évolué ? Si oui, dans quelle mesure ?

S. L. : Pour quelles raisons le monde entier a-t-il béni les révolutions en Tunisie, en Égypte, en Lybie et au Yémen, pourquoi les a-t-il soutenus alors que personne ne nous a aidé, personne pour soutenir notre révolution, personne pour dire le bien-fondé de notre cause ? Pourquoi la Russie, l’Iran, la Chine et l’Iraq ont-ils été autorisés à aider Bashar et son régime en fournissant armes, argent, carburant, gaz et démarches politiques ? Pourquoi les gouvernements occidentaux n’ont-ils pas essayé de nous aider en créant une zone d’exclusion aérienne, en nous fournissant les armes nécessaires et en établissant des zones protégées pour les civils ?Peut-être que ces mêmes gouvernements sont incapables de répondre à toutes ces questions.

Nous, les syriens, nous savons pourquoi : ils veulent nous imposer une solution unilatérale, et cela, nous ne l’accepterons jamais. Je vais vous dire ce que l’on nous propose comme solution. Ils veulent que nous acceptions leurs conditions en permettant à Bashar de rester au pouvoir, nous octroyer une liberté cosmétique et procéder à des changements superficiels en réunissant un gouvernement d’unité nationale. Les gouvernements occidentaux ne veulent pas entendre parler de gens droits et nobles, d’honorables patriotes, ils ne veulent pas entendre parler de l’ALS, non. Ils veulent tuer tous ces gens-là pour mieux nous imposer leurs vues. Il y a aussi cette clause très importante : ils veulent qu’Israël soit assuré d’une paix sans nuage et que nul ne s’en approche. Pour toutes ces raisons – et l’Histoire le prouve à l’envi – Bashar est le mieux placé pour réussir. C’est pourquoi les gouvernements occidentaux laissent l’Iran, la Russie et lal’Iraq le soutenir en lui envoyant davantage d’armes et de troupes, puisqu’il n’y a plus de syriens (qui ne veulent plus de lui) à cause des défections  en masse qui dépeuplent l’armée régulière. L’Occident laisse ces pays envoyer des fonds et des soldats du Hezbollah, de l’Armée du Mahdi [milice chiite irakienne] et de la Force Al Qds [pasdarans iraniens, opérations extérieures]. L’excuse de l’Occident est que l’issue du conflit est complexe. Elle est très simple, au contraire : nous voulons la liberté. Donnez-nous des armes lourdes pour détruire les avions de chasse, des tanks, des lance-rocket et nous gagnerons. L’Occident sait que Bashar est affaibli, c’est pourquoi il prétend que s’il nous donnait des armes, l’ASL serait incapable d’en contrôler la distribution et donc Al-Qaeda en profiterait.

Mais les syriens savent bien qu’Al-Qaeda n’est pas en Syrie, ni dans aucun pays arabe. Les gouvernements occidentaux ont brandi cette nouvelle excuse : l’opposition syrienne n’est pas unie. Celle qui a défait les régimes en place dans les autres pays n’était pas plus unie. Les gouvernements occidentaux n’ont rien fait non plus pour les réfugiés syriens en Turquie, en Jordanie, au Liban et en Iraq ; ils n’ont envoyé qu’une aide insuffisante, sans leur permettre de pouvoir travailler. Ils ne les ont même pas enregistrés comme réfugiés aux Nations Unies, les laissant dans des zones désolées d’Iraq et de Jordanie, parce que l’Occident veut que les syriens, même réfugiés, obéissent à leurs directives en se soumettant à Bashar Al Assad, en retournant vivre sous sa férule. Si nous refusons cela, notre punition sera la privation de nourriture, d’eau et de denrées de première nécessité. Il ne faudra, bien sûr, pas compter sur son aide pour se débarrasser de Bashar. Personne ne nous aidera. Nous n’avons que nous pour nous aider, et Dieu, et c’est précisément ce à quoi nous sommes réduits aujourd’hui.

Combattants de l’ASL tombés au champ d’honneur.

R. R. : Comment voyez-vous la situation évoluer à court et moyen terme, et êtes-vous confiant dans le retour de la paix après la chute d’Assad ?

S. L. : La situation sera sanglante et bloquée si nous ne nous efforçons pas ardemment de résoudre le problème. Si l’on peut agir vite pour nous libérer, cela nous permettra d’épargner le plus de vies possibles et de sauver ce qui peut l’être de notre peuple, des propriétés, de l’infrastructure du pays, de son économie… Si on leslaisse faire ce qu’ils veulent (Bashar et les puissances occidentales) nous perdrons davantage de nos compatriotes et le carnage va empirer. Si cela devait arriver, le bain de sang se poursuivrait (ce serait un génocide) avec des milliers de morts supplémentaires, le pays pillé et mis à sac par son armée, les bâtiments et son infrastructure détruits, l’économie dévastée, des milliers de gens choisissant l’exil, les meilleurs cerveaux de Syrie, ceux qui sont essentiels pour reconstruire le pays, fuiraient une nation tout simplement abandonnée au chaos. Nous autres syriens nous ne le voulons pas. Nous ne pouvons accepter ça. C’est pourquoi nous travaillons très dur à organiser et harmoniser notre agenda pour tuer Bashar et mettre rapidement un terme à cette épouvantable situation. Nous autres syriens sommes optimistes parce qu’Allah nous accompagne et que nous sommes unis. C’est pourquoi nous pensons que la paix reviendra bientôt. Si Bashar reste au pouvoir, il n’y aura nulle paix. Juste plus de discours et de sang versé, et nous vivrons à jamais dans les ténèbres comme des esclaves. Nous ne pouvons l’accepter. C’est pourquoi nous  préférons  vivre dignement ou mourir en martyr. C’est l’option que nous avons retenue : la mort plutôt que d’être encore humiliés.

R. R. : Que pensez-vous de certaines allégations relevées dans de nombreux médias qui parlent de “guerre civile confessionnelle” ?

S. L. : Il n’y a pas de “guerre civile confessionnelle”. C’est de la propagande, distillée par le
régime et d’autres pays. Ils prétendent que si le régime tombe, une guerre civile va éclater et le massacre sera général et qu’au contraire, si Bashar reste, la société syrienne demeurera unie. C’est un mensonge éhonté ! Ce que l’Occident et Bashar projettent de faire, c’est de redessiner la carte de la Syrie en régions autonomes comme en Iraq, avec les Kurdes qui y auraient un état indépendant dans le Nord-Est, les Druzes dans le Sud et les Alaouites le long de la côte syrienne, tandis que les Sunnites obtiendraient le reste. Voilà leur projet, et Bashar se démène tant et plus pour réaliser son rêve d’un état Alaouite-Chiite. Ils oublient seulement que depuis le début de notre révolution, notre mot d’ordre a été “Uni, uni, uni : le Peuple Syrien est Uni !”

Le régime essaie d’attiser le sectarisme prétendu de la révolution ; le peuple pense différemment [la Syrie pour tous !].

Ce pays est à tous. Quelle que soit votre religion, secte ou groupe particulier, vous êtes syrien et vous appartenez à la Syrie. Les syriens de toute obédience refusent le projet de diviser notre nation et tous en appellent à l’unité. J’ai rencontré des Alaouites, des Chiites, des Chrétiens, des Druzes et des Sunnites au cours de notre révolution et tous ont rejeté ce plan pour nous diviser. Nous en appelons à l’unité : un peuple, un pays. En dépit des tentatives du pouvoir pour armer différentes sectes et les retourner les unes contre les autres. Pour nous diviser. Même si Bashar fait de son mieux pour semer la division parmi nous, nous ne permettrons pas d’être manipulés, de nous entretuer : nous sommes frères et sœurs.

Pour finir, je voudrais ajouter ceci : avant notre révolution, on vivait ensemble en parfaite harmonie. J’ai vécu, moi, dans un immeuble où mes voisins étaient chiites, juifs et chrétiens. Mes amis sont de religions différentes : on s’apprécie et on cohabite sans problème.

R. R. : Pensez-vous que cette expérience vous a changé ? Si oui, dans quelle mesure ?

S. L. :  Oui, j’ai changé. J’ai une plus grande conscience de la conspiration générale pour faire échouer notre révolution. J’ai également découvert que le monde ne se préoccupe que de ses intérêts et il se moque bien de tout le reste, sauf de lui-même. J’ai également fini de croire à la rhétorique des représentants de l’ONU ou des organisations non-gouvernementales, que ce soit les Droits de l’Homme, l’UNICEF, l’UNICO [universités & collèges en GB], la CPI [cour pénale internationale], l’IJP [institut de justice pénale] ou autre. Le monde n’a pas été capable de mettre au point le moindre programme pour aider les syriens en Syrie ou les réfugiés dans les pays voisins, ni même d’organiser une rencontre de donateurs. Même les conférences des “Amis de la
Syrie” n’a débouché sur rien. Tout ce que savent faire ces gens-là, c’est de nous regarder et laisser Bashar nous tuer avec le soutien russe et iranien.

Pour autant, la révolution m’a donné une forme d’espoir. Voulez-vous savoir ? Elle m’a appris que lorsque vous affrontez des difficultés et des obstacles dans votre vie, personne (excepté sans doute une poignée d’amis véritables ainsi que votre famille) ne se soucie de vous pour vous apporter de l’aide. Il faut tout faire soi-même et s’entraider de toutes les manières. La révolution m’a rendu très conscient de cela. Elle m’a rendu fier de mon peuple et de mon pays. Elle m’a appris ce dont nous avons besoin pour en finir avec cette situation. Nous sommes des gens pacifiques et nous ne manquons pas de ressources. On peut se reconstruire, nous et notre pays, développer nos talents et en acquérir d’autres. Je me sens plus responsable qu’avant : je veux me développer, parfaire mes capacités, acquérir de nouvelles connaissances et les partager avec mon peuple. Je veux enseigner aux générations futures que nous avons combattu et sacrifié nos vies pour gagner notre liberté, et que nous ne devons jamais plus accepter quiconque qui se prendrait pour un dieu avec un droit divin sur son peuple. Non, il nous faut désormais élire des chefs désintéressés, seulement préoccupés de la nation et du peuple syriens, et non de leur enrichissement personnel.

Je veux souligner le fait que la révolution est dans nos mains. Je pense que le monde à besoin de changement. Il doit comprendre que les peuples qui vivent sur cette terre sont égaux et qu’ils ont droit à la liberté. J’ai aussi découvert que ceux qui se posent en tant que “Leaders Arabes” ne sont que des traîtres à la solde des puissances étrangères. Au mieux, ils se moquent totalement des arabes.

R. R. : Combien de temps pensez-vous que la révolution puisse continuer, et que prévoyez-vous qu’il advienne quand elle sera achevée ?

S. L. : Lorsque nous avons commencé la révolution, nous savions qu’il n’y aurait pas de retour en arrière et nous n’avons pas changé d’avis ; après tout ce que nous avons enduré, consenti tous ces sacrifices, nous serions perdus de seulement imaginer revenir au statu quo ante. C’est notre mot de la fin : tout ce que Bashar nous a fait (et continue de nous faire, sans répit), il l’a fait avec de plus en plus d’aide d’Israël, de la Russie, de l’Iran et de la Chine. Nous avons prouvé au monde entier (qui s’obstine dans ses dénégations) que des troupes iraniennes, des hommes du Hezbollah et des soldats russes ont été capturés dans chaque ville de Syrie. Chacun de ces hommes était porteur de documents qui attestent cette évidence. Nous avons également obtenu des documents officiels en provenance du pouvoir qui prouvent que Bashar a fait venir de plus en plus d’hommes en provenance d’Iran (gardiens de la révolution), du Liban, d’Iraq, de Russie et d’autres pays qui fournissent aussi bien des armes que des troupes. Malgré cela, le régime d’Assad est en train de perdre la bataille. Ses alliés et les puissances occidentales veulent qu’il demeure, et ils le couvrent de toutes les manières possibles. Malheureusement pour lui, nous le battrons lui et ses alliés, et nous le tuerons, inch’Allah !

Vous me demandez combien de temps la révolution va-t-elle encore durer : jusqu’à ce que nous tuions Bachar et que nous chassions les russes, les iraniens et le Hezbollah hors de Syrie. Personne, dans notre pays, n’accepterait de s’arrêter aujourd’hui car dans chaque maison de chaque village, ville ou grande cité de Syrie on compte au moins un martyr, un prisonnier, une victime d’enlèvement par les forces du régime, à moins que ce soit un membre de la famille qui ait été contraint à l’exil. Savez-vous qu’Assad a anéanti de nombreuses familles ?

Savez-vous qu’il a détruit la plupart des villes du pays et qu’il a emprisonné plus de 250 000 personnes ? Savez-vous qu’il punit collectivement chaque syrien dans chaque secteur qui s’oppose à lui (c’est à dire presque toute la Syrie) ? Savez-vous que ses forces détiennent et retiennent des stocks de produits pharmaceutiques, qu’elles empoisonnent les réserves d’eau et de nourriture, bombardant les boulangeries pour affamer la population ? Assad fait aussi bombarder les hôpitaux, vise le personnel médical dans l’espoir que le peuple syrien sera obligé de lui obéir. Voici la réponse que nous lui adressons : “vas en enfer !”

Le monde voit tout cela et ne fait rien. Il s’excuse en disant : “c’est bien difficile. C’est compiqué”. C’est très simple, au contraire. Les syriens veulent être libérés de la dictature et la Communauté Internationale pourrait nous aider si elle le voulait. Les syriens savent tout cela. Nous allons continuer à nous soutenir les uns les autres, soutenir et combattre pour l’ALS. Quoique fasse Assad, nous ne calerons pas. Chaque homme, chaque femme, chaque enfant va combattre jusqu’à son dernier souffle. Pas question d’accepter ce que l’ Occident à décidé pour nous. Nous ne céderons pas. Nous n’accepterons pas ce que l’on veut nous imposer. Nous l’avons commencée et nous allons la finir, cette révolution. Par-dessus tout, et nous l’avons déclaré à nos débuts, Allah est avec nous, Allah et personne d’autre que Lui. Nous n’avons que Lui.

Vous voulez savoir “ce que nous ferons” après la révolution. Pour l’instant, on travaille dans la clandestinité afin que tout soit prêt, et il y a une parfaite collaboration entre nous. Nos plans sont arrêtés, mais nous ne pouvons nous dévoiler de peur que l’ennemi ne découvre ce que nous préparons. Tout ce que je peux dire, c’est que nous assurons la coordination entre l’Armée de Libération, les conseils militaires, l’opposition et les différents partis pour nous assurer que la normalité et la loi seront restaurées à la chute d’Assad, afin que le peuple syrien puisse retourner à une vie normale. Nous créerons un jour la transition qui restera en place jusqu’à ce qu’une nouvelle constitution soit adoptée et qu’un nouveau président avec un gouvernement et un parlement soient établis.

R. R. : Quels sont vos projets pour la période post-révolutionnaire, et est-ce que ce que vous avez vécu pendant la révolution les a-t-ils modifiés, et en quoi ?

S. L. : Aujourd’hui, je voudrais acquérir d’avantage d’expérience et m’impliquer activement en politique. Je veux jouer un rôle actif dans la reconstruction et le développement de mon pays et aussi participer à l’aide médicale de mes compatriotes. J’aimerais m’impliquer dans l’aide humanitaire et l’aide sociale car, comme vous le savez, un grand nombre d’adultes et d’enfants ont dû subir des amputations suite aux bombardements du régime. Ces personnes ont besoin de prothèses, tandis que d’autres ont besoin d’être opérés sans tarder. Tout cela va coûter des sommes considérables, aussi avons-nous besoin d’argent et de l’aide d’hôpitaux étrangers.

Je voudrais aussi m’investir dans l’éducation. Comme vous le savez, je suis traducteur et j’aimerais aider à enseigner aux enfants et aux jeunes gens dans les écoles, les collèges et autres établissements scolaires. Le régime a tué un grand nombre de professeurs dans toutes les disciplines, c’est pourquoi nous souffrons d’une grande pénurie dans ce domaine, et il va falloir vraiment mettre les bouchées doubles pour pallier toutes ces vacances. Il nous faudra aussi surveiller les fondations d’un projet éducatif afin de mettre en place un programme d’études accéléré. De cette façon, nous éviterons les difficultés pour des enfants qui ont manqué deux années d’études à cause des bombardements du régime et le chaos qui s’en suivit.

Nous voulons procéder à l’arrestation de tous ceux qui auront été impliqués dans des meurtres, dans la pratique de la torture, des viols et des pillages. Ces personnes seront em prisonnées et jugées. Ceux qui auront commis le pire seront exécutés. Nous ne permettrons à personne d’échapper au châtiment, quelle que soit sa religion. Nous avons tous été confrontés à la persécution, à la terreur et à l’intimidation, et beaucoup trop d’entre nous ont été torturés et/ou assassinés. C’est pourquoi nous voulons justice et dignité pour tous. De manière égale.

Pour conclure, je vous dirai que je veux participer activement au processus politique afin d’aider et représenter mon pays et mon peuple. J’ai toujours l’ambition d’obtenir ma maîtrise de traducteur et d’interprète, même si le régime m’a privé de cette chance en gâchant deux années de ma vie à cause d’une guerre brutale déchaînée contre les syriens eux-mêmes. C’est ce que ce pouvoir nous a imposé, mais nous rejetons ce régime. (original)

Interview with a Free Syrian

Posted: 09/22/2012 by editormary in Uncategorized

Giant posters, remind people of who is / was in charge

Ruth Riegler has interviewed an activist in Syria to understand about the life that he leads in revolutionary Syria. He uses a pseudonom.

RR: How would you describe life before the revolution? And what do you believe were the root causes of the revolution?

FS: My name is Free Syrian.  I want to tell the world about why we made the revolution against Bashar Al-Assad and his regime.  Everyone in the world knows that this is a great revolution, but in fact no one knows what the real reason behind it is. I will tell you.  I want the whole world to know how we lived before the revolution and to know the real reasons for it. We were living in a world in which we had to listen and obey like slaves – whatever the master says, you must obey him and do it, and if you disobey him he will punish or kill you.

We lived in a security state, which meant we were ruled by one president and his military, intelligence apparatus, army officers, military police, police, informants and shabiha [armed gangs].  When you wanted to do something, you had to first obtain their permission and see if their laws allow you to do it or not, which meant you had no right to do anything independently and would face obstacles if you tried.  Only the regime personnel lived freely and without being governed by laws; they could do what they wanted without asking, by controlling every area, including the political system , oil and gas , the economy, banks, trade,  military, agriculture and education.  In effect, they consider themselves gods.

Hafez (and then Bashar) Assad allowed Israel to militarily occupy the Golan Heights.

We lived under this regime, which claims to be anti-zionist, but in fact this is just another lie because for 47 years it never fired one single bullet at Israel, and maintained calm in the occupied Golan Heights, banning any Syrian from even shooting a gun at Israel or reclaiming this stolen land. Anyone who did so would be thrown into prison, punished and possibly killed.

We lived like slaves, without rights in anything. We were forbidden from choosing a candidate for president, holding free elections, establishing political parties or selecting our representatives for parliament.  Only Assad and his intelligence network were allowed to select MPs and they chose the most corrupt people without morality or conscience to do their bidding. If you opposed anything they did, they would put you in jail and do what they wanted to you there because you are nothing to them.

People were afraid to oppose or disagree with the regime or anyone close to the intelligence services: Syrians learned to keep our heads down and not say anything. Even if you just cursed Bashar, they would come and pick you up wherever you were and take you to the local intelligence services branch, with nobody knowing where you had gone or daring to ask about you or even mention your name.  If you wanted to start a political movement they would do the same because in Syria we had  only one party and all Syrian people were forced to join it.  If you avoided the compulsory military service and didn’t want to serve, they would imprison you for three or more months then force you to do the military service anyway.  If you died in the intelligence services’ custody, nobody would ask how  or why you died and no-one would be held accountable for your death because the constitution gives the president, his intelligence services and his military and other allies complete immunity. The Syrian people are treated as insects to be squashed underfoot with no attention paid to our deaths.

Oppression can’t be photographed, but it can be felt

The system allowed the president, his military and intelligence services to arrest, torture or kill anybody, to do as they want to us, with nobody in the outside world knowing what was going on.  Corruption, nepotism and favoritism are the norm in all state institutions and people have learnt to just exist and look out for their own interests, not asking about or helping anyone but themselves, with only Assad and his regime loyalists allowed to do what they want; Syria is his farm and Syrians are the animals.

I’d also like to mention Syria’s economy. Despite the discovery of oil and gas reserves in the northeast of the country and huge reserves of oil and gas offshore, we wondered why these commodities were so expensive for us and why we got gas and oil from Iran, Iraq and Egypt instead. We found that this was because Bashar and his family were stealing Syria’s gas and oil and selling it to Russia and to European countries for low prices, keeping the profits for themselves, while we Syrians had no choice but to buy gas and oil from state outlets at high prices – if we could find any at all.  The government constantly artificially increased the price of oil and gas and as a result the prices of every other commodity – bread, rice, sugar,  clothes, electronic goods, houses, everything – rose and continued to rise and never fell. Given our country’s great wealth in oil and gas, this is the most ridiculous situation.

Our economy is a farce. Even if the government got aid from other countries, any questions from us about where those funds went would be unanswered. When we wanted to develop the country’s education, health, agriculture, industrial sectors or its power grid, the government said that it would need to impose more taxes to do that and needed help from other nations because Syria did not have the resources.

If a Syrian trying to live a dignified life wanted to start a  manufacturing business making our own goods or to import goods  to sell, like cars or clothes or electrical equipment, the regime would not allow us unless the regime got a cut of the profits and regular bribes [above the usual taxes].  If you agreed to this, they would allow you an operating license, but if you refused they would reject your application and create obstacles for you.

Intelligence agencies, spying, total control of the lives of people. This is life under the Assad regime.

Anyone who wants to open any sort of shop, whether  a small corner shop selling groceries or a bookstore,  supermarket,  internet  café or anything else had to first get  permission from the intelligence services before applying for a license from the relevant state bodies and paying bribes to the officials.  For example, if I wished  to open an internet café I would first have to get the permission of the intelligence services, then go to the communication ministry and pay a bribe to the officials there in order to get the application processed before going to the local governorate offices, then the state financial institution, and carry on with this bureaucratic  tangle for months before actually getting anywhere at all.  Even if you wanted to get married and hold a wedding party, you needed to first obtain official state permission to do so; I’m sorry to use crude language, but it is a running joke among  Syrians that if you want to f*ck your wife you needed to get written permission from the government first.

We also have compulsory military service for every man of a certain age. Many flee abroad to work or study when they reach 18 or pay bribes in order to avoid military service.  If you couldn’t afford to travel and work or study abroad and had no other way to escape conscription, you might have been able to work as a servant to them instead or as a driver or guard. If you could afford to pay a weekly bribe to senior officers you might be excused service and allowed to go and get a job or remain unemployed instead. If you can afford to offer bigger bribes like buying a senior officer a TV set or paying his phone bills, repairing his car or performing any other useful service, you may be able to avoid military service for the next two years, but after this you would have to start your life all over once again from zero.

Syrians want freedom

These are some of the things that drove us to rise up against Assad’s regime. We want freedom. We want to choose our own lives for ourselves. We want to organize and strengthen our country with our own hands.  We want to build and manufacture our own goods in our own factories. We want to improve Syria’s education, health, agriculture and all other sectors, which Assad has ignored, to be innovators, to build the first Arab cars and trains.  Yes, we are people like any others in the world who want dignity.  For all these reasons we will continue fighting and will not back down; we will live with dignity or die as martyrs. We want freedom.

RR: Can you briefly describe a typical day, to give readers an idea of what you and other Syrians are living with?

FS: Imagine yourself waking up on a beautiful sunny morning, washing your face, drinking your coffee, smiling at the thought of what you will achieve today, even if you have to overcome obstacles put in your path by the government.  That was life before the revolution.

Now we cannot sleep at normal hours and wake up early – if we can sleep at all. Everything about our lives has changed since our blessed revolution began on May 15th, 2011 in Deraa.  Anyway, let me tell you what has changed in my schedule and life in general.  First I’ve started either sleeping late or barely sleeping at all and waking up always to hear bombing, shelling, gunfire or demonstrations, morning or night.  My habits have changed as well.  I used to go to a local English language institute to practice translation skills and develop my abilities after graduation, as well as meeting with a friend and working on finding the best place to obtain an MA in Translation Studies.  I found a place on a course in Preston, UK, but unfortunately I was unable to take up the offer because I don’t have a passport and the TOEFL courses at the American Language Centre in my city had been suspended. Although I also contacted the British Council to try to persuade them to offer a TOEFL or ILTES course in the UK, I don’t think I’ll be able to begin my MA course this year and I’ve lost my chance anyway.  This was not the only problem I faced since, after looking for a job for some time, I had been promised one with a private communications company last year. This also fell through, however, since the situation here had become steadily worse.  The fact that I did not do my military service meant that I could not work or travel, since failure to do military service prevents you from doing either, another obstacle to leaving the country to do my MA.   This left me feeling hopeless – no job, no hope of an MA, I was losing my appetite for life and everything else.   Then the regime began killing our people, at first in Deraa, where Assad’s troops used live ammunition against unarmed protesters, then tanks in cities.  We young Syrians did not like this and began holding demonstrations against it.  Then the regime began using plainclothes lowlifes and thugs , known as shabiha to terrorize us, and since then it has used everything against us.

Before the revolution I used to eat three meals a day, now I eat one. Before this I would sleep eight hours, now I might manage five at most and often stay awake until morning.  I have been working to do what I can to help other Syrians who need assistance, hiding them and helping whoever needs help in translating news and videos sent by other activists. I receive lots of news, and translate and share whatever I can, talking with friends and exchanging opinions on what we should do. Much of our conversation revolves around how every other nation in the world is supporting Bashar to remain in power because they don’t want to lose their pet pig that protects Israel and maintains its security in the region.

The regime has now put checkpoints in every town and city on all main roads and closed all the streets that lead to his palace in Damascus, as well as positioning snipers everywhere, especially in rebel areas.  If you want to go shopping or visit the gym, see friends or go anywhere else, regime troops will stop you  at the checkpoints and check your name against a long list to see if you’re wanted, identified as an activist or have avoided military service. If your name’s on the list, they will arrest you or just shoot you dead on the spot.  We have to pass through these checkpoints every day. One day recently I went to visit friends to help with revolution-related work. I was stopped for half an hour at one checkpoint and was beginning to get worried.  When a regime soldier called my name, I went and asked him what the problem was: he looked at me and said, “Take your ID and go; you’re wasting our time looking for nothing.” After that, I decided that whenever I go out, I’ll use a short cut that avoids checkpoints.  On another occasion recently, I went to Barzeh to visit the parents of a friend called Salim who had been shot dead by a sniper, to offer my condolences. At the time there were fierce clashes taking place in the area between regime troops and the FSA.  While I was on my way into the family’s apartment block, a sniper shot at and narrowly missed me. I only realised this when a stranger pulled me into the entrance and said, “Are you crazy? Do you want to die so badly?”

Life under the snipers

The pig Bashar has ordered snipers to be placed everywhere and given them instructions to shoot whoever they want. Many of my friends have been shot dead by snipers, while others have been shot but survived. One friend called Anwar, who was fearless and attended every anti-regime demonstration, was shot in the head. Despite being in the Intensive Care Unit for six months, Allah evidently wanted him to live, with the bullet passing through his skull. Although he survived, however, he is now partially paralyzed with very limited mobility in his right arm and leg.  Other friends are among those who have disappeared after being arrested by regime forces; nobody knows where they are or if they are still alive. One of them, a close friend called Bilal, always used to come along to every demonstration to support the fall of the regime.  I also hear daily about friends being kidnapped for ransom, with some friends being abducted on the street or at checkpoints. Some will call their parents to ask for money to be paid to the kidnappers; unless the ransom is paid they not be told where their child is.

It is impossible to describe the hell we are living through, without any order or stability, while the world looks on and does nothing.  Many young men flee abroad just to survive; others join the FSA, many of them after defecting from regime forces where they are forced to serve.  This is my life in Syria at present. I’ve considered joining the FSA. To be honest, I often want to escape as fast as possible. I thought previously of running away, going abroad, but as I mentioned I don’t have a passport and although I’ve asked many friends and acquaintances to help  me get out of here it’s very hard to do so without a passport.

In the end, I want to say that I hate Bashar Al Assad and his father since they came to rule Syria.  We know all his family’s history and what they have done. We know their murderous destruction,  and we know that Hafez Al Assad had  support  for and a cover-up of his crimes in Hama, Aleppo and Deir El Zour from the USA, Russia, Iran and Israel and that the same countries are  now doing the same thing for his son, Bashar.

Aftermath of the destruction from tanks that rolled into the Palestinian camp Yarmouk near Damascus

RR:  How do you respond to those who continue to insist that Assad is an anti-Zionist icon?

We all know that Hafez  Al Assad (may God Curse him and his son) sold the Golan Heights to Israel and that he was responsible for killing many Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria to maintain Israel’s security in Lebanon.  Now his son, Bashar, is doing the same thing in a different way. He has attacked many Palestinian areas in Syria, most notably the Yarmouk camp in Damascus, which I saw with my own eyes.  If you believe that he supports Hezbollah to fight and defeat Israel, that is a lie.  We all know that he gave Hezbollah the green light to kill the Sunni leader Rafiq Al Hariri in Lebanon,  as well as giving Nasrallah  approval to improve his  [Nasrallah’s]  image and make him look like a war hero, but the war against Israel in 2007 was another lie, simply a ploy to allow Hezbollah’s expansion in Lebanon and let the Shiites have greater power in the country to allow Iran to have control there and achieve Tehran’s plan for a Shiite Middle East stretching from Iran to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.   Bashar Al Assad always insists that he opposes Israel, that he leads the resistance to it. To which I would respond, then why do you jail, torture and kill my friends and tens of thousands of other people in Syria?  Why do you kill my Palestinian and Iraqi brothers?  Why did you do nothing when Israeli warplanes violated Syrian airspace?   Don’t try lying to the Syrian people, we know you better than anybody; we all know that your job is to kill us and protect Israel; may God curse you, you son of adultery.

Image of Homs during some of the worst violence

RR:  How do you cope with the stress of living in what is in effect a warzone?

It is very hard for us to secure our needs under these circumstances; we live prudently and we only eat and buy whatever is essential.  For me, it makes it harder knowing that I am jobless and my father is still helping me financially.  I live with my parents and help them; in the current situation most extended families in Syria are now crowded into one house, with anything from three to ten separate families in every home.  The situation is very bad – most of Syria, 65 or 75 percent, is destroyed.  We try to buy and store whatever food we can, but some areas are without anything.  In areas like Homs they cannot find any food or anything to protect them and keep them warm.  Winter will come soon, after two months, and we want to end this as soon as possible.  Most Syrian cities have nothing left – Assad has burnt most of the crops and destroyed homes.  I can eat most days, but others cannot and I am worried about them.  We send them aid, but the regime is besieging those areas, although the FSA does its best and works hard to deliver aid and medicine.

Nobody really has any idea of the tragedy we are living, but our spirits remain high and we all know that we will win because Allah is with us and we will kill Bashar, inshallah. We will continue to support each other with food, medicine or anything needed in order to win. I want to stress that our country’s real army is the Free Syrian Army, the FSA, and we are very proud of them. We are all Syrian people and we will stay as one hand: as we shout at our demonstrations, ‘One, one, one – the Syrian people are one.’

Many months later, the world is still just watching the genocide.

RR: How do you feel about the apathy from much of the world towards the Syrian revolution and has it changed your views of the ‘international community’? If so, how?

Why did the whole world bless the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen and support them while nobody has helped or supported our revolution in Syria or tried to tell the truth about the righteousness of our cause?  Why have Russia, Iran, China and Iraq been allowed to continue helping Bashar and his regime with weapons, money, oil, gas and political initiatives?  Why haven’t the Western powers tried to help us by creating a no-fly zone, providing us with the necessary weapons or secure safe zones for civilians?

All of these questions may appear to have no answer to them, but we Syrians know why:  they [the Western powers] want to impose their solution on us in their way, and that is what we will not accept.  But I will tell you what options or solutions they offer us. They want us to accept their terms by allowing Bashar to remain in power, giving us cosmetic freedom and surface changes by making a national unity government.  They don’t want noble people or true, honorable patriots and they don’t want the FSA; they want to kill them all and impose their wishes on us. Most importantly they want Israel left in peace with no danger of anyone even approaching it and, as history proves, Bashar is the best candidate for that. So they let Iran, Russia and Iraq support him by sending him more weapons and troops to help him after he had no Syrians left following mass defections since Syrians don’t want him. They allow those nations to send him money and troops from Hezbollah, the Mahdi Army and the Al Quds force.  Their pretext for allowing this is that the issue is difficult and complex, but in fact it is very simple:  we want freedom. Give us the heavy weaponry needed to destroy his warplanes, tanks and rocket launchers and we can win. They know that Bashar is extremely weak, so they also use the excuse that if they give us weapons the FSA will not be able to control the access to them and Al Qaeda will gain power. But Syrians are all well aware that there is no Al Qaeda in Syria or in any Arab nations, so the Western powers came up with another excuse: that our opposition is not united. But in fact the opposition which overthrew regimes in other nations has not been united either.

The Western powers have also done nothing for Syrian refugees in  Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq; they have sent no real aid to them or allowed them to do any work. They have not even registered them with the UN, just left them in camps situated in dead zones in Iraq and Jordan because they want  Syrians to obey their orders by accepting Bashar Al Assad and returning to living under his rule  and will punish us with no food, water or basic amenities if we refuse. They will not help us to kill him; nobody will help us. We have only ourselves and God to depend on, and that is what we are doing now.

Funeral for slain FSA combatants

RR:  How do you see the situation in Syria developing in the short and long term, and do you feel optimistic that there will be peace after Assad falls?

The situation will be bloody and slow-moving if  we do not work hard to resolve it.  If we can move fast to liberate ourselves that will be the best way in order to not lose more Syrians and to save what we still can of our people, properties, infrastructure, economy and everything else.  If we let him do what he and his allies and the Western powers want, we will lose more people and there will be far more bloodshed.  If that happens, the bloodbath will continue, it will be a genocide, with thousands more killed, the country plundered and looted by his forces, buildings and infrastructure destroyed, the economy devastated, thousands more living in exile and a brain drain of the best people who are essential to rebuild the country, which will just be left in chaos.   We Syrians don’t want or accept that, so we work hard with each other to plan and unify our lives to kill him and end this terrible situation soon.  We  Syrian people  are optimistic because Allah is with us and we are one hand, so we believe there will be peace soon. If he stays there will be no peace, just more chaos and bloodshed and we will live in darkness as slaves forever.  We refuse to accept that, so we prefer to live in dignity or die as martyrs. That is our preferred option – death rather than further humiliation.

RR:  How do you view claims that this is a ‘sectarian civil war’ which have been repeated in many news media?

There is no sectarian civil war:  this is just propaganda used and promoted by the regime and other countries. They claim that if the regime goes there will be civil war and people killing each other, but if it stays he will keep Syrian society united. This is a barefaced lie; what they and the regime are working to do is to carve Syria up into autonomous regions like Iraq, with the Kurds having a state in the northeast, the Druze in the south and the Alawites on the Syrian coast while the Sunnis get the rest.  That is their plan, and Bashar is working hard to attain his ambition of an Alawite-Shiite state.   They forget though that since the beginning of our revolution our motto has been ‘One, one, one – the Syrian people are one.’

The regime flames sectarianism as a counterpart of the revolution. The people think differently!

This country is for all people:  whatever your religion, sect or group you are Syrian and belong to Syria. Syrian people of all sects refuse this plan to divide our nation and all have called for unity. I have met and talked with Alawite, Shiite, Christian, Druze and Sunni Syrians during our revolution and all have rejected these plans to divide us. We all call for unity – one people, one country, although the regime has tried many times to arm different sects and turn them against each other, to create division between us.  However hard he tries though, we will not allow ourselves to be used like this, to fight and kill one another – we are all brothers and sisters.

Finally, I want to say one more thing about this: before our revolution began we lived together in peace and harmony. I personally lived in an apartment block with Shiite, Jewish and Christian neighbors. My friends are from all sects and we love one another and live together.

RR:  Do you feel that this experience has changed you as a person? If so, in what ways?

Yes, it has changed me and it has increased my awareness of the global conspiracy to ensure the failure of our revolution.  I discovered too that the whole world looks only to their own interests and don’t care about anyone else but themselves.   I don’t believe any longer in the rhetoric from UN bodies or non-governmental organizations, whether it’s Human Rights Watch, UNICEF, UNICO, the ICC, CJI or anything else.  The whole world has not managed to create one program to help Syrians in Syria or refugees in neighboring countries or even hold a meeting of donors.  Even the ‘Friends of Syria’ conference achieved nothing; they just watch us and let him kill us with Russian and Iranian support.

The revolution has given me hope in one way though: do you want to know how?  It taught me that when you face any problems or obstacles in your life, nobody else but maybe even a handful of true friends will care about or help you or your family, you must do it yourself and help others in the same situation however you can. It has made me more aware and proud of my people and my country and what we need to do to end this. We are peaceful people and we have resources. We can rebuild ourselves and our country, develop our existing  skills and learn new skills.  I am now more responsible than I was: I want to build myself up, develop my skills, acquire more knowledge and share it with my people. I want to teach the next generations that we fought and sacrificed our lives to win our freedom and we should never again accept anyone who believes they are a god and have a divine right to rule over us forever, but should elect only selfless leaders who care about the Syrian people and nation rather than self-enrichment.

I want to emphasize that the revolution is in our hands.  I think that the world needs to change and to realize that all the people on the planet are equals and must be allowed to have freedom. I have also discovered that those who call themselves Arab leaders and rule Arab countries are actually either treacherous agents for external powers or simply don’t care about Arabs at all.

RR: How much longer do you personally believe the revolution will continue and what do you think is likely to happen in the post-revolution period?

When we began this revolution, we knew that we would never go back  and we still know that:  after all we have been through and sacrificed, we would be doomed if we even considered  returning to how things were; this is our final answer.  All that Bashar has done to us and continued to do without pause he has done with increasing support from Israel, Russia, Iran and China; we have proved to the world  which continues to deny their involvement  that Iranian, Hezbollah and Russian troops have been caught in every Syrian city, with every one of them carrying documents proving this. We have also obtained official regime documents proving that Bashar has brought more and more Shiite troops from Iran, Lebanon and Iraq, including members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, with Russia and the other nations sending him weapons, as well as troops.  Despite all this, however, his regime is losing the battle, but his allies and the Western powers want him to stay and keep covering up for him in every way they can. Unfortunately for them, we will defeat him and them and kill him soon, inshallah.

The army of the regime has razed to the ground more than half of Syria. In this photo, the FSA walk through a neighbourhood in Damascus.

So, if you ask me how long the revolution will continue, I  say we will continue until we kill him and kick Russia, Iran and Hezbollah out of our country.  Nobody in Syria will accept ending it now because every household I every Syrian village town and city has at least one martyr, detainee, victim of abduction by regime forces or family member driven into exile.  Do you know that he annihilated many families? Do you know that he destroyed most cities and has detained over 250,000 people?  Do you know that he is now collectively punishing every person in every area opposed to him (most of Syria) and his forces are poisoning the water supply and foodstuffs, even targeting bakeries so that the people will starve? Do you know that his forces are withholding medicines and medical treatment, bombing hospitals and targeting medical staff  in the hope that this will force the Syrian people to obey him?    We say to him, go to hell.

The whole world sees this and does nothing, excusing itself by saying, “It’s difficult and complicated,” but in fact it is very simple – Syrians want freedom from dictatorship – and they could help if they wanted to.  Syrians know all this. We will continue and support one another and support and fight for the FSA. Whatever Bashar does, we will not stop; every man, woman and child will fight to our last breath. We will not accept what the world wants for us, we will not back down or accept what they want to impose on us.  We began this and we will end it.  Above all, we have said from the start, Allah is with us, and Allah and nobody but Allah is with us.  We have nobody but Allah.

You are asking me,  “what will you do after the revolution?”  We are working undercover, to prepare everything and cooperate with each other. We have plans in place, but the problem is that we cannot reveal them  for fear of the wrong  people finding out what we are planning.  All I can say is that we are coordinating between the FSA, the military councils, the opposition and various  parties to ensure that normality and the rule of law will be restored once the regime falls so that the Syrian people can go back to leading normal lives . We will create a transitional government which will remain in place until a new constitution is created and a new president, government and parliament are established.

RR:  What are your plans for the post-revolution period, and have your experiences in living through the revolution changed these in any way? If so, how?

Actually, I would like to gain experience and be actively involved in political issues.  I want to play an active role in rebuilding and developing my country, and to help provide what’s needed like food and medicines.  I’d like to be involved in humanitarian aid and relief work because, as you know, we now have many adult and children amputees who have lost limbs in regime attacks and need artificial limbs, as well as people needing urgent surgical operations.  All this is going to cost billions to do, so we need to obtain funds for it or get help from hospitals overseas.

I’d also like to be involved in the education system. As you know, I’m a translator and I’d like to help teach children and young people in schools, colleges and other education institutions. The regime has killed educators in many fields, so we have a massive shortage in this area and need to work hard to fill these vacancies and oversee the implementation of  a real education plan to introduce an accelerated learning program in order to avoid future problems for those kids who’ve  missed two years of learning because regime bombardment  and chaos means they could not continue with their education.

We want to catch everyone involved in killing, torture, rape and looting, to give them trials and imprison them and to execute the worst culprits. We are not going to allow anyone to escape punishment because of their sect. We have all been exposed without discrimination to persecution, terror and intimidation, and too many have been tortured and/or killed, so we want justice and dignity for all equally.

Finally, I want to participate actively in the political process to help and represent my country and my people.  I still have my ambition to get an MA in Translation and Interpreting, even though the regime has deprived me of that opportunity so far and wasted two years of my life with a brutal war against all Syria’s people.  That is what has been imposed on us, but we still reject the regime.

I guess they haven’t noticed that it’s the regime waging a war against the Syrian people.


On Syria, the Western ‘anti-war’ left, the Galloways, the Pilgers, the Fisks, their peers and their fans,   are once again embarrassing themselves and humanity and  again proving why there is no longer any significant grassroots working class socialist movement.  While railing – rightly – against Western governments’ infinite hypocrisy and selective support for dictatorship and tyranny as and where expedient, the posturing pseudo-radicals have forgotten about their own equally limitless hypocrisy and equally selective support for dictatorship and tyranny. They have become the exact mirror image of all they claim to despise; affluent, morally selective dinner party revolutionaries who view Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité as passé.  Universal brotherhood has been consigned to the ideological rubbish dump, with brotherhood now selective, reserved only for nominally anti-imperialist totalitarian regimes and the elites that benefit from them. Just like the Western governments they claim to oppose, the pseudo-radicals selectively align themselves with brutally oppressive totalitarian regimes whenever expedient. They are in truth not anti-war or anti-imperialism and tyranny, but only anti-Western-backed wars, imperialism and/or tyranny; Western tyranny bad, non-Western tyranny good.  Orwell had their number a long time ago.

The pseudo-radicals’ hypocrisy is also being more and more clearly exposed on Palestine; while claiming to be fervent anti-zionists and supporters of Palestinian freedom, they have had less than nothing to say about the Assad regime’s use of Israeli-made weapons to kill Palestinians in Syria, about its (ongoing) slaughter of over 500 Palestinians in the past few months, about its targeting of Palestinian camps or its attempts to blame Palestinians for the revolution, just as they’ve had nothing to say about the massacre of tens of thousands of Syrians. There’s also their head-spinningly rapid change in attitude to the Muslim Brotherhood – which is apparently to be lauded in the form of Hamas, but is now cited alongside Al Qaeda as a hideous and terrifying threat in Syria, once again displaying their ignorance of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as their usual woeful ignorance of the revolution itself.  Meanwhile, the pseudo-radicals’ frequent warnings of the involvement of theocratic extremists in the revolution might be slightly more plausible (despite again having little or nothing to do with the revolution) if it weren’t for their exaltation of the regime in Tehran…

Galloway, using the media he is paid by to tell off Arabs while giving lip service to their causes… a constant in his communication.

At the heart of the pseudo-radicals’ profoundly inhuman hypocrisy lies a distinctly colonial-era elitism that the officials of the British empire would have felt right at home with; there is a withering contempt from these supposed leftists for the non-Western proletariat (and not much empathy for the Western working class either), more especially when the masses under nominally ‘anti-imperialist’ tyrants dare to oppose the leadership.  Only those brutal regimes and the elites that benefit from their patronage are worthy of the pseudo-radicals’ respect, nay adulation, while the wishes of the masses are dismissed and derided, once again exposing the totalitarianism groupies’ supposed radicalism for the shameful sham it is.

Even Carlos Latuff plays the game, denying any agency to the Syrian people, and negating the autonomous nature of the revolution.

If they’re feeling particularly hospitable, these contemporary standard-bearers for leftist ‘thought’ might dismiss the masses in Syria rising up against a tyrant, who has maintained totalitarian rule through what the CIA has acknowledged as the most effective torture network in the world (its reason for selecting Syria as the preferred torture destination for War on Turr prisoners), as being tragically misguided fools taken in by Western media propaganda.  In the elitist worldview of the pseudo-radicals, members of the working class, particularly the non-Western proletariat, are a credulous and childlike homogenous peasant mass incapable of independent thought, feeling or agency.  The pseudo-radicals, as always, hold themselves to an entirely different standard, of course – they and their families should not have to live under autocratic totalitarian rule (it’s noteworthy that not one of the Tehran fan club, including its cheerleader George Galloway, has ever chosen to base themselves there, despite constantly extolling its superiority to the hideous West), but it’s jolly good for the unwashed masses, who lack their own sensitivity and need for basic freedoms.

Mixing domestic and international issues, but “Staying out of Syria” is what matters.

Of course, the pseudo-radicals haven’t entirely lost their taste for mouthing revolutionary platitudes; witness their Toytown ‘Occupy’ revolution-that-wasn’t, rightly derided by the majority in Western nations as one more extended student sit-in for the well-off, with the same old slogans and the same old incoherence: ‘’We want something or other and we want it now, or we’ll, er, camp out and hold tai chi sessions!’’   When they witness true revolutions, however, the pseudo-radicals show their true, profoundly reactionary colours, siding with those rising up against true tyranny only as and when it’s ideologically expedient to do so and otherwise siding with the oppressors.  So long as these callous elitist fakes and phoneys continue to be the loudest voice of the ‘radical’ left, it will – deservedly – continue to have little or no political influence at all.

Beware of Facebook Hide n Smear games

Posted: 09/28/2011 by editormary in Uncategorized

When he's not a flower or a sexy Che, he's a dead Guru

We are all aware that Israelis use internet actively to spy, infiltrate and spread viruses, this is information they themselves have admitted. The social networks have taken over public forums and email as the means to do so. Many who use Facebook use it for activism and believe that forming a list of many activists widens their influence and range of effectiveness. However, there is something that many “see” but wilfully choose to ignore, and it is the ABUSE that FB allows. This site and Palestine Think Tank have exposed on various occasions persons who had stolen identities of other people, people who are well-known as well as those who are known only in their own private circles, used false pictures and false names and false personas to do what is known as “information mining”. That is a devious ploy used so that they could obtain information about you by false pretences that you would never have given if you were aware of the true identity or purpose of the person, often they attempt to engage you in some kind of exchange, (never dealing with arguments but with what is just libel) then since they are avoiding the argument, they rely on the tactic of the smear. Having done that, the next step is to provoke, and then once the persons have been provoked, a sort of mobbing action starts. It’s a mechanism a specific group of persons are using regularly, and I am certain it is widespread, but it is targetting the Palestinian and pro-Palestinian community, and this is why it is being pointed out here.

Mobbing…. Yet, with a mob, you need several persons to create that climate of “the many vs. the few”. This time, the troll is a character who goes by several online personalities: Daniel Mabsout, Sara Swati and Majed Hamed. Oh, those aren’t their real names, and their faces are

1) a long-since-passed-to-nirvana Hindu Guru,

2) a flower

3) Che Guevara!

Yet, for weeks now, they are engaging in behaviour that goes against common decency as well as what is supposed to be FB policy. They are somehow allowed to “download” the profile picture of those “they” decide to attack, create a smear post based on lies (mostly), distortion and insinuation. So far the list of people “they” hate is longer than the people they support… They hate many activists, particularly Palestinians and Lebanese, they despise Erdogan more than anyone, but most tellingly, the true love and adoration is reserved only for leaders who are for some reason quite unpopular at home, despite any positive remarks they may ever have made in favour of Palestine. Assad is just the latest of the fixation: because to this (as “he” claims) non-Syrian, Assad=Syria and if you disagree you are Zionist! Ahmadinejad = Iran likewise and to boot, there is this troll’s insistence that Hezbollah and Iran are the SAME. Never mind that this is precisely what Israel has been stating (unsuccessfully with persons who have some political savvy or who actually use logic). Israel insists upon that as part of their hasbara. You won’t hear anyone else saying it, not even Hezbollah! And, since the CYBER BULLY’S only friends are part of the bizarre Ken O’Keefe Cult, folks who did not know there was anything going on in Palestine until Ken told them, they also buy into this bullshit of argumentation. But, they should also be careful, some of the people he is smearing were formerly his BFF!

“They” have the right to support whoever they want, no matter how flawed the argument and how totally perfect a match it is to Hasbara. They don’t have the right to smear activists and label them as Zionists without a stitch of proof aside from the fact that they MUST be Zionists if they do not support the above three premises. No room for argument, evidence or grey zones. Everything is black and white, and the smearing now is becoming the only arguments they have. FB users, be warned! You could be next, and who is to say you won’t be!

Careful with whom you “friend”, beware of those with fake names/no pictures, do not share your content with everyone unless you are willing to put yourself and your contacts at risk. And seek an alternative to Facebook which is not protecting even the only content open to public, your name and your profile photo.

Beware the Gatekeepers who shift the focus off facts and onto smear

It seems that one of the issues currently engaging the activist community is still the one about accountability, “trial by blog”, Ken O’Keefe’s narrative and the “new” element thrown into the mix, unsolicited, Conflict Arbitration between activists! Salem News has been censoring the comments. Except in the moments when they use a very unorthodox technique of not allowing the comments to exist on their own, but are “commented on in bold print” by the editor. That itself is a practice that clearly demonstrates the respect that the editor believes the interlocutors deserve, i.e., practically none. Several comments you see on this site never made it, and perhaps this one will not either, but we believe it is a vital contribution to understanding the elements involved in the “Ken Dispute” regarding the investigative article that seems to continue to disturb Salem News, a “news” site which actually never checked once for any accuracy of the reports they made, nor did they listen to any other information (objective or from a counterparty) in order to establish truth. All that seems to matter is for them to justify whatever it is Ken does. He is their hero after all, and they have much invested in him, since they have been pimping his projects and soliciting donations. All we are left with is a distorted form of “truth” when this is the case. In that sense, we reprint this extremely informative response to a comment (in full at the base) by the Dr. M. Dennis Paul.

Christina Baseos wrote:
@ M. Dennis Paul

I hope that your unwillingness to take this further doesn’t mean that I’m deprived from my right to reply to your last. Moreover, I have no reasons, as of this writing, to believe that the moderators are censoring comments and I’m in hope that they will not give me grounds to change my mind on this now!

Before I address your comments, let me just point out that the use of offensive language never strengthens our arguments or proves us right. I sincerely hope that you don’t describe your clients’ arguments as “bullshit”, when you are the mediator in one of the areas of your expertise.

To the point now.
The clause I provided by BIMCO is the Dispute Resolution Clause that is used in shipping. I was clear on that. However, I gave you this example since the main body of this clause is the one that has been adopted worldwide and covers almost 99% of the business market. Of course there are variations depending on the sector, such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Sugar-Trade Association, Oil Industry, Grain traders, etc.

I’d like to ask if you could provide a source that people can refer to (i.e. a website) that provides information on the proceedings of a dispute resolution for the organization you propose to be formed? Could you refer the readers to a format of an arbitration/mediation resolution similar to the one you propose? At this stage details such as appointment of the Tribunal, place & law of arbitration/mediation, etc are not important. A source that provides general information for organizations such as the one proposed will suffice.

The “dispute” you are proposing to be brought before ADR is between Ken O’ Keefe and Mary Rizzo, however it still remains unclear as to what it is exactly that they need to resolve. It has to be made clear into which category/specialty/field Mary’s & Ken’s “dispute” falls into. What is the nature of their “dispute” exactly and what would the purpose of an ADR be?
Would the scope of an ADR be to conciliate Ken & Mary? To validate the contents of Mary’s article and verify her evidence/proof? To prove to the donors and generally to the movement that donations have been wisely spent?
I don’t take for granted that all readers have knowledge in arbitration/mediation proceedings, therefore I’m clarifying that ADR is not panacea for every single case and there are several cases that are only brought before a Court of Law, such as murder, theft, embezzlement, fraud, etc.

You keep repeating that you are a specialist. Bravo! Well done! But no matter how many times you repeat it, this will never make you a specialist in everything. Everyone’s knowledge is “limited”. Limited to certain fields. It seems you don’t want to accept this. There are orthopedics and there are pediatricians. Both are doctors, both are specialists, just not in the same field.
So, be a specialist in your field and have the humbleness for others to be specialists in other fields.
Phrases such as “your limited knowledge” , “specialists (such as myself)”, “Your challenge to my expertise fails” only boost your self-esteem. Other than this, they fall on deaf ears.
Disagreements exist also between specialists. Your Galileo example was felicitous, however the problem arises when everyone believes they are Galileo and not one of those who believe that the world is flat.

You say “I have not formally addressed any claims against Mary as, of this moment….”.
“As of this moment”….is that a promise or a threat that you will formally address claims in the future? Whatever it means it certainly shows lack of memory. I suggest you re-read your article and comments.
You say that you have already stated that there may well be issues regarding Ken that deserve review.
I asked you in my previous comment if you have indeed read Mary’s article and the comments that follow it.
I suspect you have not read any of it, because if you had, you would have seen that what you think she “believes” she has in her hands as evidence, actually is uncontested evidence (as opposed to circumstantial), therefore is deemed proof with regards to the “kidnapping” of Ken and the alleged charter of the vessel. I cannot convince you that King Elvis is DEAD and you cannot convince me or any other person, who is prudent and actually uses his brains for critical thinking, how one who was “kidnapped” rejects to be released by his “kidnapper”, when offered so, or denies to testify his “kidnapping” to the police authorities. But these are just technicalities for you, aren’t they?
I forgot that you deny to discuss on the merits of a case, for which case a journalist used her right to write an article about and for which article you then come out of the blue, 9 months later proposing ADR and criticizing Mary Rizzo about the way she decided to write her own piece.

On top of that you criticize people for doing “trial by blog”. I will keep you posted on the trial by LAW, if you wish, in the meantime I’m looking forward to your next article, here in Salem-News or elsewhere, where you will be dealing with the way the opposite party has dealt with this issue through his various blogs and numerous social networks, expecting you to be impartial about the actions and behavior of Ken, when he was issuing “verdicts” and seeking “public hanging” of individuals and/or business entities, by throwing accusations for actions of criminal nature, always of course within the limits of the “civilized society” he’s a member of.
I will read your article carefully as soon as you publish it.

I didn’t ask what common sense dictates as to whether individuals or groups acting outside of the organization are already distanced or not. I asked your opinion of whether you believe that Ken would be accepted in such an organization, if and when such one is formed. It was a simple yes or no question. Opinions are not binding you know, so why not feel free to express them? Maybe if I rephrase the question you will feel more comfortable in answering. Are you of the opinion that Ken has the credentials of becoming a member of such an organization, which ultimately would result in his acceptance by it?

My “prerequisite premise continues” with my “incessant need” for transparency, as opposed to cover-up. I’m sorry but you give the impression that there is a rough sea in your brain. My exact sentence was:
“I second that, however given the prerequisite that justice and truth are fundamental principles of the organization and that these values will be served no matter what. Without this prerequisite both justice & truth are at risk of being sacrificed in the name of the organization’s scopes, widely known also as “cover-up”.”
I do wonder though why you have the “incessant need” to not comment on the issue of transparency since you make no mention whatsoever about it. On the contrary, you are twaddling on sociological behaviors that belong in the middle ages.
And what happens when truth and justice are not obtained? What happens when there is no transparency? Would you care to share with the rest of the world what you believe SHOULD be done instead of repeating what you think should NOT be done?

I don’t try Ken by blog. I assure you that the competent judicial system is dealing with this. I only take privilege of my right to reply to numerous unsubstantiated accusations and numerous information spread by Ken, which is deliberately presented falsely. I only make use of my personal knowledge, evidence and proof I’m in possession of, to refute Ken’s lies and debunk his unjustified claims & allegations regarding the “kidnapping” and the fiasco that followed it.

You say that Ken appropriately is NOT giving answers. Not everyone shares your point of view though and especially not the donors.
Then again I wonder if I should expect to hear something different, when it’s crystal clear that you don’t seek transparency.
I couldn’t have more supportive proof than your own writings making reference to my last paragraph of my previous comment, where I stated that lack of transparency is what discourages people from joining movements and that silence in perpetuity is was actually causes harm.
It is yourself who wrote what your actual belief on transparency & silence is:
“The remainder of your final paragraphs are nothing but more bullshit.”
Is that so? I will put aside, just for a moment, the case of the fake “kidnapping” and each & every article, blogpost, FB post, tweet, TV appearance, interviews, etc made by Ken, Mary, myself, members of the convoy, people involved directly or indirectly to this case, in other words hundreds of people. Let’s assume that none of this ever happened and nothing ever came out in the media.
You say you are a veteran activist and that you are “one who has witnessed and become embroiled in controversies within a variety of activist organizations”.
In light of this, surely you know how things run in activism and surely you know that a big part of it depends on donations.
The “kidnapping” took place in Libya, while RTH’s convoy was there. A ship was required for the transportation of the convoy’s vehicles to Egypt. The charterer of the vessel had to pay a freight. RTH asked for people to donate money in order for the freight of the vessel to be paid. The money was gathered. According to RTH and Ken, who was the convoy’s leader, the freight was paid to the shipowner.
The exact amount of freight paid still remains a mystery though, since according to Ken’s writings one time it was $55,000, the other $75,000 and the third $82,500. Whatever the exact amount they allegedly paid (and this is where the term “allegedly” needs to be used since the burden of proof, i.e. the payment or wire receipt of the money paid to the shipowning company still lies with RTH & Ken up to this date), we are still talking about a 5-digit number, which was raised from DONATIONS.
At some point RTH & Ken said that the money was safely recovered….whatever that means.


First, what is the exact amount of money recovered? Second, what happened to the money?
RTH & Ken wrote and promised that RTH would go through an internal review with regards to this whole incident. The outcome of the review remains unknown, as of this writing, and a considerable number of donors is still not informed as to whatever happened to the money they donated for a humanitarian cause.
It still remains a mystery to what happened to a 5-digit amount of dollars.

According to you, Dennis, the indefeasible right of every donor for transparency is “bullshit”!!!
According to you, investigative journalism, by an activist, on a humanitarian organization and a convoy’s leader, who had undertaken the task of delivering aid to Palestine, which aid had been gathered through donations and who have failed to be transparent as to how they dealt with donations of thousands of dollars is “bullshit”!!!
According to you, taking things to the media, whilst you’re ostentatiously ignoring the fact of who took things to the media first and for how long, “is not practical” and “serves no worthy resolution”. Instead, takings things before ADR and behind closed doors is the “proper venue”.
So, for argument’s sake, if one adopts your way of thinking, should someone come to the conclusion that Bernstein and Woodward, who revealed the Watergate scandal, should never have applied investigative journalism to bring things to the media, instead they should have referred the case to ADR “to act upon that to the benefit of” of democracy or the political party’s “mission”?

My only motive, and it surely isn’t “confused” as you are wishfully thinking, is that when it comes to other people’s money that transparency is ensured. And that should be yours as well.
Your sudden appearance out of nowhere, wearing the mask of the peacemaker and consultant, with an article about a person with proven track record in journalism & activism, makes people question your true motives. For as long as you are not treating everyone fairly and squarely in a “dispute”, but instead you choose to target the person whose article was actually “damaging” to Ken (not my words, Tim King’s words) and choose to not equally address “whoever else are attempting to conduct trial by blog” , your motives are the ones questioned..
This only looks like part of a strategic plan of diverting attention. Who is the person who “damaged” Ken most in his RTH fiasco? Mary Rizzo (again not my words, Tim King’s words). What is Ken facing the past days? Doubts & concerns raised by specific people about the Trade-Not-Aid project. Why not take some preventive actions and divert the focus to Mary Rizzo, in a hopeless effort to prevent her from writing another investigative article on Ken’s latest saga.

Let’s call a spade a spade. Everyone on this planet is judged for their actions. Everyone. Why not activists as well? People who want to be called activists and advocates of truth, justice & peace should not have the audacity to demand their actions not be criticized. Especially, when their actions depended on other people’s money. When either an individual or an organization ask for donations, automatically they are bound to be transparent, accountable and truthful to everyone. Let alone that being transparent is an ethical obligation. Suspicions are raised when someone constantly denies to give answers. It’s not humiliating to give answers. Not to mention that if one has nothing to hide, when providing answers, he will gain more support and respect. Unless of course the ultimate purpose of an activist is not to offer his services for a humanitarian cause but to just create an image about himself, create a persona and remain in the limelight. One marketing strategy is creating negative publicity. It might be negative, but it’s still publicity. If these are the ultimate goals of someone, who wants to call himself an “activist”, then so be it. But then, he will have to deal with the consequences as well.

To conclude, in your various attempts to make people understand what arbitration/mediation is, you failed to make clear that applying double standards is absolutely prohibited for a mediator.
So, until you come clean and until we all read an article of yours of the same nature about Ken, pointing out his wrongdoings and mishandlings of this case, making it clear through your writings that Ken should not have tried anyone by blog or tweets or FB posts and that he should now choose ADR as the “proper venue” for the resolution of the conflict, instead of the media, it would be wise to refrain yourself from further exposure that only makes your integrity as a professional questionable.
I’m in sincere hope that your article on Ken’s actions of taking things to the media will come out soon, as he surely needs advice to take things to ADR with regards to the latest saga of Trade-Not-Aid & Samouni Project. If you are so concerned in resolving conflicts by taking them before ADR, I suggest you do not wait for another 9 months to criticize Mary Rizzo or Mary Poppins, if and when they write an article on Ken’s latest fiasco. It will be too little too late.

Over & out.

from Salem News:
M. Dennis Paul, Ph.D. August 7, 2011 8:47 am (Pacific time)


I will address each paragraph in order and then we will be done with this.

Apology accepted.

Your example of BIMCO is of no particular value here. BIMCO has accepted a particular format for itself. Other industries, businesses or groups will select their own which may or may not be similar. Mediation and/or arbitration do not follow a standard formula or approach across all interests. There are a wide variety of formats and formulas which are used. Various businesses and organizations will establish an arbitration clause based upon the model they choose. Typically, that model is one that best suits the expected areas of conflict particular to the business or org. Depending upon the State or nation of origin (jurisdiction), certain aspects of the clause, for it to elicit enforceable decision or memorandum, must conform to specific laws or regulations. However, if you read clauses carefully, in many ADR formats, the conflicted parties may agree to altering any aspect of the format and degree of enforceability (ie Binding/non-binding, monetary/censure, etc). ADR is, and will likely remain, a fluid area for resolution of conflict. Now, your limited knowledge regarding this aside, your initial proposal was the impartiality of the mediator/arbiter. So let’s return to that. There exists a school of thought, far more honest with regard to ADR, that being human, the specialist cannot be truly impartial in most every situation. Therefor, specialists (such as myself) address this at the onset and explain further the genuine process of ADR and how any personal bias is both attempted to be restrained and properly addressed when it arises. With that in mind, my example of initial rule of order is presented.

Should there be need for a separate ADR proposed with regard to the ship owner and activists, something we were not previously addressing here, that is an entirely different matter. I am glad that BIMCO keeps up with the awards as this does open them to more advanced alternatives to explore in reaching settlements. It has, however, absolutely nothing to do with our exchange. Your challenge to my expertise fails, Christina, and I am not the one doing the barking.

I have not formally addressed any claims against Mary as, of this moment, no one has proposed any to address beyond their beliefs that many of her allegations against Ken are false. I have already stated there may well be some issues regarding Ken that deserve review. The same for Mary. Further, I have stated that this is not the appropriate format for so doing. You fail in this effort to draw me into the unproductive banter. I accept that Mary believes she has irrefutable evidence against Ken. I do not need to contact her directly in that regard. Evidence, Christina, is not proof and this is something that you, Mary, and numerous others fail to take into account. In the minds of many, there existed evidence that the world was flat. That evidence, upon examination and review, was determined not credible. Mary could well have used alleged in the matter to which you refer. This, again, is covered in the above regarding evidence. You persist in trial by blog as opposed to a format for resolution you alternately claim would be of proper value. Please make up your mind. I’ve no intention of returning to this mode of exchange with you.

I appreciate that you find my proposal attractive. There is no way for me to hypothesize the acceptance of Ken, Mary, you or anyone else in an organization that seeks to unify the various platforms of a multitude of groups seeking the freedom for Palestine. That is a pointed question on your part and not at all helpful in the discourse. Common sense, however, should tell you that whatever structure emerges to unify such groups, those individuals or groups that act outside of the organization, for whatever reason, are already distanced from the organization. Should their acts be detrimental to the freeing of Palestine, it is concretely deniable, by the organization that they are, in any way, associated with such groups or acts.

It is not a requirement in all offers or referrals to mediation/arbitration that both parties accept the ADR specialist(s). Some businesses refer all matters, as defined in a signed employment clause or purchase /use clause, to either an internal ADR program or third party program. Some allow for mutual determination of specialist. Certainly, where someone has offered services it would be appropriate that both parties have right to agree or disagree to the intermediary. Your point is lost as I have not offered to facilitate such an endeavor. I have offered to serve in an advisory capacity to any organization should one form. I reiterate, that in my position, I have clearly stated there may be cause for review of charges and behaviours of both parties. I also reiterate that my offer extends only to the area I have clearly stated.. and NOT as a “possible future” mediator/arbiter. Try your best to create argument outside of these facts and you continue to look a provocateur as opposed to someone genuinely seeking resolution.

Your “prerequisite” premise continues with your incessant need to publicize with the supposition that your case is already proven. In reality, Christina, thousands upon thousands of decisions by judges, mediators, arbiters and others are never publicized. Certainly the effort is made to obtain some sense of truth and justice (however, this is not the case in most court systems throughout the world -but I will not address this now) and to act upon that to the benefit of the organization’s mission. Civilized societies have no need to castigate errant individuals by pillory in the public square. In so many cases, it is not even essential to effect censure or banishment as sincere intent often is discovered in the course of review and only correction is necessary. I suspect both you and Mary seek a public hanging.

Ken is appropriately NOT giving answers in this case. Mary, you and whoever else are attempting to conduct trial by blog establishing yourselves as prime investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury. This was the whole point of proposing ADR. Your continuance in attempting to trial him in this manner belies any genuine belief on your part that ADR would be the appropriate venue. You are constantly pulling down your own pants and either blaming the manufacturer for your embarrassment or the neighborhood bully. Make up your mind, Christina. The nature of claims against Ken is not resolved by opinions or consensus regarding offered “evidence”. You truly seem incapable of grasping this. Media play of evidence and counter is not practical, for many reasons that should be apparent, and serves no worthy resolution.

I have “implied “ nothing. I have clearly stated that the proper venue for addressing her claims and “evidence” is ADR. To do otherwise and continue pushing the issue in media without genuine desire for resolve (other than a desire for conviction based upon beliefs that the evidence is irrefutable) is splitting at its very best and absolutely harms the movement. Mary simply needs to offer resolution as opposed to trial by blog, Ken needs to agree, and both parties need to seek out a skilled specialist to carry it forth. Then all this bullshit ends and we get back to doing beneficial work.

The remainder of your final paragraphs are nothing but more bullshit. Things neither stated nor implied by me but used in your attempt to continue your very confused motives. With regard to the pictures accompanying the articles, I do not choose those although I may have some control over this in the future.

NOW… TO MARY RIZZO: Putting aside your snarky comments which continue to reflect poorly upon you, a very simple yes or no is all that is required in response to the following.

Are you willing to place this matter before ADR (my services not offered here) and seek a genuine, sincere resolve?

In case someone missed the latest post on Salem-News about Mary Rizzo’s dossier on Ken O’ Keefe, here is the link.

A few comments have been posted under the article, which you can also read via the above link.

However, if you are reading this now, you can consider yourselves lucky, as here you can also read a few comments left in the website several hours ago, that have not yet been posted by the moderators.

I blame the time difference between Europe and the Pacific!



Mary Rizzo:

for a site that has a huge ad SCREW AMERICA I STAND WITH ISRAEL, that is some pulpit. I don’t need to engage with an unsolicited arbitor to “settle” an account or a “kerfuffle”: If he is so talented, the doctor should offer his pro bono services to straightening out Israel, with Tim King’s kind approval! I am convinced that humans are free to have the right to question any and all methods, procedures and aims.

Limiting this restricts their freedoms. I had also asked and invited Ken O’Keefe to be interviewed and he agreed, until it was made clear to him that he would not have the right to obtain the questions before the interview. No other party made any such demands, and he himself declined to be interviewed so as to respond in full to any and all issues that were raised. Thus, the responsibilty is firmly on his shoulders if he feels that his press statements, tweets, FB messages and internet articles and video appearances were not fully representative of his view. I believe that the fact that he takes such issue and that not a single point raised in the dossier (and look up the word Dr, apparently, you are unfamiliar with the word since you repeatedly take issue with it!) was ever challenged with any evidence to exclude the points raised as being fully valid. As to the rest, the public will be the judge, and it seems that at this point, relying on Ken’s personality to carry through is not suffiently adequate. It seems he has surrounded himself with pitbulls in a circus that thrives on rumour, lack of fact checking and character assassination. To each their own!


Mary Rizzo:

Actually, I think I owe Salem News a big thank you! Your continual interest in the work of PTT and now has brought new readers and I imagine that people’s interests have been piqued, so along with the renewed exposure of an older article, we have gotten a slew of supportive letters and compliments for our efforts. Some of them are also from those who believed the whole “persona” of Ken and who have felt severely taken for a ride by him and demand accountability. So, keep it up, you are helping keep this information in the spotlight!


Christina Baseos:

@ M. Dennis Paul

Yes, you are correct about the inverted quotes. It was a typing error for which I apologize.

With regards to the contents of your reply, I would like to raise some points, since, with all due respect, it contains numerous legalisms.

Myself being a shipping professional, I am very familiar with the concepts of arbitration/mediation and the proceedings. In fact the arbitration/mediation clause recommended by BIMCO is an integral part in all contracts drafted. (

Moreover, the arbitration awards published are always carefully studied by the shipping community in order for various principles to be adopted and for possible future conflicts to be avoided.

Therefore, you are barking up the wrong tree.

You say that it’s not your responsibility to address any claims against Ken at this point. I would highly appreciate if you could advise why you feel like having the responsibility of addressing any claims against Mary, at this point.

Furthermore, you say that the omission of the term “alleged” is what makes Mary a biased journalist. May I ask if you have made any attempt to personally contact Mary Rizzo in order to verify whether she does indeed have evidence in her hands that support her writings?

And just for the sake of good order, Mary Rizzo could not have used the term “alleged” for an action that she clearly states never happened. Mary writes there was no kidnapping whatsoever based on evidence. So, maybe it would be better for you to address your concerns for the lack of the term “alleged” to the person and/or entity, who actually claim that a kidnapping existed in the first place and up to this date the burden of proof still lies with them.

Frankly speaking, I find your proposal of creating an organization, which will establish a code of conduct and will set up mediation proceedings for the resolution of possible disputes BETWEEN THE MEMBERS OF THE ORGANIZATION, quite interesting. Surely it will help in putting an order to the chaos that prevails the activists movement.

I honestly hope that your proposal will be lent a favorable ear by the “major players” within the movement. Assuming that such an organization has been established, membership conditions and dispute rules have been set-up, what makes you think that Ken O’Keefe, as an individual or as a representative of one of his own companies will be accepted within the organization?

Someone who offers his services as an arbitrator/mediator for the resolution of a dispute, requires first and foremost mutual acceptance by the opponents. When a possible future arbitrator publicly writes his thoughts and opinions (or comments on the merits of the case), either against or in favour of one of the involved opponents, before all information and evidence having been made available to him by both parties, then this action immediately constitutes grounds for his exclusion from the position of becoming the arbitrator of the case. Can you imagine a judge making comments publicly or writing articles about a case prior to the verdict?

You say “In the case where an organization is involved, this outcome is, most often, necessarily biased in favor of the organization’s operation, needs and success.”.

I second that, however given the prerequisite that justice and truth are fundamental principles of the organization and that these values will be served no matter what. Without this prerequisite both justice & truth are at risk of being sacrificed in the name of the organization’s scopes, widely known also as “cover-up”.

As if there is anything that Ken has or has not done that seriously affects the movement, from the second that there is a significant number of people doubting his actions (and this is not about majority) by raising questions, then it’s imperative for answers to be given. Depending on the answers provided, then you, me, anyone will be able to come to a conclusion of whether he has “seriously” harmed the movement or not. For the time being, he is creating “splitting” with his own actions by avoiding to give answers.

To conclude, you claim that “What she has written, and the manner with which it was written joined with the fact that it was offered publicly has harmed the movement and the Palestinians”.

What is it that you imply here? That one should only praise a movement and the actions taken by its members when everything goes fine & works out properly and successfully, but when there are mishandlings , failures & fiascos to remain silent, not make them public, ignore them and act as if nothing has ever happened and just keep on with our lives?

I fail to understand why one who makes serious allegations and accusations of penal nature, in public, is not considered as harm to the Palestinian movement, while at the same time when one of the movement’s own members is being publicly criticized about his actions and code of conduct, this is considered as harm to the movement.

The lack of criticism and silence in perpetuity are what actually cause harm, not only to the Palestinian movement but to any movement. Lack of transparency is what discourages people from joining movements. And last but not least, it takes a lot of courage and most importantly integrity to be ready, willing and able to stand up and point out mistakes made by your own people, but, fortunately or unfortunately, this is the only way that will ensure that Truth will always prevail and co-exist with Justice & Peace.

N.B: Please allow me a comment of personal nature. When someone, who writes an article and comments on a dispute between two parties, chooses to embellish it with a picture of one of the two involved parties showed in a ceremony, then he is at great risk of being accused of indulging in cheap marketing tricks and his objectivity and equal treatment become questionable.

Lemmings who question nothing by Hari Pebbles

WAKE UP by Hari Pebbles

TJP meeting by A.B.

despite claims of lack of freedom of movement and lack of safety with denial of life vests, images don’t tell lies

We will set up all the old PTT content, including commentary from almost 3 years of the site, but in the meantime, since the Ken O’Keefe debate has re-opened in a dramatic way, many have asked for the complete content of our dossier from last year. Here are all the comments, some contain vitally important  information that people are seeking so as to have a clear idea of the persons involved. Unlike the sites that created articles to attack PTT and me personally for this report, every comment was allowed, positive, negative and each person was allowed to weigh in their thoughts. 9 months later, and there still has not been a single piece of evidence to beat down anything presented in the dossier. To read the dossier, see:

171 Responses »
1. Miri on December 6th, 2010 at 23:44:
Excellent investigative journalism, Mary Rizzo. I thank you.
2. eileen fleming on December 6th, 2010 at 23:50:
Admirable job at data gathering and I will not dispute any of it -except what I know from personal experiences.
RE: “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”.”
I was on the road for 13 days with Ken, his mom, Bonnie and Tim King. My impression of him is here and I stand by my story-which BTW was published first @
Every Tattoo Tells a Story and Expresses the True Ken O’Keefe
3. eileen fleming on December 6th, 2010 at 23:54:
RE: “money being collected for his “expenses”
Ken NEVER asked for a dime-it was up to the coordinator of the event to pass a hat or not and Ken turned that money over to fill up the gas tank on the van and we all slept on the floors of activists who opened their homes to us.
4. Tim King on December 7th, 2010 at 5:03:
Mary, As a person who always appreciates your work and speaks highly of Palestine Think Tank, I have to bring attention to statements in this article about Ken O’Keefe and his roles in the Road to Hope Convoy and the Mavi Marmara incident that are absolutely not possible or true.
The description of Ken as a dangerous swaggering menace to other people is serious hogwash. Sorry, that is the case, and anyone who watches him in person or through video sees the person I describe, rather than the person created for this piece. And why drag his family into it? That is really sad to me, and you apparently find my interview of his mom what, humorous? Some people are lucky enough to have a living mom, and Ken’s as awesome of a lady as one could find. Kudos to him for having the support of his family.
And by the way, if I don’t deserve more than to be called “former embedded journalist in imperialist wars in the Middle East, another ex-Marine” after the years of endlessly publishing thousands of stories advocating for the freedom of Palestine, heading the only news group in the US that does so, with 80 active writers, then I honestly can’t see this as anything more than an extremely extensive hit piece on my good friend Ken. Do you regard Alan Sabrosky this way? How about Gordon Duff? They are both former Marines too and Vietnam Vets at that. How about Jeff Gates? He is an Army Vietnam Veteran; Is Gilad Atzmon forever screwed in this circle because he once served in the IDF? He is my brother and he is Ken’s brother; funny how some of the most published writers in this regard are veterans, I personally see it as a strong point.
In no way can I reason this. You are in this piece, either specifically making a false statement about Ken’s role on the Mavi Marmara (approximately paragraph 65) by stating:
“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)?”
When I in fact produced a video report with Canadian Kevin Niesh and Ken titled “The Ugly Details of Israel’s Gaza Siege & Attack Against the Mavi Marmara (VIDEO)”
And for the record, I looked at a letter from IHH today inviting Ken to an event based on his role on the Mavi Marmara. I am increasingly shocked at this piece and I see a real distraction to the efforts at hand to help the Palestinian people. I see an ego war. I see jealousy. I see fear.
Ken is far more of an entity in the world when it comes to the freedom of Palestine than almost any other active figure. That I fear, is what this is about. You write hundreds of paragraphs that are all about numbers and semantics. A shorter piece might have gone further, and that matters because there is valid information in this article and you are a good writer who I have always liked and supported. But the point is to bring Ken down and I know it isn’t going to work. I know you believe many things that color your perception of this; things that have been related to you; but I am telling you as a personal friend of Ken’s who recently spent three weeks with him on a speaking tour of the US and Canada, that he is highly mischaracterized in this piece.
However I fear that plenty of people who fear the change Ken represents are cheering. I am getting the idea that there is no flexibility with Greta, I am sad about that as I completely support her efforts and respect her work. I hope in the future that the road to hope can be a bit smoother. Thank you for posting this; it will be published in a more expanded form on also.
5. Mary Rizzo on December 7th, 2010 at 8:11:
Yes, Tim, I wonder myself why all these EX vets (Semper Fidelis) are all of a sudden making a lot of statements and assuming a key position in the activism world for Palestine. I really do wonder about that. I think other people might have the same feeling.
That you have personal affection and affinity is fine and good, and if you want to let that blind you to evidence and facts, then go on. If you think it’s legitimate to pimp oneself as something one is not (an EX US citizen), and call himself a “Survivor” when I have never heard others in the Mavi Marmara refer to themselves this way, and I know a few of them, nor have I heard Gazans call themselves “Operation Cast Lead Survivors”, well… it makes one wonder.
Why all the personal pimping? For some personal interests such as a Business that is for “FREE trade with Gaza?!”
But leaving aside all the motivations, all the contradictions, what do you think about all the false alarms of calling what was done on the Strofades IV a KIDNAPPING when all the facts show it was indeed nothing of the sort, and more than that, the “Crazy” Captain avoided a major international diplomatic crisis AND saved ALL of them from being arrested in Libya. WHY DID KEN AND COMPANY REFUSE TO GET OFF THAT SHIP AND GO BACK TO LIBYA?????
Why did the “Gaza Ten” refuse to be taken back to the port when only 500 metres from it? Why did the captain contact every possible authority, including the Libyan ones, and seek on two further occasions to fully cooperate with Libya for an amicable resolution to reunite the Convoy Ten with their companions?
Just ask yourself a few questions, Tim, and let the Military Loyalty question to the side for now. Just Ask.
6. Mary Rizzo on December 7th, 2010 at 8:13:
Eileen, I know Ken (this time) did not ask for money directly. He was talking about his future investment project, of course, and someone else passed the hat for him. I asked persons there and they told me someone else did the actual collection. Often, this is how it works. It is very tacky for the speaker to ask for it on his own, I am sure this can be agreed upon..
And, I still think it’s extremely weird that we have videos also of Ken’s Mom. I thought it was a joke or a parody at first, but it’s serious hagiography.
7. pam on December 7th, 2010 at 9:26:
a man who has done a grave disservice to the cause, a man for whom glory and personal sacrifice are his bywords, a man who no right seeking activist should go near, a fantasist, a liar, a fraudster, I do hope he gets his 3 bedroom house because I sure am going to hole up there in comfort in London. Thanks Mary, an in depth study of a megalomaniac narcissistic gung ho ex marine who has done untold damage to all convoys, he has to be stopped in his zionist tracks as soon as possible
8. Mary Rizzo on December 7th, 2010 at 11:01:
Tim, let’s talk, journo to journo, as you seemingly are not allowing my comments on your extended commentary to this article.
1) you are absolutely right. It is FAR too long. However, it is long for two valid reasons. 1) we had weeks of tweets, articles, videos, posts AD NAUSEAM of this information, the information was building up and as of this point, PTT never wrote on it (and would not have if all the contradictions did not jump violently out);
2) Ken himself told me to look into his past, his actions, and this is what I did. I do not use “hearsay” on him, but mostly his own admissions in his many autobiographies.
You claim that the mention of the Dishonourable Discharge for Steroids use is some slander picked up in chats? Nope. I got it directly from Ken’s site, his own personal autobiography. I did not mention the 11,000 bench warrant or the DUI or any other facts he himself mentions, just the relevant part about him not “quitting” the Marines, but being booted out for steroids use.
I also wonder why, during all of the events unfolding, you publish something like RTH Covoyers Held at Gunpoint… when you know it is untrue. Or at least… a JOURNALIST worth his salt checks for verification! All you had to do was wait a few hours and your sole source would have provided you with the denial!
Just as, why don’t you question the matter of there being NO contract, THUS: NO KIDNAPPING because the owner DID NOT WANT or authorise them on the boat, WHICH THEY BOARDED ILLEGALLY.
That not being enough, why not check about why they are withholding the information about REFUSING TO BE RETURNED TO LIBYA the moment they were outside the port, 500 meters away!!! Why are THEY refusing to admit it? It’s all in the registered and recorded information of the radio contact.
Why are you not disturbed by them wanting to involve warships with civilian sea affairs? How can you think this is acceptable? I wonder as an activist and as a journalist, why this did not disturb you? Is Ken’s personal view on things so predominant in your thinking that even common sense you can throw out?
Do you not believe that there was a dustup for NOTHING; only to get more attention and MONEY????
One starts to look at the contradictions, the very weird things, and why there are only a few who have worked closely with him, (not ex Mils defending the category or people who promoted his “Ken O’Keefe” tour) so adamantly against him? Did you see the Journeyman film? Where the Iraqi Human Shields totally go against him because he turns into an unreasonable dictator who even expects a convoy of persons to bend to his will and his FIRST priority once he rejoins them is TO RE-ESTABLISH HIS LEADERSHIP?
Yes, I took Ken’s advice and started looking. It might be a major diversion, but if he is doing all of this to get many to GIVE to him, and NOT to Gazans and Palestinians, it might all be worth it.
And as I said to Ken, I don’t give A DAMN who I piss off with my research. I keep a lot in, actually. But if people want to remain blinded that’s up to them. I am not one of them. I will never abide manipulators and don’t give a TOSS if people are offended.
You can call it jealousy, though that is because of your lack of any other argument! You pull in a personal one because I have touched someone who has been using you. (unless you don’t mind and you too build up some kind of rep.)
PTT never asked for money, never asked for followers or even for people to approve. Like Steve Biko said, “I write what I like”.
that’s what we do.
9. Woody on December 7th, 2010 at 12:12:
I think that the claims regarding renouncing US citizenship and calling himself a “survivor” aren’t such a big deal. This guy could be a great activist and still have major personal problems. In fact, I expect most people who have faced some serious violence in Palestine to have some erratic behavior coupled with paranoia.
Honestly, my impression of this whole debate has been that there is poor organizational structure in this movement. When there is no real democratic decision making, then accountability is all but lost. Responsibility can be taken by those who are the loudest and most imposing – it’s no mistake then that Ken has been loud and imposing. Mary, you’re losing, unfortunately. You’re writing an article attempting to “expose”, but I think a lot of people will respond with suspicion – just like your “side” responds with suspicion to Ken’s attempts to steam-roll and expose. I’m sorry, but where did you all learn activist organization? This whole thing sounds more like run-of-the-mill bourgeois political deal-making, rather than a movement for justice. You sounds like congress aides and attack-pundits fighting a public-relations battle. Is there no organization that everyone can sit down to and make their case? Is there no structure in place by which to proceed and evaluate decision making, without a schism that hurts Palestinians?
I see a mess with this Libya situation, but it’s unclear what else could be done? There clearly is no accountability in the structure of this movement. In its absence, what do people expect Ken to have done? I get the impression that at the time decisions were being made without full information – perhaps even complex decision-making that isn’t as straightforward as most are used to (and/or crazy paranoid decision making as well). This is only because the organization clearly lacks decision making capacity and organizational respect enough to reign in individualistic decision making. Ken clearly respects himself, not the organization, but if the organization and its members are respectable, then how will you ever accomplish anything as a group?
Who cares what the personal motivations of certain people are. I get it that there is some subtextual criticism by Mary of both men and military men. Fine – probably deserved. However, you all start to sound idiotic when you start up with your accusations of Zionism, or personal vendetta, etc. I would try to engage all the parties based on their stated intents/interests (i.e. to help Gaza) in an open forum – otherwise to take the attack/defend approach merely solidifies the “Ken Movement” and on the other side is “Don’t like Ken” movement. The options are pretty O’Keefe-centric, which is never a good thing.
10. Mary Rizzo on December 7th, 2010 at 12:46:
Woody, if it doesn’t seem wrong for someone to deliberately lie to others to gain their trust, esteem and money, then I suppose I can’t do anything about that. I think it’s a complete abuse of the goodwill of people who are actually wanting to keep the cause on the forefront, based exclusively on facts, truth, honesty.
If you don’t think it’s wrong that a guy whose “slogan” starts with “Truth” to lie and to twist the truth so that he can manipulate other activists is wrong, again, I can’t convince you. Maybe he ought to change his slogan “My Truth…” and then we wait a few hours for the opposite information to get out.
I have a problem with people abusing the sacred cause of Palestine for personal gain, be it money, fame, attention, sex. All of these things are easily obtained by activists, and to some it is the powerful motivator.
The personalisation of the cause at the expense of Palestinians in favour of those who are in categories historically NOT helpful to the Palestinians, Israelis, Mils (ex or current), Westerners, Neo-Cons, racists, et al, is stuff that ultimately draws the scarse waters to another well. At the expense of those who are the victims.
That Ken’s accounts are one long litany of his own heroism and victimhood is YES tiring and annoying and damaging to the seriousness of the cause.
I would have completely ignored this person who I see as an inflated ego with some really stupid ideas (how can you have a commercial “resistance” ship?) and WHY interfere against the true nature of calls by Hamas itself? What can this possibly achieve??? But the manipulation of the convoy, the manipulation of all of us could not go uncommented. To have us become the clowns of the world because one loose cannon decides he will accuse others of serious crimes – KNOWING it is false could not go uncommented on, and YES; exposing liars, gatekeepers and those who manipulate the decency of others MUST be done. I said it before, I have suspicions about Ex mils… many many suspicions, and good reason as well.
11. MB on December 7th, 2010 at 13:27:
Mary, I wish you’d made your article far far shorter — most of us do not have the time to read it, and most of us support Ken, so it really seems like we should be aware of what you say, whether we fully accept, agree, or not.
Can you briefly tell us what the main ‘charges’ against Ken are? You may say,”read it yourself’, but sorry, it is so so so SO long and intricate. I’d love to read it , but I ( and I am sure many many others ) do not have the time to wade through what looks as complex as a legal document.
I’d appreciate it — and value it — if you could bullet point the main ‘charges.’
With thanks,
12. Mary Rizzo on December 7th, 2010 at 13:40:
MB, you are absolutely right… after over 10 hours of video clips (and I had to stop because it was just getting to be overload), hundreds of articles, including about 6 Ken Autobiographies, 15 articles all about him as a person and various and sundry articles numbering about 50 times the content of this paper, keeping it to this length was almost a struggle. It could have been longer, just to address some of the issues raised. And Yes … no one, myself included has the time or interest for the information overload, but I subjected myself to it, so that I could be as objective and complete as possible. I don’t believe in putting out press releases as a journalistic practice. Those things are bulletin board instruments, and what should be done is to look at an issue and.. think out of the box even if it makes it uncomfortable.
That someone personalises things so much I found to be “useful” to his ends, but then, he has to stand up to the promise, no?
I will work on bulleting a version in the coming days. Taking a writing break, as I really need to concentrate on something other than Ken’s ego! However, yes, I think the entire thing is worthwhile reading if you want to be truly informed and not satisfied with nodding heads and going along with things because that’s were the wind blows.
13. eileen fleming on December 7th, 2010 at 14:08:
As the wind blows so must this dialogue for only the truth will set us free.
The truth is that Ken is a force of nature and one either loves or does not love Ken.
Please let us remember that divide and conquer is the empires oldest trick.
Please let us “check the egos at the door” so that we maintain FOCUS on the Illegal OCCUPATION of Palestine, the Siege of Gaza, and as Ken said many times during my 13 days on the road with him in Sept. 2010 during his speaking engagement:
“Our greatest responsibility is to hand over a better world to all children, and the 800,000 children in Gaza, are my children. I would rather die in pursuit of justice than back down. How can anyone accept the unacceptable!”
14. Mary Rizzo on December 7th, 2010 at 14:32:
Eileen, that is right; ONLY the truth will set anyone free and the quantity of LIES we were subjected to by Ken (ones his fans repeat over and over, but it is just a LIE, about not being a US citizen) staggers the mind. Have you got NO input to say about the LIES made against the ship people, who (not a minor detail) are already involved with transport between “the world” and El Arish?
Check Egos at the DOOR, (Ken says that?! when there are a million of his own articles and videos with HIM as the central icon). He goes to Gaza, and what we see is HIM?
Go on and believe the la-di-da feelgood sentiment stuff, that’s what traps them all in to GIVE and then keep on giving!
I realise it is hard for one to see their “hero” be shown for what he is, a manipulator, but the truth will set one free if one allows it in. Waking up is hard, but once one is there, they refuse to be sleepy sheep.
15. Mary Rizzo on December 7th, 2010 at 14:36:
And all I can say is, the moment he starts banging that tin cup for donations to the most costly defence activists have yet had to endure (given the as per Greek Law, they determine the entity of the offences and are obligated to proceed, despite everything, and the violations were incredibly great – not taking into account the libel and various other things against the shipping company – which is another court case all together) I HOPE people will realise this is NOT for Gaza and is instead for ONE GUY’S EGO!!
16. Mary Rizzo on December 7th, 2010 at 14:42:
ah, NOW I get it Eileen, he says check your egos at the door so his can take up all the available space. He could have used his chance of being a public figure better, more wisely. Could have learned the names of the martyrs, could have even thought for a moment that their deaths were not “worth it”, though for him they must be, it’s kind of flippant to say when he’s still got a beating heart.
17. A convoyer on December 7th, 2010 at 14:51:
The use of references and quotes to lend legitimacy is depressing. There is much here that is utter nonsense. Your sources are things like Facebook upon which you yourself cast doubt. You even quote yourself (regarding the ship). Certainly, the vast majority of convoy members (of which I was one) have not been consulted about this misinformation you have published. It appears to be, in essence, an attack on Ken. I don’t seek to defend him as such, but I regret your desire to make it all about him.
18. eileen fleming on December 7th, 2010 at 14:54:
Dear Mary!
Thank you for the laugh: “I realise it is hard for one to see their “hero” be shown for what he is, a manipulator, but the truth will set one free if one allows it in. Waking up is hard, but once one is there, they refuse to be sleepy sheep.”
I have met many of my heroes, and they ALL are regular human beings with their strengths, flaws, good and not so pleasing aspects.
I call them all either secular or religious prophets-and by prophet I mean one who points out danger and provokes those so inclined to at least think about God.
Ken is a prophet to us, a deeply spiritual man, loving husband and father. I also spent much time with his mother and learned about his childhood. I hope to one day help Ken write his bio for he is of This Generation and his story, struggles, defeats and successes will inspire generations to come.
Another one of my imperfect righteously angry heroes is Mordechai Vanunu, who Wake me Up to US and Israeli Nuclear collusion/deceptions:
I wonder why is The PTT has been so silent about the denial of Vanunu’s Human Rights in light of the fact that he has been awarded the 2010 Carl von Ossietzky Medal and an International campaign was launched in September to get him to Berlin by 12.12.10 to receive it:
19. Sam on December 7th, 2010 at 15:03:
I was part of the R2H convoy and I can assure you that you have got your facts regarding Strofades IV incident very wrong. The truth will set us free indeed and when it all comes out I hope you will be big enough to apologise for your vicious attack on Ken.
We all saw your personal insults and childish name calling on Facebook while we were in transit to Gaza. A quick google search on your reveals that this is not your first time attacking members of the movement and you seem to have quite a reputation as a toxic character.
With people like you in the movement, who needs Zionists!
20. ibrahim turner on December 7th, 2010 at 16:19:
Regarding the request for a shorter version I think that you are correct – that a short bullet treatment would have given those who are perhaps short of time or too lazy to really get to grips with what went on – whether for Ken’s ego or against – an excuse to come to a flippant decision.
It also seems to me that to call someone a Zionist for going against one’s opinions or views is the other side of the coin that has been used to extensively ad nauseum by the Israelis and Neoconservatives and Holocaust Industry types.
Lets not fall into that trap of shooting the messenger and ignoring the message.
Just look what is happening to Wikileaks at the moment to both mainstream and alternative media focusing on the rape accusation and people calling for his assassination with nary a mention of the
content (much) of the cables.
21. Mary Rizzo on December 7th, 2010 at 16:38:
Convoyer and Sam, which information and facts are wrong, please do inform me. I have about 500 printed pages of stuff here, as I copied out everything from your tweets and articles coming from any of you, so I have the information YOU released. I then got the “pre-contract” agreement from Ken, and a lot of the email exchanges between London and the broker, so that is all your material. I would be happy to hear the specific things that are not facts. I’d sent the message to the RTH board and to individuals and got a response from several, using their testimony. I also did the deed of listening to the other side, and it is apparent that Ken violated that ship, and then accused the owner of kidnapping him and others. He refused to be collected at 500 meters (all of this is in recordings, so when your court case comes out, unfortunately, the goodwill of the owner will be evident).
Yes, I do have a reputation of slamming persons who use the cause of the Palestinian people for manipulative, deceptive or personal gain, some were just gatekeepers who wanted to keep the discourse in their own area of interest, be it to avoid mentioning the Lobby, to bring it to a class struggle or whatever, and others far more dangerous, as they attempt to create culture clash by making it a “religious issue” or who make more than one cent off of it, get popularity or any other perks, and worst of all, who determine that they are going to be the ones who must set the discourse for the Palestinians to follow. They aren’t going to get liberated by you or me, they are going to get their with their own unstoppable power as soon as they are allowed to operate full force and without constraint by you, me or anyone.
If you do not approve of my tactics, of my disgust at finding manipulators in our movement, persons who are damaging “the nonexistent movement” because they are involved in lies and deception and they accuse anyone who disagrees with them as Zionists, CIA, Mossad, MI6 and on and on… then that’s fine. I don’t expect everyone to approve, as many do prefer that all that contributes is good, even it if’s wearing a KKK hood or accusing innocent people of crimes. All does not justify the ends, but this is my opinion.
Point out the inaccuracies, and I will gladly rectify them.
If it looks as if it is a character assassination that I point out that Ken pimps a big lie about himself, he should have thought about it first. Honesty is important if you are MISTER TRUTH.
22. Jaime Antecol on December 7th, 2010 at 16:52:
Thank you Mary for an amazing article, prepared with great care and integrity.
I’m interested in the legal aftermath of this misadventure. Perhaps you can enlighten us just a bit further.
1) Is there an action underway by the shipping company suing RTH or O’Keefe for libel or other damages for the alleged misinformation that hit the world media?
2) Any criminal or other charges pending, such as for the Mayday-type emergency calls to passing ships?
3) Who vetted and/or appointed Mr. O. to “lead” the expedition, and also who ordered the 100 or so convoy people to prepare toboard the Strofades IV assuming there was prior knowledge that perhaps only 30 people could potentially board?
23. Blaine Coleman on December 7th, 2010 at 17:11:
Hi Mary,
I hope that people will consider a much cheaper way to get a lot of publicity against the violent, racist apartheid state which calls itself “Israel”.
For $0, you can gather a crowd (even a crowd of one), sign up to speak at your City Council about “Boycott Israel”. Then you just march in there and ask for a resolution to boycott all products from Israel. There is a t least one reporter at every City Concil meeting, so you get free publicity.
Also for $0, you can do the same at your university student government. You just ask for a resolution to boycott all products from Israel.
Simple. And very cheap. Lots of free publicity is available on every campus. They have newspapers there, sitting at every student government meeting.
Palestine human rights advocacy can be very easy and cheap.
The only hard part is understanding that Israel is exactly like Apartheid South Africa — and treating it the same way, with loud public boycotts. Apartheid South Africa was abolished because of the African people doing everything they could to resist it, and because of international boycott campaigns. “Dialogue” and “reconciliation” and “coexistence” did not get Apartheid South Africa abolished.
“Israel” is in the process of being abolished, because the people of Palestine are doing everything they can to oppose it, and because of the movement for boycott and divestment ( )
– Imagine if that Boycott-Israel movement had some real conviction in its voice! Palestine would be freed in no time.
Whoever can afford these heartbreakingly expensive Gaza freedom flotillas, and who can do the paper work to protect the people on board, and who can get enough media on board to protect themselves from the Israeli military — wonderful.
But the great bulk of us can do a lot for no money at all.
Again, just push your own boycott resolutions where you can be heard.
24. Robin on December 7th, 2010 at 17:31:
Jaime Antecol:
“1) Is there an action underway by the shipping company suing RTH or O’Keefe for libel or other damages for the alleged misinformation that hit the world media?”
Owner and captain of vessel embroiled in aid row are freed
The owner and captain of a Greek cargo ship that became embroiled in a row with activists who wanted to transport humanitarian aid to Gaza last week were released yesterday after testifying before an Athens prosecutor on charges that they abducted the campaigners. According to sources, the prosecutor disagreed with the investigating magistrate appointed to probe the affair. The activists claim they had struck a deal and were brought to Piraeus against their will. The owner and captain of the Strofades IV insist that the foreign activists, mostly Britons, tried to seize control of the vessel while it was docked at the Libyan port of Derna with the aim of forcing the captain to go to Gaza. The shipowner is suing the activists
Yes the ship owner is suing the activists.
25. Jay Knott on December 7th, 2010 at 18:17:
The basic facts support Mary and Palestine Think Tank. Claiming to be kidnapped at gunpoint while doing live blogging by cellphone defies belief.
The Atlantic is a cultural divide. Palestine solidarity in the USA is quite unlike in Western Europe. Yes, it’s about motherhood and apple pie. And ex-marines. And their mothers. I react the same way as Mary, but I keep it to myself. Palestine solidarity in the USA will not be a primarily left-wing movement. European secular leftist Palestine activists have learned to moderate their criticisms of Islamic culture; you have to pretend to respect American culture too.
26. Project on December 7th, 2010 at 18:25:
[ Emailed letter. Submitting here as an after-thought – perhaps it is of interest to readers here as well. ]
Subject: Zahir’s response to Mary at PTT: Ken O’Keefe, Road to Hope and a Kidnapping that Wasn’t
From Project
Date: Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 9:47 AM
To: mary
Cc: “ newsroom”
Dear Mary
I hope you are well. I would briefly like to respond to your letter which arrived in my emailbox this morning directing me to your article on PTT. Please note that I am cc’ing Tim at (and I hope Tim might forward this letter to Ken) for reasons which are apparent below.
First, please permit me to state the following very matter of factly: I am unwilling to criticise an individual who willingly puts himself under the following life-threatening situation unless I have done the same first:
“Despite this entire event being completely peaceful on our end, Israelis shot at us and bullets whizzed by within feet of us. You can clearly hear one bullet whizz by myself (Ken O’Keefe) and several others in my area.” —
I speed-read your missive at PTT with interest Mary, and I applaud your courage to speak your mind on this. I didn’t read it entirely because I saw some issues in your article which I address in this letter. But I begin with a personal note by saying that I wish I had that much courage as you Mary to so openly critique my own Muslim brethren for our common failings with such candor. The fear of being used as a ‘native informant’ for the purpose of acquiring more cultural competance over us is a great moderator for me. This is why I greatly admire courageous Jews who stand up to Israel, and courageous Christians who stand up to the tyrannies and failings of their own. And they do have a tad less to fear of the same issues that I have to constantly grapple with when taking on our ‘House Negroes’ and the silent apathy of our peoples, as being from the ‘untermensch’ civilization bearing the full brunt of the uber criminals and brilliant hectoring hegemons from among the so called ‘judeo-christian’ civilization waging an incessant cultural as well as physical war upon us, I don’t wish to be victimized twice.
Thus, I greatly admire and am most envious of the courage of ISMs and their opportunities to exercise their un-inhibitions boldly and to the fullest, even if there may be room for improvement in their modus operandi and in their conceptualization of the problem domain which ab initio creates mis-calculations on their solution-spaces, thus leaving the struggle for Palestine entirely without efficacy in no less a measure than the Palestinains’ own futile attempts.
Who is more to blame?
The co-opted and out-witted Palestinians themselves like the ones in Diasopora waging a ‘safe’ weekend jihad from the comforts of their living rooms, or those not among them but who courageously come to the rescue of those beleagured on ground Zero directly braving a bullet to their brains, and fail?
I have critiqued that entire concept of the largely symbolic, inefficacious and vaccuous dissent against the Jewish State, and you have previously published some of my writings which carry such critiques, as for instance this article which had once been published on PTT: And at other times, you have simply refused to publish other critiques because as you have explained, you will never criticize that individual as he has done so much for the Palestinian peoples. So you had declined the following submission which took on the most visible and respectable Palestinian in diaspora for his own unforgivable errors of omission which I feel are the ‘highest order bit’ of the matter in even having any hopes of success for reclaiming Israel-Palestine from the clutches of Zionism: That of course is your choice as PTT is your soap-box. You make value decisions on what is good dissent, and what is bad dissent. What is appropriate and what isn’t. That is just a factual statement, not an indictment, to highlight the fact that there is a great deal of subjectivity involved here. Right?
Having said all that to get it out of the way so that my following statements have a complete context, here is the short meat of this letter.
Mary, you have certainly identified some real tactical problems. And I would like to see a broader discussion of them without necessarily putting down the courageous peoples who bodly stand up for moral priniciples by putting their own lives on the line. The genuine rebel is a rare breed indeed, too few in numbers, too week in power, and too caught up in their emotional responses to have a real ‘Mens et Manus’ – ‘mind and hand’ – engineering efficacy in an interlinked multivariate domain of oppression so vast, and dominated by powers so elusive, that he and she is unable to see the invisible “iron wall” which protects the many visible effects from being rectified. My little Pamphlet on Palestine ( ) has analyzed that in some depth, and you had published one or two of its trilogy of essays at one time as I recall. My latest article examines the rebel and is equally applicable to the ISMs, and to Ken O’Keefe et. al:
Of Ostriches and Rebels on The Hard Road to World Order
I invite my comrade Tim at Salem News to pick up this topic that my comrade Mary has tried to courageously highlight, and as a more detached journalist, perhaps put some forensic spotlight on the issues raised, primarily of activists becoming more important than the activism for which they started, due to at times because of the very nature of the high-visibilty modus operandi they employ.
There is no way in hell, and justifiably so, that Rachel Corrie’s singular murder under the Israeli D-9 Caterpillar bulldozer would not get more spotlight than the many Palestinians’ daily slaughter and murder of small children. Rachel Corrie herself wrote about it in her letters. And this is also the case here. And as Rachel put it (paraphrasing as her letters are not here with me, but I do possess a hardcopy which was distributed at a funeral event in Berkeley where my family was the only Muslim family in attendance), her hope was that because of her white skin, blue passport, etc., that the spotlight would be drawn back upon the Palestinians. That hasn’t happened to the degree that Rachel Corrie and the Palestinians would have wanted, obviously – but that is not the failing of Rachel Corrie. It is our combined failure.
Thank you.
With best wishes,
Zahir Ebrahim
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: mary
Date: Mon, Dec 6, 2010 at 11:43 PM
Subject: Ken O’Keefe, Road to Hope and a Kidnapping that Wasn’t
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!
– ### –
27. Miri on December 7th, 2010 at 18:43:
Does this become any more ridiculous than complaining about this thoroughly researched and well-documented piece of investigative journalism, while showing no evidence to counter it?
Why not go to one of the man’s very sites, yourselves? For instance, if anyone can break away from a busy schedule to click on , one can see the ad to INVEST in this pipe dream of a flotilla (King Tatt’s going to invite Hugo, yeah!) one must hit on the DONATE button which takes one to “Ken O’Keefe’s Stolen Property Fund” via Paypal.
Does it get any clearer to the sycophants among us?
Let me also try to find O’Con’s own description of getting battered, several years ago, which is strikingly familiar to his battering at the hands of the Israeli commando executioners (it also seems odd that he was the only one battered. The others were executed or shot multiple times)…
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.” (the only thing missing is the phallus).
PS I am unable to post any comments to Salem News.
28. Samantha Daher on December 7th, 2010 at 18:47:
Obviously I don’t know anyhting about what happened to the RTH convoy, but neither do YOU, Mary, this is all hearsay from other activists who have a history of personal self aggradizement as well, most of whom also had no personal part in whatever happened in Libya and Egypt.
To publish such an analysis without taking the time to hear the ‘other side’ is beyond all standards of respnsible journlaism.
This is nothing more than a hit piece on behalf of one set of activists, not an objective journalistic report.
29. Miri on December 7th, 2010 at 18:52:
Oh, and here is another interesting acknowledgement of one of O’Keefe’s frauds: Though he constantly yaks on and on about ‘renouncing’ his US citizenship, and he’s got youtube videos of passport burningS, he traveled to the US this fall, on his US passport:
…which for some reason sent Bonnie into a fit of giggles, during this important interview on what it was ‘like’ to be with Ken when he and his mommy had their reunion (right up there with the importance of his tattoos, ‘each telling a different story…’).
30. Alice Martensson on December 7th, 2010 at 20:04:
Mary: no doubt you will have heard of sleepers. I have long suspected you but now you have given me confirmation. It’s clear to me that you have made it your principal aim to sow discord and sedition within the Palestine solidarity movement. Well, you have failed because, whoever is paying you, have chosen a dunce. You’re so transparent. Go back to Tel Aviv. Tell them you couldn’t quite manage the job because others saw right through you.
Shame on you, damn lunatic!
31. Mary Rizzo on December 7th, 2010 at 20:06:
which “other side” Samantha?
I have looked at about 20 or 30 videos by or about Ken. I have taken about 50 various dispatches and tweets and urgent messages sent by RTH and RTH supporters, and you see them here. I have read the 60 or so articles about the “Kidnapping”, I have had an exchange with Ken that you can see in the footnotes, he REFUSED to do an interview,,,, know why??? Because in his view, also asking the Boat side what they had to say was being in Kahoots with Zionists!
So, what is a journo to do? Just post whatever comes her way, even if it is a LIE and then later publish the opposite of that and expect the public to take us seriously when we keep on crying wolf?
Miri, Tim won’t allow my comments either, and is even spreading a lie that I am censoring comments HERE. They have all been published. Same can’t be said for Salem-News!
Nor are their journalistic skills that great if they can’t even figure out that this is NOT an Italian site, though I am Italian. I think they don’t know what fact checking is, they are too busy grovelling to heroes with military pasts.
32. Mary Rizzo on December 7th, 2010 at 20:13:
Blaine, excellent point! Zahar, thanks for your point of view but read the entire article before arriving at a conclusion. If you believe that someone is beyond criticism if he is in Gaza when he actually has endangered every effort in future in favour of Gaza due to the current mess involving his recklessness and the story he invented about being kidnapped, expecting everyone to believe it, well, I disagree.
Jay, I too never got that whole thing about if someone has been trained by the most militarist units of the US war business, that they are better spokesmen for human rights and Justice. I don’t think so.
I also can’t believe they don’t understand the enormous humour of doing a journalistic report on an activist’s mum. I don’t know if you read the comments in the Indymedia link in the article, where we actually see someone who KNEW ken and mum, and didn’t have the same shining opinions. But If they want me to leave Ken’s mum out of it, they should be the first to do so, or accept that some of us think this is the height of ridiculousness.
Great White Hero’s Mum is an up and coming category. I am sure she loves her son and he can do no wrong.
The guy has an odd concept of TRUTH.
33. Karen Nakamura on December 7th, 2010 at 20:51:
I’m passing this on to my fellow reporters at, brought down by pro-Israelis. We also had an ex-soldier type try to take over. The staff backed the owner/editor. He also tried to delay/close it for months and ended up losing our archives… He does, however, do excellent work on other projects.
I know nothing about Ken and his group. There are always painful schisms among the sincere ranks.
However, the issue of agent provocateur has rightfully been raised. Vigilance must always be maintained.
An agent provocateur led a New Orleans flood relief NGO and discovered setting up youngsters to do violent acts. Someone may be able to enlighten us…
In the days of the Black Panther Party, provocateurs pushed tactics that divided people and caused dangerous acts not approved by the base.
Leader Cinque of the SLA and Patricia Hearst fame was discovered after his death to have been an agent for the LA police department and possibly the FBI.
In this scenario it’s not imprudent to consider the youthful anarchists in Seattle being lead by agents. Their actions certainly diverted the message.
That’s why Ghandi and King’s principles are the only way we’ll make it as a movement. This is a marathon not a sprint.
And you’re correct. The movement has worked out boundaries with reasonable officialdom from San Quentin Prison to the borders of Egypt. They won’t bash in our heads if we don’t break the rules of good conduct and complete the paperwork… Anyone who has ever been at a meeting with “The Authorities” understands the importance of trust for those we wish to help. With trust, they’re far more likely to grant permission and let medicine get to the hospitals. If they think you’re a loose canon, they’ll treat you and your organization the same way. This does NOT mean capitulation just using diplomatic finesse.
We need universal questions to ask during these situations. Is it a difference of opinion or an action harmful to our primary purpose? Is it a needless suicide achieving nothing but depleting and dividing our unity or it is fraught with success or futility? As one respondent said, is the action built on a solid foundation or based in egotistic misplaced heroism?
Keep questioning,
Karen Nakamura
34. Mary Rizzo on December 7th, 2010 at 20:53:
Alice, point out the parts where someone saw through me? What parts of this OBJECTIVE report are facts that are wrong. Like I said, totally glad to be wrong if someone can come up with where.
Was there a contract? NO.
Was there a kidnapping? NO.
Is Ken promoting himself as something he is not and lying to do it? Unfortunately yes.
If you can accept that, and accept that people are supposed to look the other way cuz despite the havoc he wreaked with the other movements and the reputation he has for accusing anyone who disagrees with him as being paid by Tel Aviv, just like you are doing now, his work has been accomplished!
We need all the dictators we can get!
We need lies and people to manipulate us to spreading falsities and rumour and even falling for THE BIG show where there were no facts to substantiate the lies.
Look at the photos… they contradict the claims made!
Look listen to the contradictions all over his videos, and tell me who is causing PROBLEMS in the MOVEMENT.
that Ken has been able to get people to finance his adventures is credit to his talent. I admire that, It’s great for him and he is successful in it.
That he was unable to understand WHAT the point of the convoy was, WHAT the damage is in having the media twisted one way and then another, of even attempting to get us to start a dispute with Egypt, Libya, Greece, well, it’s not what I am in activism for. It’s not my job to shift the focus, that is what false flag operators do.
So, come out with the things there that are wrong…. or show us a contract, or tell us it’s great the we have been bleating like sheep for days LIES so that activists can all be tarred with the LIAR paintbrush..
I said it before, and I will say it once more, I could care LESS when people decide to smear me as if I am being paid by Zionists, because I know for sure I am not, and know for SURE people in the movement have very iffy connections and still keep some really grotesque secrets to protect their public image.
As long as they are just doing their shit for their own personal gain; i try to ignore it. Sooner or later someone braver will come out and point out how inconsistent it is. Instead, if they propose themselves as the liberator of the Palestinian people, and they do not even fully endorse the Right of Return, but instead some weirdo plan of sharing… if they are lining their pockets with donations that could instead go directly to Palestinians, then, THEY are offending the just cause, not me.
However, go on with your name calling.
Maybe one of you will have some FACT to contradict… I’ll be patient.
Oh, by the way, tomorrow is a holiday here, PTT comments will be CLOSED.. If you don’t see your comment, never fear, it’s waiting to be moderated.
why do we moderate? because of spam robots and hate posts set in under the names of others which, checking the IPs, we can see it’s abuse.
So, be patient, and I do sincerely ask anyone to come out with something better than the generic bs of you are splitting the movement, you must be a zionist crap.
Come up with arguments to counter the evidence. That would help defend your man.
35. Project on December 7th, 2010 at 21:26:
Mary, my name is not “Zahar,”. It is Zahir – thanks in advance for spelling it correctly in the future.
If your only response to my carefully worded letter is this two sentences:
“Zahar, thanks for your point of view but read the entire article before arriving at a conclusion. If you believe that someone is beyond criticism if he is in Gaza when he actually has endangered every effort in future in favour of Gaza due to the current mess involving his recklessness and the story he invented about being kidnapped, expecting everyone to believe it, well, I disagree.”,
it is reflective of the only reason why I neither read PTT, nor submit any articles. PTT is your private website and has little to do with anything else. Sorry. The only reason I wrote you a carefully worded letter and posted it here as comment is because of your unsolicited email which landed in my mailbox. Otherwise I haven’t visited here for many months and I don’t care to read anything here – but I am sure a lot of it is most valuable – all filtered through you particular biases and subjectivity.
I have no further time to spend on your personal opinions. Your work is admirable – for it takes courage to go against the grain – but so is other peoples. And unless you can stand there with bullets buzzing by your head, I am so very un-interested in your expert assessment of those who are in that position. Please let me know if you actually were in that position, or were a member of this journey, describe to me what risks you took under what circumstances, and then I’ll read you opinion further.
Those who criticise others in such matters, in my view, have only legitimacy to do so if they have taken the same/similar risks and understand what it takes to take such risks. This is a lesson I learnt from my prof. Noam Chomsky – and before I could, in good conscience, critique him publicly as in my essay “Endless trail of red herrings” for instance, I took the same risks and far greater ones than he claimed he had taken with his own physical protests during the Vietnam War.
When I challenged some Palestinians’ sacred god, and evidently yours too, the good Dr. Salman Abu Sitta for his omissions, which you rejected as disclosed in my letter, it was only after I had written about those very omissions myself and taken the risks inherrent in going where no one here on PPT ever goes. At one time I had searched on PTT for the word “Rothschild” and the only essays and comments on the pertinent topic were mine. There was only one other hit, and it was a reference to that name in only an irrelevent ancient context.
In that vein, I’ll critique Mr. Ken, a person whom I have never met nor ever communicated with (but I have communicated with salem-news editor Tim who happens to be his colleague and who occasionally publishes my essays) once I have found myself in a similar precarious situation as he found himself and became familiar with the realtime decision making under such a condition and errors of hindsight inherrent in it.
Since I apply that standard to myself first, I also apply it to others. And if I might err on that standard, perhaps someone will remind me of it – no one is perfect.
Zahir Ebrahim.
36. Mary Rizzo on December 7th, 2010 at 21:32:
on Tim King’s site, in case he doesn’t publish it
Tim, first of all, I do hope you address my other comments, but meantime:
1) the site is not Italian. I think that fact checking on everything is always good practice, especially on titles.
2) So, it honestly does not bother you that the you yourself have printed things that ultimately are untrue? EX: the article about the abusive “Greek Commandos” ->they were coast guard, and not commandos, they did not threaten anyone’s lives nor hold anyone at gunpoint. This was your writing, your journalism. If you think apoligising is in order, why not start there and start to sort through all the contradictory and false information around, and come to some conclusions. You might not like what you see, but you are ultimately responsible if our whole category (activists/independent journalists, in my case totally un-financed by anyone) is taken as jokers. Then the accusations of me being an agent are brilliant, there is not a penny in any account anywhere from anyone for my writing on Palestine, which, were I an agent for Israel, I think they might have lots of problems with my article on (for instance) Hamas, which has been translated in quite a few languages and the PLC themselves wrote me a letter to thank me for my work not only in providing an article that was objective about them, but for also opening once again the issue of the unfairly detained PLC members on TV and after many months, finally having some of them released). I just want to know how that would fit in with the image painted of me as an agent for Zionism. They would have a problem with all of our material on PTT.
and yes, I was critical of George Galloway. Is that a crime too? I also recognise when he does things RIGHT, as is clear in my recent report on VP5.
About Egypt, I support Arab unity. I am against the Egyptian regime, and very supportive of the Egyptian people, so any attempts made to smash the Arab unity, to punish the Egyptian people, ESPECIALLY since they are part of the solution to the problem, much more than any of us are, and also because I learned from Meshaal that NO WAY is it acceptable to shift the blame to others. It is Israel to blame, to unite against and defeat. If you don’t like that concept, you might have to discuss this on the various Hamas forums or with those in the movement, because this is their policy, and this is our policy. We do not want to put Egypt under the boot and we do not approve of Western activists doing this. It is against our belief in the strength of Arab unity.
Then again, to accuse those who think out of the box and expose the manipulations within our own ranks of the worst possible evil, well, this is how people who are afraid of the complexities of reality react: they create a lie about someone who disagrees with them and then they feel their job has been done.
I have no idea if Tim or Ken are just careless or do not see the bigger picture. If their co-militant loyalty blocks out their other reasoning capacities, and if they have tolerance for lies.
I sometimes let white lies slide by and do not even comment. Indeed, the lies and inconsistencies all over things I just ignored, it didn’t seem to make that much difference and, “so what!” If people want a hero that they can praise, let them fulfil that need.
The moment however, we were DEMANDED to ACT, to do this and that and to even start to circulate things that could only be lies.. my patience ran out. I am not the only one. And I do not like to see innocent people accused of such terrible crimes as kidnapping, which makes ALL of us look like IDIOTS.
So, Ken gets caught in his mess and I am the bad guy. This is how it works! It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last…
but be careful if you love Palestine, because if you are not loving truth and standing only by truth the lies will come back and damage you, and ultimately, the cause you support.
37. Mary Rizzo on December 7th, 2010 at 21:55:
Zahir, sorry, busy day, I guess you can comprehend that a typo can slide in, as well as me not being able or willing at this time to read your article on rebels, though i have read both of your comments here.
I don’t think it really bothers me that you stop reading this site, I stopped reading yours too! I don’t know… you can feel that you need to have your publishing demands met, when even on one occasion you know quite well, I was very ill, spent 4 hours formatting one of your pieces, and got one of your classic “ungrateful” notes in return. I try to please, but I have limits like anyone and YES:.. PTT is here for Salman Abu Sitta to write what he likes and YES; he is one of the most important influences in my life for his non-stop dedication and his kindness, so NO, I am not going to post a piece that attacks him!
It’s my right, as you point out. As well, you also have views on Iran that you are sure you know better than Iranians and so on and so forth. You are a very intelligent person, it’s clear, but your criteria for viewing the world is in a very narrow lens, and this is why on a site like this, where we are unpaid, dedicating the spare moments of freetime to promoting as much as possible the voice of the Palestinian and its intricate variety, we don’t please everyone and never will.
As well, you assume someone is above criticism because he places himself in harm’s way. Perhaps. Perhaps not.
I can say that we got to hear about HIM, and yet, events of this sort and much worse even happens EVERY day to Palestinians, constantly, and why are we not so interested and why are they not our heroes? I know why, maybe you do too. So, I don’t feed that kind of stuff. I don’t feel it is necessary to continue in the western exceptionalism stuff, and as a matter of fact, if you haven’t finished reading, how can you possibly be able to comment? At least you admitted to it, but I would not comment on an article I was not fully familiar with. I won’t send you emailings either! I had various emailing lists and recently asked everyone to cancel out who did not want on… 3 out of 600 cancelled, and you weren’t there, so I left you on.
Lastly, you ask if I’ve ever been in front of a bullet or where they fly. No. I am very lucky, I have not. Though I have been stalked, have been the recipient of violence and threats of violence and I have to deal every day practically with some of the worst types of insult, abuse, sexism, discrimination and psychological pressure. I have given enormous amounts of money and time to Palestinians and the cause, and to individuals in the cause, translating, editing, publishing, circulating, doing subtitles, promoting and getting paperwork for visas and such… so I don’t believe I am only drawing water to my own well. I dedicate most of my efforts to others’ rights to expression, and have given willingly time to others in the West who support Palestine that i could have used for my own work, interests, etc. I don’t think I really have to stand in front of a bullet to earn my right to speak my mind on Palestine or things involving it. I pay my price for it. I have had some of my best friends and family break off and consider me a “traitor” and have had levels of emotional blackmail used on me quite frequently. I have been subject of smears and even now, I allow others to insult me. I too am probably never going to be allowed in my country of birth for some of my writing, and this is painful. I am not like some “ex-pats” who fake their distance.. I am literally decades away from my homeland, and may never see loved ones again. So, go on and make your considerations, I know the sacrifices it takes, and I also go against the grain if i need to, knowing it brings on even “hatred” from “my side”.
Having this is not pleasant, and I could probably avoid it all by just doing nothing and sitting on my hands. So I leave it up to my own conscience as to Placing myself in harm’s way.
38. Miri on December 8th, 2010 at 3:32:
Zahir, I somehow missed your comment about people on the ground putting their lives at risk. I am wondering if you mention this because of O’Keefe’s recent claims to have been shot AT during his self-interview (no Gazans, again?) as he was pushing along his video camera.
The ITF was no more targetting him to be shot, than they were targetting me, when a shock grenade went whizzing over my head in Bil’in, in 2006 (unlike the intentional murder of Baseem Abu Rahme, via rapid cannister cum projectile, the shooting in the eye of Matan Cohen, the shooting in the legs of Adeeb Abu Rahme, the shooting in the head of Limor Goldstein).
Being in an area where bullets are always flying does not give one permission to be a liar and a thief.
Some of you folk here, are braying like hypocritical yahoos, who seem not to want to look at the facts. Perhaps that makes you as much frauds as he…
39. Eric Verlo on December 8th, 2010 at 6:16:
Unfortunately I am all to familiar with the internal dissension spread by the Mary Rizzo types within social justice efforts. It is a pettiness borne of being rubbed the wrong way by larger than life personalities like Ken. Very often significant social endeavor depends on abrasive leadership, but small participants like Mary can’t abide stepping aside. Humor her right to criticize whoever she likes, but to advance the cause at better than a squabbling pace it’s vital that counter-revolutionaries like Mary are exposed and ignored.
40. David Evans on December 8th, 2010 at 9:06:
Ships docking at Al Arish will never break the seige. Ken O’Keefe knows this.
41. Tweets that mention Palestine Think Tank » Analysis Israel Newswire Palestine Somoud: Arab Voices of Resistance » Truth Justice and Peace nearly sunk as RTH convoy facts emerge, and as usual, Gazans get the worst part of the deal — on December 8th, 2010 at 12:06:
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42. Karen Nakamura on December 9th, 2010 at 0:02:
Yo Folks!!
The kids are listening…
That’s the children of Gaza who are cold tonight without adequate food ’cause we’re missing ways to get food to them by fighting among ourselves. A shake-out of ideas is always good. However, organizations fall as much from internal squabbles as from outside forces. The children need us too much to not apply conflict resolution.
We need universally acceptable guideposts during conflicts. Everyone has to agree to certain modes of behavior and accept they will not be supported if they step out of line. Won’t engage in conflict resolution? You’re out. Hold the attitude that It’s My Way or the Highway? Bye.
Democratically appointed authority and rules must be established and followed. Ambitious types can work their way up the chain of command so they understand nuances. Just like anywhere, cream rises to the top. They don’t need to bully their way in the door.
Political take-overs are dangerous and cause chaos even if done with sincerity. Starting one in front of armed officials and the media is not the time. The daily/weekly meetings are the time to settle problems.
Watch anyone talking violence or displaying too aggressive a nature. This game is too heavy for huff and bluff, however sincere.
What will be the outcome of any action taken five minutes/hours/days/months after it happens? Were babies bombed in retaliation? Or did we deliver clean water filters to schools?
How will what we do further our good name and the cause of freedom for Palestine?
The world is deciding the case. They must trust our actions as logical, honest and good-hearted. Like they came to trust the organic food movement as being there for them.
We are The Who to the world’s Horton. We need to yell in harmony and in unison.
43. Maryam S on December 9th, 2010 at 5:34:
How can anyone claim to have a serious interest in the cause of Palestine without being willing to examine the actions of a self-promoted, self-proclaimed hero such as Ken O’Keefe?
How can you not be concerned that his past includes serious discord and irrational acts allegedly committed by him in other activist projects?
How can you not be concerned that he was in charge of a convoy whose members seem to have committed a crime – boarded a ship that was not chartered, refusing to disembark, and then accusing the ship’s captain of kidnapping?
How can you not be concerned at his money-raising practices?
Don’t you see how these questions cast doubts on all of us, threaten our credibility as a movement?
For heaven’s sake, it’s not about this Ken O’Keefe, it’s about Palestine, and how we can best work for the liberation of Palestine. This guy comes across as a pathetic narcissist, and every day I see it gets worse and worse. Aren’t any of you sycophants concerned that your hero worship may not be healthy?
44. Mary Rizzo on December 9th, 2010 at 8:34:
just in case Tim King decides not to post my comment, here it is:
Tim, For Anna O’Leary to lament that I am “unsavoury” (as opposed to sweet) and was “uncouth” to her, while at the same time accusing me of being AIPAC/Israel payroll and then listing a series of “character” sins she ascribes to me such as jealous or ego driven speaks more than volumes about who is uncouth or unsavoury. I would like her to present a crumb of evidence of the sort, let her research me and find something before she libels me like this. Take into consideration, others who have done so have had to publicly apologise, but meantime, they make the fools of themselves.
And Anna making the fool of herself has been more than adequately demonstrated by the posts she had pushed for everyone to circulate full of total and complete lies. You have nothing to say about the accuracy of the report, the contradictions don’t seem to affect you? The questions I asked you about the seeking of KEN to get warships of other nations involved on foreign soil? None of this seems to even phase you at all?
Perhaps it is the military mentality that I just can’t get my mind wrapped around. I honestly do not want ex mils determining the discourse for Palestinians. I simply can’t handle that much. Forgive me for this major flaw of mine, but history is replete with them coming into liberation causes and driving the local leaders out and imposing their own techniques. It is always a very negative thing.
Once more, if Ken was contacting you, great, he was feeding you all kinds of lies just like the Gunpoint one that he later fed you the opposite, upon reflection, no one would believe too much at the end of the day…
I don’t care about his temperament. I care about the lying, distortion and misleading discourse. What have you got to say about him travelling on a US passport while concomitantly declaring he’s an Ex-US citizen? I mean, one need NOT dig any deeper than the obvious. When I dug, upon his recommendation, I had the confirmation that he was not a person who has a consistent narrative and at the same time, makes reckless actions and accuses others of things such as affiliation with services.
It is ludicrous.
Meantime, he bangs that tin cup for his personal reasons. (His big investment project, his travels, next will be his products to sell, who knows? I hope he branded TJP so that he can get more dough that way!
Tim, you have been taken for a big ride, and your lack of even doing any kind of due diligence proves that this site is little more than a bulletin board for your own friends. A true journalist (which I am not, I’m just an amateur) would attempt to know the truth, not hide it or paint it differently.
One day you may become aware of your part in the libel and in the lie. I hope it won’t cost you too much.
Ken says that he does not worry about the negative things said about him, as they are “par for the course”. But at the same time, he is begging for everyone to put their comments on PTT and to also copy them onto his FB page. I think he’s a wee bit concerned. Why does he not participate? Because he knows the Truth and knows that his declarations could be perjury if testimony is used from his declarations freely made.
why else would he not declare anything to the Greek police?
45. Mary Rizzo on December 9th, 2010 at 8:35:
Karen, thank you… that’s the whole point!
46. Joanna on December 9th, 2010 at 10:27:
If any of these accusations were true, it would be a scandalous tragedy.
As they are not true, a vicious, scandalous tragedy has been created.
Perhaps the witnesses can learn to bear their pain with a measure of
the dignity demonstrated by the Real victims of our inhumanity…
who deserve more from us than this..
47. Mary Rizzo on December 9th, 2010 at 10:58:
It IS a scandalous tragedy. Face these FACTS
1) there was NO contract.
2) K o’K and K Turner refused to leave the vessel
3) obstruction was placed on the vessel to prevent it from leaving
4) the vessel had written port clearance to leave absent of cargo
5) once the ship was leaving, Ken admitted OTHERS jumped on board.
Does this make a kidnapping?
keep on going:
6) the Master calls the Libyan port authorities, while still in 0.3 NM from the port entrance (500 metres) to have the 10 activists and the Libyan officers brought to the dock. Ken and the activists REFUSED (all of this is on recorded tapes that the port authorities and the shippers have) and thus, the Libyan officers did not want to abandon the ship to 10 persons who ADMITTED (by their leader’s own mouth, and on his OWN video): We could have taken over the ship if we wanted. We did not do it, but we could have managed.
7) the Master informed all the relevant authorities of the incident, and did all he could to maintain the incident in amicable terms, to ensure safety of the entire ship and everyone aboard. His actions SAVED KEN O’KEEFE AND THE OTHER 9 from being taken to Libya, arrested and detained, as was the intention of Libya! While they could NOT do this on foreign soil, and the Master knew that, he followed the instructions given by the authorities to proceed and render the situation as safe for all possible.
8) Ken denied food, water, life vests, complains of mistreatment, confinement, sleep deprivation and more… all of this TOTALLY EXPOSED IN HIS OWN PHOTOS!
9) Ken O’Keefe “commandeered” a VHF and made an SOS which violates maritime law and is extremely grave in the world he had at that moment joined, (the seafaring one) and does this help the Flotillas?
These are just SOME of the scandalous things. If you find anything to refute ANY of those things, as always, freely share them, as I have attempted to be as objective and to allow all parties the chance to present all their evidence. Ken refused once he understood that I was also going to interview those he accuses.
If someone refuses, and then tells me to trust him since he is so upright, then to look into his activism, I did just that. Contradictions emerge like a landslide, as well as other things that are totally unacceptable, such as his ideas to propose the “charter” that no Palestinian could accept!
He also has been collecting money, asking for free flats (3BR no less and “better than a squat”…. He has his needs, you see.)
48. Christina on December 9th, 2010 at 11:06:
If one reads the whole article, he will realize that, apart from the writer’s opinions stated with regards to Ken O’Keefe, that the article refers to a specific incident that took place about a month ago in Libya. An incident associated with a specific humanitarian organization (Road to Hope), which organized a convoy to deliver aid to Gaza.
The incident is actually the reason this article was written in the first place.
The writer has conducted a research, gathered data from parties directly involved in this incident, outlined the facts in chronological order, posed specific questions about this incident and left to the readers to analyze/examine/cross-check the facts, find the answers to the questions and decide whether the contents of this article, as far as it concerns the Libya incident, are true or not.
Upon reading an article, it’s up to the reader to decide whether this article is an objective one, stating the actual facts and whether it enlightens the reader (whether he is directly or indirectly involved with it), who wants to learn more about an incident that took place somewhere in the world.
There are 30+ comments under this article from different people (comments by the article’s writer not included).
There is not one comment actually dealing with the facts outlined about the incident.
There isn’t a comment posing any questions or stating any opinion of whether the actions of the main involved parties were right or wrong, true or false.
All comments have been made by people not directly involved to this incident, and while everyone’s right to freedom of speech is highly appreciated, it would be interesting to also read comments that actually deal with the facts of the case and not with the writer’s personal opinions about a person.
And if these parties feel that commenting about the actual incident under an article is not the proper place to do so, then maybe they could inform all readers where they should direct themselves in order to read an official statement issued with regards to the Libya incident that outlines their official position.
49. Mary Rizzo on December 9th, 2010 at 12:20:
Christina, part of the problem is that in those who believe that only truth will set “all of us” free, the denial of truth and the defense of lies has taken on the form of their activism. Ken’s done it, his “cult of personality” has been capable of allowing them to totally seek to disregard facts and evidence and to continue to sustain a lie and a manipulation, because their “friend” or “hero” told them that’s the way it is.
The problems of “unity” seem to worry them more than problems that are dangerous to us as activists who are on record as accepting a lie, (a series of lies), as well as all the damage to this mission and the future ones.
My hope is that if RTH is as serious as they would like us to believe, they distance themselves from what the “new” leader has done, to save their org, and to salvage themselves when the moment of legal accountability starts.
Again, I would like to see ONE fact refuted here, instead of people engaging in the classic “throw any libel at them” tactic of accusing me of being Israeli paid or AIPAC paid.
Let me see the evidence and the facts. That Ken has been caught out on so many contradictions and even has shot himself in the foot by admitting to being aboard the ship against the ship-owner’s orders, I wonder how he can justify any of it. But then again we’re supposed to believe he ain’t no American… when he admittedly travels on his US passport!
50. Christina on December 9th, 2010 at 13:35:
A well-established Humanitarian organization dealing with the noble cause of mitigating the suffering & pain of oppressed people that go through an unspeakable ordeal, which first respects itself and second and foremost respects all people involved in accomplishing their projects, either by donating money or by voluntarily taking part in the convoys, should rise to the occasion.
Road to Hope has not done so yet, but it should be just a matter of time for their donators and supporters to finally receive true information with regards to the incident that took place in Libya and to receive answers, supported with documented evidence, that clarifies RTH’s position in this case.
51. Ellie Merton on December 9th, 2010 at 16:41:
Hi Mary
I was Road to Hope’s London Liaison during the recent convoy.
A link to your report has been posted onto my Facebook page, and I have been asked by various people not actually involved in the recent Road to Hope convoy to contact you because they are worried you have not contacted me at all and, as a result, you have taken a dangerous liberty to drag me through the mill of your inaccurate investigation, thus potentially undermining the work of other Palestine support organisations I have links with. As you can imagine, none of us are entirely comfortable with this situation.
To help you contact me, I have sent you a Facebook message.
In the meantime my main concern is your failing to contact me directly prior to quoting me in your report in several places is a basic journalistic oversight. It is also quite peculiar, given the fact a quick read of the official R2H press statements and a very simplistic search on Google for “Ellie Merton” will show you that I was the main R2H press contact for all the rest of the world’s media, and it gives all my contact details. I don’t really understand why the press releases and my contact details were good enough base-points for a vast swathe of the world’s media (large and small), but not for PTT.
In terms of what the worldwide media reported, the three articles that made the most fictional statements, gross inaccuracies and disregarded the verifiable truth that was offered to them with back-up source material were: 1) CNN website 2) BBC News website, and 3) Reuters.
I look forward to hearing from you.
52. Mary Rizzo on December 9th, 2010 at 17:44:
Ellie Merton, on the site where I have taken the direct quotes from you, the public ROAD TO HOPE Facebook page, I had left on several occasions the OPEN CALL to have anyone at all who wished to be involved TO CONTACT me. Since you were one of the main protagonists on that board, I had naturally ASSUMED that you were seeing all the posts contacted. It was not only in comments, but also a direct post all of its own. I was contacted by some persons and the leader of the RTH convoy, Ken O’Keefe, I directly contacted, since he had not been on the RTH facebook page.
I have printed YOUR press statements.
I have printed YOUR own written communications.
If your complaint is that you were not contacted, I am sorry to say, so many in FB and persons actually in the convoy were aware, since I place the request directly on that page.
Seeing as well, that you “passed your role” to another person, I can hardly understand your complaint.
Now, onto serious matters. Where are the innaccuracies in this report? Be specific.
I have DIRECTLY QUOTED YOUR PRESS STATEMENTS. This was direct wording released by your own hand, so I hardly would be taking such an issue if I were you. Were your press statements accurate? Did they reflect facts?
53. Mary Rizzo on December 9th, 2010 at 18:49:
The RTH page and my message. NOTE THE DATE! Mary Rizzo Palestine Think Tank will make comprehensive analysis / full account of Road To Hope convoy incident. Those who wish to be interviewed or contribute their testimony, contact us. (more in comments).
14 November at 23:51
54. LanceThruster on December 10th, 2010 at 0:34:
As one who on separate unrelated occasions has written glowingly of or to Mary Rizzo, Tim King, and Ken O’Keefe I would like to put in my $.02.
The piece I saw initially where Mary indicated Ken seemed to be somewhat cagey in regards to a request for an interview raised a few alarm bells for me. You would think that someone who has written pieces elsewhere as Ken has, taken part in actions meant to move along the quest for justice for Palestinians, and is often seen in a role as de facto spokesperson for the movement would not be hesitant to take part in an interview by another activist for Palestinian justice. Ken has even addressed those wishing to challenge his version of events.
(see: – “And lastly I have one more challenge. I challenge any critic of merit, publicly, to debate me on a large stage over our actions that day. I would especially love to debate with any Israeli leader who accuses us of wrongdoing, it would be my tremendous pleasure to face off with you. All I saw in Israel was cowards with guns, so I am ripe to see you in a new context. I want to debate with you on the largest stage possible. Take that as an open challenge and let us see just how brave Israeli leaders are.”)
I consider Mary Rizzo a critic of merit.
I consider written open discourse on public internet forums and blogs a very large stage indeed.
Finally, in the years I have seen Mary write, post, reply, moderate, address complaints, etc., almost singlehandedly while still trying to juggle her full-time job, her health and family, the various threats, bullying, personal smears, harassment, legal claims, and the like…she has done so with remarkable humility and extraordinary tenacity. I have seen her own up to errors on her part however slight while still maintaining a composure based on doing her homework. I have seen the amount she bends over backwards to allow even clearly recognizable trolls to have their say before deleting or banning them, as while such choices can be subjective, she won’t let that be an excuse to let someone else hijack the discussion to the detriment of the cause.
I have seen in this particular fracas that Mary seems willing to address any detractors head on while the object of her scrutiny is largely absent (if not entirely).
This is the type of courage and dedication I have come to expect from Mary and will continue to do so. I will also be glad to examine any further statements, revelations, and counterpoints by others should they be willing to step into the ring and go the full distance and not just the oh-so-typical hit-and-run attacks.
Keep fighting the good fight, Mary.
55. Mary Rizzo on December 10th, 2010 at 10:38:
Thanks Lance. I appreciate your 2 cents, because you are one who follows the media and discourse attentively and with the necessary critical eye and free mind.
About the Hit-and-Run attacks, this is the level that Ken, who tells his fans to “ignore it” so as not to feed it, is spending time digging up what he considers smear articles about PTT. Too bad that he does not know the context, and too bad that rather than actually face the issue involving himself, he’s trying to smear me, thinking this is the correct tactic. However, a few will follow him, even going so far as to say PTT has lost the plot since it started to condemn Hamas. As you know, PTT is one of the very rare sites that has published in-depth pieces about Hamas that (wonder of wonders) even Hamas has complimented for the objectivity and efforts made to eliminate any kind of falsities. So, it just proves that the critics don’t know what they are talking about and that the smear bandwagon always picks up new passengers!
You have correctly noticed the total avoidance of the arguments that would in some way defend the position taken. It was not a kidnapping, and the evidence is all there. So, we are supposed to just keep on believing a big lie and manipulating truth because one person thinks it’s the way to go?
It would be so easy to
1) show us the charter contract (but since it does not exist…well, it’s not easy)
2) show us the vesting of broker document (required in chartering by means of broker…. but that doesn’t exist either!)
3) show that the “Ten” were taken forcibly onto the vessel (and the opposite is shown in Ken’s own videos)
4) refute the claim that they did not refuse to be brought immediately to Libyan shores, and the recordings on the ship prove that they refused.
5) explain how come the pre-contract agreement only included 30 passengers and yet there was no contingency made for the movement of the other 70 or so persons.
6) explain why we have contradictions about
a) a speedboat and furious escape of a captain
b) being held at gunpoint by Greek “commandos”
c) not being given lifejackets and being confined.
and many more inconsistencies, too numerous to even mention.
7) to account for why all of a sudden money was supposed to be sent to Ken for his needs and not directly to the convoyers who were “stranded” and in dire straits, as per their own admission.
8) explain how an ex-USA citizen gets to travel on a US passport and not only in 2004 when he got a new one in Italy, but the one he used (by admission of this on Salem News) as far back as this September.
9) rather than be defensive that a handful (and the list was growing by the day) of persons who worked with him reported his antics as endangering the very mission, and his divide and conquer tactics on the ground of accusing those he did not like as being spies and paid by the enemy. It simply is a dirty smear that is totally unsubstantiated and the trick the enemy uses constantly.
10) if in the Journeyman video we see that at the end only a tiny fraction of persons wanted him to assume leadership, and they rather entrusted their lives to an Iraqi than to O’Keefe, Ken takes issue with the fact that his reputation as a leader (and we have seen how reckless he is “live”) is constantly challenged by those who really know him.
the tiny little word Truth should have some meaning, unless .. of course, it doesn’t.
56. Mary Rizzo on December 10th, 2010 at 16:53:
don’t miss the souvenir photos!
57. Miri on December 12th, 2010 at 1:28:
Ellie, you were posting non-stop on Road To Hope’s fb page, which makes your comments public to those you, or any administrator who barred others from the page. You forwarded O’Keefe’s tweets, no matter how ridiculous or contradictory they were.
Your press releases are as much public as were King Tatt’s tweets.
I had hoped by now that R2H would have condemned his actions, distanced itself from them, and made a full acount of any and all financial transactions for what was initially an honest endeavor, transformed into the personal soap operatic drama of an adrenaline junkie.
58. Maryam S on December 12th, 2010 at 3:11:
Maybe Ellie would care to tell us why Ken refused to be interviewed for this article. I’m quite interested in that. If you were so concerned about Mary’s article, why didn’t you and Ken contribute to it? Perhaps it would have had a different outcome. Now you’ll never know.
59. Sam on December 12th, 2010 at 11:12:
Hi Maryam S,
I can answer that question. Ken refused to be interviewed by Mary Rizzo because she had the same abrasive and nasty attitude as her side kick Miri (see above comment). She and about 5 others had been attacking the R2H convoy and Ken for quite some time. As you can see from her childish name calling (King Tatt, O’Con, etc), she displays a behaviour that one would expect from a teenage girl with self esteem issues.
We were in transit to Gaza and facing significant issues (as all convoys do) and felt no need to waste our time or energy on their bitchfest.
Mary Rizzo’s ego was obviously hurt at Kens refusal to be interviewed by this glorified blogger and so took her source of information from a good friend of the captain of the Strofades IV. Hence her article is full of inaccuracies and blatant lies.
There is an internal review of the R2H convoy taking place and i’ve no doubt that all will be revealed in due course. However, the R2H convoy does not owe an explanation to Mary Rizzo or anybody else who may think they are some kind of investigative journalist.
I would advise Marry Rizzo to channel her bitterness and hatred at the enemy of the Palestinians and leave her personal vendettas out of the Free Palestine movement.
60. Christina on December 12th, 2010 at 11:19:
It was a very pleasant surprise to read a comment by someone actually involved with the ship’s incident.
From Ms. Merton’s above comment, it’s clear that she was RTH’s official liaison during the last convoy. In view of that, Ms. Merton was also the organization’s official spokesperson, at least with regards to the incident that took place in Libya. Moreover, Ms. Merton was RTH’s main press contact for the world’s media.
What should a reader presume from the above? Does the use of “past tense” in her statements imply that she no longer is RTH’s official liaison?
If Ms. Merton is no longer the organization’s spokesperson, then either her or someone else from RTH should officially inform the world of who is now RTH’s official spokesperson/liaison.
Anyhow, one has to stick with Ms. Merton’s one & only above comment, at least until otherwise informed.
Numerous comments have been made above, by quite a few persons, with regards to the accuracy or inaccuracy of the writer’s investigation and, although it is anyone’s right to question the contents of the article, none has provided any logical arguments in order to confute the facts. On the contrary, it seems that some people (including RTH’s liaison) believe that by making irrelevant nebulous comments and vague accusations that this is the way for the truth to emerge.
What is also interesting is that Ms. Merton informs the readers which three worldwide media have published the “most fictional statements”. The insertion of the word “most” implies that the rest of the worldwide media have also published “fictional statements” only these are “less” fictional than the others. Moreover, it implies that all other references made in the article are for fact “fictional”.
But leaving aside these three media for a moment, can one assume that the rest “less fictional” statements mentioned in the article include also Ms. Merton’s own statements and press releases issued with regards to the incident in Libya?
As per Ms. Merton, she has contacted the article’s writer via FB. Well done, but cannot quite figure out how a personal contact with the writer can be of help to the rest of the readers and how this will answer the various questions posed.
In any and all cases, one can only guess, since Ms. Merton had the courtesy of leaving a comment under this article, that she is really interested in reinstating the truth and is about to officially release a proper statement (if not her then whoever is RTH’s official representative now) that will deal strictly with the facts of the incident in Libya and will provide sufficient supportive documentation. This will certainly be warmly welcomed by RTH’s supporters and donators.
61. Miri on December 12th, 2010 at 11:31:
Please let me clarify : Mary Rizzo did not post this article to Ellie’s wall. did, and I asked her to please read it, and comment. Let me also again note that the Salem News would not let my comment to its piece, be posted, yet various folk around Kennykins claimed that PTT was censuring comments, here (obviously inaccurate).
62. Christina on December 12th, 2010 at 14:31:
I have seen numerous comments somehow complaining about the length of the article. It is indeed a very lengthy article but then again the truth cannot be compacted into 2 or 3 paragraphs.
However, the persons who were directly involved in this incident don’t need to read any article in order to be informed of the actual facts, because they already know the facts, they know the details of the case, they have the supportive evidence in their hands.
The “truth” is always one, therefore as many times as one may repeat it, he will never make any contradictions. The answers to any questions, no matter how the questions may be posed, will always contain the same true information, in contrast to the repetitive false and fictional facts that one may present, which is only normal when these become numerous and are continuously repeated, these untrue “facts” to start contradicting each other.
The persons directly involved in this incident can easily give straight forward answers to the following questions, because they already have knowledge of the facts:
1) Is there a written agreement/contract between RTH and the ship-owing company duly signed & sealed, containing all terms & conditions agreed with regards to the charter of the vessel? A copy of this contract should be provided
2) Are there written instructions from the ship-owners to the charterers, clearly giving them authorization & instructions to remit the freight to the charterers’ broker bank account instead of a bank account designated by the ship-owner? Provision of these written instructions should be provided
3) How much money were remitted to the RTH’s broker covering the freight? Proof of payment that clearly shows the beneficiary’s details together with the actual amount remitted should be provided. N.B The only irrevocable document that is considered as proof of payment are SWIFT copies issued by the paying banks.
4) Alleged “kidnapping”: 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 & Ministries of Foreign Affairs of all the countries involved directly or indirectly to this incident?
5) RTH claims that the monies have been safely reclaimed. How much money exactly were reclaimed? Ms. Merton claims $75.000, while Mr. O’ Keefe claims $82.500. Which of these amounts is the actual amount of monies reclaimed?
6) Who is in possession of the “reclaimed” monies? Has RTH paid with these monies the freight covering the charter of the second vessel that actually delivered the humanitarian aid from Derna/Libya to El Arish/Egypt?
Although the above questions are not the only ones that RTH has to officially answer in order for their donators & supporters to be enabled to get a clear picture of the whole incident and for the truth to be reinstated, it would be a very good start for RTH to “prove” that any opposite “allegations” are totally untrue and false.
63. Miri on December 12th, 2010 at 17:44:
Dear Sam:
Please do not confuse Mary Rizzo with me. She is a very professional, objective, investigative journalist. I am the one utilizing various nicknames. I have not attacked R2H. I have, however, frequently posted to R2H’s page to please use some evidence to back up some of the hysterical tweets that were coming through during SuperKen’s attempt to take over the Strofades IV (which transported goods, and activists, of Viva Palestina, 5, without all the pseudo drama, and the international hysteria).
Sam, you bring nothing to the table here, except name-calling. I, on the other hand, create a mosaic of facts and name-calling. Instead of being simply angry, why not post some proof that Mary Rizzo’s investigative journalist piece (with truckloads of footnotes) is wrong?
Oh, silly me! You cannot do so, because it is 100% accurate.
Sam, might you be so kind as to point yourself out in one of the several photos from King Tatt, in which he demonstrates that he nearly starved to death — having lost 15 pounds in a nanosecond — by showing the brigands — er, brigade — chomping down lots of food; in which he shows that you were all confined to very small quarters, by showing you guys all over the ship; how he proves that you were not allowed to protect yourselves with life jackets, by showing several of you wearing them (and also playing in the emergency boat, which seems to be quite an infantile — and possibly illegal — thing to do)?
Oh, silly me! again. You probably can’t…for somewhat obvious reasons…
64. Jaime on December 12th, 2010 at 17:52:
We saw above confirmation of commencement of a legal action by the shipping company against RTH and possibly the “Gaza 10.” I expect it would be for the alleged libel plus damages related to the unexpected departure and subsequent loss of income.
Is there a statement of claim available yet? This is usually a public document filed in Federal or state court.
Also shouldn’t RTH be fundraising to defend this action as well as issuing an official explanation/position concerning the incident?
Also, there should be some clarification of how cooperative the “Gaza 10” intend to be with regards to the legal investigation and examinations for discovery which are sure to follow, unless RTH and the shipping company settle out of court. Even if they do, the friends, members and supports of RTH should be made aware of this situation.
65. Christina on December 12th, 2010 at 18:32:
With regards to a comment posted above by Mr. Sam.
It is perfectly understandable that whilst you were in transit to Gaza, that you did not have the time to prepare an official statement dealing with the incident in Libya. You had to focus on the convoy and to make sure that it enters Gaza. Which you succeeded and by doing so, you gave a great deal of relief to the oppressed people of Palestine.
However, I don’t believe that anyone was or is expecting from the individual members of the convoy to reply to the questions posed,.
What is expected is from RTH’s official representatives to deal with the facts. RTH is a humanitarian organization and has given the impression that it has people appointed as its’ liaisons and/or representatives.
Of course, anyone has the right to comment and share his/her knowledge about the actual facts. No one can prevent anyone from freely commenting under an article published in the internet. But, anyone who disagrees with the contents of an article or with the intentions of the article’s writer, he/she has to provide logical arguments supported with evidence in order to be able to successfully challenge the contents of an article. Vague statements and nebulous accusations do not strengthen anyone’s position. On the contrary, they weaken their arguments.
To the best of my knowledge and from what I have read in the above article, the writer prepared an overview based on the information / data made available to her, either from individuals who accepted to answer the questions posed by the author, or from the statement published in the internet by Mr. O’Keefe. The writer prepared the article according to the information made available to her.
In any and all cases, it is expected that an organization, which depends on donations and on voluntary work from individuals, to publicly argue the facts and provide logical arguments & evidence, in order to prove that any allegations & accusations against the organization are wrong and that they do not substantiate.
With the greatest respect, allow me to disagree with your opinion that RTH does not owe an explanation to anyone. We have the following facts: a) A ship-owning company has been accused of kidnapping, b) ten members of the convoy have been accused for unlawful boarding onto a vessel and c) a writer has been accused from publishing a libel. If any of these parties (i.e the ship-owners or the ten convoy members or the writer) have been wrongfully accused for anything, then the other parties owe an apology
I repeat though that if you do have knowledge of the actual facts of this incident and you want to share it on behalf of RTH, then I’m sure that this will be warmly welcomed by everyone. I have no reason to doubt the information you have shared that RTH has initiated an internal review of the convoy. If indeed this is true, then it only shows that there must a problem with this whole case and that RTH wishes to resolve it once & for all and that the outcome of this review is just a matter of days to be made available to the public.
66. Miri on December 12th, 2010 at 19:10:
One other comment to Sam…somehow I missed your sexist remark of “bitchfest.” I have found that it is only males who suffer severe castration anxiety that attack women who have the temerity to disagree with them. It seems that honest dialogue is not permitted to our half of the species, according to you and your macho ilk.
Perhaps the puchase of a testicular cup would make you feel a tad safer…
67. Maryam S on December 12th, 2010 at 19:23:
Well, “Sam,” the only way I can personally reply to your rather overwrought accusations against Mary Rizzo is to say, information is power, it clears up a whole lot of questions, so why don’t Road to Hope, or Ken O’Keefe or Ellie Merton, step up to the plate and provide it? I followed the entire dialogue between Ken and Mary very closely while discussions were taking place regarding an interview, and I saw no sarcasm, nastiness or anything else on Mary’s part. She merely asked Ken if she could send him a list of questions to review, and he became rather uncooperative at that point, claiming he didn’t have time for that, and then he suddenly decided to withdraw his agreement to be interviewed. Period.
I also happen to know that everything Mary wrote in this article comes from well documented sources, including public statements made both by Ken and Ellie Merton, so where is the problem? Personally, I find Ken’s and Ellie’s reticence regarding any follow-up statement on Mary’s article rather alarming, doubly so because whatever comments O’Keefe has made are coming across as vindictive and hostile. He has since deleted a comment thread on his wall from 3 days ago where he was quite nasty to a woman who was asking pointed and pertinent questions he should have answered honestly but chose not to. People who are on the defensive generally come across as such – I recall Richard Nixon during Watergate – and their failure to be forthcoming in their own interest is interpreted to mean that where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
I have a huge distaste for Ken O’Keefe, personally. Ever since I saw his bloodied face after the flotilla massacre, I saw a histrionic narcissist looking for attention. This is what I’m still seeing. If that’s what he wants to be, it’s fine with me, and there are always fools who are looking for a hero to admire. But what bothers me is the fact that people’s money, and the credibility of the movement to free Palestine, are in jeopardy because of the antics of a few, specifically O’Keefe. This needs to be addressed, as there are a lot of people waiting to see this mess cleared up. I will tell you another personal observation – I will NOT involve myself in any future venture whatsoever that has Ken O’keefe or R2H attached to it in any way.
68. Robin on December 12th, 2010 at 20:31:
Maryam S you wrote, “She merely asked Ken if she could send him a list of questions to review, and he became rather uncooperative at that point, claiming he didn’t have time for that, and then he suddenly decided to withdraw his agreement to be interviewed’
It was Ken who demanded the questions be submitted to him before the interview because he wanted to review them to see if he had time or the inclination to answer them. Mary Rizzo gave good reason not to do this by citing sources that this is not normal journalistic practice.
69. Sam on December 12th, 2010 at 21:57:
Hi Mary,
I’ll just give you a quick example of some of your inaccuracies and false allegations:
You say
“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?”
I know for a fact that Ken gave evidence to the Turkish Justice Dept, The Turkish Police and the UN Fact Finding Mission. This is well documented. Are you disputing this? If so, were are you getting your facts from?
BTW: Ken’s evidence is consistent with the outcome of the UN Fact finding mission
@Miri: The term “bitchfest” has nothing to do with the female sex. I use the term “bitch” to describe your verbal attack and criticisms of Ken and the R2H convoy.
PS: I dont think a testicular cup would be much use to me (or any female) but don’t let that stop you from jumping to conclusions about things you know nothing about!
70. Christina on December 12th, 2010 at 22:49:
First, I apologize for calling you in my previous comment Mr. Sam instead of Ms. Sam. I honestly thought you were a male.
In view of your comment addressed to Mary, with regards to the Mavi Marmara, it goes without saying that I cannot comment at all, as my knowledge is restricted to newspaper articles and the internet. It pleases me though that Mr. O’Keefe gave evidence & testified to the competent Bodies for the purposes of the investigation.
As far as it concerns the Strofades IV, Mr. O’ Keefe denied to testify to the Greek Authorities for the purposes of the investigation. He rejected to make use of this right.
This is puzzling. Mr. O’Keefe claims that he, together with nine more convoy members, were “kidnapped” and brought to Greece against their will. Then, when the Greek Authorities initiated an investigation, he denied to testify (and the rest nine convoy members as well).
Isn’t it only logical that one who is being “kidnapped” to testify this to the competent Bodies in order for justice to prevail and in order for the victimizer to be punished? Why would one deny to officially testify and sign his statement, when he is the victim in a case?
71. Miri on December 12th, 2010 at 22:57:
Mary Rizzo offered King Tatt two options — after he first agreed to the interview (before he changed his mind) — a phone interview, during which a recording would be made, or a written interview in which she would send him a list of questions to answer.
Then he started to demand to see the questions BEFORE in order to decide if he would ‘have enough time’ to answer them.
My question for Kennykins — were he here, himself, instead of sending his minions to check on censorship* — what would be more simpler than having the questions, and answering them in any way he saw fit?
Instead, he decided not to ‘share’ ‘truth,’ blaming it on Mary’s friendship with me, and on her perceived friendship with Christina Baseos.
So much for ‘truth,’ which is an empty slogan in O’Keefe’s world.
*the demigod has a history of projection. Once he saw he was unable to bully me on my fb wall, he deleted me. His friends from the Salem News kept me off the comment section of the King piece attacking this article (without merit, of course), while complaining of censorship here.
72. Miri on December 12th, 2010 at 23:24:
Who are you kidding, Sam? The term ‘bitchfest’ absolutely has everything to do with gender.
By any chance, is there any kind of record of O’Con’s testimony to the Turkish government? Considering that he never backs up anything he says with verifiable documentation, it would be a surprising delight to just once, see documentation (he refused to show any documentation regarding the alleged chartering of the ship).
Pity he hides everything of significance. I’ve lost count at how many times I’ve heard him brag about ‘disarming’ several Israeli commandos (blindfolded, with one hand tied behind his back, while standing on one foot, no doubt), yet I’ve never seen an article or video involving anyone else from the MMM claiming to have witnessed such an heroic endeavor.
Funny, as I’ve noted above, his story of having been battered by the ITF is virtually identical to a battering by the Israelis some years prior (see the links, above, from his own websites).
Additionally, Sam, while you call me names, you continue to do what every SuperKen syncophant does: Ignore all significant anomalies regarding this man. And, when he’s brutally honest about his con game, as in his website where we are asked to INVEST in his grandiose flotilla (you know, the one that he’s going to ask Chavez to be on) by hitting the DONATE button that leads to the Paypal account for the “Ken O’Keefe Stolen Property Fund.”
73. Sam on December 13th, 2010 at 0:02:
No need to apologise for the gender mix up :o)
You say that “Ken refused to testify to the Greek Authorities for the purposes of the investigation.” Where is this allegation coming from? If he did refuse then im sure its documented somewhere? Perhaps Mary Rizzo could back up this claim with some evidence?
I’m sure anyone who reads your comments will understand why I will be ignoring any future comments from you. You are just vile. If Ken want to refuse an “interview” with Mary Rizzo, that is his choice. He owes her nothing.
Now, I have just given an example of Mary Rizzo’s false allegations against Ken (I have many more). Let’s hear her response……
74. Maryam S on December 13th, 2010 at 2:15:
Bingo, Miri. What the heck is up with that? If I want to invest (which I assume would enable me to become a partner in the venture), instead my money is called a DONATION (which means I get nothing out of giving it, not even a tax credit because, guess what, Aloha Palestine is not a charitable organization!), I get to watch my money instead go into Ken O’Keefe’s pocket so that he can buy himself a new Mac???
Someone explain this to me. Please. In fact, it should be explained to everybody, right?
75. Mary Rizzo on December 13th, 2010 at 7:33:
Sam: Now, I have just given an example of Mary Rizzo’s false allegations against Ken (I have many more). Let’s hear her response……
Mary: If he has testified, please could you give me an url of that? I have actually read all I could get my hands on and have been unable to see his list in the names of witnesses. If you say that it’s documented and factual, I would be overjoyed to read it and I would absolutely extend an apology. Until I see documentation of it, I maintain the position that in my research, I could not find a single stitch of evidence substantiating that he had testified.
Where are your others? Bring it on!
Did Ken or did Ken not get a passport in Rome in 2004? Did he or did he not travel just this past September to the USA on his USA passport?
Oh, that might seem like small potatoes, but if his big thing is that he has the “guts” to reject his US privileges, but he actually “doesn’t” it kind of makes the many question marks about integrity and TRUTH come up.
Besides, just the other day, he AGAIN repeated that he and others “JUMPED ON” the ship (obstensibly to retain property). So, what does this do to the kidnapping narrative?
Do you realise that accusing others of one of the most heinous and horrible crimes on the books (which at least in MY country is considered in the Penal Code when it occurs outside our soil, I don’t know about other law, is classified in the special crimes articles together with terrorism?) To smear innocent parties of this – AND ALL IN THE NAME OF GAZA?! – is totally unacceptable.
He and the other 9 REFUSED to be taken to the shore at 500 metres. He attempted to involve other vessels with an emergency SOS, which in maritime law is almost the most serious of offences and could have lead to a scenario we can’t really begin to fathom.
Regarding the interview. You can read my communication with Ken. I hold nothing back, it’s all there. Where did I lack respect or treat him rudely? Indeed it was HE who insulted me with his superior tone, and has continued in this vein constantly.
And Ellie… YOO HOO, where did you disappear to? Where were you “misrepresented” if that is your complaint. All the quotes from you in the article are your direct dispatches. Were they accurate? Did you cause undue alarm and declare information that was untrue, or was all of that factual?
76. Mary Rizzo on December 13th, 2010 at 8:17:
Ellie Merton, a person who is one of your Facebook Friends has just informed me that you claim I did not contact you. You should open your email! I did not respond to your “friend request” on FB because at this time I am not accepting “friendships” from persons I do not personally know. So, I took note of your email address and wrote you a note saying how you could contact me, since this seems to be a very important thing for you to “clear your name”. The only way I think you could do it was to retract your personal statements and the RTH statement as containing false content and asking others to disseminate this content far and wide (for the sake of Gaza). In case you don’t then the words that are by you are the words that you yourself have written, and nothing has been erroneously transcribed.
Second point: I did not need to get in touch with RTH or anyone connected “during” the crisis, because I was at the time, like everyone else, merely an involved observer. Making the choice as to whether or not act upon the demands. I refused to act upon threats against Egypt, as any activist for Palestine has become aware that this is counterproductive (if the goal is bringing in Aid. If the goal is something else, then one can do what they want, but for aid delivery, one is required, whether one wants it or not, to cooperate with the existing protocol. I thought Israel would see their blockade as useless following the successful mission of VP5, but I was wrong) However, even Hamas refuses to condone resistance actions against Egypt. Think about that. If this is their instruction, what gives ANY activist the right to combat that? I don’t see the change in position, and this is direct instructions from Meshaal. If you believe that your org knows better than Meshaal does what the correct behaviour to take with Egypt is, then come out and say it, but say it plainly, because Hamas does not approve of threats ot Egypt.
Making the choice to disseminate emergency calls to all embassies and media was another choice. I was invited DURING the crisis to a small FB group obstensibly about Gaza Actions. I mentioned that we had to exercise prudence and due diligence (that is, check to verify facts before making statements that migh turn out to be false). I was censored. I believe I still have (and ALWAYS HAD) the sacrosanct RIGHT to express my dissent to the dissemination of things that are not verified for motives of reliability. That I was censored excluded my view from anyone who might want to know. In that time I observed NO more words directed towards the convoy, only calls for economic support to Ken. There were also journalistic reports containing facts (by Ken) later totally contradicted (by Ken)… so more question marks emerged.
Far from keeping silent, people were rumbling, and I offered to look at all the information. I offered to listen to anyone who had input. As you can see, dating from 14 NOVEMBER is my call on the RTH board asking for persons to contact me. At this time, you (as per your own admission) had passed the keys over to another person. This other person knew of the RTH board, knew I was doing this investigation, and also did not contact me. I was debating whether or not to contact her, but she lashed out at a woman who had been awareded by CAIR (look it up) for her contributions to the battle against Islamophobia. She is well-known and greatly considered by Muslims in the USA and by others for her efforts. Leila said to her, when this woman was asking a very courteous, legitimate question, “I never heard of you so you can’t be anyone so shoooo!”
I thought, no, what in the world can such an infantile kind of response say about a person? I continued to look through the material I copied from RTH and the various URLS.
So, Ellie Merton, I still fail to understand what your problem might be. You were quoted directly from your own public words (no need to ask permission, they are public as per YOUR choice to render them public and WIDELY circulated) , you were no longer the Laiason when the “investigation”, which is actually just an overview of the material available and that augmented by any clarification necessary by anyone involved who wished to participate, one of them REFUSING to do so because I would actually contact the “other side”! , and I had written an email to you the other day which you have not responded to, as well as not responding here.
Again, perhaps you don’t understand what it is you are complaining about. If you do not support any longer your own words and actions, then say so!
77. Christina on December 13th, 2010 at 8:26:
In one of your previous posts, you made clear that you were a member of the convoy. I have no reason whatsoever to doubt this and I believe that no one has.
Therefore, it is only normal that you do have knowledge of the facts of the Strofades incident. However, allow me to point out that your knowledge of the actual facts (and by that I mean knowledge you have from personal eye-witnessing) is limited up to a certain point, since you are not one of the 10 convoy members who were allegedly “kidnapped”.
So, maybe you would like to cross-check with Ken and the other 9 persons the “allegation” of them not testifying.
You have given me the impression that you do not have any problem to share your knowledge with regards to the incident in Libya, therefore, if that is acceptable by you, may I address you a few questions? I have made the same questions in one of my previous posts (which I copy hereunder for your easy reference), further to reading a comment posted by Ms. Merton. I was under the impression that Ms. Merton would have the courtesy to leave another comment (I mean she did once, why not twice?) but unfortunately she has not.
Therefore, since you were kind enough to reply to my comments and haven’t disappeared like Ms. Merton, I believe that your input will be very enlightening.
1) Is there a written agreement/contract between RTH and the ship-owing company duly signed & sealed, containing all terms & conditions agreed with regards to the charter of the vessel? A copy of this contract should be provided
2) Are there written instructions from the ship-owners to the charterers, clearly giving them authorization & instructions to remit the freight to the charterers’ broker bank account instead of a bank account designated by the ship-owner? Provision of these written instructions should be provided
3) How much money were remitted to the RTH’s broker covering the freight? Proof of payment that clearly shows the beneficiary’s details together with the actual amount remitted should be provided. N.B The only irrevocable document that is considered as proof of payment are SWIFT copies issued by the paying banks.
4) Alleged “kidnapping”: 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 & Ministries of Foreign Affairs of all the countries involved directly or indirectly to this incident?
5) RTH claims that the monies have been safely reclaimed. How much money exactly were reclaimed? Ms. Merton claims $75.000, while Mr. O’ Keefe claims $82.500. Which of these amounts is the actual amount of monies reclaimed?
6) Who is in possession of the “reclaimed” monies? Has RTH paid with these monies the freight covering the charter of the second vessel that actually delivered the humanitarian aid from Derna/Libya to El Arish/Egypt?
78. Mary Rizzo on December 13th, 2010 at 10:35:
In the UN report on the Mavi Marmara:
115. With the available evidence it is difficult to delineate the exact course of events on
the top deck between the time of the first soldier descending and the Israeli forces securing
control of the deck. A fight ensued between passengers and the first soldiers to descend
onto the top deck that resulted in at least two soldiers being pushed down onto the bridge
deck below, where they were involved in struggles with groups of passengers who
attempted to take their weapons. The equipment jacket of at least one soldier was removed
as he was pushed over the side of the deck. A number of weapons were taken from the
soldiers by passengers and thrown into the sea: one weapon, a 9-mm pistol, was unloaded
by a passenger, a former U.S. Marine, in front of witnesses and then hidden in another part
of the ship in an attempt to retain evidence.
If this Former US Marine is indeed Ken O’Keefe, (and I have no reason to doubt it was) I stand corrected. His name is not mentioned in the report, nor in the Terkel report or any other official report. If he was indeed called to testify (which seems NORMAL and good that it has happened, I am pleased to hear it and as said, I STAND CORRECTED).
That said, the IHH report does not mention him by name, (nor as one whose property was stolen) and the account of thej disarming differs somewhat. However, all of this is not the real point, as even the UN report admits it is difficult to delineate the exact course of events. I will give that there was tremendous confusion, I will also give that during the actual events on the Mavi Marmara (and this writer had friends involved and even wrote a piece supporting the IHH initiative a full month prior to the Flotilla, appearing on PTT, and many many posts following that), confusion reigned supreme. We had heard that a very important Imam was killed. There was a great deal of shock and distress, and my contact who was in direct contact with a person on the ship with a high rank, repeated that this was merely a rumour and that we should not spread that panic, as it would only cause much grief were it to be true. As far as he knew, it was totally unverified and indeed it was stated by another eyewitness that he was taken to a place on the ship to be protected and that he was not harmed. I believe we will never know the precise events, given that sources have variations and all the evidence has been tampered with.
The point is, whatever ken’s role, whether in the centre of the action, part of the action or a witness, he has appointed himself with the title of “Mavi Marmara Survivor” and this alone is meant to grant him permanent “reliability”, which is not automatic, as boarding a ship against orders and then accusing the ship of kidnapping does not stand up as a narrative once the facts are laid out. I continue to stress that only several Western activists have had the audacity to call themselves “survivors”, and many of them do not make economic appeals that are emotionally connected and which (in my opinion) do not honour those who instead are the martyrs.
79. Sam on December 13th, 2010 at 19:19:
Here are some more innacuracies from Mary Rizzo
She claims:
„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.“
This is untrue. Ken and the 30 other convoy members flew to Tripoli. The „termination of the land journey“ was at the Lybian/ Egyptian land border. This took approx 5 days. (not including the days we spent at the border before we realised we would not be allowed to cross by land)
She also says:
„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.“
The R2H convoy had no intention of „crossing a border without permission“. Such an allegation is ludricrous. People who cross borders without permission get shot and we all aware of that!
A Libyan convoy „Al Quds“ was supposed to be crossing through this border within a week or 2. We were told we would be allowed to join them. We had to weigh up our options as they were presented to us. If we waited for the Al Quds convoy we could have lost convoy members who were limited to time constraints and had obligations back home.
I dont know if you’ve ever travelled with a convoy to Gaza but im sure you’ve read enough to know that they are met with problems at every corner. We can only deal with them as best we can with the resources we have. Sometimes wrong decissions are made and can leave us wonering „what if“. Hindsight is 20/20.
She alo claims:
„One note circulating on Facebook was practically claiming that there would be blood if the Egyptians did not open the border“
Can you back this up please? A source and direct quote will suffice. Please dont use phrases like „practicaly claiming“ to distort the truth to fit your perception of what confrontation means. It was made very clear that any confrontation would be non violent.
So Mary, You have very little understanding of the facts and what problems we faced on the convoy. Some issues we faced may never be made public and we certainly dont owe you an explanation. You can continue to fill the gaps with your lies and false alligations against Ken but those of us who took part in the convoy know the truth.
Our mission was to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. We completed that mission and overcame the many obsticles that were put in our way. We are extremely proud of our fellow convoy members and leadership and will not allow the haters to discredit us or distract us from continuing our work to help the Palestinians.
The next few paragrphs of Mary’s investigative masterpiece is riddled with so many innacuracies that it will take some time for me to pick through them. Please be patient and I’ll try to address them all.
Also, You have referred to yourself as a Journalist on many occasions. Can you please clarify where you have studied or practised this profession?
80. Maryam S on December 13th, 2010 at 19:57:
If I may be so bold – I don’t see where Mary Rizzo is under any obligation to provide her credentials to a commenter who refuses to properly identify herself/himself.
“A Libyan convoy „Al Quds“ was supposed to be crossing through this border within a week or 2. We were told we would be allowed to join them. We had to weigh up our options as they were presented to us. If we waited for the Al Quds convoy we could have lost convoy members who were limited to time constraints and had obligations back home.” Well, this is news to me. Why didn’t you just wait for this convoy, then? And send the people who could not wait, back home? Why on earth would you spend $75,000 or more just so that some people would have the thrill of traveling to Gaza? This makes no sense, in fact, it’s laughable.
81. Mary Rizzo on December 13th, 2010 at 19:57:
Here are some more innacuracies from Mary Rizzo
She claims:
„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.“
This is untrue. Ken and the 30 other convoy members flew to Tripoli. The „termination of the land journey“ was at the Lybian/ Egyptian land border. This took approx 5 days. (not including the days we spent at the border before we realised we would not be allowed to cross by land)
Mary: Yes, flown into Libya, Tripoli is where the flights generally go so, if there were several days more journey to the border, does this change the fact that OTHERS drove and supported the land journey and others FLEW into Libya? Can you really compare the two experiences? I can’t!!!
sam: She also says:
„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.“
The R2H convoy had no intention of „crossing a border without permission“. Such an allegation is ludricrous. People who cross borders without permission get shot and we all aware of that!
Mary: What does this look like to you? The combination of this with the insistence (repeated) confrontation time! >> Ken O’Keefe 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.
Sam: A Libyan convoy „Al Quds“ was supposed to be crossing through this border within a week or 2. We were told we would be allowed to join them.
Mary: logistics don’t depend on “we were told” but on PAPERWORK and agreed upon documents. The Egyptian letter we got after writing to Eypgt to ask for their leniency said “If there had been the proper documents, there would not have been problems”. Why do things without being prepared in the proper manner???
Sam: We had to weigh up our options as they were presented to us. If we waited for the Al Quds convoy we could have lost convoy members who were limited to time constraints and had obligations back home.
Mary: please explain the situation here, it is unclear to me. Did they give you more than words? Do they have diverse status because they are not on a transit visa? Why was the scheduling not coordinated?
Sam: I dont know if you’ve ever travelled with a convoy to Gaza but im sure you’ve read enough to know that they are met with problems at every corner. We can only deal with them as best we can with the resources we have. Sometimes wrong decissions are made and can leave us wonering „what if“. Hindsight is 20/20.
Mary: I have never travelled with a Convoy to Gaza or elsewhere. I am sure they are riddled with problems and this is precisely why paperwork and documents have to be clear and more than that, one has to also be able to know what is legal and what is illegal and do nothing that will endanger the persons, the cause, the movement or anything. To make a decision for oneself is one thing, to make a rash decision and then rather than face up to it being wrong, to persist that one had acted in total correctness is wrong. Do you happen to understand that I am not criticising the effort, but the need to manipulate activists to believe and disseminate a false narrative.
Sam: She alo claims:
„One note circulating on Facebook was practically claiming that there would be blood if the Egyptians did not open the border“
Can you back this up please? A source and direct quote will suffice. Please dont use phrases like „practicaly claiming“ to distort the truth to fit your perception of what confrontation means. It was made very clear that any confrontation would be non violent.
Mary: Absolutely. It was Dave Evans and his Facebook wall. A discussion emerged from his “there will be blood, remember what happened last time in Egypt”. Many of us were shocked by it and David, who is here I am SURE will remember this! It involved a great number of persons. I will try to look for the URL and if you have Facebook, you can find it as well.
Sam: So Mary, You have very little understanding of the facts and what problems we faced on the convoy. Some issues we faced may never be made public and we certainly dont owe you an explanation. You can continue to fill the gaps with your lies and false alligations against Ken but those of us who took part in the convoy know the truth.
Mary: You DO owe activists clarity!!! You accepted their help, money, support and you continue to expect them to believe whatever it is that is told them by you or members of your group. Others in your group TOLD ME DIFFERENT INFORMATION!! But possibly realising that they would be isolated and “punished” in some way, they begged for anonymity, which has been respected, but I learned from them that things were not as they were lead to believe. You do NOT address the “kidnapping” but WHERE is the contract??? Where is the vesting to the broker? and mostly, why the contradictions all over the place?! Which story are we supposed to have believed???? Can you at least be straight here instead of defensive? It MATTERS THAT YOU ARE ACCUSING OTHERS OF CRIMES!!!
Sam: Our mission was to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. We completed that mission and overcame the many obsticles that were put in our way. We are extremely proud of our fellow convoy members and leadership and will not allow the haters to discredit us or distract us from continuing our work to help the Palestinians.
Mary: creating a false “survivor story” such as being kidnapped does not help anyone and DOES hurt Palestinians.
Sam: The next few paragrphs of Mary’s investigative masterpiece is riddled with so many innacuracies that it will take some time for me to pick through them. Please be patient and I’ll try to address them all.
Mary : GOOD!!!!!
Sam: Also, You have referred to yourself as a Journalist on many occasions. Can you please clarify where you have studied or practised this profession?
Mary: have you ever heard of “Citizen journalism”? Where someone decides to hold to the principles of journalism (accuracy, due diligence and sourcing). Is that good enough for you?
82. Mary Rizzo on December 13th, 2010 at 20:15:
PROOF of the claims of “violent confrontation and deaths of some convoy members and Egyptian forces”
David Evans Embassy contact information is at the bottom of this article. Please call them. It’s the least that we can do for these courageous convoy members. Failure to convince Egypt to allow passage of the convoy may result in violent confrontation and the deaths of some convoy members and Egyptian forces.
In Limbo in Libya: Gaza Road to Hope Convoy Urges Contact with Egyptian Embassies – Salem-News.Com
83. Mary Rizzo on December 13th, 2010 at 20:23:
just in case David wants to cancel off his post or comments (LOTS of THAT going on in the FB world! this is why I copy things on HD and paper).
Mary Rizzo excuse me…. violent confrontation. PLEASE explain!
03 November at 20:48 • LikeUnlike
Ken Hammacott David I take an issue here with you. It is not for us to convince the Egyptain Authorities of anything.
It is for us to seek and gain favour of the Egyptians to allow the convoys through.
Which is not what we are doing at the moment.
Last Dec…ember/January G.F.M. Cairo. It is against Egyptian law to hold a massive public demonstration. We broke their law, and suffered the consequeces.
Good job we were not in North Korea or China. None of us would be here by now.
See more
03 November at 21:47 • UnlikeLike • 2 people
Sherif Amer The Egyptian people were ever with the aid convoys and will be forever, but the authorities have some explanations with that.
My own opinion: Remembering the British convoy headed by G.Ghalawy, they were informed before coming to come across… Al-Arish then enter from Rafah crossing gate, they didn’t abide with the rules and come from another side, so the Egy. Authorities prevent them from passing. I wished if our authorities would let them pass respecting to their effort and lining up with the whole aim of the convoy which was just for AID. Our authorities take this as a breach of its lands and rules. Now, all the convoys which come according to the Egyptian rules, enter Gaza without any troubles.
See more
04 November at 00:24 • UnlikeLike • 1 person
Ken Hammacott That’s exactly my point.
Am waiting for news from the ‘Road to Hope comvoy’ as to what route they will be taking to reach Gaza ?
04 November at 01:12 • LikeUnlike
Mary Rizzo Sherif, stated perfectly. David, can we get a response on the comment about violence and death. This is not something at all that should even be considered. Does make it look extremely bad and “pre-meditated” or whatever. Just explain because what you wrote is idiotic. Seriously.
04 November at 10:14 • LikeUnlike
David Evans My concern is that if the convoy leadership may decide to defy Egyptian authorities and begin to roll into Egypt without permission. This action, I think, would result in Egyptian border guards dutifully opening fire on the convoy in an ordered attempt to stop it.
04 November at 18:11 • LikeUnlike
Mary Rizzo ‎1) we are not playing war games and defying egyptian authorities is their responsibility. If they endanger every other convoy that’s for better or worse following a procedure and enduring much stress and expense, then this is plain old irresponsible! To Gazans and to the other thousands actively organising.
2) are you projecting your desire on it or is this in some kind of plan? if it is, let’s say it’s pretty ill-advised.
3) where do you get the idea they are going to storm through a military guard between Libya and Egypt?See more
04 November at 18:19 • LikeUnlike
David Evans There was considerable violence at the Rafah border to Gaza when similar stalling tactics were applied by Egypt on Galloway’s convoy, and an Egyptian tower guard was killed.
04 November at 18:19 • LikeUnlike
Mary Rizzo yes, and they totally modified their plan for the subsequent trip. If the Egyptians said Al Arish, and this is actually what VP 5 had to do too, why is this convoy expecting something totally different? Does it bring aid in? And besides, I would like to know who gave them a mandate to now threaten that activists will campaign for a boycott of Egyptian tourism? We aren’t doing it with their wall, with their side of the blockade, but we will do this for 20 vans? I am sorry, I am not understanding this at all. Please explain the strategy of all of this and how it will help Gazans FIRST and foremost. My loyalty is totally to Palestinians, and I’m not going to put some Westerns on the top of my priorities.See more
04 November at 18:23 • LikeUnlike • 1 person
David Evans Egyptian people, I know, are at odds with their Zionist-U.S. controlled government re: Palestine, but the good Egyptian people have no say in the matter. Anwar Sadat made a huge mistake in dealing with Zionists and it cost him his life. One does not deal with incorrigible racist murders. For several reasons, including the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Mubarak is holding power and complying with Israel’s demands to contain Hamas. His government has been throwing roadblock after roadblock and ridiculous time constraints and hoop-jumping on these convoys in order to uphold Israels wishes and discourage future convoys from forming and casting light on
Gaza. Imposing an expensive ferry ride to Al Arish is just another such discouraging move by Mubarak and Egyptian authorities.See more
04 November at 18:34 • LikeUnlike • 1 person
Mary Rizzo ok, Egyptians and lots of others know it. So… how does boycotting the industry 75% of the Egyptian people are dependent upon for their livelihood change things? Why did no one ever call seriously for this action when Egypt was doing things against Palestine and its own people? Think about why. I would like someone to explain how the punishment of the Egyptian people will help Palestine, please explain.
04 November at 18:39 • LikeUnlike • 1 person
Ken Hammacott No convoy has yet defied the Egyptians though the Egyptians have been violent to them at times.
If the organisers were stupid enough to roll into Egypt against a ban on travell to them. That would be the last convoy you will ever see.
04 November at 19:42 • UnlikeLike • 1 person
Felicity Arbuthnot From where I am, Ken has it spot on.”It is for us to seek and gain favour of the Egyptians to allow the convoys through.” No country is going to be threatened in to letting in anyone, yet alone a large convoy, especially if they are saying they will break through anyway. Madness, insanity, not peace building. Having spent much time on Middle East borders, there is only one way, suspend impatience and just be as courteous etc., as possible. It is their country and their decision.
04 November at 19:42 • UnlikeLike • 1 person
David Evans Ok. Reset: All I was calling for was for people to contact their Egyptian Embassies, as we’ve done for convoys in the past. I implored people to make that call because I feel there is a POSSIBILITY, however remote, that a physical, perhaps violent confrontation MAY be in the offing if the convoy remains stuck at the border. Now I’m being blamed for bringing damage to good Egyptian people. Sorry about any confusion I may have engendered here, but phone calls are still appropriate, as the convoy is still stuck.
04 November at 20:15 • LikeUnlike
USA 202 895 5400
Algeria (+21321) 691807
England (0207) 499 3304
France (+33) 491 250 404
…Ireland (+353) 1 660 6718
Italy (+39) 6 844 0192
Jordan (+96) 23… 201 6181
Malaysia (+60) 3 4256 8184
Spain (+34) 91 577… 6308
Syria (+96311) 3330 756
Tunisia (+216) 7180 0447
Turkey (+90) 312 468 4647
See more
04 November at 20:17 • LikeUnlike
Sherif Amer I’d like to press ‘Like’ on every post from you! In fact, You are ALL right. The issue is that we have a stupid, selfish, moron, fool, and bastard regime. We – the Egyptians – hate it more than the blindness and wish the day we blast it as …a nuclear bomb as soon as possible. This regime hates us – its ppl – and the Palestinians and the whole Arabs in 2x countries in the middle east, it just deifies the chairs and taking the helm for just money, I’d never mind if you killed them all or stabbed anyone of them, just beggars.
What make us – the ppl – sad is that all the world thinks that we have a hand in what happening to the Palestinians or we’re helping the zionists against Gazans, Yes our regime does, but we weren’t to do that to our brothers in Palestine.
Hope the convoy pass peacefully and easily!
See more
04 November at 22:22 • UnlikeLike • 2 people
David Evans It is important for you to know, Sherif, that all of us in the world who can find Palestine on a map know that the good Egyptian people have no control over government policy. We understand US hegemony and support of dictatorial regimes in… your region and throughout our World.
There is great admiration for Egypt, its long rich history and its good people.
I can identify with your shame though, as we in the US who have consciences are also ashamed of our belligerant government and are sorry for the immeasurable damage it has brought to innocent people in our name.See more
04 November at 22:38 • LikeUnlike • 1 person
Ken Hammacott Dave, Nobody is blaming you for anything. You havn’t done anything to be blamed for.
Our remit is a simple one to offer aid where aid can be distributed without confrontation or violence, and with the consent of those Arab countries over whos lands we have to travell.
Let us get away from creating Martys and 24 hour heroes. None of that is going to ease a difficult situation. And it’s not what the Palestinians want anyway.See more
04 November at 22:43 • LikeUnlike
David Evans Those in the convoy did nothing wrong either:
“From Tabruk. Laura Stuart a London housewife and mother of 3 children wrote from Tabruk today, Road to Hope – Humanitarian Aid Convoy is now into our 10th day of waiting near the Egyptian border… for our journey to Gaza to continue. We have been stalled at the Libyan/Egyptian border because we had believed our access to Egypt and Rafah was assured and our travel agreed with the Libyan Al Quds 5 convoy, it seems we have been let down by one of our Libyan organisers who is based in the U.K…” more
05 November at 11:46 • LikeUnlike
Ken Hammacott The plus side in all of this is at least they are amongst friendly people in a friendly country.
But is is increasingly beginning to look like some sort of rescue operation may have to be launched.
05 November at 14:20 • LikeUnlike
Gail Stangeland Jarrell why because Egypt is a USA puppet…
05 November at 15:29 • LikeUnlike • 1 person
84. Mary Rizzo on December 13th, 2010 at 20:27:
so, take into consideration that THIS (blood, violence, rolling into Egypt without permission…) is the stuff WE were getting given to us from activists CLOSE TO THE CONVOY! So, you were there, you saw what you saw, we were here, being told to do things, put pressure or else there would be all the things that we NOW agree are TOTALLY unacceptable, but THIS is the message we were getting every 2 minutes on our feed. Read it carefully and you tell me, Sam, was there reason to say STOP!!!
David Evans My concern is that if the convoy leadership may decide to defy Egyptian authorities and begin to roll into Egypt without permission. This action, I think, would result in Egyptian border guards dutifully opening fire on the convoy in an ordered attempt to stop it.
04 November at 18:11 • LikeUnlike
85. Miri on December 13th, 2010 at 21:03:
Hey, Sam — Tripoli is in Libya.
86. Sam on December 13th, 2010 at 21:33:
@Miryam: When did I refuse to identify myself? You have my name, sex and know I was on the convoy. What else do you need and what use would this information be to you?
You said:
“Well, this is news to me. Why didn’t you just wait for this convoy, then? And send the people who could not wait, back home? Why on earth would you spend $75,000 or more just so that some people would have the thrill of traveling to Gaza? This makes no sense, in fact, it’s laughable.”
It is very hard to convince a cynic like you. There were a few reasons why we didnt travel with this convoy, none of which need to be explained to you or Mary Rizzo. There are many problems that would arise from sending people back home prematurely. One of the more obvious ones is that people are needed to drive the vehicles!
You think we spent $75,000 so people could have “the thrill” of travelling to Gaza?? If you think our motive for travelling to Gaza was for a thrill then you are rather sick and have no understanding of the convoy or its members.
87. xa on December 13th, 2010 at 22:20:
I’m puzzled about this “al quds convoy”.
Egypt has said that NO convoys will go through by land.
But somehow, this “al quds convoy” was going to be the only one, and Road To Hope expected that they would simply be allowed to join it.
Anyone who has been on any convoys knows that was never going to happen. Egypt doesn’t make up a rule like “no land convoys”, decide to break that rule for one convoy from Libya, and THEN decide to say “oh sod it, you lot can come in as well”. In addition, on pretty much all the convoys that have gone through different countries, the organisers are told “you can’t just add people at the border”.
It was never going to happen.
I think that most R2H members believed it was going to happen. This was just another bit of complete incompetence on the part of the people who organised the convoy, misleading the decent people who gave up so much time just to try to help Gaza.
Remember, the Road To Hope leaders decided they were better than anyone else who was organising convoys. They spent a LOT of time badmouthing other pro-Palestinian groups and activists. They were going to do it better.
And yet, despite believing (against all evidence) that they would simply be allowed to tag along into Egypt, none of them bothered getting visas to go through Egypt!
Almost everyone on R2H is a person of deep conviction. Those who led it, who lied and conned people – surely not just O’Keefe (he joined in Tripoli, he was not responsible for all the claims about “al quds convoy”) – they bear responsibility for bringing ridicule to the movement as well as playing round with people’s hopes so much.
One of the R2H participants – yes, someone who was there right to the end – posted on his Facebook wall a few days ago: “ROAD TO HOPE WAS ALL ABOUT EGOS AND HOW NOT TO ORGANISE A CONVOY”
That’s a damning indictment, coming as it did from a person who has been on several convoys but thought Road To Hope was going to be so much better.
88. Maryam S on December 14th, 2010 at 2:53:
Sam, I hardly think ‘Sam’ is an adequate identification of who you are, nor is ” I was on the convoy” sufficient. How do we know you were anywhere near the convoy? We don’t.
Not to squabble, but there is nothing “sick” about asking questions where it concerns a major expenditure of donated money, such as the decision of whether to charter a ship or not, or not continue towards Gaza, etc. etc. Considering that O’Keefe seems to make a habit out of asking for people to pay his way wherever he goes, I consider it a rather pertinent point I raised. Nothing “sick” except your defensiveness, actually. What is bothering you so much?
89. Miri on December 14th, 2010 at 6:14:
Sam, with the exception of name-calling, you continue to talk in circles. How did you not know that Tripoli is part of Libya? You seem to imply that the R2H’s finances are no one’s business, yet R2H fundraised for the event, and Mr. O’Krap has passed the hat for his own personal needs on many occasions (the one on his ‘world citizen’ site is blatantantly fraudulent (INVEST in the impossibly gargantuan flotilla by hitting the DONATE button so you can use the Paypal account for the “Ken O’Keefe’s Stolen Property Fund”! A mere mortal would have been ashamed to raise money off the decaying bones of those massacred on the Marmara, but not your great white hope. He’s STILL doing it, more than seven months later).
Sam, do you not mind that one of R2H’s vans was ABANDONED? How do you abandon a vehicle in such difficult economic times? I know it was essential, because King Tatt used the vehicle as an excuse for jumping onto a ship which he and others were ordered to stay off of (since no contractual obligation had been met):
“…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…” (“Road to Hope Kidnapping [sic] Statement of Events by Ken O’Keefe” November 18, 2010).
How could you be a legitimate activist and not be infuriated that the van was used and left in such a manner?
90. David Evans on December 14th, 2010 at 8:53:
Convoys can continue arriving silently at Port Al Arish, but silent convoys do little more than prolong the illegal closure of Gaza and relieve Israel of some of the burden of sustaining Gaza’s prisoners of Occupation. Blockade-busting convoys focus the world’s attention on the illegality, injustice and brutality of Israel.
The EU has just followed France, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina in moving towards recognizing a Palestinian state. Settlements and actions such as those aboard the Mavi Marmara and the Road To Hope convoys as well as Cast Lead and earlier Free Gaza convoys have all contributed to this change in international policy and sympathy for Palestinians.
Road To Hope and all involved, contributed much more than medical supplies to Gaza.
91. Mary Rizzo on December 14th, 2010 at 9:42:
Wow, look who’s here. You have a little something to answer for, David Evans. It has been stated by “Sam” who claims to have been on the convoy (but NOT one of the Gaza Ten) that never was there any sort of indication that there would be confrontation (indeed, that was the entire purpose of RTH as per its site, which then went dead and if anyone wanted to follow it, had to depend on the FB and Twitter communiqués) and that NEVER was there any kind of indication that the border would be crashed. Yet, as we can see in the above comments, taken from your FB page, you yourself were insisting that this was indeed the scenario that we had before us. So, where did you get your inflammatory urging about those two things that set activists into a state of distress, (nevermind how relatives might have been feeling, or Egyptians, which for some reason people think I care too much about)? This is your time to come clean, because this was the kind of message that was being circulated, along with the stuff later of the captain jumping ship, the kidnapping, the running off with other people’s money, the mistreatment on the ship, the being held at gunpoint and all the rest of the survivor narrative… where did you get that idea from?
Activists, if they want to contribute to disseminating awareness could learn a lesson from VP5… it was different from VP4 in very many ways, and the lessons learned from the previous mission that took a dramatic and negative turn were learned and the logistics rectified, as well as being an effort that was TRANSPARENT! We knew where they were, what their plans were, even though it was not flowing perfectly according to the timetable, and there were always contingency things to do, at no time was there the decision to improvise and risk everything and everyone, and the FOCUS WAS KEPT on the issue, not on the activists, not on the narrative of them having to put up with “ghetto hotels” and what have you (and this is only for a few, because we also got the note of “convoy members stranded in Libyan desert in extreme distress”). Activists need to be TRUTHFUL, CAREFUL, ACT OUT OF THE GREATER GOOD AND NOT INCITE when there is no reason to do so.
PTT has been in the front lines since its inception, and our other sites prior to that, to support so many grassroots actions and deeds, with particular focus on Popular Resistance by Palestinians. We are able to recognise when something has been brought from a pure and righteous thing to something that resembles the solidarity industry and the focus on the deeds of the heroic outsider.
We have always attempted to keep the focus on the greater good, empowerment of Palestinians and this through actions that will GAIN support rather than turn activists into ridiculous figures who are unable to be consistent, honest or pragmatic.
A tremendous error many of the activists make is that they look only at Gaza and they forget the other Palestinians. They forget that the only real convoy that will count at the end of the day IS THE CONVOY OF RETURN. When hundreds of thousands of Palestinians will take their rights into their own hands and return home, aided by all of us, of course, and supported fully both by practical and moral means. We will not be able to disappoint them, they better spit us out if we do.
Don’t forget what this is all about, it started A LONG TIME BEFORE the seige of Gaza. This is a problem that needs radical, dramatic and urgent solution. That solution is the unification of the Arab body, of the Palestinian people, who reject normalisation, who determine that they will engage in every sort of civil disobedience and they will recognise the common enemy and the struggle will reassume its proper dimensions: a Palestinian national struggle, a patriotic struggle that will accept outside help, BUT NEVER OUTSIDE LEADERSHIP or DIKTATS.
92. xa on December 14th, 2010 at 10:10:
If people want to confront the Egyptian part of the blockade etc., that’s a political decision. They have the right to want to do that.
Except Road To Hope was explicitly set up NOT to do that. They went on about it in their previous two websites. Mostly, it was a dig at Viva Palestina after what happened on Viva Palestina 3. Road To Hope was going to work “with” governments, not “confront” them.
It was Road To Hope’s big selling point.
So you can’t have it both ways: Either it was a political convoy aimed at forcing confrontation with the Egyptian state, or it was an aid convoy that was going to have to follow the normal rules.
Also, if people want to “confront” the blockade, don’t you think you need more than 50-60 people to do so? You need a mass movement of Egyptians and Libyans who can force the Egyptians to change their stance on Gaza and Palestine.
In the absence of that – and putting aside questions of whether it’s right or wrong – to talk of “confrontation” is just meaningless macho nonsense.
“Settlements and actions such as those aboard the Mavi Marmara and the Road To Hope convoys as well as Cast Lead and earlier Free Gaza convoys have all contributed to this change in international policy and sympathy for Palestinians.”
There’s one organisation missing from David’s list. See if you can spot which one.
93. Mary Rizzo on December 14th, 2010 at 12:03:
xa, you make a load of valuable points. I only hope (against hope) that someone will be reasonable enough to answer.
The fact that remains extremely negative, despite all of the “mess” of the situation itself and the fake kidnapping narrative we are expected to lap up, despite there is ZERO evidence of that and ALL the evidence points in the other direction, (sad as that might make us feel, and defensive as that might make those who were making all those claims become), is that those involved believe they don’t “owe” Mary Rizzo, PTT or anyone any kind of explanation.
First of all. I can “not owe” anyone any explanation if I decide to buy brand X instead of brand Y. I can “not owe” anyone any explanation if I decide with my own free time to see a movie or to stay at home and play with the kids. No one should / must be concerned. It’s my money, it’s my taste, it’s my freetime.
The moment, the instant, they ask for my support, my input, my money, my telephone calls, circulation of PRESS RELEASES and dissemination, the moment they make “requests” for us to involve ourselves in a political way as well (by demanding to boycott Egyptian tourism, by demanding things from X or Y govt for release of passports and what have you, the second they involve any activists for Palestine and obtain their support and attention: HELL YES THEY OWE!!!!
NO org can exist without proper accountability. How many thousands of gurus, orgs, foundations, etc RUN OFF WITH PEOPLE’S MONEY or blew it in bad investments or in some other way destroyed a sort of relationship of org/activist-supporter. Thousands and thousands have. How many have betrayed the purposes of their org, or been mismanaged or even dissolved without being in any way controlled? So many and this is a fact. If RTH never asked a thing from any of us, we could say, who the hell do they owe? But we all know this is untrue. If they are a regular and correct org, they will have bookkeeping that accounts for every expense, though many volunteers had to pay their own way for things.
I doubt there is going to be accountability, and since I personally gave nothing to them, (I check out the places I donate to carefully and I especially do micro-donations, direct contributions, which, anyone who has been involved with me knows, I itemise down to the very last cent, and nothing is cast to the wind or even spent for my own expenses to deliver the goods and funds) they may say, Rizzo, I owe you ZILCH. But they owe explanations for the money to their donors, and explanations for everything else to every activist they bothered to pressure them into action without reflection.
I was asked ALSO by persons involved in the convoy to look into it, and I did this because they invested their lives and did not any longer have confidence in the things being told to them and wanted objectivity to be part of it.
If you don’t think I’m objective that is your problem, honestly! Every party was invited to intervene fully, and some disappeared, some REFUSED, (just like they refused to be taken off that ship when the opportunity was given to them). It’s not my problem if the truth is not their narrative and their narrative is not the truth.
A time will come when they realise we all want the truth.
94. Miri on December 14th, 2010 at 15:16:
David, you and I have been going round and round for a couple of months, or so, with you claiming that SuperKen’s involvement with the MMM resulting in much better living for Gazans (though I have tagged you in articles saying there has been no change).
You have been thrilled to tell me that King Tatt stayed with you for a whopping three days, and he was a complete charmer during that period (remember, I said that even sociopaths could be charming for three days).
Yet, you continue to ignore the facts of this investigative piece. You continue to ignore the blatant financial shenanigans that O’Fraud is involved in.
What is this recalcitrance all about?
95. Mary Rizzo on December 14th, 2010 at 15:38:
Miri, if David thinks Ken’s great and effective and charming, it’s his view and there are others who feel the opposite is true. Respect to them all, they have their reasons of loyalty that go beyond sometimes a willingness to coldly and accurately view facts.
the problem that David does not seem to fathom here is that those who were doing the convoy either were totally unaware that their best contacts and messengers and press liaiasons were saying all kinds of things such as
1) confrontation time (including horrible and unacceptable scenarios about deaths and firing on innocent people)
2) going ANYWAY into Egypt (and here David should tell us what lead him to urge us to act upon that belief)
3) needs to pressure people for things that (according to us) were said to be illegal, unjust and criminal.
4) needs to demonstrate due to our activists being held at gunpoint by SWAT teams….
OR they are NOW saying those things could never have been understood, much less by a close friend!
Was David out of kilter, or was he spreading the correct “missive”, seeing as how the word Kidnapping then sprouted up, with the contradictory versions of the Captain escaping with money (either from them or from Israel).
Is it so bizarre to wonder why someone is asking all of these questions based on THE MATERIAL YOU provided (David and the convoy people, and Ken himself with his photos that contradict his claims). These are questions that need to be confronted sooner or later, or one can bury one’s head in the sand.
96. Maryam S on December 14th, 2010 at 18:03:
I’m really fed up of this “Ken’s a good guy” stuff – either these people need to put something else out there showing just how “good” he is, or address the issues brought up in Mary’s report, or both.
Why not explain the “kidnapping” fiasco?
Why not explain O’Keefe’s rather dodgy-looking financial practices?
And, for heaven’s sake, let’s not pretend for a moment that it is necessary to travel to Gaza on convoys in order to end the occupation of Palestine. Convoys have their uses – if they’re done properly – but for all the money that is spent on them, perhaps the money could be better spent on projects that will reach many more people and inform them of the truth, not merely a canned zionist narrative put forth by mainstream media.
What bothers me so incessantly about O’Keefe is the grandstanding and self-promotion that I do not see coming from any other activist. We work behind the scenes, as support for the Palestinian people and their efforts at liberation – that is our function – not to make ourselves into stars or cult leaders who grab every microphone they can get and tell the world about what THEY are doing, how THEY disarmed commandos, how THEY are delivering aid to the Gazans, how THEY will save Palestine. It’s colonialism at its most repugnant, and the attendant psychology is rather discomfiting as well. This R2H thing has become Ken’s convoy – I see my Gazan friends having their photos taken with Ken, as though he’s Elvis Presley – and I’m disgusted, utterly disgusted at the big ego-fest going on. Having done an extensive study on antisocial personality and narcissism, I am alarmed at what I’m seeing.
97. Sam on December 14th, 2010 at 18:25:
Did it ever occur to you that the photographs of the convoy members eating, drinking, wearing life jackets and having access to a room on the ship were taken towards the end of their ordeal?
Dont forget they were on that ship for days….so when the status messages were being posted about not having the above items they were entirely factual!
98. Mary Rizzo on December 14th, 2010 at 20:11:
Sam, you MUST be joking!!
I have reams of messages, including ones from “after” their “ordeal” where they complain of all these things after the fact, including some that are totally false such as being KICKED. Shall I begin to pull those out as well? Many have seen them, many were very upset by them. They seem to also be figments of someone’s developed imagination.
why not deal with the material you already asked me to verify for you, i.e., the claim made on facebook of the violent confrontation and the belief that the border would be crossed without permission?
99. Christina on December 14th, 2010 at 20:54:
@ Samantha
Nice to have you back. While I am patiently waiting to receive answers to the questions I have posed in my previous post (correct me if I’m wrong but it is my understanding that you said that you will revert), in view of your last comment, I would like to add one more question please.
As per Mr. O’Keefe’s statement of events, the convoy members were 2 days at sea. The vessel left Derna on 11th November around 12:30am and arrived on November 12th in Piraeus roads (that is the anchorage area of Piraeus) around 09:00-10:00am and berthed around 15:00hrs. So, they were at sea, more or less, 34-36hrs, but in no case 48 hrs (i.e. 2 days).
As per one of Mr. O’Keefe’s pictures, there a 5 gentlemen wearing life-jackets, looking at the MV OOCL Oakland, which was nearby the Strofades IV (in international waters). Mr O’Keefe has stated that he made a distress call to MV OOCL Oakland. That distress call was made on the 11th of November (sometime in daylight). This picture was taken almost one day before the vessel even enters Greek territorial waters.
Why do you claim that the 10 convoy members did not have access to life-jackets until the very end of the voyage?
Thanks in advance for replying to this question together with my previous ones.
100. David Evans on December 14th, 2010 at 21:23:
You and Mary Rizzo have done, and are continuing to do much good work for justice and the people of Palestine. I value that work, and I will continue to learn and educate others from it. But my take on the issue of Ken O’Keefe and your relentless attempts to undermine his good work mirrors that of Tim King:
Tim writes,
“Ken is far more of an entity in the world when it comes to the freedom of Palestine than almost any other active figure. That I fear, is what this is about. You write hundreds of paragraphs that are all about numbers and semantics. A shorter piece might have gone further, and that matters because there is valid information in this article and you are a good writer who I have always liked and supported. But the point here clearly is to bring Ken down and damage the credibility of in the process, and it isn’t going to work. We were gracious enough to link to it in the first part of this article, and I suspect it will get more views via that link than any other source….”
I must also consider this piece by Nahida, and these comments:
For 63 years Israel has continued abusing Palestinians and annexing their lands while the world filed resolutions that Israel and the US has blocked and ignored. Meaningful activism and actions by Arafat finally brought Palestine into the world’s consciousness. Intifada uprisings kept awakening a world that would rather nap and ignore, and in-your-face activism like that which Ken is promoting has kept the world awake and kept Palestine in the news. Finally the world is paying enough attention that changes are happening. more than 100 nations now will recognize a Palestinian state. Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and France are the latest, as they just declared within the week that they too, would join. The EU followed suit. If silent convoys continued slipping into Al Arish, no one would notice. Each action that gets attention is productive. Black people in the US and S. Africa would still be subserviant to whites if no one acted forcefully for change. Ken and RTH members are acting forcefully for change in Palestine.
ALL of us have dogs in this fight. All of our efforts are needed to bring justice to the tortured land and people of Palestine. I ask that we quit damaging each other so tthat we may hasten the day when Gaza and all of Palestine is free. Palestinians do not need any more divisiveness than they already have.
101. David Evans on December 14th, 2010 at 21:54:
Mary, please forgive a typo. I began the above comment in a post on facebook to your friend, Mary Woodward. Thus, the beginning address to you makes no sense. If you see fit to post my comment, please discount or correct my error. The comment is intended to be directed to you, Mary Rizzo. Dispite this disagreement, I still admire you and all of the work you have done for Palestine.
102. Mary Rizzo on December 14th, 2010 at 22:03:
David, if you are not going to address the point I made earlier, where I asked you about a very important point, (scroll back up and look) I see no need to talk about things in a rhetorical way to put down or to praise.
we are talking about a breach of confidence and reliability that WE activists have been caught in.
If we want to serve and not be served, we have to not commit these breaches. So, read it and comment on that, as that is all that really is relevant to the discourse.
It’s not about “undermining” Ken, it is about Ken claiming that he was kidnapped and using his story to gain a lot of attention and it was deflected away from Palestine and even from his own mission.
I think that Tim King and you are estimating activists far too much, as we are really not that important. At the end of the day, we are just a slight blip on the story of Palestine and we can never pretend to assume all this importance unless there is something dramatically wrong with us.
103. Sam on December 14th, 2010 at 22:08:
So your source for the convoy “practically claiming their would be blood” came from someone who was not involved with the convoy in any way?
Are you trying to hold the R2H convoy responsible for what others not involved are posting to facebook?
104. Mary Rizzo on December 14th, 2010 at 23:05:
Sam – oh sheesh.. there is a saying here, Ci sei o ci fai?
You asked me this:
She alo claims:
„One note circulating on Facebook was practically claiming that there would be blood if the Egyptians did not open the border“
Can you back this up please? A source and direct quote will suffice. Please dont use phrases like „practicaly claiming“ to distort the truth to fit your perception of what confrontation means. It was made very clear that any confrontation would be non violent
and I showed you exactly what I said in the article
David Evans Embassy contact information is at the bottom of this article. Please call them. It’s the least that we can do for these courageous convoy members. Failure to convince Egypt to allow passage of the convoy may result in violent confrontation and the deaths of some convoy members and Egyptian forces.
In Limbo in Libya: Gaza Road to Hope Convoy Urges Contact with Egyptian Embassies – Salem-News.Com
David Evans My concern is that if the convoy leadership may decide to defy Egyptian authorities and begin to roll into Egypt without permission. This action, I think, would result in Egyptian border guards dutifully opening fire on the convoy in an ordered attempt to stop it.
04 November at 18:11 • LikeUnlike
I gave you the source and the direct quote. That this person was passing along the narrative and insisting that other activists must act in a certain way to avoid it.
Whether he was under this impression because he is friends of Ken, or because he was following every breath taken, I have no way of knowing.
I know what I saw. that hundreds of activists who are always glued to their means of communciation and at the request of others will call and demonstrate and do whatever it is there needs to be done were doing so based on this narrative.
I think that is utterly dangerous and damaging to our movement if such kind of stuff was circulating as if it were legit and the actual circumstances when instead it may not be. I complained about the way no one was doing any kind of rational checking of anything and no one was even aware of the lack of visas and we were hit in the face with that whopper once we started complaining to Egypt asking them to comply with law and humanity, and we see that they claimed they would have allowed passage if there were specific things that they know were communicated as required and which were simply missing.
The point, you seem to be missing.
105. David Evans on December 14th, 2010 at 23:45:
My comment regarding that there might have been violence follows. It is posted above, here in the comments thread:
David Evans: Embassy contact information is at the bottom of this article. Please call them. It’s the least that we can do for these courageous convoy members. Failure to convince Egypt to allow passage of the convoy may result in violent confrontation and the deaths of some convoy members and Egyptian forces.
In Limbo in Libya: Gaza Road to Hope Convoy Urges Contact with Egyptian Embassies – Salem-News.Com
The comment was issued in the heat of the moment, as tensions were rising. The Convoy had been stuck at the border for several days, and as I recall, they were wearing out their welcome. The atmosphere seemed tense.
I returned from work late that evening (I have computer access at my job) to find that I was being challenged for my comment, and I responded with this rationale:
David Evans: My concern is that if the convoy leadership may decide to defy Egyptian authorities and begin to roll into Egypt without permission. This action, I think, would result in Egyptian border guards dutifully opening fire on the convoy in an ordered attempt to stop it.
04 November at 18:11 • LikeUnlike
That scenerio was a POSSIBILITY. I was concerned for the convoy. I had already commented to Ken in other venues, urging restraint and patience. Nowhere in his public, nor in private communications with me did Ken express any desire to do anything rash or cavalier with the Convoy. Neither did he cause me to believe that others may act in a reckless manner.
What I said, while appealing for people to contact their embassies and consulates, was meant only to get people to act, as there WAS INDEED A POSSIBILITY, as had happened with other convoys, of violence. I wanted people to pressure Egyptian embassies into allowing the convoy to proceed overland so that that possibility, however remote could be prevented. I apologise if my comments offended some here, and for any alarm they may have engendered.
106. David Evans on December 14th, 2010 at 23:49:
Another typo – I have NO computer access at work. I mistakenly said that I have computer access at work. I know….like who gives a damn, Dave. It’s just that I would have answered challenge to my comment earlier if I hadn’t have had to leave for work right after making it.
107. Sam on December 15th, 2010 at 0:55:
Another one of Mary Rizzo’s blatant lies is that Ken was dishonourably discharged from the military.
I know for a fact that Ken received an honourable discharge.
Care to back up your claims with some evidence Mary?
108. Mary Rizzo on December 15th, 2010 at 1:35:
absolutely NO problem: source KEN O’KEEFE
After the war I was “ratted on” for using strength building steroids by a Marine trying to lighten punishment for his use of cocaine. Using steroids was and is a common practice among Marines; building muscle and bulk is rewarded and in many covert ways the use of steroids is encouraged, even though it is illegal. Thankfully I was not so stupid as to continue use of steroids for long; I stopped after the fourth use. By this time however I had been punished continually for my previous cardinal sin of exposing the abuse of power, as a result I could not have cared care less what Marine Corps ‘leadership’ thought of me. So when I was pressured by the Naval Investigative Service (NIS) to “rat on” the man who sold me the steroids I refused, much to their consternation. Once again I was not going along with the program. Upon telling my supplier however I was somewhat shocked to have him tell me to go ahead and give them his name. Seems he was fed up with the Marines as well and a discharge for him was a welcome possibility. Although I was committed to serving my full four years, my bad behavior had the good consequence of being Court Martialed (charged in a Military Criminal Trial) for ‘illegal use of narcotics’ (steroids). Ultimately I was blessed/punished by being discharged (made redundant) one year ahead of schedule, Bush Sr.’s post War downsizing assisting me greatly in this matter. Officially I received a ‘general discharge’ under ‘other than honorable conditions’; a discharge sure to be used along with other admissions in this auto-biography by my enemies as a testament to my dishonorable nature. This general discharge is actually a rare middle of the road act in my life of the five possible discharges and I quite frankly wish I had ‘earned’ the worst discharge of all; the ‘dishonorable discharge’ which comes with a keepsake certificate.
109. Robin on December 15th, 2010 at 1:58:
5. Drug Abuse
a. Commanders shall process Marines for administrative separation for illegal, wrongful, or improper use, possession, sale, transfer, distribution, or introduction on a military installation of any controlled substance, marijuana, steroids, or other dangerous or illicit drug or other forms of substance abuse (such as designer drugs, fungi, chemicals not intended for human consumption, etc.) as defined in SECNAVINST 5300.28 series paragraph 5.c), and/or the possession, sale, or transfer of drug paraphernalia as defined in SECNAVINST 5300.28 series. Commanders shall also process Marines who attempt to engage in any of the aforementioned activities. Evidence obtained from an involuntary urinalysis administered pursuant to an inspection under Military Rule of Evidence in the current version of the Manual for Courts Martial (MCM), or from a search and seizure under Military Rules of Evidence 311-317, or incident to an examination conducted for a valid medical reason may be used to characterize a member’s discharge as under other than honorable conditions. The procedures contained in paragraph 6304 shall be used when separating a Marine under these provisions, unless a characterization of service more favorable than other than honorable is warranted.
b. Except as provided below, all Marines (regardless of pay grade) identified for mandatory processing under the criteria of paragraph 6210.5a will be processed for administrative separation by reason of misconduct, due to drug abuse, on the first offense. Processing is not required if:
(1) The offense has been adjudicated at a general or special court martial, for which the sentence approved by the convening authority includes a punitive discharge (suspended or unsuspended), or
(2) The limitations of paragraph 6106.1 apply
110. Maryam S on December 15th, 2010 at 2:03:
I can’t see what difference it makes when the photos were taken – these people were NOT hostages whether the photos were taken “at the end of their ordeal” or whenever. Leaping aboard a ship you did not charter is not making yourself a hostage, it’s making you a stowaway.
111. xa on December 15th, 2010 at 8:57:
Remember, first of all they claimed that the only water they were allowed to drink came from the “back toilets”. It was a lie. An out-and-out lie. They were offered the same water that everyone else on the ship drinks.
Once that lie became obvious, I realised I couldn’t believe anything else these people said.
And when one of them started to refer to them all as “The Gaza 10”, I just thought that they were a bunch of egotistic showmen. The people on Road To Hope were badly led by these people. It wasn’t just O’Keefe, it was people like Tox Sharif, who until then was widely respected.
There’s definitely a willingness to believe these guys, because they were standing up to authority. But how can anyone believe people who are *sending text messages* saying they’re being held at gunpoint?
The first thing a kidnapper does, the first thing a police officer does, the first thing anyone who wants to hold you against your will does, is take away your ability to communicate. The *very fact* that these guys were sending texts, *uploading photos to facebook!!!*, posting to their profiles, all shows that they had full use of their equipment and facilities.
And one of the photos shows a professional camera bag. Why would a kidnapper leave you with your phones and your professional camera equipment?
Those who believe the “kidnapping” story need to look at the basic logic of the situation: Full access to the ship, access to the crew, access to mobile phones, food and water – cooked on the captain’s orders!
This was not a kidnapping. It was a very cheap cruise.
112. Mary Rizzo on December 15th, 2010 at 10:09:
xa, I saw things differently. I started to “doubt” from the very first (as you can see in the article) when there were the wild claims of things going on at the dock. Now, I just posted an excerpt of one exchange, and I have no idea what the banter was on Ken’s wall or the walls of anyone who was directly close to these people, but just with my own news feed, and the “word” was that they were stranded by this captain who hauled them on board (why he’d do that still was never even given a shadow of a question!) and he ran off with money from the Mossad. When we are inventing shit, why do we do that? Is not the truth about things bad enough and do we need to shift the whole tragedy onto the exploits of activists and what a tough time they have because the whole world is against them? Besides, where was there any logic to it?!
I simply communicated with a couple who were spreading this thing and said, “WTF?! This simply Can Not Be True! Stop and THINK!” Also because the same boat had just delivered VP5 cargo! There was no logic for it, and yet, this was one more of those big fish stories we were supposed to be “acting on” without any kind of verification. You might like to know that my appeals were “let’s wait and see if any of this is true before we start to issue alarms. Can we get verification? So far I see contradiction, this is not good. Let’s be certain – those of us contacting media – because we have a duty to be reliable. I was told that there was something wrong with me to doubt and to think “the other side” even had a right to be heard! I mean, this is ridiculous!!! Why not just toss out free speech and human rights if this is how things are then?
I am not going to speak (and haven’t ever spoken) as one who has superior knowledge because I was not there. People speak from the part they know, and you put the bits together and you get the picture, this is how it works. But I have been probably the only one, besides the Greek authorities, who has been in contact with all the parties involved and have gotten from some of them information. People who were involved (relatives of the Convoyers on the ship) were even urged to NOT engage with the one person (Christina Baseos) who was putting them directly into contact with their loved ones and explaining all the details so that the amount of panic and pain could enter into realistic terms. She at least had the level-headedness to realise that assuring the families that everyone was safe was of utmost importance. And even the accusations that they had been mistreated, kicked, starved and held at gunpoint were all untrue and that their rights were at all times preserved.
I find it amazing how she was treated as if she were their enemy and had evil intentions. However, this is how some people think; unable to accept the reality of a situation and all of its complicated aspects, they need to blame others for acts and hope that people believe them, and they will believe the worst lies, but not anything else. It’s kind of a mental set that is problematic in all of us, we just don’t want to accept that things are not black and white.
So, I was already not accepting the reality of the narrative from even before the absolutely impossible things such as “we are not allowed calls and internet”… coming by way of phone and internet!!! There is a limit to every kind of stupid claim and this paradox alone should stand as an example, as well as the point you made about if someone is being kidnapped, they are not going to be allowed to communicate. More than that, the person doing it is not going to immediately contact all the authorities to ask how he should proceed in this case, and adhere to maritime law and to the instructions given by his own nation as to where to go. The convoyers should realise that there are recordings of all of these things. When asked how these things were documented, it was explained the procedure of radio logs and recordings, so I have no doubt that even though the Convoyers were permitted to communicate, the ship people also were using the communciation channels and there are documented records of all of it to prove their claims.
If there were no accusations of blaming others for some of the most horrible of crimes in peacetime, I would have just thought, ho hum, could do without more of this “we are your saviours” protagonism, at least they are getting stuff in, keep on going and godspeed (and as I said, those who live around here, who are constantly aware of the difficult situation of the seas re: Libya, have a certain “feeling” about how things can turn, and were hoping that things were under control. I mentioned in the article the ship that was taken by Libya on the high seas at that date, well, the article, – in Italian – has the maritime ministry stating that this is a serious and growing problem and the waters between Italy and Libya were a crucial and urgent matter and that Libya was using its navy to take ships to Benghazi and block everyone on that ship for an unspecified amount of time. THIS was the scenario that would have taken place had the Master not stuck to the principles of peacetime and not carried on as per instructions from his own Maritime Authority. If you read Italian, I can share several articles with you from a week ago, not a year ago, stating the emergency situation in those waters. The fact that those who criticise this overview FAIL to recognise the real danger that the recklessness of a few could have brought on persons and the movement as a whole simply mystifies me. But people are unwilling to look at facts!!!)
Also, this was not a good thing for any of the work being planned, financed and organised, if it would come to pass that we were a “walking disaster for hiring ships” still aware of how the flotillas being planned are having doors slammed on them, and this would NOT help, if the point is to have aid come in, after all, the only way it’s being allowed at this time).
So, I began to wonder: Ken’s been on the road for months fundraising for his CIC, his enterprise that will be a ship company that will do “free trade” between Gaza and Cyprus. Would it be handy to depict other vessels and hiring them out as unsafe, a danger to anyone at all, especially principled human beings? In that case, the DIY would become a NECESSITY for everyone?
I began to wonder big time after all of this. After all, he claims that it needs a startup of a million (but, as I have mentioned, I live on one of the largest fishing ports of the Mediterranean. I live among seafaring people and “armatori” – shipowners). A ship costs in the range of several million Euros, multiple millions including insurance and expenses, so I wonder how a person who is demanding free large flats and free solicitors and free accountants and free designers is going to be able to be taken seriously by anyone selling or leasing a vessel. I can only say, PR is not his forte.
113. Sam on December 15th, 2010 at 10:21:
@Mary: It clearly states he received a “General Discharge”.
Why are you claiming that it was a “Dishonourable Discharge”? I know bending the truth fits your hit piece better but please lets stick to the facts!
114. Mary Rizzo on December 15th, 2010 at 10:34:
Sam, you seem so concerned about Ken’s marine status.
Officially I received a ‘general discharge’ under ‘other than honorable conditions’;
OTHER THAN HONOURABLE CONDITIONS (including the court martial) is not quite:
I know for a fact that Ken received an honourable discharge.
Care to back up your claims with some evidence (Sam)?
115. Mary Rizzo on December 15th, 2010 at 10:36:
You keep calling it a “hit piece”, sounds vaguely familiar. Look, do your good work in Gaza, you struggled to get there and now should be concentrating on that work instead of doing Ken’s grubwork there.
116. Mary Rizzo on December 15th, 2010 at 10:40:
and PERSONALLY i don’t CARE that he was discharged from the killing industry he was employed in. What I do care about is that he wants people to believe he quit it because he had some kind of illumination as a peace warrior. He was in a situation that forced his hand, and he would have gone along for the whole ride if things were different. It does not matter to me, and otherwise I would not have mentioned it, but it’s the bending of truth and the hagiography, including NOT being a US citizen when indeed he is more one than even I am, considering I do not go there or use my passport and have been living outside of that place for decades. Far be it from me to turn it into some statement. It’s just a fact of life like what happens to millions and millions of immigrants around the world!
117. Christina on December 15th, 2010 at 11:43:
Well well, that was funny !
Sam says: “Let’s stick to the facts”
It seems that the definition of “facts” is unknown to Sam, despite that her favorite line is “I know for fact that…..”
So, Sam was either in the Marines together with Ken, or is a relative of him or maybe had a more intimate relationship with him in the past.
Sam started to comment under this article as an attempt to debate the contents of it, claiming that she has knowledge of what actually happened with the convoy. So, few people posed specific questions to her (with regards to the incident in Libya), she asked for some time to gather all details in order to revert with answers. Since then, all that Sam has done is sticking to every other info mentioned in the article that has to do with Ken’s past (except maybe for a short comment of when the 10 convoy members got access to life-jackets during their “ordeal”).
Sam, it is more than obvious that you try to divert the discussion to every other, totally irrelevant, subject except for the alleged “kidnapping”.
Unless you are trying to enlighten us by using the Socratic Method, i.e posing questions instead of giving answers. It is expected, since you were a convoy member, to give straight forward answers about what happened in Libya and not whether Ken O’Keefe was honorably or dishonorably discharged from the Marines.
I totally understand that you are not Ken O’Keefe’s spokesperson, but since Ken has chosen to take the “high road” (for whatever reasons) and not comment on this article, it would be great in the meantime, to get some straight forward questions from you, as a convoy member who was indeed involved with the facts, until Ken decides to come forward and give answers himself (IF he decides to give answers)
PTT has proven that no comments are being censored. All comments, despite of their contents, have been kindly published by PTT. All points of view are welcomed, whether supportive to the article’s writer or offensive.
PTT has given the perfect chance to EVERYONE to contribute to the TRUTH ! This chance should not be wasted !
118. Mary Rizzo on December 15th, 2010 at 12:41:
what i find epic (but not surprising) is the lack of self-criticism. I can understand that they don’t have an answer to the various contradictory things and even their own photographs negate the content of their written narrative, and it would be a sign of maturity to say, yes, there are things here that we can understand are unacceptable and contradictory. It is indeed a problem. On the other hand, you seem to take it out on Brother Ken that all of this happened, and we don’t like that, because to us, he is above criticism and anything he uses in all of his self-promotional things are good for the movement, they don’t need to necessarily be accurate, they create a mystique that serves the cause and that is what matters. You in essence are worth nothing and you have no right to even question any of this.
I could even handle the insult because I know I checked my facts and I know that I gave Ken every chance to contribute his own input and as you can see, he had problems doing that and decided it was not going to be good since it could complicate his already complicated “narrative variations”.
But what I see here is that the only persons offering a view of wishing to assume responsibility at all are 1) me, when I say that though the UN report does not name Ken and though it also states that no clear image of what went on could be delineated, it probably was Ken the “US former Marine”. I rectified that he was not called, as it would actually be absurd that he wasn’t, but I based all of my research on checking all the available documents in English and doing a word search for all of his name variations, and never found his name cited. As well, in the IHH report, which i also have in another language, and a Turkish friend came to read it with me, to check that the translation corresponded, his name does not even come listed in the passengers who had their property stolen category.
Not that it would not have happened, but there is NOTHING on paper and this is at the end of the day how things are done and documented.
The only other person offering some sort of apology was David Evans, who finally understood the absolutely WRONG and utterly dangerous act of passing along action calls seeming as though they were coming from one with personal contact and gave the idea that there was trouble brewing, distress and a risk of the border clash happening, with the violent, bloody and diplomatically disastroud effects of all of that.
This is what I had written! This was the POINT!!!! We activists have to be careful, accurate, aware of the implications of our actions and words and we have to not believe anything we hear and make actions that would endanger others. I don’t have any idea what sort of messages were going out to Libya and Egypt and all the embassies. I can only imagine that they were saying all kinds of untrue and inflammatory stuff. and THIS is terrible and it will not help Palestinians AT ALL!!!!
119. Felicity Arbuthnot on December 15th, 2010 at 14:12:
“Although I was committed to serving my full four years, my bad behavior had the good consequence of being Court Martialed (charged in a Military Criminal Trial) for ‘illegal use of narcotics’ (steroids). Ultimately I was blessed/punished by being discharged (made redundant) one year ahead of schedule, Bush Sr.’s post War downsizing assisting me greatly in this matter. Officially I received a ‘general discharge’ under ‘other than honorable conditions’; a discharge sure to be used along with other admissions in this auto-biography by my enemies as a testament to my dishonorable nature. This general discharge is actually a rare middle of the road act in my life of the five possible discharges and I quite frankly wish I had ‘earned’ the worst discharge of all; the ‘dishonorable discharge’ which comes with a keepsake certificate.”
All I read from Mr O’Keefe has been that he left the Marines in an act of conscience after the attack on Iraq in 1991. I also heard him saying it, in Baghdad, in 2003. Another day, another contradiction. Very confusing.
120. Sam on December 15th, 2010 at 14:27:
As I’ve already stated. There will be in internal review of the R2H convoy. This will be done at a time of our convenience. Some convoy members are still not home yet (myself included). In the mean time I will try to refute some of the many false allegations being made against us and Ken.
We are all aware that there were many mistakes made with this convoy. One of the major mistakes was trusting people who turned out to be untrustworthy. We live and learn. However this hit piece on Ken and the convoy is riddled with inaccuracies and is damaging to the good work being done to help the Palestinians.
Btw: I meant to say general discharge not honourable discharge.
121. miri on December 15th, 2010 at 15:00:
What is it about sychophants, Sam? You don’t even ‘believe’ the truth when it comes from your god’s own mouth. He’s got a gazillion websites, many of which contain his riveting ‘biography.’
In his biography, he states that he was discharged for steroid use, yet you attack Mary Rizzo for repeating what she has learned from ‘the man,’ himself.
Actually, one of the things about his bio, that totally fascinates me (probably because I’m so interested in the aberrant psyche) is how, even when admitting wrong-doing, O’Keefe always blames everyone else.
Similarly, he wrote in his story of his involvement with the clusterf**k , complaining that he did not want to be the convoy’s leader, but that R2H was so incompetent, he had no choice.
Truly charming.
122. miri on December 15th, 2010 at 15:01:
Christina, Sam is emphatically NOT using the Socratic method, which either forces one to change one’s paradigm of thought, based on reality (of which there can be only one, universal — as opposed to a multitude of reality ‘perceptions’).
Sam is fixated on her various feeling states, and her digging in of her heels reminds me of Justin Frank, M.D.’s work of applied psychoanalysis, “Bush on the Couch.” You, and SuperKen’s world seems to be one of complete rigidity, ‘exceptionalism,’ and narcissism (the latter to involves projection on your part, to King Tatt, who can do no wrong, even though he’s still scamming $$ for the electronic equipment purloined by the Israeli commandos; even though he contradicts himself so often as to have proven himself a liar, ten times over).
During Kennykin’s convoy adventure, stuffed with pathos and bathos, I was glued to the R2H wall, and found myself utterly appalled by the mob mentality of collective hysteria, and the insane assaults on Christina Baseos. The obcene name-calling she endured — before being censored, btw — was chilling, and those assaulting her did so with such vehemance that I can only imagine were this angry mob physically in a room with her, it would have literally torn her limb from limb.
Hmm. Perhaps this IS Socratic, after all…
123. Mary Rizzo on December 15th, 2010 at 15:03:
Sam… good that there will be an internal review. It would also be important for anyone involved in any way and that includes those like hundreds of PTT readers and thousands of FB users, to get due accountability, because we were pushed to do things based on faulty information and sometimes this brings about consequences.
You keep calling it a hit piece, when as a matter of fact, I don’t see that there are any real evidences to disprove anything in it and almost all the sources were direct quotes from Ken and RTH and RTH supporter content freely available on internet.
I believe that if any work is really good, a report could not damage it, unless that is a way to ward off any kind of criticism behind a veil of “we are above all sort of critique and anyone doing so is a Zionist or the Mossad”, which is even more ridiculous, because those kind of statements are tabloid trash that serious people know how to throw to the wayside and it sets a standard of discourse that is extremely low towards those engaging in it if they come out with no evidence, just smear.
So, now you can correct your “I meant to say” but instead you DID say… and I haven’t called you a blantant liar. Just someone who accuses others, when you yourself are in error. So the general discharge was classified as OTHER THAN HONORABLE by Ken himself.
So, before you start accusing, look at your own behaviour and turn your tone into a constructive one. Otherwise, we will all see that you are not contributing to anything than just a blind rooting squad with lack of critical thinking skills.
124. Mary Rizzo on December 15th, 2010 at 15:11:
and, to open the discourse to the most important element:
it is not going to be hard for you to prove (if it exists) that a contract for hire of that vessel existed.
this is the only thing that gave rights to even be on that ship.
you should also explain, straight away, why you believe that there were so many convoy members on that dock if even the negotiations allowed a total of 30 passengers, and Ellie had messaged that very evening that ALL of you would be boarding, and this indeed was also verified that all believed they would board that ship on that night. This gave rise to the atmosphere where the Captain had reason as well to believe that intentions were not as stated in the negotiations.
Also, very important: why did Ken say in his interview in Athens, We could have managed to take over the ship.
Is that just bravado, or is that in some way indicative of the atmosphere which made “negotiations” impossible and a normal commercial transaction questionable? Further, what kind of statement is this for a person to make who wishes that further convoys will be allowed, in some way? Is it a reckless comment or is it instead a comment that indicates that activist groups are not following specific guidelines of legality?
125. Mary Rizzo on December 15th, 2010 at 15:51:
Miri, I think that your valid points of discourse and the depth of your argumentation get completely lost when you allow yourself to engage in name calling of Ken such as Kennykins and Super Ken. It is a type of discourse that seriously should be left to those who don’t have enough valid arguments and avoid responding to the important questions. Questions such as the reason for such contradictions that they used the body of the activist movement to further, lacking in any kind of necessary accountability to us and responsibility to their own mission. Especially the core question: the proof that there has been a kidnapping and the lack of problem of the leader being determined to cause an international crisis by making emergency SOS calls when he knows that all the authorities were fully aware that the ship was being instructed and monitored by all the competent authorities.
It is indeed the “image” of the leader that makes others think he is beyond criticism or that he possesses some kind of greater humanity, and in the face of his own claims that those who have worked with him view him as “the devil incarnate” and must have been just looking for a way to bring him down, should reflect upon the reasons why those who had worked with him have such a terrible opinion of him.
So, I kindly ask you to moderate your tone, so that the valid points are not lost in distraction.
One point I want to make about Ken’s leadership, however… He is a creative person who believes his position of leadership is what seems to make or break a mission, that loyalty to him should be the factor of primacy. If one watches or reads the transcript to the film about the Human Shields, one sees how he actually does do leadership, and it is certainly focused around his own persona. Indeed, at the end of the film, the persons in Iraq, when given a choice of trusting an Iraqi with their lives who they did not know, and trusting themselves to Ken’s leadership, they had no qualms about following the Iraqi. He was shocked about it, and as well, his very first deed upon entry into Iraq was to re-establish his own personal leadership.
Aside from the events spoken of by Greta Berlin, (also verified by others on that boat) there is a history of changing the course of the entire community according to his own personally determined one. This does not work in activism generally, though if people like a dictatorial style, and most do not, it seems to be that the judgment of one leader are placed on a balance against the greater good. Normal people always accept the greater good and the community good. Those who do not put that as a priority are recognised when they make good judgments (and praised for that) BUT ALSO WHEN THEY SCREW THINGS UP AND CAUSE DAMAGES: One is not only the maker of his good, but also the maker of his bad. Enough excuses!!! Acting like a mature individual is all anyone accepts and expects.
126. Maryam S on December 15th, 2010 at 17:48:
Loyalty should be to the Palestinian people, NOT to a particular activist, and I don’t care what kind of romantic figure he portrays – Ken is a cartoon, actually, he’s a stereotype white guy hero, and there is entirely too much attention focused on him, which is just plain wrong. The whole hero-worship mentality is just inappropriate to what we are trying to accomplish. I don’t like that it’s “Ken’s convoy,” that it’s Ken’s video, Ken’s article, Ken speaks like some kind of authority about Palestine, with very limited knowledge and mostly spends his time telling the world about all the great feats he is accomplishing for the poor, helpless Palestinians. Colonialism at its worst, it’s repugnant.
127. Mary Rizzo on December 15th, 2010 at 20:38:
the questions that had been raised were quite a few. This one was on the Road to Hope FB board, left by Asif Khan. I believe it is a valuable question and think that anyone who does not want to see innocent people accused of crimes or a group of sincere activists lumped together with things that they don’t approve of: These words show what the entire atmosphere was “standoff” included… which also begs the question: if there was NO contract, (as seems to be true, given that I was sent the documentation directly from Ken O’Keefe and what HE calls a contract is not a contract at all – how can they keep someone to something that is non-existent?
‎”Leyla-Rubaina Hyda said that one vehicle had to be left on the ship, but they managed to get all of the aid it was carrying out of it.”
That is very odd. If they had time to take the aid off the ship, why didn’t they just drive the vehicle off the ship? Is it because, in Ken O’Keefe’s own words, they planned a “stand off” with the ship owner?
If they had time to carry the aid off the ship, how could they have been kidnapped? Ken O’Keefe said “the others jumped onboard, in order to get our vehicle and aid and keep him to the contract to take us to Al Arish. “
This doesn’t sound like kidnapping, does it? They got the aid off the van, but then others jumped on board “to keep him to the contract”? Doesn’t that imply that they weren’t kidnapped at all, but did it to force – indeed, to hijack – the ship to go to Al Arish?
Something is very wrong with this story.
many comments follow. FB members might want to check this out. Including those who ask totally legitimate questions being accused of being plants and zionists. See it to believe it.
Asif Khan Sam – there isn’t much I can do to prove I’m not a plant :)
I just genuinely despair at what I am seeing. I kept quiet for a while but they are STILL going on about being “victims” – one of them is now calling the group the “Gaza 10”, which is such an insult.
But you’re right about one thing – on the internet, no-one can prove anyones credibility. In a way that is my point. People are simply believing everything they’re being told from one side, and every single comment from the other side is either labelled “zionist” or some variation of it.
I could concede that the truth is somewhere in the middle, and that well-meaning people genuinely misunderstood the “rules of the game” when it comes to chartering a ship.
But I could only concede that if I saw the slightest bit of humility coming from Ken’s people. His wall is full of threats of legal action, of victimhood, and of making the story all about him.
128. Mary Rizzo on December 15th, 2010 at 20:47:
to those who don’t have FB (a friend just reminded me he doesn’t and won’t have it and asked me to copy the entire comments out.) I won’t copy them all out, but these comments are indicative of some of the situation, and why it matters that we are discussing this, though others only want to turn the lights off unless it is to smear me.
check this out:
NAME (brother of a convoy member) ‎@(name)
What? Damn right its my business! Its everyone’s business!
The minute a mission statement is made, and donations are asked for it becomes OUR BUSINESS! The minute that injustice takes place is OUR BUSINESS!… Sound like bloody politicians!
Get out of defensive mode, as you remind me of a cornered cat! Look at all the evidences from ALL parties and rethink your stance. This has gone beyond a joke, and no accountability has taken place from RTH. At this pace, the name should be changed to RTD – Road To Disaster!
RTH amateurishness in dealing with this expedition is really giving future humanitarian efforts to Gaza a bad name, therefore RTH needs to put its act together!
Also S, as a common courtesy, when someone is polite with you, you should also be polite with them – isn’t that justice? We are not at war here.See more
18 November at 05:06 • LikeUnlike • 1 person
S (name) according to troublemakers like you lol,
regarding your assumption ie the fact that you have donated does not mean you can get away with slagging trh off.
you also seem TOTALLY incapable of understanding that its not my job to spoon feed you.
And as it happens your claim that im in defensive mode just confirms that you consider your words an attack.
Well i agree.
You have done nothing but slag trh off.
Like i politely told you before MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.
As for the info/dirt you seek. why not wait until you have the ACTUAL information rather than GUESSING and making supposition based on your biased mind.
18 November at 13:01 • LikeUnlike •
S (name) having donated myself, i would not dream of then harassing, attacking, and trying to cause trouble for rth.
unlike yourself.
When trh chooses to update us im greatful and would not dream of stomping around like a spoit child demanding answers….
You will get your answers when others are good and ready to give them to you.
Whinging gets you nowhere.
Its quite plain that you ot on this string are Anti rth and are doing your level best to rubbish them.
18 November at 13:14 • LikeUnlike •
Name (brother of convoyer) I am amazed from the all the questions asked about documented contradictions from RTH sources, yet people are still in denial!
In how many ways can I say this…
If we ignore this injustice, then how can we cause justice? Shouldn’t this be one of our core principals? If we will just blot them out for convenience or negligence, is that acceptable? If a dear family member was to cause oppression, we should be the first to sort them out, otherwise our core principals are flawed! Do we not complain about Israeli oppression all the time? Isn’t it a sign of hypocrisy if we don’t examine ourselves, and whom we support before condemning anyone?
It is a time to take accountability for all our actions, and not just blame others for everything! If RTH will not take advice from friends, who will they take advice from??
Some sayings to contemplate upon;
The great words of Martin Luther King;
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“Accountability breeds response-ability.”
[Stephen R. Covey]
“It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do,
for which we are accountable.”
129. Robin on December 15th, 2010 at 20:57:
On the issue of Ken’s military discharge:
Mary stated in this report:
“Also, being an ex-Marine (dishonourably discharged 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”
Mary mistakenly used the term “dishonorably”. Most lay people would not know this but even within the “other than honorable conditions” discharge there are sub-discharge statuses, some of which can prevent you from keeping your veterans benefits, other sub categories which do not prevent you from keeping your benefits. In other words there are many codes even under ONE category which are SPECIFIC as to which discharge a military member received. “other than honorable” is a general term, not a SPECIFIC discharge which one receives. Having attended the court martial myself of a very high profile individual who resisted deployment to Iraq who also received “other than honorable discharge” it was IMPORTANT to know which code he received. In Ken’s bio he stated he wished he had been issued a dishonorable discharge because that would have come with a certificate. Oh how he “wishes”. Does that mean he turned down the JAG defender he was appointed? Was his “less than honorable” discharge forced upon him like his US passport was “forced” upon him in 2003? Nonsense.
Now for “Sam” who first wrote:
Another one of Mary Rizzo’s blatant lies is that Ken was dishonourably discharged from the military.
I know for a fact that Ken received an honourable discharge.
Care to back up your claims with some evidence Mary?
Then “Sam” wrote (after Mary quoted directly from Ken’s own biography)
@Mary: It clearly states he received a “General Discharge”.
Why are you claiming that it was a “Dishonourable Discharge”? I know bending the truth fits your hit piece better but please lets stick to the facts!
To which Mary responded:
Sam, you seem so concerned about Ken’s marine status.
Officially I received a ‘general discharge’ under ‘other than honorable conditions’;
OTHER THAN HONOURABLE CONDITIONS (including the court martial) is not quite:
I know for a fact that Ken received an honourable discharge.
Care to back up your claims with some evidence (Sam)?
Sam wrote:
“Btw: I meant to say general discharge not honourable discharge.”
Ken was court martialed. He had a JAG defending attorney appointed to him whose job it is to defend his client and to have the MINIMAL sentence given. Not all members of the military are court martialed if they are kicked out of the military! Please read at the very least the opening few paragraphs of this long article on military justice
Enlisted Administrative Separations:
A service-member’s obligation to his armed service continues until terminated. Generally, this time period is determined by the terms of the enlistment contract, but earlier termination may result due to administrative or disciplinary separation based upon specifically identified conduct on the part of the service-member.
There are two types of separations given by the armed forces of the United States to enlisted service-members: punitive discharges and administrative separations.
Punitive Discharges. Punitive discharges are authorized punishments of courts-martial and can only be awarded as an approved court-martial sentence pursuant to a conviction for a violation of the UCMJ. There are two types of punitive discharges: Dishonorable Discharge (DD) — which can only be adjudged by a general court-martial and is a separation under dishonorable conditions; and Bad-Conduct Discharge (BCD) — which can be adjudged by either a general court-martial or a special court-martial and is a separation under conditions other than honorable.
Administrative Separations. Administrative separations cannot be awarded by a court-martial and are not punitive in nature. Enlisted personnel may be administratively separated with a characterization of service (characterized separation) or description of separation (uncharacterized separation) as warranted by the facts of the particular case.
“Basis” is the reason for which the person is being administratively separated (e.g., pattern of misconduct, convenience of the government for parenthood, weight control failure, etc.). “Characterization of service” refers to the quality of the individual’s military service (e.g., honorable, general, or Other Than Honorable).
Sam meant to say “General discharge, not honorable discharge” “Sam” sorry, “general discharge” can mean BOTH categories, honorable AND under other than honorable conditions. But the final outcome according to what Ken wrote was a “rare middle of the road act in my life”-he claims he wanted that “dishonorable” Maybe that was the fault of someone else too that he didn’t get what he really wanted!
Now for Felicity’s comment: “All I read from Mr O’Keefe has been that he left the Marines in an act of conscience after the attack on Iraq in 1991. I also heard him saying it, in Baghdad, in 2003. Another day, another contradiction. Very confusing.”
Let’s read what Ken said in a 2003 interview for the BBC: “I left the Marines seven or eight months later – essentially I was fired when they were downsizing after the war. I’d had an altercation with my immediate superiors, having reported them for an abuse of power. It might seem quite trivial, but we were living on board a ship in the Mediterranean in summer and it was very hot.
My superiors had shut a passage so as to keep what little air conditioning there was in their area. They had no authority to do that, and it forced us in the lower ranks to go three times as far to get to routine areas.
The whole platoon was punished for what I did, and I had to look over my shoulder after that. A lot of marines would no doubt describe me a provocateur or a “bad apple” but to my mind I did the right thing.”
So there he says he was “essentially fired when they were downsizing after the war” and then goes on to tell a story of how he stood up to unfair military authority and then the whole platoon suffered for what he did which was also unfair.
Anything about being COURT MARTIALED for steroid use?
Nope, nada, zilch.
I would say that there is some pretty fancy use of the English language going on in the narrative Ken presents of himself depending on the situation.
Let me set this straight from my own perspective. It is not the fact that Ken got court martialed and discharged under “other than honorable” circumstances which is important. Everyone makes mistakes and military members get discharged all the time for various reasons. It is his “creative use” of he English language, OMISSION of facts and the story he CREATES which is supposed to give him cache as an activist, in this case, cache as someone in the military who according to KEN thwarted military authority as he thwarts authority on a daily basis and makes it his PERSONA. As for his supporters, they support him for THIS reason. He’s the ultimate “bad boy”, only in THIS case, the story Ken created for himself concerning his discharge from the military is found in only ONE place, no where else (I am totally open to correction if this is not true) Ken wants EVERYONE to believe he got kicked out of the military for a reason which is not true.
“Sam”, please note again that “General” is not true either UNLESS you give the specific reason that KEN states he was court martialed and discharged. This could help you if this subject comes up again.
130. xa on December 15th, 2010 at 22:32:
Sam, RTH pleaded for donations totalling over $100,000 just because you had incompetent leadership. I really feel for the people who trusted the leaders, but it wasn’t just one person who conned you. How come none of the team leaders checked that people had visas for Egypt? How come none of you had any actual evidence of this 2nd “al quds convoy”? How come you were all so keen to be led, none of you checked whether these people had the slightest idea about chartering vessels? Other convoy groups now have lots of experience in this – when RTH started posting about how it would not have “strict rules” or “admin fees” like other convoys, didn’t it occur to you to ask why, and to wonder if maybe the rules and fees came about precisely because of all the experience that other convoy organisations had in chartering, in administering and in obtaining the right permissions?
You suddenly asked for $85,000 for the ship, and then (despite RTH saying that the money was safe) another big donation drive for the flights. It was well over $100,000 that people had to donate, on top of all the money and goods they had given already.
In addition, there were calls for personal donations for the disgustingly named “Gaza 10” (Sam, do you really think it’s right that they called themselves that? I had so much respect for Tox until I saw him calling himself that – he has lost so much respect in the movement for his involvement with the fiasco).
What’s worse is that RTH has endangered another charity: “Human Aid”, a registered charity, which sent one or two trucks onto the convoy. As a charity, it handled donations for your ship & flight fund, which means that the UK authorities, notoriously hostile to charities working in Palestine, can start opening its books and examining everything it spent. It can even freeze its bank accounts. It will probably ask questions about why Human Aid volunteers wasted so much time on the border with Egypt and why it was involved in “confrontation”. We all know what the authorities are like. They will have had their eye on this.
This turned Road To Hope from a “look how much better than we are” convoy (and you can’t deny that – RTH’s whole marketing was about how you were “refreshingly” non-political and non-confrontational, unlike other groups), into a big emergency fund-raising operation which put people’s lives at risk, has damaged the movement, may inflict damage on Human Aid, and has damaged the chances of the movement to free Gaza.
Sam, I do hope you get out of your bunker mentality and stop thinking that there’s RTH on one side and a baying mob on the other. The truth is, there’s some incompetent and dangerous leaders on one side, a bunch of well-meaning people in the middle, and the rest of the Palestine solidarity movement over here.
131. Christina on December 15th, 2010 at 23:42:
@ XA:
Hats off !
132. miri on December 16th, 2010 at 0:20:
Since the van is being mentioned, again, I would add another question: Was there any actual aid in this particular van? O’Keefe has stated that aid was removed from it (instead, as Mary suggested, removing the van from the ship), but I’m having a difficult time imagining it, since the van is full of trash…
Xa, thank you for having a voice of sanity. I wish more activists would speak out. O’Keefe is just going to keep passing the hat until they do.
133. Mary Rizzo on December 16th, 2010 at 1:09:
Miri, it wasn’t me suggesting removal of the van. I was not particpating in any way on that forum, merely reading it. It was Asif who suggested that. Apparently, Leila later says, I “meant” in greece. (all these “i said this but I meant that” are very fashionable)
I too thank XA for his/her? comments. but my great … displeasure is the fact that RTH knows completely well that they have assumed a responsiblity, not to “me”, but to all the activists who they had involved (and ultimately to the Palestinians who depend a lot upon us activists) in the playing out of their events, and they are simply still not facing this duty.
No one will resent someone if they admit that they made mistakes, if they are honest, engage in discourse with a clear intention to rectify misunderstanding and work together with others. Instead, calls for integrity on their part were met with gatekeeping > ad hominem attacks which are ongoing > evasion of honest questions and substition of answers with diversionary tactics, and character assassination of anyone who dared to point out the enormous amounts of serious problems. The serious problems are leadership, obviously, but also the dramatic shift of focus, the money issue, the lack of logistical thinking and not the least, ZERO correct PR, crowned by the insistence against all evidence that there were 10 people kidnapped in Libya!
But when someone, rather than honestly confront and perhaps also discipline situations where there is malice, where there is abuse, where there is risk that goes beyond what is allowed, not only bad planning (serious in itself) but also in acts that can only be considered out of line if not criminal or close to that, decide to maintain the status of victim, of poor beleagured entity that is being harassed by others who simply should keep out of it.
Our seeking of accountability and responsibility is allowing them to substitute that same task they should be doing for themselves, and not “in their own sweet time” but as soon as is humanly possible.
There are many reasons for that, because we can see what convenience there is to pass all problems to the scapegoat of big bad PTT and the FB people who had questioned this matter at first with personal interest and total support, and later, being shunned for stressing the normal need to exercise prudence, due diligence and tact (diplomacy) and to create a more concerted and unified statement to the various parties and stop issuing a demand a day that was driving everyone out of their minds and making the entire thing untenable, while NOT resolving the immediate situation (the contrary was true) because it was creating new problems, we were treated as the enemy or even as Zionists.
That kind of tabloid trash has continued, and THAT has been the RTH response to all of this! They seek (apparently) to have PTT or VP or FGM or this activist or that activist take the heat instead of disciplining and publicly expressing the grave events that should be directed clearly and completely to where problems really lie, not who is aware of them.
They say, “unity”… but why? How can we have unity if there is no attempt to focus ONLY on the goal and that is the liberation of Palestine and the growing public attachment to this need and goal. By all of this “circus” which was not OUR doing, but the doing of those we very well know, the self-focus and the labelling of activists as if they were themselves Gaza victims of oppression is really too much after all, and no one can stand there and applaud that unless they have got the wrong idea about what it is REALLY about!
So, I do appreciate all the truthful words being spoken, I only wish RTH had the fortitude to realise that they must (and soon) take the task of being responsible and not pushing it off ot anyone else. They can’t keep using us to discipline when perhaps some are aware it is in order.
134. Ahmed on December 16th, 2010 at 13:53:
I am Palestinian. This article no good for Palestine people. We thank Ken and the rode to hope convoy.
135. Miri on December 16th, 2010 at 20:40:
Ahmed, have you read it, and if so, would you be so kind as to explain why you believe it is no good for you?
136. xa on December 16th, 2010 at 21:02:
Good grief, it’s a bit low when you get that kind of sock-puppetry.
137. Maryam S on December 17th, 2010 at 16:27:
Funny, I haven’t talked with any Palestinians yet who have an opinion one way or another. Ahmed, assuming that you read the article, I am also assuming that your English is sufficient to be able to tell us more about why you think this article is so bad for Palestine.
Personally, I thought the amount of money alone spent on this convoy was atrocious and could have been better spent. For one thing, Palestine is more than Gaza, and the incessant focus on Gaza take the attention away from the most important thing happening in Palestine – the resumption of settlement building and house demolitions, and I should also remind you all that the apartheid wall is still being built. Anyone who cares about Palestine is going to take these issues just as seriously as the situation in Gaza, which cannot be remedied by aid flotillas and ex-Marines with a penchant for histrionics.
138. Concerned Activist on December 21st, 2010 at 16:04:
I hope the blog owner will indulge me and approve my long comment. I never post on websites but this article caught my attention. I don’t know the owner of this blog but I must say I’m surprised someone had the guts to write anything derogatory about Mr Nichols AKA O’Keefe.
I just read the article and much of it covers various inconsistencies regarding the Road to Hope convoy and Mr Nichols rise to leadership or leadership take over and ultimately the direction the convoy took after he assumed control. All of that is interesting but I’ve had concerns for months now about Mr Nichols and what his agenda truly is. Is it to help Palestine? Is it to create a career that supports him, his wife and child financially? Because what no one ever seems to ask him exactly what is his paid job? What does he do for a living? Unless he is independently wealthy, he has to work to get an income like the rest of us. Someone has to foot the bill for him to be capable of doing all his globe trotting, first to Turkey to board the Mavi, then back to England for speaking engagements, then to America for speaking engagements, then back to England, then out to Libya, then from Greece to England, then from England to Cairo, then to Al Arish, then to Gaza followed by a month long stay. Not much time to hold down a job doing all this is there? Who foots the bill? Who pays for the airfare, room and board during these travels to all these countries?
What is his agenda and strategy? Could it be he enjoys the limelight and the donations he gets from his followers? I think most of us have more manners than this and believe funds raised for Palestine should go to Palestinians, not Americans to travel the globe.
Could it be he genuinely thinks his ideas and strategies are good for Palestine? Or could it be he wants to destroy the moral high ground that the Palestinian movement and/or the Pro Palestinian civil society movement around the world currently enjoys against Israel? Because right now, at this moment in time, Israel is the bad guy, not the Palestinians and not the pro Palestinian movement around the world. We are the good guys, we are the ones who continually keep the focus on Israel, the one true enemy not only of Palestine ,but many other Middle Eastern countries.
What interests me is Mr Nichols various strategies. His actions and their implications both present and future. I do believe he and others jumped on that ship, because from what I read about him, chaos ensues whenever he is involved. I was also greatly troubled at his continued focus and battles with everyone except Israel, first Egypt, then Greece, then Libya, then Egypt again.
First let me deal with his Egyptian strategy: Certainly all these Middle Eastern countries could act better towards the Palestinians, and certainly Mubarak and other Arab leaders are dictators and their governments are not democratic. And if Mr Nichols wants to change that then he should create a worldwide movement to tackle those countries and bring about change and democracy to their governments. I’m sure the world would thank him for accomplishing democracy across the Middle East.
But, if he wants to help Palestinians then he should focus on that mission, which is quite different from targeting governments of various countries like Egypt, Greece and Libya among others. Each of those countries cooperation is needed if you want visit Gaza or to bring aid to Gaza, if bringing aid to Gaza is genuinely your true mission? Because like it or not, they are all sovereign countries, with laws and borders and armies and leaders. And if you wish to travel through them then you do so as a guest and a foreigner adhering to the laws and customs of those countries. For just like Mr Nichols own country of America, there are laws regarding who can enter and what they will be allowed to engage in on US soil. And this is exactly why Mr Galloway is currently being banned entry into the USA. While I do not agree with this stance by the Americans, they are, unfortunately, within their rights.
Again, if Mr Nichols and his followers don’t like the leaders and governments in America or the Middle East, then make that your main focus and change those governments. But until then you have to work with what is there, if you want to help Palestine, like it or not.
As bad as Egypt can be at times, there is an existing working relationship between Palestinians in Gaza and the Egyptian Government. It is not perfect, but it exists. The Egyptian Government has allowed a great many convoys to enter Gaza since the invasion. They originally went by land until there was a violent stand off during a Viva Palestina convoy at the port where people were injured. Even after that Egypt did not stop nor ban convoys from travelling to Gaza, they merely required them to go to Al Arish and then on to Gaza. Egypt has an absolute right to keep 100-200 foreigners with vehicles from travelling the length and breadth of their country causing havoc along the way. Just like if a convoy of 200 foreigners landed at the American border from Mexico trying to cross to Canada. The US has the right to dictate both how and where that convoy may travel across its land. Every day people flock to the USA and are denied entry, perhaps Mr Nichols should focus on his own countries border policies before those in the Middle East?
So his strategy of pissing off Egypt, what does that accomplish? How does that help Gaza? Like I said, there is a working relationship between the Government in Gaza and the Egyptians, it is there, it has always been there. The Egyptian Government allows elected members of Hamas to travel out of Gaza to attend meetings and visit other countries on official invitations. Just about a year ago I remember reading about one elected member of Hamas who travelled to Greece. How did he get there? Only one way, through Rafah and then through Egypt’s Cairo airport. And what about those Egyptian tunnels? If Egypt truly wanted them shut down they could make that happen. They don’t. They don’t because not only does it create an income for some of Egypt’s people but it also is a way of the Government helping to ease the siege without being up front about it where Israel could then cause Egypt problems. Politically speaking the Egyptian government will do what it can without: 1. exposing itself to Israeli pressure 2. without creating a dangerous situation for Mubarak. 3. quelling the wishes of its people to some extent by being seen to help Gaza. . So, as small as it is, whatever falls into the space in between those issues of Egyptian security, Egypt will then allow. So the trick is to pacify Egypt’s security issues enough so that you can travel to Gaza to deliver your aid, if that’s really what your mission is all about, without destroying the existing relationship Egypt has with Gaza, and/or completely shutting down the only way into Gaza, the Rafah crossing, which exists on Egyptian soil and which Egypt controls.
So destroying whatever relationship Egypt has with Gaza will certainly not help Gaza or Palestine. So unless Mr Nichols is prepared to overthrow the Egyptian government and replace it with another, it is foolish to destroy what relationship it does have with Gaza and the Gazan Government. I think even Hamas would agree.
Continuing with Egypt, what could jumping on a Greek ship in Al Arish accomplish for Gaza and future aid convoys wishing to travel to Gaza? Think about this, there is only one way to get into Gaza unless you want to try to take your convoy through Israel. And if that idea is not appealing to you, then you must go through Egypt’s Rafah crossing. So, Mr Nichols strategy of creating havoc with a ship in Al Arish, Egypt, could effectively ensure that no other ships will wish to deal with ANY international aid convoys heading to Gaza out of fear or mistrust, thanks to Mr Nichols strategy. This would then translate into no more land convoys being facilitated at Al Arish. So, Mr. Nichols strategy of delivering aid to Gaza: #1 fails because if the relationship with Egypt is destroyed then Rafah will be off limits to Activists. Strategy #2 the actions with the Greek ship (which was the same ship that took Viva Palestina without any trouble) could effectively create a future situation where no ships wish to deal with activists due to mistrust and fear of takeover.
Without overthrowing the Egyptian government and without ships willing to work with convoys, then no convoys will get to Gaza via Rafah anymore using Mr Nichols strategy of attacking Egypt and creating havoc with shipping companies or attacking countries where ships are registered. If this happens, here is my question: will Mr Nichols take his war to shipping companies and the countries like Greece or Libya or others where ships are registered around the world? Demanding they return to their former agreements which Mr Nichols own activity and strategy destroyed? And will he then also focus on overthrowing the Mubarak government so people can travel to Gaza again after he effectively destroys the existing routes and ways with his so called strategy? If he cannot overthrow the Egyptian government in order to make Egypt allow land convoys to cross to Gaza, then here is another question: Will he then create a land convoy to truly challenge the real siege and go through Israel? After all, everything he said about Egypt applies tenfold to Israel. Because Israel is the country responsible for the siege. Why does Mr Nichols not drive a van to the Erez border and behave as he did in Egypt? Demand that he, like tourists, be allowed to freely travel across Israel right into Gaza? It appears that Mr Nichols wants to focus his strategy on Egypt, Libya and Greece who have helped convoys and flotillas travelling to Gaza, and he wants to totally ignore Israel, why is this?
There is only one siege on Gaza and Israel is responsible for it, let us remember that Israel controls 4 land crossings, Egypt only Rafah, and that is the only one that is EVER open to Palestinians (or activists) who want to go in or out of Gaza or travel to other countries, or to receive delegations, convoys and visitors. Without Rafah activists would be forced to travel to Israel and try to convince them to let you through, a comical picture emerges. As if Israel would even allow activists entry in order to make it to the border with Gaza. So let us now picture Mr Nichols convoy sitting at the Israeli border demanding to cross to Gaza, just like he did with Egypt. But again, perhaps Mr Nichols could also overthrow the Israeli government, after he’s done getting rid of the Egyptian government. Then we’d truly have a free Palestine!
So now about his war on Greece: This one I found very interesting indeed. The supposed kidnapping accomplished two things, neither one good for Gaza or Palestinian activists around the world. Like the fight with Egypt, it also took the focus off of Israel and placed it onto Greece, a friendly country to activists. Greece is a country that is strategically very important to the Pro Palestinian cause internationally, because this is where most international flotillas sail from when they attempt to highlight and challenge the siege on Gaza. Should Greece decide dealing with Palestinian activists from around the world is too much of a problem and wish to stop cooperating, then what? Does Mr Nichols want to stop the ability of flotillas going to Gaza via Greece? Is this is agenda? Will he then organise a movement to overthrow the Greek Government (after he overthrows the Egyptian, Israeli and American governments)
So using these brilliantly thought out strategies belonging to Mr Nichols would effectively destroy the working relationship with Egypt to end land convoys and destroy the working relationship with Greece in sending flotillas. So, then we can all start practicing our sweet talking to the Israelis to let us cross Israel to get into Gaza. Comical indeed.
Let’s be realistic, the goal of most activists in the cause for Palestine and Gaza is to ease the suffering of those trapped under siege, highlight the siege itself, and bring the worlds governments and politicians on board to change this. As unpalatable as this is, only our own governments can effectively make any real change in foreign policy towards Israel/Palestine. Political work is very important, political work is what always ends wars, political work is what always creates peace process and ceasefires. Perhaps Mr Nichols should return to America and lobby his politicians along with other activists to make a change in US policy towards Palestine and Israel. Then we would see real change because America can hold sway over Israel if it chooses to do so.
And in each of our countries we should all be working in this at some level. For our governments to do that we must work hard to gain their support, bit by bit and one politician at a time. Yes this is a difficult task but it’s the only way forward politically for Palestine. Creating violent stand offs and verbally attacking various world governments does nothing to help gain their support, or to keep the support we currently have, even as small as it is.. The support that allows us to travel through Rafah and to sail from Greece to Gaza must not be destroyed as this would cause more suffering to people trapped in Gaza.
We should all remember that right now helping Palestine is a noble and moral cause, to help suffering people. This is exactly why regular non-political, non-activist people around the world donate money for medicine, medical equipment and supplies to those people travelling on convoys like Viva Palestina and to flotillas carrying humanitarian aid. So it is very important to keep the regular non-activist non-political people around the world on board with our humanitarian cause for Palestine, those who currently give money to aid convoys and flotillas because they are travelling to Gaza on peaceful humanitarian missions to help human beings. The bulk of the donations are from people just like this, if Mr Nichols wants to move the goal posts by changing the strategy to include violent stand offs, threats and picking fights with various countries around the world when he does not like their laws or governments then I certainly hope that Mr Nichols followers can pick up the slack in donations when the regular non-violent supporting folks drop out of this cause because of Mr Nichols strategies and agendas.
Mr Nichols likes to talk about peace and truth but there is nothing peaceful or truthful in his agenda. I will now turn to his strategy for his Death ship to Gaza next year. Or to use the title his propaganda website the Salem News wrote “Announcing Ken O’Keefe’s upcoming mission to free Gaza that is certain to bring about change, one way or another” One way or another? This is 100% correct, because it will either cause the deaths of many people, which the Salem News Propaganda site alludes to in this quote: “The resistance ships will reach Gaza and not be deterred. Perhaps this mission will end like the Mavi Marmara’s, in blood soaked decks. But maybe, possibly, it will be the final proof to Israel that the world isn’t going to stand for their oppressive behavior any longer”
Mr Nichols speaks of Truth. I would ask him to tell the truth now, about what he tells people in his local speaking events across the UK regarding his plan to send a ship that will break the siege once and for all. His plan? To fill the boat with ex-combatants who will fight the Israeli commandos at sea.. And he says this with a straight face no less! So a ship full of former soldiers and people who are up for a good fight with an armed Israeli commando will cause Israel to suddenly lift the siege forever? Some how I don’t think the Israeli army is shaking in its boots right now. But, what I do think is that this is a very welcome gift to Israel. Because it allows them to now say that Pro Palestinian activists are not non-violent and that activists are now actually planning to be violent and aggressive in advance.
Failing the murders of many people sailing on his Death ship to Gaza in 2011, his insane strategy, or his agenda, just like his former strategy of shutting down land crossings to Gaza by pissing off Egypt and Libya, the Death ship flotilla strategy will effectively end the worldwide support we currently have for Aid flotillas and stop any more from sailing or having support. His idea is not about humanitarian aid or highlighting Israel as the aggressor, it’s more about sacrificing human beings stupid enough to join him and turn the world against flotillas. Because up until now Israel was the aggressor, the outrage the world showed over the Mavi Marmara massacre was only because it was, in fact, Israel who plotted the attack, and not the activists. But now Mr Nichols wants to change all that and show the world Israel is correct in what it says about activists. And yes, we all get painted with the same brush, what gives Mr Nichols the right to destroy the support Pro Palestinian activist have worked so hard to get? Given that he has no boat yet, and it could take months to get one, just think of all the time Israel has to spread the word that Flotillas should be banned because they are planning in advance to be violent.
Another quote from the same propaganda site: “Apparently the Israeli government only understands resistance, and there are few times that resistance does not become violent. The plans underway are long in the making, and will only involve those who are committed to ending this struggle of Biblical proportions, by placing their lives in harm’s way.” So Mr Nichols wants you to die on his ship. I think if the staff of the Salem news propaganda site are so enthralled with Mr Nichols they should put their lives in his hands and join him with his death wish ship. How many of Mr Nichols followers want to die for him? This is beginning to appear like some odd cult of personality like Jim Jones and Guyana.
About funding and aid to Palestine: Mr Nichols says his boat will be a game changer. It certainly will. It will forever stop the millions of peace loving people who right now pay money to convoys and flotillas to sail to peacefully challenge Israel, who up until now have been the aggressors and the ones planning the attacks. Mr Nichols wants to change all that with his boat. He wants to put the focus on activists instead of Israel, he wants to make sure Israel can paint all of us with the same brush, which gives Israel, it’s supporters and even Egypt and other countries the excuse to stop ALL convoys and flotillas heading to Gaza forever. This is his strategy. So why would he want to take actions that will shut down all travel to Gaza for all of us? How does this help Gaza? How does this help our cause? Who does he work for?
Which brings me to my last thought on Mr Nichols. Why does Mr Nichols do all of this? Why does he bring chaos to everything he comes near? Is he politically challenged, incapable of seeing the big picture politically, just plain stupid, or does he continually seek the excitement of being the dangerous tough guy and could give a shit about the fallout after he gets his thrill and fame boost? Or is it something much more nefarious?
I found it quite strange that in the USA white American activists who attend protests are being investigated by the FBI their homes raided, yet shortly after the Mavi attack and after being interviewed numerous times where Mr Nichols verbally attacked Israel and according to Mr Nichols, physically attacked 3 of their soldiers, he was able to fly right into America, not interrogated, not investigated, and allowed to speak across the Pacific Northwest and also fundraise? Either the FBI and homeland security are thick as two short planks, or perhaps watching Mr Nichols activity and followers could be quite important to Homeland security, either with his knowledge or without it. Mr Nichols would appear to be an enemy of America’s closest friend Israel, and Mr Nichols celebrity and media coverage damaging to both America and Israel. But he’s allowed to fly in, speak and fundraise.
From everything I’ve seen this past year, all of his actions, and his continued actions, have all had one thing in common, the capability of closing down travel to Gaza for all of us in the future, be it land or sea. All of his actions have been focused on removing support from countries that currently cooperate with activists. And now we have the Death ship being planned publicly with the premise of attacking Israel at sea. This reminds me that in every resistance movement throughout our world history, there have always been, and always will be, infiltrators. When things always go wrong around a specific person, there is usually a reason. When plans don’t go as planned, there is usually a reason. When something or someone seems too good to be true, it usually is
Salem News link
Death Ship Planned
139. shirley on December 22nd, 2010 at 12:59:
Abunch of ball busters who now want to argue with palestinians time for the ball busters to get on there horses and ride off into the sunset to try and take on the next injustice after all it ends up being about their inflated egos and stops being about the cause like some Uni student looking for some social issue REBEL without a clue mary Rizzo has her view of what will work for Pals but it is only her view
140. LanceThruster on December 22nd, 2010 at 21:56:
It’s comments such as 138.Concerned Activist – December 21st, 2010 / 16:04 and Mary’s moderation that fosters such participation that makes this site such a valuable resource for learning and understanding.
I agree wholeheartedly with Concerned Activist’s take and well-reasoned analysis of the pitfalls in potentially making the ultimate goal of what’s best for Palestinians (as best can be determined/decided by them) of secondary importance.
One forgets the Mossad “by deception” motto at their own peril.
141. Maryam S on December 23rd, 2010 at 2:18:
I’m a bit perplexed by Shirley’s comment, though. Ball busters? Meaning what, and whom?
142. Miri on December 23rd, 2010 at 4:45:
One of the things I like best about this site, is that there is no censorship…unlike on the Salem News site, or O’Keefe’s fb page.
143. Robin on December 24th, 2010 at 15:35:
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Dykusarov has said.”A group of members from the pro-Palestinian organization Road to Hope boarded the ship during unloading operations in the Libyan port of Derna on November 10. The vessel was blocked. Among the attackers are the citizens of Britain, Morocco and Algeria. They said that a cargo of humanitarian aid, which they planned to load, was intended for the Palestinians, but no preliminary agreements were reached with the ship’s owner in this regard,” he said.Dykusarov said that since Libyan port police officers and law enforcers had not provided effective assistance in resolving the conflict, the captain of the ship, a Ukrainian citizen, had brought the ship out of the port at the order of the ship’s owner, with Libyan policemen and unauthorized
persons remaining on board.
This statement was issued by a spokesman from the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry
144. Anthony Hunt on December 30th, 2010 at 21:57:
Who needs enemies when you have allies like Mary Rizzo?
Western peace/justice movements are plagued by this rubbish. Really, does it have to descend into infighting and backstabbing every time?
145. Mary Rizzo on December 31st, 2010 at 8:20:
Anthony, how about being a little more “specific” rather than that generic This Rubbish and “infighting”. As a matter of fact, lack of transparency and urging activists to do things that are strategically harmful to Palestinians is something all activists have to be on guard against at all times. We ask for simple things, and one of them is to not create false narratives such as “being kidnapped” when the truth is that there were a few hotheads who believed they had a contract, but they did not, so they became bullies and demanded things that they could not have.
Unless you have read the entire piece, you will also realise that had the captain not acted in the way he did, Ken and the other nine might at this time actually be still sitting in Libyan detention centres. And, his “SOS” also could have endangered EVERY chance for sea passage to Gaza.
Think about who is “backstabbing” and who is “in” the movement and who is using it to advance his “hero status” so that he can always be considered a survivor worthy of attention and money.
146. Miri on December 31st, 2010 at 13:40:
Mary, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the semblance of politeness you requested of me a couple of weeks ago, as a condition of being allowed to have my comments posted here.
At the risk of sounding a bit martyrish, I am really weary of the attacks on you by microencephalic minds. Just once — ONCE! — I would love to see one of O’Keefe’s sycophants actually state something of actual — you know, something that is actually factual.
Not a one of them can do it, which is why they are so infantile that they would give you ‘the raspberry’ were it possible to do in cyberspace.
You have not censored any of these embedded underlings of O’Keefe, but I do think you waste to much time trying to reason with them (didn’t Socrates prove that it is impossible to reason with sophists?).
If I may offer some advice, it would be to simply let them bray.
PS We who refuse to deify Mr O’Keefe have all been censored (ha, ha. So much for that infantile slogan of ‘TPJ’, which is more hypocrisy, or possibly “EXCEPTIONALISM”). O’Keefe deleted me from his wall because he could not answer a single question I posed to him, and I guess he was afraid I might stir up ‘his masses.’ Salem ‘News’ (with its pathetic embeddedness dedicated exclusively to O’Keefe, his burning bush type passports, his tattoos, his mom, his self-fundraising) blocked me, apparently in perpetuity, from commenting on any of their pieces written for the deification of Mr. O’Keefe.
147. Palestine Think Tank » Analysis Hasbara Deconstruction Site » Karen Nakamura – The Question of Agents Provocateurs on January 3rd, 2011 at 9:40:
[…] December 6, 2010, the Palestine Think Tank published Mary Rizzo’s investigation into the Road to Hope Convoy (RHC) incident: Truth, Justice and Peace nearly sunk as RTH convoy facts emerge […]
148. Analysis Hasbara Deconstruction Site » Karen Nakamura – The Question of Agents Provocateurs « 63 Years Occupation is Enough | فلسطين on January 3rd, 2011 at 10:59:
[…] December 6, 2010, the Palestine Think Tank published Mary Rizzo’s investigation into the Road to Hope Convoy (RHC) incident: Truth, Justice and Peace nearly sunk as RTH convoy facts emerge […]
149. Mary Rizzo on January 3rd, 2011 at 11:36:
Miri, I agree. It should also be clear that while this site has allowed all types of “abusive” comments towards me, my own comment (non abusive!) on Ken’s own site has not “passed moderation”… Of course, the guy is busy… but before they throw the rock… I would like to see my comment go through! (not likely!!!)
yes, the “critics” of this peice and me have yet to actually come up with an argument. EVIDENCE or anything concrete and factual. It’s sad that they don’t even try. It shows that their allegiance is to Ken or to RTH and not so much to “truth” and Justice for Palestinians.
150. Miri on January 3rd, 2011 at 14:14:
The word “hypocrite” seems to come to mind with exponential frequency, of late.
Yet, it is not accurate enough.
151. Joanna on January 3rd, 2011 at 22:29:
Please, from one conscientious person to another, stop this! While it is true NO ONE can be trusted in this insane world…cynicism and paranoia, bitterness and spite are counterproductive. While no one would deny Ken has an “edge”, he is an admirably “evolved” person…he is not an enemy!!!
152. Miri on January 4th, 2011 at 9:14:
Joanna, why? Please explain why the questions surrounding the financial dealings and adrenaline-junkie – like actions of one individual must not be asked?
Why, despite his childish (not ‘childlike’) “TPJ” initials all over the place, nobody is supposed to ask him questions.
He can tell lie after lie, till the cows come home, but ‘conscientious’ folk such as yourself want the question askers to shut up.
Please, tell me, also, if you would have been there shoving that hemlock down Socrates throat, because he also just wouldn’t stfu with his questions?
153. Christina on January 12th, 2011 at 14:23:
RTH’s FB wall has been “dead” for, more or less, 40 days. Yesterday, January 11th, one of the FB group’s administrators decided that RTH FB group should re-live the “glorious” days of November! We can see the repeated messages by the group’s administrator claiming that no one has asked questions directly to RTH with regards to the convoy and the incident in Libya.
Is that so ? Well, let us have a quick look if there were indeed questions posed to RTH directly. Let us count the attempts made to “contact RTH directly”.
Road To Hope Official Website ( posted a press release on November 11th, 2010 titled “10 Convoy Members held hostage on Greek owned Ship”.
Herebelow, is the comment I had posted on RTH’s official website on November 11th, 2010, which comment is STILL awaiting MODERATION, i.e. RTH did not allow my comment to be posted!
The fact that the below comment never “passed” moderation, does NOT mean that questions had not been posed DIRECTLY to RTH. If RTH’s official website is not considered a DIRECT way to communicate with that organization, then what is ?
Your comment is awaiting moderation
Christina 11. Nov, 2010 at 11:02 pm #
FOOD FOR THOUGHTS: As far as I understand there are 2 scenarios:
First scenario: Activists claim that the master or the owner (who by the way are two different persons) have kidnapped 17 persons, while they have been paid $75.000 to execute a voyage from Libya to Egypt.
Second scenario: The ship-owner claims that he has been offered a freight of $75.000 to execute the voyage from Libya to Egypt. The vessel was waiting in Derna/Libya for more than 24hrs and the broker failed to submit a contract of carriage, let alone that money was never paid. After the 24hrs passed, the owner has decided to have the vessel sail for other destinations (other business) since no signed contract was submitted. Furthermore, the owner claims that shortly before ship’s departure, when activists realized that the vessel was about to sail, they have placed a vehicle on the ship’s ramp in order to prevent the sailing and at the same time about 15 activists INTRUDED into the vessel for the same reason and at the same time a few port police officers followed the intruders in an effort to keep the order. The vessel was at the initiation of departure maneuvers (Libyan sea pilot was already on board) and consequently the Master, at the absence of mooring men, has instructed the crew to cut off the mooring ropes (vessel’s property) in order to have the vessel sailed immediately in order to prevent the worst case scenario, i.e more INTRUDERS on board the vessel.
These are the two scenarios. Taking into consideration the above I have the following questions:
1) Have the activists boarded the vessel on their own will or has someone forced them ?
2) If we are talking about hostage, does anyone know what the ransom are ?
3) Who paid $ 75.000 ? Does anyone know the name of the person who paid this amount of money?
4) To whom was the $ 75.000 paid? Does anyone know the name of the person who received this amount of money?
5) If someone gave this amount of money to someone, obviously there should be a written agreement signed by two contracted parties at least for the purposes of this payment. Does anyone have a copy of this agreement ?
6) If payment was made by bank transfer, certainly there is a SWIFT copy issued by the paying bank. Alternatively, if the money was paid in cash, there should be a payment receipt. Does anyone have a copy of any of these two documents, SWIFT or payment receipt ?
If anyone can answer the above questions, then all of us will have a clear picture of what has really happened.
Ellie Merton posted a comment on PTT on December 9th, 2010. For your easy reference it is the 51st comment, as shown above.
Pursuant to Ellie Merton’s post, I had posted a comment on December 12th, 2010 stating, inter alia, what a pleasant surprise it was for someone officially representing RTH to finally appear.
You can read the comment above, it is the 60th comment.
In addition to my comment of December 12th, I had posted one more comment making it easy to RTH’s representative to answer, by outlining straight forward questions.
It is the 62nd comment as shown above.
There are quite a few comments under this article from a lady named Sam. Sam claimed to be a member of the convoy and that she has knowledge of the actual facts. Further to various posts from different persons asking straight forward questions to Sam, she gave selective replies.
On December 12th, Sam wrote: “ There is an internal review of the R2H convoy taking place and i’ve no doubt that all will be revealed in due course” (comment no. 59 above).
Then again, on December 15th: “As I’ve already stated. There will be in internal review of the R2H convoy. This will be done at a time of our convenience.” (comment no. 120 above)
Keep in mind that these comments, came from a person who claims she was a member of the convoy, claims she has knowledge of the actual facts and last but not least, who on her own volition entered into discussions with numerous people about the convoy.
Attempts 5,6,7,8,9,10,11, ……..:
All people posting on RTH’s FB wall asking questions about the incident & the convoy, all people posting comments on PTT asking questions DIRECTLY to RTH’s official liaison, who also commented under this article, asking questions to actual members of the convoy (as per their own admission) who also commented under this article.
To cut the long story short, RTH’s FB group administrator should not complain that people have NOT been asking questions DIRECTLY to RTH.
If posting on RTH’s official website is not considered as DIRECT communication, then what is ?
If posting on RTH’s FB group is not considered as DIRECT communication, then what is? And I will ask anyone to spare me with the silly excuse that FB is not an official way of communicating, because from the moment the representatives of an organization use FB to communicate with people, use FB to post “PRESS RELEASES”, use FB to post “updates” of a situation, use FB to answer directly to specific persons, use FB to slander specific people and then BAN them from their group, use FB to collect DONATIONS for the purposes of a convoy, then FB IS indeed a DIRECT way of communication.
RTH’s representatives & administrators cannot have it both ways. They cannot use FB as a “marketing” tool and as a communications mean depending on the “case”. Either it is a way for everyone to be able to communicate with RTH directly or it is NOT. It can’t be both.
154. xa on January 13th, 2011 at 6:27:
Y’know, I think Ken is *still* in Gaza.
155. Christina on January 13th, 2011 at 8:49:
@ xa:
Why should anyone be “interested” in the whereabouts of Ken O’ Keefe?
156. xa on January 13th, 2011 at 18:20:
It’s interesting for this reason: Everyone who goes to Gaza goes because they can offer something to the people of Gaza. People know that Gazans will be so grateful for the solidarity, they would give you the last bit of food they have – so you make a point of NOT staying long.
The only people who stay after going to Gaza are doctors, engineers, builders etc. People with skills.
Ken has now been there for 6 weeks, giving nothing except the chance to adore him.
157. xa on January 20th, 2011 at 12:41:
From facebook, sorry about the formatting:
BY SONETTE ABOUD ROAD TO HOPE CONVOY OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2010 I decided to join the Road to Hope Convoy on the 23 October 2010 flying from Heathrow with 20 other “hopefuls” to Tripoli. The plan…… was to meet up with the convoy in Tripoli and drive from there to the Egyptian border. Right from the start things did not go our way. Our flight from Heathrow was delayed with about 6 hours. First I was told to be at the Airport at 10am to meet up with the rest of the convoy members. While I drove to Heathrow I phoned Mustapha in London, who told me to be at the airport at 12pm. Eventually we only left after 7pm that night! When we arrived in Tripoli it was already late at night and we were informed to wait in the arrivals area, while our visa’s could be sorted out. Mohammed came to welcome us at the airport. After several hours of sitting around, we realised that all the airport staff went home and that we will have to sleep in the airport and wait for the morning before we would be able to leave the airport! Some of the local people came into the airport and presented us all with beautiful roses as a welcoming gift; that was very touching! The Libyan staff were very friendly and helpful and offered food and drinks free of charge as we needed it. Unfortunately some of the Road to Hope members abused this hospitality to such an extent that they stopped all free food in the morning, and we had to buy everything we needed. I was shocked to find out that certain members of our convoy were taking handfuls of food and drinks just because it was “free”! We also find out that the reason for our long delay at the airport was that certain important documentation was not send to the customs before we arrived. They were not informed that a convoy will arrive, had no details of our names, passports, etc. This was an “oversight” of the London office and caused many hours of sitting around at the airport. Later that day we were taken to a very nice location where we could rest and enjoyed a fabulous Libyan lunch. The people were very hospitable and even took us for a short sightseeing visit to the centre of Tripoli before we had to get the plane to Benghazi later that evening. Although this was very enjoyable, it was not part of the original schedule. I was under the impression that we would meet up with the convoy in Tripoli and that we would drive together to Benghazi. Obviously this was never the plan because the convoy was ALREADY in Benghazi! We flew to Benghazi and arrived at about 1.30am in the morning at our hostel for the night. The road convoy members were all asleep when we arrived, so we only met up the following morning over breakfast. Kearan called a meeting to brief us all about the plans for the rest of the trip. Mohammed Al Haddad called his own meeting with the Bristol group who arrived by plane and immediately demanded that we each pay £1000 towards the Convoy expenses!
This took us all totally by surprise! He said that an e-mail was sent to inform us all about this and that we should have brought the monies with us to Libya! I never received any such e-mail and was never informed about any contribution ex……cept our own personal expenses. The way Mohammed “demanded” this money was very distasteful and made us feel quite uncomfortable. Dave Chapell asked him to discuss this issue with each member of the group INDIVIDUALLY and then we could in private discuss our contributions. Kieran briefed us about the convoy and we were told to get our vans in order ready to leave. While we were outside at the vehicles, Kieran made an urgent request for a collection of £12,000 for 2 white vans that were bought and had to be paid for at that moment before the convoy could leave. I could not believe my ears! How could they buy 2 vehicles and hope that they would collect £7000 in 1 hour!!!!!! (As Judith said in her report, why did we need the vehicles if the leaders knew we would have a problem at the border?) At this stage I started thinking that there was very little organisation and that the leadership of Road to Hope is not up to scratch! People were handing money to Kieran from all over, they got into different vans to go to the nearest bank to get more money, and I was astonished when Shahid from our Bristol group gave them ALL HIS MONEY (£350) because he “wanted to be the first” to contribute to this wonderful course. I knew that he had absolutely no money left and that the convoy still had at least 2-3 weeks ahead! The one thing that really worried me was the lack of Aid from the Libyans. There were a few bags of clothes dropped off and as far as I could see that was the only Aid donations at that stage. I can recall that we were told in Bristol to not take a lot of aid because we will need the space for the aid from Libya. Our van was almost empty and we only had a few boxes of food stuff, Judith’s mom’s beautiful knitted toys and our own personal belongings. We were told that they collected about £4000 from the convoy members, the vans were paid for (?) and we left in the middle of a sand storm. The storm became worse and worse and about 20 minutes after leaving the hostel our van broke down. This event is fully documented in Judith’s report. I totally agree that this van was not up to scratch and we could have been in serious difficulties if it had broken down in the desert far away from a mechanic! The rest of that week we spent driving from reception to reception and although we had a fantastic social time with the locals, valuable time was wasted and we could have reached the Egyptian border much quicker! Although that would have made no difference because we could not go through it. I cannot add anything more to what Judith already pointed out, except that we had absolutely no communication from the leaders about what was happening! Eventually, after we demanded to know what the plans were, we were told that Egypt will not allow us through the border by road! We heard different stories every day, and at that stage Mohammed had left the convoy under a cloud of speculation. After a few days sitting at the border we did find out that: …… there was no negotiations going on between the convoy and the border patrol; …… that we were waiting to join Al Quds the following week …….that we are getting a ship to take us to El Arish the following week …….that Mohammed was arrested in Libya for stealing money, vehicles, abusing police authority,etc! The list goes on and on. I was very worried about our food supplies and also the water was running low. We were asked to give all our spare change and Libyan money for last minute medicine shopping from a pharmacy in the nearby town; so many people had no Libyan money at all. English pounds is really difficult to change, so a lot of people were sitting without food and money for a unspecified time! Ibrahim went to the town one morning with the local police to get some provisions for a few meals, which lasted about 2 days! I decided to leave the convoy on the 30 October when we were told that Al Quds will not join us and that the convoy will have to wait for a ship. I was absolutely gutted to return without been able to get to Gaza but I knew that it was the right decision at that stage. Ten of us flew back to Tripoli. Mohammed arrived on the plane just before departure to wish us a safe trip back and to inform us that he organised the flights. We were totally taken by surprise because we were told that he was arrested. In fact just before we left the airport building Ally sent a text to Adam to tell him that Mohammed was arrested by the Libyan police!!!!!! We arrived in Tripoli and all of us were booked into a very nice hotel and were told that “Colonel Mohammed” will be paying for our expenses! I must say I was very surprised that we we staying in an obviously expensive hotel and that it was totally unnecessary! Some of the members flew back the Sunday evening and some on the Monday but because Dave, myself, Martin and Adam had pre-paid tickets we could only leave on the Wednesday. It soon became clear that the hotel manager was getting anxious for payment and his original friendliness became quite strained over the 3 days that we stayed in his hotel.. We still did not know who was going to pay for the hotel bills. We had constant visits from Abu Bilal and his brother who helped everyone with sorting out their tickets and he also gave us information about another group that returned from the convoy but were staying in “cheaper” hotels! We could not find out where they stayed. The Tuesday evening before I came back to to UK, I went out for dinner with Adam and Dave
On our return back at the hotel (about 11pm) Abu Bilal and some of his friends were waiting for us in the lobby of the hotel and informed us that Mohammed was coming to see us. Mohammed arrived and had a meeting with us about the events ove……r that past week. He said the following: Kieran knew that the convoy would not be allowed to cross the border by land. That all convoys MUST get into Gaza by air or by sea. Kieran said that they should just arrive at the border and see what happens. That he, Mohammed, gave Kieran £12,000 to pay for the vans and that the money that was collected was part of the re-payment of the vans, as well as the £500 donations that we got. That he, Mohammed, was “fired” from the Convoy. That he was still negotiating on behalf of the convoy to get a ship, etc That he will sort out the hotel bill It was all very confusing and definitely not clear at all! At this stage the hotel had to be paid and Mohammed and Abu stayed behind to sort it out with the hotel manager. I went to bed and have no further knowledge of what happened after that. We left the next morning after breakfast and came back to the UK. MY OBSERVATIONS: I personally think that this convoy was put together without proper planning and forward thinking. We were all mislead about many aspects of the organisation of it. What absolutely astonish me is the fact that most of the people in management have been on several convoys before….have they not learn anything from previous experiences? It was very clear that Kieran was far from been in control. He kept his meetings and negotiations very much under wraps. Why? The purchasing of 5 vehicles by Mohammed was totally unnecessary and should have been discussed and approved by the BGL members before it was done! We must make sure that we buy the best vehicles we can afford and get them to Gaza within budget; NOT WORRY ABOUT GETTING MONEY TOGETHER WHILE WE ARE ON THE CONVOY! Road to Hope is not a religious convoy nor is it a predominant Muslim convoy! There are certain people on this convoy that behaved in a unexceptional manner because they wanted a Muslim convoy without women and “non-believers” as we were called. That should be addressed and be dealt with, not be ignored by management. We had a member who behaved in a provocative and unacceptable manner most of the time! Management overlooked this and never addressed the issue seriously. I was quite ashamed to be associated with him. There were absolutely no communication between members and management until we reached a crisis situation at the border! This resulted in many rumours flying around camp, very few true and many people totally misinformed about what was really happening. If there was a scheduled meeting EVERY morning with the CORRECT information on a daily basis, it will be easier to plan and prepare for unforeseen difficulties. Some convoy members came on this trip without the necessary financial backing to see them through a crisis situation. I know that there are people on that convoy as we speak who cannot fly home because they have no money with them. All expenses and running costs should be carefully monitored, recorded and budgeted for, so there are no arguments and last minute panics about paying for things. Donations should be used for GAZA and NOTHING else! Why are we using donations for purchases and Convoy expenses? Who keeps track of the outgoings? All the participating vehicles should have a basic tool kit, First aid kit and food supply to last at least 3 weeks!Each vehicle should be in a good road worthy condition. Why are we taking non-roadworthy wrecks to Gaza?This is not the rubbish dump of the world! Since I have been back I made contact with many people who are living in Gaza and they need things like dictionaries, educational material, proper medicines etc. We could get correct information from them before we go again. Each convoy members should be BRIEFED about what is expected of him/her, their duties and responsibilities and this should be enforced throughout the journey! Before leaving the UK each person must have a CLEAR understanding what is lying ahead. I also think that it is essential that each convoy member has at least £1000 for his/her PERSONAL expenses and to pay for unexpected flights, accommodation, etc! While I were on the convoy it became clear that some people had very little knowledge or no knowledge about Gaza or Palestine. They were part of the convoy to have a good Any member of the convoy that is not following proper rules and procedures must immediately be send back to his/her country. We cannot have people deciding that they will not follow leadership, doing their own thing and driving without the rest of the convoy! We are a group with the same aim and that is to get to Gaza and break the siege……with all the internal fighting, disagreements and lack of information, I felt like Gaza became a very secondary thought! Why are we continuing to fund this obviously doomed convoy? Would it not be better to give that $75,000 directly to people in Gaza for projects and the community?????? Why do we fund a ship with little aid and a few people to go to Gaza? More to the point, why is there an internet appeal for MORE funds to get these people to Gaza?????
Lastly where is this money? Looking at the Road to Hope website, there are all sorts of speculations and innuendos. Ken even had his own appeal for funds from his friends! Are WE now the charity cases? In conclusion: I think that there are ……far better, more efficient and cost effective ways to get to Gaza. In a previous meeting I have suggested that we freight the aid to El Arish by ship and then we could buy a decent truck/bus to get the aid to Gaza. Members wgho want to join the convoy can fly to El Arish from Cairo. Why do we have to drive 1000’s of miles with loads of convoy members for weeks on end, to get aid to Gaza? I can understand that part of having a land convoy is to have the awareness, but quite frankly there have been very little positive media coverage, except for the hijacking of the ship, which is raising interesting questions and comments. The awareness that we did raise have been in countries who are already on board! We must run a much tighter ship as far as the finance is concerned, and start fund-raising well in advance before the next attempt to take aid to Gaza. We need good quality aid and goods that are NEEDED so we need to get proper feedback from people who are living IN Gaza. No member of the management team must be allowed to buy any goods or items at random without a proper meeting with at least 10 members of BGL present. Decisions how to spend donations need to be discussed and voted on so we can get the best use out of the money available. We need a guide book on what every convoy member need to take with on a trip regardless of how we get to Gaza. Very few new people who went on R2H had any idea of what to take with them, myself included. Last but not least we are all working for one goal and that has to be the priority at all time! Bickering amongst convoy members and violence must have a zero tolerant approach and anyone who make him/herself part of that must be dealt with! Hopefully we could have another Aid mission in the very near future with a positive outcome.
158. Gordon Sturrock on January 22nd, 2011 at 6:18:
My criticisms of Ken here and elsewhere have nothing to do with his personality, I actually like him. But he and I are not in the same peace movement. I would call Ken’s movement the “armed resistance” movement. It’s failure is certain and will be measured in dead bodies, 9 so far.
159. Miri on January 22nd, 2011 at 11:20:
Interesting about O’Keefe still being in Gaza (and also how he managed to enter, and be allowed to stay, considering he’s considered ‘terrorist’ by Israel).
When he first arrived, he was passing his money hat for funds for his ‘video a day’ idea. Considering that memory cards are REUSABLE, I couldn’t figure this fundraiser out.
I’ve also noticed that there has not be a ‘video a day,’ and with the exception of the video on the little girl with a genetic neurologic problem, the few that have been posted begin with him interviewing himself.
What is he doing, and why is he there? As Xa has rightfully noted, on the occasions that Israel lets people in, they are either there to ‘witness,’ or there to do something (such as when health care practitioners are given permission for humanitarian work). Question marks about Nichols O’Keefe’s continued presence abound in my head.
He has been there for so long that not even he seems able to stir the pot of excitement any longer, among his underlings…
160. Anthony Hunt on January 23rd, 2011 at 17:14:
I’ve known Ken for many years now and I want to offer a few observations.
Firstly, though, I just want to say that the musings on Ken’s reasons for still being in Gaza come across as facile and snide to me. Perhaps instead of insinuating motives you should ask him. Just sayin’.
With regard to the suggestions that Ken might be an agent provocateur I have to say that the thought has briefly crossed my own mind in the past (it should when you’re dealing with the powers we’re all dealing with), but I was never so irresponsible as to actually air this fleeting thought in public. If you’re going to suggest such a thing you should have some concrete evidence, otherwise we should assume the accuser is trying to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt. You can never be sure about anyone (including someone you’ve married if we are to believe recent reports in the UK news) but I’ve known Ken long enough to be very sure that he is nothing of the sort. When you talk and argue with someone enough you learn some of the flaws in their arguments and, paradoxically, it is these flaws that can give you an insight into someone’s sincerity.
He certainly has his weaknesses, including a tendency toward the grandiose. But I would call him more of an egoist than an egotist. And when it comes to his understanding of logistics we can safely say he has some work to do. But then good logistics people aren’t exactly the best people to change the world now are they. But his inability to realistically evaluate logistics or utilise them harmoniously in his actions is, I believe, his biggest potential roadblock. Indeed I think it’s this weakness that has given rise to this post and the subsequent innuendo about being an agent provocateur.
As is often the case with controversial figures like Ken his weaknesses are integrally tied to his strengths. He has creative ideas for resistance and and is willing to try them. Does he want to go down in history for such ideas? Probably, but that’s hardly a powerful criticism. No doubt his greatest strength is his ability to talk and to respond fluently in interviews. (imagine if Noam Chomsky had Ken’s interviewee skills!). It’s this ability that we should try to exploit.
A note to Gordon: I think it’s misguided to call Ken a part of an armed resistance. Disarming commandos while defending the Mari Marmara doesn’t suddenly make you part of an armed resistance. Firstly, he and a number of people had it within their power to kill Israeli commandos. They didn’t. An armed resistance would have jumped at the chance. Secondly, the employment of different strategies, some of which may straddle non-violence and armed resistance have a long history in effective peace movements.
The South African anti-apartheid movement is a good example and I would suggest Ken’s activities regarding Palestine are more akin to these than Gandhi’s strategies against the British Empire.**
Nelson Mandela actually co-founded the armed resistance wing of the ANC but even he, ultimately, was part of a movement for peace, justice and democracy.
Indeed a denial of this nuanced reality is what lead you to the fallacious conclusion that Ken is part of an armed resistance in the first place. Clearly, by any sensible definition of the term, he’s not. Sure, criticise his strategies all you like but to argue that he’s not part of the peace movement is a distraction at best. There is a preponderancy toward this sort of thing in the Western wings of the peace movement; getting embroiled in semantic arguments about whose credentials are legitimate, etc.
If there is any single enemy stopping us from building a more equal, just and peaceful world it is us and our preponderance toward disunity. We need to stop distracting ourselves and get on with things in solidarity.
** As a side note, the strategy employed by Gandhi—and those before and after him—isn’t about avoiding all violence. The strategy is one of confrontation and of avoiding violence *against your opponent* (in a bid to bring about a change of heart). It isn’t a strategy to avoid violence toward oneself. The point I’m making here is that the peace movement, while very much guided by principles of non-violence, isn’t about creating a fictional absence of violence. It is about minimising inter-human violence and achieving a peace that will allow us to continue into the future without annihilating ourselves. Remember too, Gandhi himself argued that, while inferior to non-violence, violent resistance was better than cutting and running.
161. miri on January 23rd, 2011 at 19:42:
Dear Mr. Hunt:
Please forgive me for coming across as “snide;” “snark” was what I had actually been attempting.
Your suggestion to ‘just ask Ken,’ is an excellent one. In fact, I have tried that. I asked him several questions after this cluster*** hijack attempt, and the only ‘answers’ I received from him came via an attempt to bully me on my fb wall, while emphatically stating lies such as “the captain was arrested,” and then simply deleting me from his fb account, so I might no longer sully his reputation with my apparently rather annoying questions.
This Strofades IV ship carried the VP 5 convoy, without incident. Might that have been because payment was made by VP 5, and also because O’Keefe was not involved with that convoy?
Besides himself, who made O’Keefe the great white hope of the Palestinians under occupation? Certainly it has not been the Palestinians, himself, though he has not infrequently written that he has ‘almost unanonymous’ support of them.
From my readings of O’Keefe’s own writings, on his many, many websites, it is obvious for any with ‘eyes that see,’ that he is not merely an “egoist,” but a thieving, narcissistic one, at that. He has found himself a nice “Palestinian Cottage Industry,” remarkably not unlike the ADL’s “Holocaust Industry,” by which to continually line his pockets.
Do you remember when the massacre occured on the Mavi Marmara?
It was the night of May 31 – June 1st 2010.
Now, please go to his website, where you will find his advertisement to “invest” in his gargantuan ‘flotilla’ plan (which is completely unrelated to the international flotilla that is currently being organized).
Press the “donate” button.
You will arrive to the Paypal account for “KEN O’KEEFE’S STOLEN PROPERTY FUND.”
I know of no other activist who has ever grubbed money for himself while stomping on the decaying bones of martyrs.
Almost nine months later, he continues to do so — with impunity.
162. Anthony Hunt on January 23rd, 2011 at 21:00:
It definitely was snide. There are other commenters here who I was aiming my criticism at anyway. They could ask him without encouraging your aspersions.
Regarding his ‘stolen property fund’ he had a laptop and cameras stolen by the IDF. I know him to have very little income (but that doesn’t stop you from insinuating otherwise does it!). And asking for help is “stomping on the decaying bones of martyrs”? Really, you need to get off your high horse.
He could certainly do with updating his website or paypal. Like I said… logistics.
I don’t blame him for not wanting to talk to you. You sound like a sad obsessed little person to me.
163. Christina on January 24th, 2011 at 5:13:
@ Anthony:
You wrote “But then good logistics people aren’t exactly the best people to change the world now are they.”
True! Logistics people are not the ones who will change the world. However, a leader (either of a convoy or a project or a company or whatever) who is aware of his weaknesses seeks advice from the experts or even hires them. It’s impossible for a leader to have expertise/knowledge in each & every task involved in a project. That is why the leader forms a group of people, each being an expert in a different field. The problem arises when the leader believes that he has the skills & knowledge to cover all aspects of a project by himself and also when he is unwilling or incapable of functioning within a team and do team-work. An example is the VP5 convoy, which used people with expertise & knowledge in order to carry out the various tasks.
“Leadership” is something that inspires unity, admission and respect and this is something that is earned and certainly not enforced within a team. Allow me to clarify that I exclude all hot-heated, fanatic, blind and infirm “followers”, who run behind any leader, regardless if this leader is a religious leader or a political leader or a football team’s leader or an army officer, etc.
I have noticed that various commentators of this article have a peculiar way of stating their opinions. They seem to follow a pattern of “us and Ken” as well as “Ken and convoy”. This pattern may lead to personality cult and I wonder what is next? “Ken and RTH” or “Ken & flotilla” or maybe “Ken & Palestine” ?
I am dealing with Ken O’Keefe, here, in his capacity as the convoy’s leader and not on a personal level. He might be the most joyful man to hang out with, but here I can only state my opinion(s) about him as the convoy’s leader, since this was his “title”.
With regards to the weakness of Ken O’ Keefe in logistics, I believe that this is not his only weakness as a leader. I believe you have read the article above and I am in hope that you have also read the various journals written by RTH’s convoy members (these journals can all be found in the internet). People who have actual, direct and full knowledge of the events have all admitted that the convoy’s operations were a fiasco.
Ken O’Keefe, together with 9 more convoy members, boarded the MV Strofades IV, without permission. They boarded the vessel without having any contractual agreement in force for the charter of the vessel . It is very important to keep in mind that Ken O’Keefe had knowledge of the fact that there was no agreement whatsoever. After boarding the vessel, always without permission, he denied to disembark despite the repetitive orders given by the vessel’s Master to do so. When the vessel initiated sailing maneuverings another 9 members of the convoy literally jumped on the vessel’s ramp and joined Ken O’Keefe. All 10 of them kept denying to disembark. From the moment the vessel sailed from Derna and up to this moment, Ken O’Keefe passionately claims that he was kidnapped.
Either Ken O’Keefe knows very well that he was NOT kidnapped, ergo he is lying or he truly believes that he was actually kidnapped, therefore his judgment is questionable.
In the former case, he is incompetent as a leader and in the latter he is dangerous.
Another imperative virtue of a leader is to acknowledge his mistakes and take all necessary actions to rectify them. I accept, in good faith, what you say that Ken O’Keefe has not updated his website regarding the “stolen property fund” due to his poor logistics skills. However, since this negligence of his has been brought to his attention almost 2 months now, he should have rectified it spit spot.
An additional skill required by a leader is to have “diplomatic” manners at certain occasions. It’s not wise to publicly call a country’s political leader a dictator and a Zionist, regardless if this is true or not, when at the same time you need this country’s permission to cross its borders and also need issuance of Visas for all convoy members. When you do so, you jeopardize the whole convoy’s mission, let alone the mission of the future convoys.
You mention that “his greatest strength is his ability to talk “.
Although I am not amazed by his “interviewee skills”, it seems that he is likeable to some. No doubt that the rhetorical talent is a great advantage for a leader. What is of importance though, is how one utilizes this talent. Let us remember Winston Churchill but also, let us never forget Adolf Hitler.
Last but not least, it’s not a weakness for someone to not have the required “leadership” skills. In large movements, the success of a mission depends mostly on the members & volunteers and not on their leader. It is easier to appoint or replace one leader than to find or replace 500 or 1000 members and volunteers. I truly believe that Ken O’Keefe could probably offer much more as a volunteer or member of a movement rather than a leader. And even if he has some sort of problem with authority or team-work, he can always offer much to the cause as a freelancer. He can just take interviews from Palestinians, make videos & report from Gaza, become the new Michael Moore of Near East or organize events for Palestine.
164. Anthony Hunt on January 24th, 2011 at 8:25:
Would that be the same Winston Churchill that first gassed the Kurds? No thanks, I won’t be remembering him either.
“An additional skill required by a leader is to have “diplomatic” manners at certain occasions. It’s not wise to publicly call a country’s political leader a dictator and a Zionist …”
Some things are more important than immediate logistics Christina.
165. Mary Rizzo on January 24th, 2011 at 9:32:
if your task is getting an “aid convoy through”, logistics are the first, second and third most crucial matter. Nothing else has priority in that moment.
166. Gordon Sturrock on January 24th, 2011 at 14:18:
Regarding the claim made above, “Gandhi himself argued that, while inferior to non-violence, violent resistance was better than cutting and running”, this is highly misleading because it leaves off a third option, the Gandi way, documented below:
source: :
Gandhi said that the non-violent activist, like any soldier, had to be ready to die for the cause. And in fact, during India’s struggle for independence, hundreds of Indians were killed by the British.
The difference was that the non-violent activist, while willing to die, was never willing to kill.
Gandhi pointed out three possible responses to oppression and injustice. One he described as the coward’s way: to accept the wrong or run away from it. The second option was to stand and fight by force of arms. Gandhi said this was better than acceptance or running away.
But the third way, he said, was best of all and required the most courage to stand and fight solely by non-violent means.
Source: Mahatma Gandhi and His Myths- By Mark Shepard
167. maryam on January 24th, 2011 at 15:37:
Don’t be sidetracked by asking whether we should even be discussing Gandhi in the same breath as our discussion on O’Keefe. O, please, let’s not go there.
Nuts and bolts – horrendously poor judgment in putting together and executing the R2H convoy operations. Lying about being kidnapped. Wasting donor money in large amounts. Financial unaccountability. Now, by his own admission on Facebook, he’s associating with an admitted Freemason, a photographer whose projects include soft core porn. I’m not holding my breath waiting for O’Keefe to impress me.
168. miri on January 24th, 2011 at 19:15:
Clarification for Mr Hunt: “Snark” is more severe than “snide,” and I’m sorry it was merely perceived as the latter.
Once again, though, an O’Keefe friend ignores fraud, other forms of theft by deception, lying, attempted piracy which nearly led to a very bad international incident, etc., etc., ad nauseum ad infinitum, to come on board, and give lessons in politeness.
Bravo, Sir.
169. Christina on January 25th, 2011 at 12:19:
“Some things are more important than immediate logistics”
What things? Acts of symbolism? Raising awareness about the tyrannical regimes of various countries? Showing solidarity to the oppressed people of any country having a dictator?
Yes, some things are more important than logistics, immediate or not.
But there is a time & place for everything.
Organizing a freedom flotilla to try to break the siege is an act of symbolism. It has happened and will happen again.
Organizing humanitarian convoys shows solidarity to the oppressed and is an actual act of relieving, even to the minimum extend, the pain of some people.
Organizing events to raise funds is also a humanitarian act.
But when do all these things take place ?
Certainly not when the organization in charge of this convoy has shown maximum negligence in taking all necessary actions and arrange for all documents to be in order, A PRIORI.
Certainly not, when the organization itself, due to insufficient management, leaves the convoy members stranded in the Libyan/Egyptian borders for 3 weeks, grosso modo.
Certainly not, when the organizers have not ensured a vessel to bring the vehicles from Libya to Egypt and has not booked flights for the convoy members to travel from Libya to Egypt.
In situations where the success of a convoy depends on voluntary work offered by numerous people, logistics (immediate or not) and documentation, time is of the essence and actions to rectify the mess have to be taken immediately.
The convoy’s leader either ostentatiously ignored a country’s prevailing regulations and decided not to abide with the rules, hence demand crossing of the borders or the leader was not aware of the regulations and when the convoy arrived at the borders, they were all caught by surprise.
In both cases, the organizers & the leader did not show due diligence.
So, you have a group of 100+ people, carrying aid worth of several hundred pounds, stranded in North Africa and there are 2 solutions only:
a) To make all necessary arrangements to immediately charter a vessel & book flights for the people to fly from Libya to Egypt
b) To “camp” in the borders DEMANDING crossing and land passage, by alerting the world to contact all Egyptian embassies & demand from everyone to lobby the Egyptian government.
Evidently, the leader chose the second solution. “Immediate logistics” according to the leader’s judgment were not “important” and imperative at that point of time and decided to act alternatively. I presume that being stranded for 3 weeks in the borders and demanding crossing was an action of symbolism, solidarity, determination, brave & bold behavior or anything else that is “more important than immediate logistics”.
What was the outcome? Well, history speaks for itself. After 3 weeks, the leader finally understands that Egypt will not allow crossing & passage whatsoever and starts taking actions of finding a vessel to charter. But when the attempt to charter a vessel was also unsuccessful and the leader together with a couple of other “negotiators” failed to reach an agreement with a shipping company, then the “kidnapping” fiasco took place.
Back to ZERO. Around 100 convoy members (actually, minus the 10 who were allegedly “kidnapped”) again stranded in Libya, no accommodation, no money, no light at the end of the tunnel!
The “more important things than immediate logistics” resulted to an incident that reached international diplomatic levels, a number of convoy members returning back home without fulfilling their mission, loss of money, loss of reputation, loss of faith.
So, logistics (immediate or not) are not important when you have a leader together with 9 more persons in Greece, 1 vehicle abandoned on a vessel, 29 vehicles on board another vessel which has reached the final destination of El Arish/Egypt and about 30 convoy members stuck somewhere between Derna & Tobruk in Libya, but “other things are more important” in chaotic situations like this one. It is more important to provoke the governments of 3 countries (Libya, Egypt & Greece) & call their political leaders dictators & Zionists, at the same time when you need them the most and you absolutely depend on them, in a last & despair effort to gather the convoy’s pieces, which have been scattered in 2 continents thanks to the leader’s skills !
170. Anthony on February 4th, 2011 at 14:07:
Today we’re on the brink of liberation in Egypt. And if the dictatorship in Egypt falls so it is likely the siege of Gaza will too.
It seems to me a few of you need to go back to the drawing board. Clearly O’Keefe had his finger on the pulse with regard to Mubarak and you didn’t. As I said, some things are more important than immediate logistics. Sometimes speaking out is more important than diplomacy toward the ruling elite. The Egyptian people have been crying out for solidarity in their criticism of Mubarak.
It’s worth noting, too, the tactics of the heroes in Egypt. Peaceful demonstrations, but ready to actively defend themselves against violent attack, just as those on the Mavi Marmara.
171. Mary Rizzo on February 7th, 2011 at 11:51:
PTT has been on record as criticising Mubarak and the REGIME since day one! Maybe you need to look back some! We have only supported the Arab People, their own rights and their aspirations. No western leaders need to tell them what is necessary! those who contribute here have been speaking out probably several decades prior to O’Keefe!

Mubarak in a cage

← ويلٌ للعرب  Aug 3 Posted by Politirature .

★ Limited but violent clashes took place between activists and a pro-Mubarak group of about fifty persons outside the exceptional courtroom in the Police Academy.
★ They took Mubarak on a medically equipped helicopter from Sharm El Sheikh hospital in Sinai to the courtroom in Cairo.
★ Only a limited number of the lawyers of the prosecution (our guys) were allowed into the courtroom, on other hand, almost all defense attorneys (Mubarak guys) were allowed in.
★ The judge Ahmed Refaat is well known and said to be clean but a close friend of mine lives in his building told me that he was a close friend of Mubarak and they used to play Squash (Mubarak’s favorite game) together.
★ Someone announced that the defendants are coming in, the courtroom murmured and like movies, the judge silenced everyone.
★ Habib Al-Adly made his way to the cage first, followed by other defendants and the two sons of the former president Alaa & Jamal, and Mubarak.
★ Mubarak entered the cage on a hospital bed.
★ All the defendants were wearing white prison suits but Al-Adly came in blue because he was convicted in another case.
★ The judge reminded everyone with the courtroom rules and he made sure that all defense attorneys are present.
★ All the lawyers began to tell the judge their notes and demands, those of Mubarak took the whole time and the judge was very nervous and unable to control the courtroom, the atmosphere became very tense.
★ Farid El-Deeb, the famous lawyer and his dream team were defending Mubarak and Al-Adly while most of the lawyers of the prosecution were unkown, camera slaves and the event was bigger than them.
★ Farid El-Deeb said he wants to bring 1600 witnesses to court.
★ A weird lawyer told the judge that Mubarak died in 2004 and the one in the cage is a fake one planted by Israel and USA to keep the conspiracy going, and he asked for a DNA test.
★ After the fight on the microphone between lawyers was over, Public prosecutor read out the accusations against Mubarak, his two sons & his minister of interior including ordering and managing the attacks by Egyptian Police on peaceful protesters and supplying weapons, live amunition & armoured vehicles for the attacks. He also listed the billions of Egyptian pounds that were stolen by Mubarak, his two sons and the billionaire Hussein Salem.
★ Mubarak and his two sons denied all charges.
★ The Judge decided that Mubarak stays in The International Medical Center on Cairo-Ismaillia road and said that the second session to be held on August the 15th with his two sons.
★ Habib Al-Adly Session #2 to be held tomorrow at 9:00 am CLT.

★ Dismissed !

Short analysis
Why did they postpone Mubarak’s trial to the 15th and not tomorrow or after tomorrow ? Why did Mubarak’s lawyer Farid El-Deeb wants to listen to 1600 witnesses ? Farid and maybe SCAF are playing on TIME, Egyptian people are kind and sometimes naive, we always forget and forgive with time, we always repeat the same mistakes, that was first. Second, they play on the boredom and rage of the “silent majority” in addition to its dissatisfaction from the revolutionary atmosphere and the “active minority”. I do believe that the only solution is to be more patient than them & direct all our efforts towards raising awareness to have the “silent majority” on our side. To be continued… Mubarak and his sons entering the cage Mubarak and his sons denying all charges

Mubarak and his sons entering the cage

Mubarak and his sons denying all charges

Israeli drilling plans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USGS/ Assessment of Undiscovered
Oil/Levant Basin Province

World Petroleum
Resources Project