The testimony of Kenneth Nichols O’Keefe

Ken tells what happened on board the MV Marmara as the Israeli pirates boarded, killed and wounded unarmed humanitarian activists. Ann at Pulsemedia has more to say about Ken’s brave acts and has archived his full statement, which is essential reading.

Here’s Ken being interviewed on Al Jazeera debunking Israel’s ridiculous claims that he is aiding and abetting Hamas. Ken is opposed to imperialism and war.

Blockade and Israel’s Collective Punishment of Gaza Continue

While snow, sleet and rain falls on an landscape of bombed out apartment buildings, flattened farmhouses, shattered schools and cratered streets, many thousands of Gazans are suffering a chilly winter in tents after their homes were demolished by the raging Israeli behemoth. Materials to rebuild housing have been denied entry by the Gazans’ gaolers. According to the UN’s John Ging, the destruction in Gaza is massive, with most of the infrastructure destroyed. 90% of Gaza’s drinking water is unsafe, contaminated by sewerage from the wanton damage wreaked on the sewerage treatment plant by the Israelis. Raw sewage is still flowing into the Mediterranean. It’s been several weeks since Israel declared its unilateral ‘truce’ and more than three years since Israel commenced its disgraceful blockade on the neighbours from whom it originally stole land to create its squattocracy.

In the process of denying human dignity to Gaza residents, Israel is capricious about what it will let in – and no concrete, steel or glass is permitted into the Gaza Gulag at all. Do those who presently visit collective punishment on the Gazan people gloat over their power as did their predecessors? When will Israel’s satraps decide the worrisome and possibly terroristic pasta, paper and hearing aids will join the ‘permitted’ list?

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said: “Israel’s blockade policy can be summed up in one word and it is punishment, not security.”

Abbas, the illegitimate Palestinian el Presidente (‘al ra’is al filastini al muntahi wilayato’) attends the sham donor talks in Sharm Al-Sheikh and obliging donors trump up with $5.2b to rebuild Gaza which may at Israel’s whim be summarily destroyed again when concealment is desired for further land thefts or other acts of dominion.

Now donor countries have to find a way to rebuild Gaza. Yesterday, donors pledged a total of
US$5.2 billion (RM19.4 billion) for Gaza and for the government of Hamas’ main rival, Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas had sought at least US$2.8 billion in new aid from the donors’ conference in the Egyptian
resort of Sharm el-Sheik.

How will the $900b US money be channelled?

The US “pledged” $900 million but $200 million of those will go to cover deficits of the administration of Mahmous Abbas, $400 million to West Bank projects (many profiting Israel), and the remaining $300 million will be slated for Gaza but may never get there because the US refuses to deal or help anything associated with Hamas and Hamas is the de facto government (and most of the people) of Gaza.

Snow in Gaza by Sameh Habeeb Israel, which destroyed Gaza under false pretexts, having planned its massacre since before its truce with Hamas last June, deliberately refusing to renegotiate the truce since Israel broke it on November 4, 08, despite the near non-existence of rockets for several months during the truce, doesn’t have to pay a cent to its unfortunate victims for its horrific bombardment, slaughter and war crimes. And why would the US wish them to, as shekels can now flow back to the penny-strapped US to restock Israel’s elephantine arsenal.

Hamas is not pleased with the outcome of the donor conference:

In an exclusive press statement to the PIC, Yehia Moussa, a member of the Hamas parliamentary bloc, said Monday that the Sharm Al-Sheikh conference is politicized par excellence, challenging the use of these funds for reconstructing what was really destroyed by Israel because of the corruption of the parties who would receive them and the continued Israeli control over the crossings.

Moussa emphasized that there are several reasons that make the PA and its government in Ramallah ineligible to obtain these funds including that the PA no longer represents the Palestinian people after the expiry of ex-PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s term of office.

The lawmaker expressed his belief that that the hundreds of millions that were mentioned in the conference would be dissipated and misappropriated by symbols of corruption.

Clinton is in Israel for meetings with Tipsy and Peres, and the obligatory trip to the Holocaust Museum, to assure the Israelis that “US commitment to Israel’s security and to its democracy as a Jewish state, remains fundamental, unshakable, and eternally durable”. Clinton demonstrates how completely she is out of touch with reality, repeating Israel’s mantra of Hamas’ culpability for rockets which are launched by fringe groups, without regard to the fact that Israel destroyed most of Gaza’s internal security apparatus, targeting police stations and policemen who might have been able to prevent such activities, and furthermore ignoring the obvious necessity and right under international law for the Palestinian people to defend against and resist Israel’s illegal, brutal occupation and its infinitely greater destruction of human lives and dignities. In her initial statement, she doesn’t even mention the blockade, Israel’s illegal occupation and collective punishment of the Gazan people.

The first step right now, not waiting for a new government, is a durable ceasefire. But that can only be achieved if Hamas ceases the rocket attacks. No nation should be expected to sit idly by and allow rockets to assault its people and its territories. These attacks must stop and so must the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. These activities put innocent lives of Israelis and Palestinians at risk and undermine the well-being of the people of Gaza.

One has more chance of being struck by lightning or run over by a bus than being hit by a puny Qassam rocket, but let’s not allow facts get in the way of US obeisance to Israel’s customary underdog bargaining position. Neither is it contemplated as relevant that the land on which Israel presently squats was stolen from its prior inhabitants, from whom they are stealing still more land while maintaining a 40 year long illegal Occupation over essentially defenceless Palestinians. Since when do robbers have a right of self-defence over and above those from whom they steal and continue to steal? Another 73,000 dwellings are planned on Palestinian land outside Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank as well as more within Jerusalem itself which Clinton fails to mention. How blasé are the Americans about Israeli land theft these days. As with the ineffectual Rice, Clinton reveals she has no empathy, let alone sympathy, for the dispossessed, so enamoured is she with the confected ‘a priori’ rights of the aggressor.

Israel has had myriad opportunities to remove its illegal occupation, to accept borders which have been defined for it and to allow Palestinians their state. Yet the Zionist project has procrastinated and dissembled at each juncture, flaunting numerous UN Security Council resolutions, sabotaging peace talks and committing inflammatory assassinations. Israel ensures more delays to ceding of stolen territory, leaving potential for future concatenation with previous land thefts.

Under press questioning about the blockade on Gaza, Clinton unreservedly applauds the perspectives of Israel’s leaders. She shows no recognition whatsoever of the screaming, appalling need to rebuild basic infrastructure in Gaza like clean water – in letting Israel off the hook for this and its concurrent, incendiary land thieving activities elsewhere, Clinton happily makes herself an accomplice to ongoing collective crimes against Palestinians. In weasel words – again in time-honoured US tradition, Israel is depicted as the helpless victim despite its ongoing bombings, border incursions, killings and land theft in Palestine, and never the aggressor. Israel insists it must be recognised as responding ‘as any other country would’, righteously punishing and demonising its caged civilian neighbours, some of whom who have the outrageous gall to object to their 61 year long marginalised existence, humiliations, deprivations and ejection from their own land with violent resistance.

I think that clearly the humanitarian needs in Gaza are ones that we all are attempting to alleviate. In our discussions, the foreign minister pointed out that consistent with security, they are trying to do what they can to facilitate the transit of humanitarian goods.

It doesn’t help to have the rockets start up again. That is the double reality that we’re facing here. We have a humanitarian challenge in Gaza with a lot of innocent Palestinians in need of the help that could be provided, and Hamas decides to continue to rain rockets down on Israel.

Yesterday, in my remarks and the remarks that I made afterwards at the press event, I pointed out that it’s very difficult to solve this dilemma when Israel is still under physical attack. I certainly would appeal to the rocket launchers and their patrons to enter into a durable ceasefire and permit the humanitarian aid to flow.

At the same time, we know that the smuggling continues. We know there are certainly lots of items getting into Gaza, and there has to be a real concerted effort to try to cut off the smuggling of weapons, including rockets and other offensive weapons.

But I know that the Government of Israel and certainly the foreign minister share our concern about the humanitarian needs and are looking for a way to facilitate even greater delivery of necessary goods.

Livni hops up to the pitch with her complementary prevaricative blither:

I would like to add clearly that the crossings are open for humanitarian needs. The crossings are not closed for humanitarian needs. Israel is not trying to punish the population in Gaza Strip. We are acting against Hamas, since this is a terrorist organization, who, in a way, abuse the fact that it controls the civil population in order to target Israel, and in order to get legitimacy from the international community.

And much more of the same rubbishy rhetoric predictably demonising the democratically elected Hamas government.

It is worth noting that Israel’s concept of humanitarian aid is a fraction of that which the UN and other agencies say is required by the people of Gaza.

Officially, Israel insists all the aid that Gaza needs is being allowed in. The cabinet minister responsible, Isaac Herzog, recently said about 100 trucks a day is about as much as can be absorbed by the Palestinians on a daily basis.

…….

That statement is sounding increasingly ludicrous, given what every aid agency and the UN has made clear about the desperate situation in Gaza. The UN says 500 trucks is the minimum required.

In her statement, Hillary quotes commitments she made at the Egypt Conference.

That is the message that I brought to the Gaza donors conference, along with a pledge that the United States will be vigorously engaged in the pursuit of a two-state solution every step of the way. Our Special Envoy Senator Mitchell is here with me today. He will be back soon, once there is a government formed. The road ahead, we acknowledge, is a difficult one but there is no time to waste.

Then under questioning, she waltzes backward, pointing ever so gently to US support for a two state solution. Her production is mealy-mouthed, allowing Israel much the same criminal latitude it has enjoyed from its craven host for decades.

It is our assessment, as I expressed yesterday and again today, that eventually the inevitability of working toward a two-state solution seems inescapable. That doesn’t mean that we don’t respect the opinions of others who see it differently. But from my perspective, and from the perspective of the Obama Administration, time is of the essence on a number of issues, not only on the Iranian threat. We happen to believe that moving toward the two-state solution, step by step, is in Israel’s best interest. But obviously, it’s up to the people and the government of Israel to decide how to define your interests.

No mention of Israel’s new settlement plans whatsoever. No stick, no carrot. Just accommodation to Nutanyahoo, who doesn’t want a two state solution at all, but rather a de facto continuation of the three existing bantustans, with the West Bank and Jerusalem ever-dwindling in size from the predations of armed land-thieving ‘settlers‘.

As for the terrible two’s transparent discussions on Iran, one gets the distinct feeling the cynics are correct – that Israel has the US firmly by the throat and will gain whatever it wants from the US to prevent Iran developing as a regional power – yet there are those within the US who still believe the US can project its power in the region through its voracious Israeli proxy. The spectre of Iran seeking nukes is a pathetic smokescreen.

From Clinton:

The foreign minister and I also discussed Iran. We share Israel’s concerns about Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and its continued financing of terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. As we conduct our policy review and consider areas where we might be able to productively engage with Iran, we will stay in very close consultation with our friends here in Israel, with the neighbors of Iran in the region and beyond with those countries that understand what a threat Iran poses today, and what a greater threat it would pose were it ever to be successful in its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

There’s that fervid US political imagination working overtime again, in contradiction to its own CIA intelligence assessments.

Livni prances forward in response, not forgetting to throw in the lame canard about Iran actively seeking nuclear weapons, first punctuating with a fond kiss the US’s reprehensible decision to boycott April’s UN World Conference Against Racism in Geneva.

And Israel, I would say, proud to be or to represent these values here in the Middle East. According to these values and the need to fight anti-Semitism, I would like to express not only the government appreciates them, but the people of Israel’s appreciation to the standing that you took against the participation in Durban. This demonstrates the values of the United States of America. It was a symbolic decision, and I hope to see more states who are going to follow this decision. And I would like to thank you personally for this.

According to these values, there is an understanding between Israel and the United States of America that the division in the region is between extremists and moderates, and there’s a need to act according to a dual strategy. On one hand, to confront terror, to act against extremism that is being represented here in the region by Iran, who poses these threats trying to pursue a weapon – a nuclear weapon and expresses its extreme ideology, which is not connected in any way to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What is this ‘understanding’? and what of this preposterous parading of black and white thinking redolent of the vacuous Bush years of foreign policy and strategic errors, now with added ‘red lines’ for decoration, surrounding the gigantic lies about yet another nation which Israel insists is its next greatest threat? With moderates like Israel, one need look no further for extremism.