Veto Power Is an Insult to the International Community: Kenneth O’Keefe

Kenneth O’Keefe is a world citizen. As an anti-war activist and social entrepreneur, he renounced his U.S. citizenship on March 1, 2001 and burned his American passport on January 7, 2004 in protest to the United States’ Imperialism and called for the immediate withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. O’Keefe is a former U.S. Mariner who served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and subsequently revealed the use of depleted uranium by the United States as a crime against humanity.

O’Keefe has taken part in a number of substantial anti-war movements and served as the director of Human Shield Action to Iraq. He founded a group of activists who traveled to Iraq to act as human shields to prevent the U.S.-led coalition troops from bombing certain locations during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In 2004 O’Keefe established an association known as the “P10K Force,” a group of 10,000 Westerners intended to act as international observers in the occupied Palestinian territories and help bring peace with Israel

In the fall of 2008, he served as a Captain and 1st Mate with the Free Gaza Movement, a direct action in which 46 people successfully challenged the Israeli siege of Gaza

O’Keefe was one of the international peace activists onboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that was intended to end the Israeli siege of Gaza Strip.

Kenneth O’Keefe joined me in an in-depth interview to answer my questions on his anti-imperialistic viewpoints, the prospect of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the continued international controversy over Iran’s nuclear program, the chronic hostility between the United States and Iran and his experiences in the Freedom Flotilla mission.

Kourosh Ziabari: as an anti-imperialist activist, what’s in your view, the source of America’s enormous imperialistic power? America is a country with less than 400 years of history; however, it has successfully transformed the international order, dominated the less powerful countries around the world and revolutionized the global political equations. How is it possible for the United States to do so?

Kenneth O’Keefe: The world is full of illusions that are used by the rich and powerful to manipulate and control the people. The greatest illusion, and the one with the most devastating consequences, is that the American people and the Israeli, and the British, and numerous others, vote in their governments and hold them to account. Those who really control the governments are those powerful few who control the banking systems, the major multi-national corporations and, of course, the mass media. If you look beyond the faces of the presidents, prime ministers and politicians you will see that these governments’ policies remain virtually the same, no matter who is ‘leading’ these countries. These ‘leaders’ do not answer to the people they have pledged to serve; they answer to those who remain behind the scenes.

These powerful people and entities have key strategic needs in order to maintain power:

1) They must keep the people ignorant and disempowered.

2) They must keep the people divided. They conquer by dividing the people, never giving people the chance to unite; constantly fostering war by pitting the masses against each other

This system has been controlled by the same families for millennia, and people have been manipulated into a collective state of insanity throughout. Over the course of this tragic situation, empires have come and gone, each one giving way to the next. America is simply the latest in that repeating pattern, and it will fall like all empires do. However, the powers behind it, those controlling the banking, the governments and the propaganda, they will remain in place and prop up the next empire and the pattern will repeat.

We are constantly looking at the faces that these powers present to us, the puppets in effect. The powers themselves remain hidden, with many layers of separation between themselves and the people, and an intricate and complex legal system to protect and hide them. In the west this conspiracy has been called a theory, and everything is done to try and marginalize and ridicule the people who speak correctly about the way the world works. Until this system and those behind it are exposed, we will continue our cycle of self-destruction and continue marching towards a nuclear Armageddon. The most powerful weapon we have is the truth, and until we yield its full power, we will never have justice and peace in this world.

KZ: how is it possible to resist the American Imperialism while the absolute majority of powerful, wealthy states in the world are the stalwart allies of Washington and the other developing, underdeveloped countries are starving of insufficiency and poverty? Even the Non-Aligned Movement which consists of 118 countries isn’t capable of dictating its will to the United States and its European allies. One clear instance is Iran’s nuclear program which is favored and supported by the 118 members of NAM, but fails to prosper due to the objection of some 5, 6 European countries plus the United States. What do you think?

KO: I believe the process of destroying American imperialism is already in place. The truth is the most powerful weapon of all, and the rise in popularity of international news stations like Press TV, Al Jazeera English and RTTV is evidence that people are hungry for the truth they are denied. Despite a huge effort by the western/Zionist controlled media to keep people ignorant, and thus divided, they are losing ground to such important journalistic endeavors that disseminate a truthful version of world events.

The truth is on our side and it shall set us free. There are many creative ways to expose the truth, and we must use them to educate people about how they are being used to maintain the Zionist/Imperialist agenda that makes the rich richer, and the masses more impoverished. If we persevere, we can teach those in the west that the portrayal of Muslim peoples engaged in violent resistance as lunatics and fanatics is simply a means adopted by the Imperialist propaganda machine to divide and conquer. If people understand that the only beneficiaries of war are those who propagate it, we will break free from the tyranny of war, occupation and the monetary system that enslaves us all.

The people of the world, billions of us, can demand the transformation of the UN, or replace it with a genuine system that actually does the job the UN has failed to do since its inception. If we dedicate ourselves to the task, we can end the five permanent member state system that neutralizes any power this institution may wield.

The Non-Aligned Movement is important despite its inability thus far to effect the greater change required. The NAM is a solid foundation that we can build on.

The hypocrisy of Israel having undeclared nuclear weapons in the hundreds while an open nuclear program in Iran is grounds for war is beyond absurd. War can only take place if the propaganda machine is successful in keeping people ignorant. I believe that the pre-planned attack on Iran was scheduled to take place at least a year or two ago. The reason it has thus far not transpired is that those agents of the truth have worked tirelessly and effectively to expose the pending attack as the final confirmation of America’s monstrous imperialism and the use of Israel as its vicious attack dog. If America, Israel and Britain, the true ‘Axis of Evil’, attack, I believe the world will unite against them in a sufficient manner. Nonetheless, attacks on Iran, Lebanon and Gaza remain very possible; hence more and more investment in exposing the truth must be made.

Confronting the tyrants responsible for the blockade of Gaza is in my opinion a priority. That is why I am working with a brilliant team of people on organizing a massive flotilla, with large ships and thousands of passengers representing every nation on Planet Earth, to break the blockade. As well as the Turkish people, I see the Iranian, South African, Irish, Venezuelan and colonized, aboriginal peoples playing a substantial role in that mission.

When all is said and done, we have a choice between surrendering to our enslavement or fighting for a just and peaceful world. I feel that the only way to honor myself, my children and the generations yet unborn is to fight, with the truth as our ultimate weapon, until justice prevails.

KZ: Iran and U.S. have been at loggerheads over the past 30 years hostilely. Do you know of any way to bring the two nations closer together, increase the mutual understanding and promote peace, friendship between the two adversaries?

KO: The primary means of fostering a mutual understanding and friendship between these two hostile nations is no secret. I repeat my conviction that the truth is the ultimate weapon, and anything we can do to propagate the truth is our only option. The American people are a hard-working, idealistic and honest people who have been gravely deceived, to their own detriment. We must strive to educate them, not in a condescending, patronizing way, but with empathy, understanding that we too once believed the lies of those we trusted, and were misguided into actions that caused grave harm to others. Paying taxes is an example. We must teach them the true history of their nation, including its part in the formation of Israel. We must understand that arriving at and accepting the truth is a slow and often painful process, especially when the realization of the damage caused by our own actions dawns. Most importantly, we must be there to welcome those who have traversed the painful road to the truth, and embrace them as our brothers and sisters.

KZ: some analysts suggest that the reason behind the United States’ unconditional support for Israel lies in the fact that Washington wants to maintain its interests in the Middle East through a proxy representative. Some others believe that United States supports Israel on an ideological basis. What’s your viewpoint?

KO: This ties into my last answer. Israel is simply another face, or front, if you like, that the hidden powers that be present to the people. Israel’s primary function is to maintain perpetual conflict in the Middle East. Soon enough, Israel will be spreading this conflict on a global level. I have no doubt that the pending attack on Iran is intended to take us straight into World War III, with a regional nuclear war very likely. This is quite obviously a disaster to any sane human being.

However, to those who see their power threatened by the spreading of truth, 9-11, Zionism, the banking system, etc, this is a very necessary act to help them maintain their grip of control over peoples of the world. This ‘divide and conquer’ strategy has served them well for millennia. On the surface, war is catastrophic, and it seems incomprehensible that anyone could stand to benefit from war. In truth, however, the powers that be become even richer and more powerful as they gain a foothold in yet another peoples’ territory, and afford themselves access to their resources, just take Iraq as an example. The looming death and destruction serves to further divide people and divert them from the truth. What these powers fear more than anything is people coming together in the spirit of humanity. Thus, war is the ultimate tool to prevent the union of the people.

KZ: Israel’s lawlessness is troubling the international community seriously. Israel continues to possess nuclear weapons in violation of the UNSC resolution 487. It is also keeping up with its despotic policies in blockading the Gaza Strip and West Bank. How is it possible to hold Israel accountable for the crimes it commits while the United States is standing by Israel unreservedly?

KO: I believe that Palestine hits at the heart of all injustice, and that the issue of justice for Palestinians threatens to flagrantly expose the powers that have made this situation so. The Zionist project has been invested in heavily, and the powers that be will not relinquish it lightly.

As I stated earlier, there is an intricate and sophisticated legal system that protects the powers that be and enables them to continue their domination over the peoples of this earth. Two such institutions that are being used to enable and perpetuate Israel’s lawlessness are the UN and the International Criminal Court. I strongly advocate the abolition of the UN in its present form.

Giving five permanent member states veto powers over all other states in the world is an insult to the international community and an affront to the cause of justice. Universal Jurisdiction and full accountability for every nation can and will be achieved when we as a people make it so. Until such time, the United Nations is a cruel joke and the International Criminal Court is a sham. Both are fronts presented by the powers that be to convince the people that justice is being administered.

We as people must use our finite resources and come together if we are to effect meaningful change. We are too scattered, fighting each other on minor details and continually resisting and protesting. We must take a proactive approach to effecting justice, and do so in a focused, intelligent, disciplined and fearless way.

KZ: tell us about your experience on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. You were among tens of activists who were brutally beaten and tortured by Israel while trying to breaking the Gaza blockade. What happened first when they boarded on your ship? How did they treat you? What was your reaction? What will be the prospect of Freedom Flotilla?

KO: The Israeli attack began under cover of darkness at about 3.40 in the morning. Within the first five minutes of the attack, even before the commandos dropped down from the helicopter and boarded our vessel, we were taking casualties, and the first man was murdered with a gunshot to the head. Percussion grenades, tear gas, smoke bombs, paintball rounds and live ammunition were all being used. It was like a combat situation, except that one side was not armed with combat weapons.

About one hour after the onset of the attack, I had seen at least five men murdered and dozens of bloody injuries.

Twice during the course of the attack, I was directly confronted by a commando. In both cases, myself and another defender disarmed them. During the first confrontation, I took possession of a 9mm pistol, the same weapon used to kill eight out of the nine men that morning. During the second, the other defender took possession of the commando’s sub-machine gun. A third commando was also disarmed. These three completely disarmed commandos were taken below deck and treated for any injuries they might have sustained. Nevertheless, the bravado and audacity they exhibited while in possession of their lethal weapons vanished. While in our custody, they looked like frightened little children.

Soon after the commandos were captured and subdued a group of about 7 IHH members escorted the soldiers from the main cabin to the bow of the ship, released them and walked away.

The captain of the ship eventually announced via the PA system that the Israelis had taken control of the ship’s bridge. He then instructed us to stop all resistance which we did.

Over the next several hours, we surrendered to the Israelis one by one. Each one of us was searched for weapons and then handcuffed. Most of the men, including myself, were kicked or punched without provocation while restrained.

From this point forward we were treated like dogs. Elderly people were physically abused, women were sexually abused during bodily searches, we were all denied water and food, as well as access to a toilet, one elderly man consequently urinated on himself, and any communication with lawyers was not allowed. We were lied to incessantly, and had our personal possessions stolen, including cash, credit cards, laptop computers, cameras and footage. Of crucial importance, they stole all of the video and photographic footage that without doubt shows them murdering people in cold blood.

It was clear to all of us in Israeli custody that we were being held captive by a force that had completely lost the ability to see others as human beings. These people are thoroughly brainwashed to believe themselves God’s ‘chosen ones’, and thus they believe they have the right to treat all others as animals. Many of us were beaten while in their custody on land, after being beaten on the ship.

On our arrival in the Port of Ashdod, I handed them my Palestinian passport – I had previously hidden my Irish passport on the ship. Many of the Israeli soldiers knew of me from my previous activities, so this just incensed them. I refused to sign any deportation papers, or any statement that I would never attempt re-entry to Gaza or the Occupied Palestinian Territories. I demanded to appear before a judge in court. My internment was illegal, and I wanted to be repatriated to Gaza. Eventually I was deported from Israel, I was one of the very last to go.

Two days after my deportation the IDF spokesperson issued a press release identifying me as a “terror operative” who was traveling to Gaza to “train a commando unit for Hamas.”

These charges are beyond ridiculous, and it seems to me they were made to gloss over the IDF’s embarrassment at having one of the most elite forces in the world disarmed and humiliated.

It is the nature of the Zionist Israeli propaganda machine to levy such grave charges on those who resist their aggression. War crimes, mass-murder, piracy, lying, torture, organ theft, Apartheid, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity are justified at every turn, and the blame shifted to those who defend themselves.

It was a real honor to be aboard the Mavi Marmara with my Turkish brothers and sisters. The Turkish people have the kind of strength and courage required to face a force such as the Israelis and defend their mission as if they were defending their own children. Fearless resistance of proactive measures is what is needed to face the Israeli monster that is killing, maiming and destroying the lives of countless people, including over 800,000 children in Gaza. We must see those children as our children, and we must defend them as such.

I appreciate all efforts put forth to bring an end to the suffering of the Palestinians at the hands of the Israelis. However, I do not believe that the flotilla leaving this month or next has either the scale, or the courageous elements, namely active resistance by the participants, essential for success. I cannot see the blockade being broken unless we as people of conscience from around the world do everything in our power to neutralize the might of the Israeli military. I know this is possible, and soon a plan will be revealed for a flotilla in 2011 that has the potential to achieve the goal of breaking the blockade once and for all. This plan will require several large ships and most definitely a strong Turkish presence. A delegation representing this plan will soon be arriving in Iran as well as numerous other countries to put this plan to the people, and we shall see if the people of the world decide to make it a reality.

KZ: how do you assess the prospect of Israeli regime? Given its continued violation of the international law and its aggressive subjugation of the Palestinian nation, is Tel Aviv going to survive politically?

KO: No. The Zionist regime will not survive any more than the Nazi regime or the South African Apartheid regime. The Zionists will go the same way. God is God of all people, not one group, one way or the other the Zionists will learn this. The people of conscience will ensure that justice prevails. Gaza will rise from the ashes and be a thriving metropolis once more. Palestine will be united and reborn because the will of the people, and their cogent action, will have made it so. It is vital that we envision, and never cease working for, that day. Palestine hits at the heart of all injustice, and when we solve this problem we set the stage for a world worthy of handing down to our children. This is our ultimate worldly calling.

Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian freelance journalist and media correspondent. His articles have appeared on a number of media outlets and newspapers. He is a member of Tlaxcala Translators Network for Linguistic Diversity. Read other articles by Kourosh.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on September 14th, 2010 at 9:31am #

    Once one divides people into classes [in US, say, ten] ruling is easy. Some people call this phenomenon an invariance under transformation.
    And if one can also divide people among ethnic lines, it’s oolah lah.

    And the more ethnoses in canada, US, australia the more fun and games it is to rule quarreling and hateful-of-one-another groups of people!

    Is it a surprise to an observer who casts longest and widest look, that canada, et al, can wage wars thousands of miles away, interfere on behalf of war criminals and prod state terorism to ever greater paroxicism?

    Welcome back to sargon the idiot days of ca 5 k yrs ago. Actually, our rulers, never left akkad or sargon, the godking! tnx

  2. 3bancan said on September 14th, 2010 at 9:39am #

    “KZ: some analysts suggest that the reason behind the United States’ unconditional support for Israel lies in the fact that Washington wants to maintain its interests in the Middle East through a proxy representative. Some others believe that United States supports Israel on an ideological basis. What’s your viewpoint?”

    I find it quite strange that KZ doesn’t even mention the 3rd possibility (ie the truth, as I see it), namely that it’s the zionazis in Israel and in the US (and in other countries) who dictate the US (and other countries) policies vis-a-vis Israel – and not only Israel.

    “KO: Israel’s primary function is to maintain perpetual conflict in the Middle East. Soon enough, Israel will be spreading this conflict on a global level. ”

    Israel has been doing this for quite a long time.

    “KO: I have no doubt that the pending attack on Iran is intended to take us straight into World War III, with a regional nuclear war very likely.”

    Imho ww3 is already going on…

  3. teafoe2 said on September 14th, 2010 at 1:34pm #

    Let me begin by putting on record my unrestrained admiration for KZ’s record of action, and my support for the 2011 “Super-Flotilla” project.

    To me, the Flotillas and BDS function as a “one-two punch”, reinforcing each other in an overall strategy aimed at weakening both the zionist state in the ME and the zionist consensus in the US and other Jewish Diaspora countries which sustains both the “Jewish State” and the Zionist-inspired invasions/occupations/drone strikes on civilians peddled by the MSM as the “war on terror”.

    While I find the bulk of KZ’s remarks highly praiseworthy, I did come across a couple statements I couldn’t help wondering about.

    His response to “KO”s first question is for the most part a remarkably eloquent articulation of the true facts about socio-economic reality. However in a couple spots what he said diverged from what I believe to be the case:
    “This system has been controlled by the same families for millennia…”

    “…However, the powers behind it, those controlling the banking, the governments and the propaganda, they will remain in place and prop up the next empire and the pattern will repeat.”

    While these propositions contain elements of truth, at least in a very loose general sense, they are not entirely accurate. For example, it is not a fact that “this system” has existed for “millenia”.

    It is true that what historians call “class society” has existed for some ten millennia now, but has done so via different systems of dominance and subordination organized in different ways according to different sets of principles, of different mechanisms for separating the laboring classes from the bulk of what they by their labor produce.
    Ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian “tribute-based” systems functioned differently from later Greco-Roman slave-labor based systems, while both differed radically from European and Japanese Feudalism, which differed even more radically from the nascent Capitalism which replaced both, and which remains the basis of all contemporary societies except perhaps a few groups of hunter-gatherers in remotest Amazonia or maybe interior Borneo.
    It is a serious mistake, in my view, to attempt to understand the current political mess without confronting the fact that it has arisen in the context of the Capitalist Mode of Production having achieved total global penetration and dominance.

    It is also IMO a serious error to view the top echelon of the power pyramid which directs affairs and controls developments in this globalized capitalist society as a uniform unchanging monolith.

    For instance, the British Royal Family has been a locus of immense financial and political power from the era when capitalist activity existed only as a minor sidelight within the Feudal System, on through the Glorious Revolution which put British society on a thoroughly capitalist legal basis, with much of the Feudal state formally intact, and most of the operation of the state apparatus left in the hands of the feudal nobility, to the climactic decades of the British Empire when Britannia ruled the waves, and most of the globe was colored Anglo-Saxon pink. The Royal Family is still an important player in capitalist circles today, but it no longer plays nearly an important a role as it did prior to WW’s I & II.

    Jewish financiers have been an important presence in capitalism since Shakespeare was inspired to write The Merchant of Venice, and a much more important presence since Mayer the Red Shield got the news of Napoleon’s defeat a little before it came over the ticker;) But it is only a few decades since the Zionist Power Configuration has allowed its control of all three branches of the US government plus the Federal Reserve to come openly into public view.

    The Capitalist Rulingclass is an entity composed of a large number of persons and families; like any other large social aggregate it is a site of internal contradictions, of conflicting interests and aspirations.

  4. bozh said on September 14th, 2010 at 3:42pm #

    The greatest criminals– the clerico-noble class; both ancient and modern– never change their minds nor the methodology.
    We cld consider this phenomemon as an invariance under transformation. It is a constant.
    What changes is the knowledge; of which technology is a part; however, wrenched away from knowledge.
    The method appears extremely crude and simple: never tell the truth, establish a police state, divide people into classes et impera, and uttery control information.
    In modern times it is done via giving it to private people who only answer to the ruling class.

    Nowdays even scholing is controled by the rulers. Ruling class thus obtaining a mass of liars, killers, and serfs. And often for a lifetime!
    And ruling is easy! tnx

  5. MichaelKenny said on September 15th, 2010 at 7:14am #

    The weakness in Mr O’Keefe’s position is that he falls into the very trap he is criticising: he universalises “Americanism” and elevates Americans into a sort of master race who, alone, have the intelligence to see through the dastardly conspiracy he outlines and are therefore, not merely entitled, but “predestined”, to lead the rest of us out of our primitive backwardness. Whether we want to be led out of it or not! A good example is the sentence “[w]e must strive to educate them [in this case, Americans], not in a condescending, patronizing way, but with empathy, understanding that we too once believed the lies of those we trusted, and were misguided into actions that caused grave harm to others”. How more condescending and patronizing can you get? If he’s smart enough to see through this “conspiracy”, why aren’t the rest of us, whether Americans or anybody else? As for the rest of mankind, why do we need a foreigner to tell us how to run our countries? And what happens if we refuse to be educated? I don’t see the difference between that ideology and George W. Bush’s “democracy building” exercises. All that changes is the particular version of “Americanism” which is to be rammed down our throats. In other words, Mr O’Keefe and people like him are as much a part of the American imperialism which he (rightly) sees as being in the process of being destroyed as the people he criticises. The moral of the story is physician, heal thyself! Americans generally should devote their energies to reforming their own country instead of trying to “alibi” their failure to do so by running up and down the planet trying to save the souls of the naïve but misguided heathen, like the missionaries of an earlier age.

  6. teafoe2 said on September 15th, 2010 at 11:49am #

    This Mickey Kenny is really a funny guy:) He thinks the Flotilla to break the Izzy blockade of Gaza is an imperialist plot, and that trying to provide material assistance in the form of items of subsistence amounts to “running up and down the planet trying to save the souls of the naïve but misguided heathen, like the missionaries of an earlier age.”

    What a nut.

  7. Ismail Zayid said on September 15th, 2010 at 5:05pm #

    Mr. O’Keefe’s analysis of the imperial designs of Israel and the US reflect accurately the impact of these designs on the current conflicts and wars waged in the Middle East. The role of the Zioinist lobby in directing the US policies is also clearly reflected in the standard US voting in the Security Council. The veto power clearly annuls the role of international law and the UN in enforcing legitimacy and implimentation of international law. The US use of the veto in the Security Council, consistently in the protection of Israel from any UN effective action, confirms the clear ineffective power of the UN and the impact of the Zionist lobby on US policies.