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Facts Missing in Website's Hit Piece on Gaza Activist Ken O'KeefeTim King Salem-News.com
Survivor of Israeli attack on ship Mavi Marmara fails to resemble story posted on PalestineThinkTank.
(SALEM, Ore.) - This article is an expanded comment response to an article published by Palestine Think Tank writer Mary Rizzo about Ken O'Keefe, the Road to Hope Convoy to Gaza and Israel's attack on the Mavi Marmara. Rizzo's piece is titled, Truth Justice and Peace nearly sunk as RTH convoy facts emerge, and as usual, Gazans get the worst part of the deal
Mary, as a person who always appreciates your work, and think very 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. In fact Ken called from Gaza today and we spoke about this. This man so heavily criticized by yourself and one member of the Free Gaza movement, certainly is welcome in the historic Palestinian city. There is no mention of this fact in your piece, surely that was an oversight?
Above all else, the description of Ken as a dangerous swaggering menace to other people is totally inaccurate. Sorry, but anyone who watches him in person or through video sees the person I describe, rather than the fictitious character created for this article. Ken is a gentle man, and it is the result of many things. He and I talked about how you accuse him of not being a sea captain. That is absolutely false. Also, you have no idea how or why Ken was discharged from the Marines. You simply repeat the most sensational fabrication floating around the nearest chat room- a false one at that.
And why drag his family into it? That is really sad to me, and you apparently find my interview of his mom what... humorous? Is this your side's point of view? Do you think your sarcasm betrays any kind of support for Palestine? Why on earth would you go there?
Some people are lucky enough to have a living parent, I'm not not one of them, but I can tell you that Ken's mother Pat is as awesome of a lady as one could find. Your reference to her really strikes a nerve. She does have heart. Kudos to him for having the support of his family. That says far more about him than most things could. I am getting the sense from comments like that that there may be a good reason for this great divide.
You do not divulge in your article that we have written before and that we've been mutually helpful and friendly toward one another in the past. And if I don't rate more than than being called a "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, constantly under attack on the bullsh*t charge of 'anti-semitism'- then I honestly can't see this as anything more than an extremely extensive hit piece on my good friend Ken. The bar has indeed dropped closer to the ground than it should be.
Did I tell you about the Italian soldiers that I hung out with in Afghanistan? That's right Mary, your countrymen are there too with their tight-fitting combat pants right along side the Americans, at least they were in 2006 and 2007.
Do you regard Alan Sabrosky this way? How about Gordon Duff? They are former Marines and Vietnam Vets. How about Jeff Gates? He is an Army Vietnam Veteran; Is Gilad Atzmon forever impacted 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 suspect you only have respect for these individuals as most of us do. Please consider that a person's past is irrelevant when they stand a chance to make a positive difference for the future.
Oh I know the fact that Ken has real undeniable guts and that represents an obligation and commitment that really frightens people, but as we have reported, it was Gandhi who set the record straight about all of this:
"I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence... I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor."
In no way can I rationalize this attack on Ken. If I had a personal problem with someone in this movement I would make every effort to work with them, find common ground, etc. It has been made clear to me by Greta Berlin, that there is no interest in this. I wish there was.
Regarding the current Palestine Think Tank article; at one point in this piece you either specifically make a false statement, or reveal that you have not really researched Ken's role on the Mavi Marmara, (approximately paragraph 65 out of more than 300 in this article) 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 activist Kevin Niesh, also aboard the Mavi Marmara that night, and Ken, titled The Ugly Details of Israel's Gaza Siege & Attack Against the Mavi Marmara (VIDEO), also posted below for those who missed it, that goes into great detail about Ken's role in disarming the soldiers and specifically what happened that night. I almost think your article suggests Ken wasn't there. If you need proof as to the beatings he received in Israeli custody, you only need to look at the widely publicized video of this, read: 'And Yes, We Fought' Eyewitness Account From Mavi Mamara and watch the associated 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 real efforts at hand to help the Palestinian people.
I see an ego war. I see jealousy. I see fear.
As disturbing as this article in Palestine Think Tank is, it doesn't rile me as much as the Ship of Fools piece that looks more like an IDF press release than an editorial in DesertPeace. I went back to grab that writer's name and it is gone from the article.
Cowardice and deception and a desire to undermine the hard work of a real Gaza activist; that is the subject of my rant. I can only say that anyone who cared about changing the minds of Americans, the biggest supporters of Israel, and helping them comprehend the level of injustice in Palestine, would never try to undermine or bring down Salem-News.com.
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 Salem-News.com 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 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... if supported, are cheering.
I am getting the idea that there is no flexibility with Greta Berlin; I am sad about that as I completely support her efforts and respect her work and have no plans of doing otherwise. The same goes for you and your site. I hope in the future that the road to hope can be a bit smoother.
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