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Ken O'Keefe - On Being a World CitizenIntro by Tim King Video by Ken O'Keefe Salem-News.com
Is self-determination a human right? Or do we live in a world in which states claim people like the owner of a pet? We claim the former.
(GAZA / SALEM) - I guess it was not that much of a surprise when the attacks on Ken began several months ago. People went after him for one reason and one reason only, and that was to thwart his success on behalf of Gaza.
We're talking about a man of the world who has already lived a hundred lives. His detractors can't fail to notice that the brutal challenges have only made him stronger.
When his opponents realize this they will cease their attacks, but in the meanwhile they continue.
There is so much to say about Ken.
We have only been friends for a short time, but it didn't take very long for us to figure out that this was the person who was leading the charge against injustice with a hands on approach and a great deal of survivability and skill.
Our common pasts as Marine veterans, and our Southern California upbringings, allowed a level of understanding that quickly made the friendship one that has been and always will be beneficial to the cause of Palestine and human freedom.
Our friendship came about after Israel's 31 May 2010 attack on the Gaza Flotilla ship Mavi Marmara in international waters.
Ken was aboard this passenger liner when Israel attacked in the dark, with helicopters and assault boats.
In spite of their false claims, Israel was killing people on the ship with sniper rifles long before their boots ever touched the deck. They came prepared to kill.
Nine unarmed peace activists were slaughtered by Israel, most of them execution style, and several dozen were seriously injured but survived.
Ken personally disarmed two of the Israeli 'commandos' who were briefly held by the ship's crew, then turned over to the Israeli Defence Forces, after being treated by the ship's doctors. To this day Israel falsely claims that Ken and others aboard the ship tried to kill the Israeli pirate invaders.
Ken emphasizes that he had a locked and loaded Israeli weapon in his hand and had every opportunity to use it but did not. Each time Israel claims the unarmed peace activists sought to kill them, they are simply being ridiculous.
Israel's savagery was almost unprecedented that night. They are willing to do absolutely anything to a person who opposes them.
They do it, knowing that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will unfailingly back their slaughter of human beings, even in spite of a United Nations report totally condemning Israel for the obvious war crimes.
But that really is just the tip of the iceberg.
The thing that matters specifically, is that the fallout Israel experienced from the world community, (excluding the U.S.), caused the border at Rafah to open, at least partially, and it happened strictly as a result of Israel's attack on the Gaza flotilla, and because of the testimony that Ken and others offered UN investigators.
The purpose of that flotilla was to break Israel's illegal military blockade of Gaza, through peaceful means, namely the delivery of much-needed items like building supplies, medicine, wheelchairs, food and clothing.
The ship Ken was aboard carried mostly reporters and dignitaries. Other ships were laden with supplies that were all seized by Israel and never returned.
The Mavi Marmara is owned by the Turkish Relief Foundation (IHH) which was a large backer of the humanitarian relief mission.
The people at IHH, and an extremely long list of dedicated activists that I proudly call my friends, endorse Ken's humanitarian efforts to no end and when he is branded as a terrorist by Israel, under attack in Gaza, kidnapped on the high seas by a mad Greek sea captain, dodging Israeli sniper bullets in the buffer zone, or speaking live on a Middle east TV program, we are there supporting and promoting him.
We had a fantastic time with Ken last summer during his NW and Canada tour. I know many of you saw him speak, I strongly suggest everyone making it a point next time he is here. We were fortunate to not just have two weeks of great times and important talks with Ken, we were also accompanied by his mother, Pat Johnson, and Salem-News.com writer Eileen Fleming. It was a rewarding time and Ken was extremely well accepted everywhere we went.
Ken has been living in Gaza for the past several months, reporting frequently, keeping us up to date on Israel's attacks on the civilian population of Gaza that are so outrageous, so over-the-top obscene, that when Americans eventually learn what they have done by backing Israel, they will truly be horrified and many may never forgive themselves.
Supporting Israel's murderous policies means endorsing apartheid laws that govern and punish Jews and non-Jews differently, and maintain separate roads for Jews and non-Jews. Palestinian kids can be arrested at extremely young ages, several years younger than Jewish kids. It goes against everything we are taught in western culture. We are raised to believe that people have a right to live free and that they should rise up when oppressed. People in Gaza are not terrorists. There are terrorists, but there are few, and measurably, they are responsible for far fewer civilian deaths than Israel is.
So where is Israel's justification? Well, don't forget that the problem is called 'Zionism' and it is the belief that Jewish people have a right to return to the Holy Land. It is ironic that the UN-guaranteed 'Right of Return' is denied to Palestinians; defied by Israel.
I know Americans can't picture this, and the same is true for Israelis who live sheltered lives away from the borders, but every day people in the West Bank, on land that is legally theirs, live in fear of an Israeli bulldozer pulling up and mowing their home down in seconds. Being a Palestine today is akin to being an African-American in the deep south during the Jim Crow years. I defy anyone to demonstrate otherwise. That is a perfect example of Israel today. It doesn't mean every Israeli is like this, many are non-Zionist Jews and some are working very hard from that side to force change and end the nightmare of occupation.
I say there are very few like Ken, and with the recent kidnapping and Murder of Gaza Activist extraordinaire Vittorio 'Vik' Arrigoni in Gaza, there even fewer. Of course Vik and Ken were great friends, and they were aboard the first Gaza Flotilla to dock there in over four decades, thanks to Israel's illegal blockade, which amounts to a human stranglehold.
As Ken is attacked in viscous ways through social media sites, and more than one supposedly pro-Palestinian blog, the vast majority of people take it with a grain of salt as they should. But allegations that are totally fabricated, if stated enough, can take root. This was learned during the Bush years. This, Israel knows.
Ken's friends and his online contacts span the world, and I hope that people will step forward and assist when and where they can. Those making the attacks need a great deal of attention and need to be outed and exposed for who and what they are, then they can move to some promised plot of land in Israel and get the hell out of our landscape.
Let me put it this way. If you back Palestine, then you back Ken O'Keefe. Don't let his tattoos scare you, they aren't there to scare you. Don't construe his commanding presence and natural leadership abilities as some negative thing; don't be wary of a man who takes the long, hard and proven path. His goals are pure and they brightly light the road toward a prosperous, free future for all people who live in Palestine.
For the people of Palestine, particularly Gaza, nothing is easy. Ken bears the weight of many of us who should be there standing shoulder to shoulder with him for the sake of humanity. If we are not there in person then we must be in spirit. Collectively, we must expel constant energy on this subject and all others that involve Genocide and the loss of human life and human rights that are guaranteed to us under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Ken's video recounts his experience at renouncing his U.S. citizenship. Listen to it carefully and get ready for some great images. It is an interesting overview of many parts of his life leading up to this point, that I have not referenced in this introduction.
____________________________________Ken O'Keefe is a former U.S. Marine who served in the 1991 Gulf War and subsequently spoke out about the use of depleted uranium as a "crime against humanity" and the US military using soldiers as "human guinea pigs" with experimental drugs that were directly linked to Gulf War syndrome. He is also a social entrepreneur utilizing direct action marine conservation, he is more widely known for leading the human shield action to Iraq and as a survivor of the Israeli attack on the MV Mavi Marmara in which he participated in "defending the ship" and "disarming two Israeli Commandos". On January 7, 2004, O'Keefe burned his US passport in protest of "American Imperialism" and called for US troops to immediately withdrawal from Iraq. He replaced his US passport with a "World Passport", subsequently proclaiming himself a "Citizen of the World" with “ultimate allegiance to my entire human family and to planet Earth." Ken is also legal citizen of Ireland and Palestine citizenship. Read Ken O'Keefe's Biography, you can also visit Ken's Ken's Website alohapalestine.com
____________________________________Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 65 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can send Tim an email at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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