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Apr-15-2012 14:20printcommentsVideo

A Year After the Murder of Vittorio Arrigoni

The grandson of Italian Resistance Fighters in WWII, it was natural for 'Vik' to rally for the downtrodden people of Gaza, who are forced to live like animals behind fences and walls...

Vittorio 'Vik' Arrigoni
Vittorio 'Vik' Arrigoni

(SALEM) - "I have seen my brother Vik's body and his death certificate, but Vik is not dead".

It is hard to imagine that a year has passed since Ken O'Keefe said those words from Gaza. There were a few hours when the famed Italian peace activist Vittorio 'Vik' Arrigoni, remained missing, and that was a tense period, but it didn't last long enough and soon came the word that this courageous man and friend of so many, was dead, brutally murdered.... gone.

Vik wanted to remind people that at the core of each one of us is our humanity, it is what we have in common, a starting point.

His favorite slogan; words he will always be known for... 'Restiamo Umani' - 'Stay Human', has taken off all over the world.

Few people who ever walked the face of this earth were more human or more humane than this man who was a member of the group, ISM, International Solidarity Movement, and it is Vik who revived the movement after the loss of two other western ISM members, killed by Israeli military.

US national Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in March 2003, and a month later Briton Tom Hurndall was shot and critically injured by an IDF sniper, dying from the wound in January 2004.

Ken O'Keefe and Vik Arrigoni in Gaza

The grandson of Italian Resistance Fighters in WWII who helped defeat the fascist and Nazi Italian and German governments of the time, it was natural for 'Vik' to rally for the downtrodden people of Gaza, who are forced to live like animals behind fences and walls and suffer the antics of deadly Israeli naval patrols that endlessly harm and harass Gaza's fishermen.

It was this specific issue that haunted Vik and occupied his thoughts; he couldn't stand the Israeli harassment of these hard working fishermen, who are not unlike fishermen on our own U.S. coastlines, however Gaza's fishing fleet is dealt with by bullets, water cannons on freezing days, and sometimes confiscation, arrest, etc.

Sometimes fishing crews disappear after being contacted by the Israeli military. Thanks to Vik, much of this is documented, even recorded on video, yet nothing changes, the U.S. continues to back these crimes against working human beings, of course the fishermen are only one segment in Gaza that suffers every day, without the ability to conduct trade, to exit or return to Gaza, or to even do the most simple things like mail a letter.

Hamas, the government in Gaza, did everything they could to save Vik when he was kidnapped on 14 April 2011, but they were a day late and a dollar short. When the confirmation was in, Hamas released a statement, part of it was:

First: the Palestinian government condemns the heinous crime that does not reflect our values, our religion and our customs and traditions, and confirms that it will hunt down the rest of the members of the group and will implement the law against them.

Secondly: We emphasize that this crime does not reflect the true state of the atmosphere of security and order in the Gaza Strip, does not imply a retreat, and will remain the Government is keen to promote stability, security and safety as this incident is the first of its kind in years.

Third: The initial data indicate the intention of the kidnappers was Murder. As he was murdered shortly after he was kidnapped.

Four: The motives behind this crime, though it seems intellectually certain, but it demonstrates the hands are still plotting against the Palestinian people in Gaza, and want to undermine the security and steadfastness, and achieve a state of terror for the movement of people of the world's solidarity with the Gaza Strip, especially the enemy Zionist looking at ways to prevent the fleet of freedom that was after the second campaign of international solidarity and the impact of a role in loosening the embargo imposed five years ago.

Fifth: The Ministry emphasizes the brothers in the media must pay attention to any rumor or news that is not accurate with respect to this crime, and to rely on official information from the Ministry.

It seems the biggest and simplest question: was his loss worth it? I am not Vik's family, I can't speak for them, however the answer regardless of how his story is examined, is that Vik's mission continues to benefit Gaza even now. The idea of saying that a great person's murder was worthwhile is a complicated and potentially ugly statement, but his death brought attention to the plight of Palestinians and he was hailed as a full hero most everywhere except for the U.S. and Israel.

New tribute to Vik from Ken O'Keefe. Source: Ken's Facebook page

The very last thing Vik would have wanted was for his work to end, or for his vision to be lost, none of this happened.

Instead, one of the greatest hopes of many Palestinians came true.

In the year following Vik's death, Palestine was admitted to UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It was a giant step toward national acceptance. Even though the U.S. stopped funding projects to help poor people through UNESCO all over the world in protest, the nations of the world supported this historic quest of Palestine and it happened.

The vote was quite a statement in itself, it was a landslide for Palestine and Vittorio's name is in the unreadable fine print: 107 voted for Palestine, 14 voted against, with 52 abstentions, to approve full Palestinian membership in the international body.

As Dr. James Wall wrote last year, In addition to leaving the US and Israel with a demonstratively shrinking number of friends in the international community, the UNESCO vote has far-reaching implications for the PLO’s earlier request to the UN Security Council, which requested full statehood membership in the UN General Assembly.

The Arab Spring began in December 2010, but heated up dramatically in the month following Vik's death; interestingly the Palestinian protests that joined those of Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Bahrain, Libya, Syria and so many other countries, are oddly not mentioned in Wikipedia, a strong oversight.

The Gaza border with Israel, with Ken O'Keefe shooting video, absolutely was the scene of large-scale protests and we'll never forget because of all of the casualties; young Palestinians shot by Israeli bullets being run to waiting ambulance crews on stretchers. Don't think for a second that Vik's spirit wasn't there.

We have even continued to publish Vik's articles since his murder, that is what happens when reporters as busy as he was, build up reports en mass and never have time to get them out.

The Restiamo Umani Summit 2012 is taking place as I write this, along with many other projects inspired by Vik's life and death. He was funny, powerful, and full of life; a man well beyond his years and incredible as a writer, photographer, activist, swimmer. (The Israelis once beat him on a fishing boat to the point that Vik believed he had to go into the ocean and swim to shore, in order to avoid being killed, he barely made it.)

Artists have certainly been inspired by Vik's legacy. From the walls of Gaza, to the art tables of incredible Brazilian artist Carlos Latuff and many others, Vik's face occupies many places, and the songs that have come forth are incredible.

The DARG Team in Gaza produced an incredible new version of the Palestinian folk song 'Unadikum' in Vik's name, but it is our own Agron Belica who has repeatedly honored Vik in soulful tributes that have been produced by

The newest is 'Lions of Palestine' by Ace in Boston, Mass., and it is incredible and even more fiery than other songs that celebrate Vik.

Listeners literally feel the determination of this movement for humanity, against religious oppression, against Israeli apartheid which subjects Jews to one set of laws, and those who aren't Jewish to another.

Two excellent articles were published this week about the new release:

There are few better ways to get this point across; Vik's life's work and his image naturally inspire artists, and anyone who reads his book or just reads about him at all, learns that he was as real in his desire to raise the bar of humanity, as any person in history. The song 'Lions of Palestine' is a powerful, respectful tribute to the hard driving, relentless activist.

Vik was aboard the first Freedom Flotilla to reach Gaza; it represented the first time a vessel landed at Gaza from out of the country, in four decades. He became locked in step with these incredible people who are so mis-portrayed, so abused, so ignored by the powerful countries of the world that could force change.

The worst part of all of it, is the fact that Israel uses religion as an excuse to kill. It is unacceptable and will never become acceptable.

Americans lived in the dark for decades over this while Israel built up an illegal, undeclared nuclear arsenal with the help of its American friends. Everything to do with the Negev Nuclear Research Center at Dimona, is illegal in every respect; however now with the help of the Internet and burning truth that is singeing away the veneer of propaganda, the world is dialing in and increasingly understanding.

Things are changing, Vik Arrigoni is one large reason why, we lament his loss and honor him on every day, but especially today.

Comments that are disrespectful in nature will not be approved.

Tim King in 2008, covering the Iraq War

Tim King: Editor and Writer

Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from The Associated Press the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs, Electronic Media Association and The Red Cross In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005.

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Nataly June 8, 2012 3:44 pm (Pacific time)

Look, I as most of the world have seen the phoots of the Holocaust. I have seen the phoots of Jews being lined up at train stations and then herding them in the cattle cars.Yeah, the Germans were bad for doing it and all but I have to say when I first saw those phoots my first reaction was WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THESE JEWS?They allow themselves to be herded into cattle cars as lambs to the slaughter what kind of people tolerate that happening to them?Instead of meekly submitting themselves to their fate they should have fought! When the Nazis came knocking on their doors they should have not been there. They should have had the place wired with explosives so when the stormtroopers came in looking for them BOOM!They should have gathered as many weapons as possible and then take the fight to the Nazis. Sure in the end they would have probably lost. The Nazis would have eventually killed them, but then again they died anyway.Look, given the very ugly choice I rather die on my feet fighting the bastards where I might have a chance, perhaps a small chance but a chance nonetheless to take a few of the bitches with me than just to meekly walk to my doom.Perhaps that sounds crazy to a Jew. That's your problem. You need to be a little crazy in this world.

Vittorio April 16, 2012 12:11 pm (Pacific time)

And who killed him.
His brothers the Palestinian, never forget that.......

Editor: Right, and in the Warsaw Ghetto, Jews worked with Nazi's and exposed other Jews in order to preserve their own lives and positions.  Shall we view the Holocaust in this light?  No, we will not, nor will we confuse the ranting Salifists with the tragic plight of Palestine.  There are far less Salafists per population, than there are Zionists doing the same for Israel..  I suspect you are trying to bring down our friend, using his name, but in the end, you will be an insignificant ant packed with trillions of other brainless warring ants and you will tear yourselves to pieces.  This man, he had more going on that most will ever understand. 

Agron Belica April 15, 2012 6:00 pm (Pacific time)

@M.Dennis Paul, Ph. D.: Thank you for sharing that...Very moving indeed! TJP MY BROTHER!

M. Dennis Paul, Ph.D. April 15, 2012 5:47 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you, Tim, for this passionate tribute to our brother, Vik. I am certain he would minimize his tragic end and point to the greater tragedy which is the decades of slaughter, torture and harassment heaped upon the peaceful people of Palestine. He would point to the hypocrisy of the world's most powerful nations, all of whom boast of their compassion for the oppressed, the victimized, the brutalized, sick and starving masses yet turn their eyes, and ears and turn their noses up at the plight of our brothers and sisters in Palestine. He would point to the years of peaceful protests met with Israels toxic gases and rubber coated bullets (and uncoated) and furor raised by the elite nations over the literally handfuls of bottle rockets that mostly have marred the dust on which they land while those same nations supply Israel with bunker busters and white phosphorous and rockets laden with depleted uranium endlessly showered down upon women and children, hospitals, UN offices, power sources, food stores. He would point to the mass arrests that happen daily (only mostly at night or in the wee hours of morning) of women, children, grandmothers and grandfathers and most charged with throwing stones. The nations say nothing of this but slam Palestine in the press should someone break from the pressure and toss a stone or even a fire bomb at a jeep. He would point to the ever encroaching settlements and the poor displaced land owners beaten and murdered by both the illegal settlers and the IOF while the "Quartet" chirps endlessly of how Palestine must come back to the table and negotiate with Israel.. and he would point to the recent prisoner exchange where Israel broke its promises immediately after its propagandized "hero" Schalit was safely back in Israel.. the great nations never mentioning a word of these broken vows. And Vik would point to the left and to the right and claim that in every direction there are real heroes.. Real Lions Of Palestine.. whose blood enriches the soil of Palestine. I can hear him saying his blood was but a drop in an ocean... a drop he was heart felt committed to add should it come to pass (and it did). And I would hear him say "I am only a sailor on this sea who worked the nets like all the others so if you remember me... remember all of them too and help those surviving to cast their nets such that the soul and spirit of Palestine will never go hungry." And I am sure he would be smiling as he reminded all of us to "Stay Human"!!

Tim King: In solidarity Professor, thank you and Agron too!

Agron Belica April 15, 2012 3:47 pm (Pacific time)

@Matt Johnson: Well said..

Matt Johnson April 15, 2012 3:37 pm (Pacific time)

He had an unwavering dedication, a soldier for peace who was infinitely wiser than his barbaric Israeli foes who know one language.... violence.

Agron Belica April 15, 2012 3:11 pm (Pacific time)

We will never forget you Vittorio....TJP!!!!

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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