Irish-American Ken O'Keefe Recounts His Experience On The Mavi Marmara And In Israeli Detention
7 June 2010
When I was asked, in the event of an Israeli attack on the Mavi Mamara,
would I use the camera, or would I defend the ship? I enthusiastically
committed to defence of the ship. Although I am also a huge supporter of
non-violence, in fact I believe non-violence must always be the first
option. Nonetheless I joined the defence of the Mavi Mamara understanding
that violence could be used against us and that we may very well be
compelled to use violence in self-defence.
I said this straight to Israeli agents, probably of Mossad or Shin Bet, and
I say it again now, on the morning of the attack I was directly involved in
the disarming of two Israeli Commandos. This was a forcible, non-negotiable,
separation of weapons from commandos who had already murdered two brothers
that I had seen that day. One brother with a bullet entering dead center in
his forehead, in what appeared to be an execution. I knew the commandos were
murdering when I removed a 9mm pistol from one of them. I had that gun in my
hands and as an ex-US Marine with training in the use of guns it was
completely within my power to use that gun on the commando who may have been
the murderer of one of my brothers. But that is not what I, nor any other
defender of the ship did. I took that weapon away, removed the bullets,
proper lead bullets, separated them from the weapon and hid the gun. I did
this in the hopes that we would repel the attack and submit this weapon as
evidence in a criminal trial against Israeli authorities for mass murder.
I also helped to physically separate one commando from his assault rifle,
which another brother apparently threw into the sea. I and hundreds of
others know the truth that makes a mockery of the brave and moral Israeli
military. We had in our full possession, three completely disarmed and
helpless commandos. These boys were at our mercy, they were out of reach of
their fellow murderers, inside the ship and surrounded by 100 or more men. I
looked into the eyes of all three of these boys and I can tell you they had
the fear of God in them. They looked at us as if we were them, and I have no
doubt they did not believe there was any way they would survive that day.
They looked like frightened children in the face of an abusive father.
But they did not face an enemy as ruthless as they. Instead the woman
provided basic first aid, and ultimately they were released, battered and
bruised for sure, but alive. Able to live another day. Able to feel the sun
over head and the embrace of loved ones. Unlike those they murdered. Despite
mourning the loss of our brothers, feeling rage towards these boys, we let
them go. The Israeli prostitutes of propaganda can spew all of their
disgusting bile all they wish, the commandos are the murderers, we are the
defenders, and yet we fought. We fought not just for our lives, not just for
our cargo, not just for the people of Palestine, we fought in the name of
justice and humanity. We were right to do so, in every way.
While in Israeli custody I, along with everyone else was subjected to
endless abuse and flagrant acts of disrespect. Women and elderly were
physically and mentally assaulted. Access to food and water and toilets was
denied. Dogs were used against us, we ourselves were treated like dogs. We
were exposed to direct sun in stress positions while hand cuffed to the
point of losing circulation of blood in our hands. We were lied to
incessantly, in fact I am awed at the routineness and comfort in their
ability to lie, it is remarkable really. We were abused in just about every
way imaginable and I myself was beaten and choked to the point of blacking
out... and I was beaten again while in my cell.
In all this what I saw more than anything else were cowards... and yet I
also see my brothers. Because no matter how vile and wrong the Israeli
agents and government are, they are still my brothers and sisters and for
now I only have pity for them. Because they are relinquishing the most
precious thing a human being has, their humanity.
In conclusion; I would like to challenge every endorser of Gandhi, every
person who thinks they understand him, who acknowledges him as one of the
great souls of our time (which is just about every western leader), I
challenge you in the form of a question. Please explain how we, the
defenders of the Mavi Marmara, are not the modern example of Gandhi's
essence? But first read the words of Gandhi himself.
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 dishonour. - Gandhi
And lastly I have one more challenge. I challenge any critic of merit,
publicly, to debate me on a large stage over our actions that day. I would
especially love to debate with any Israeli leader who accuses us of
wrongdoing, it would be my tremendous pleasure to face off with you. All I
saw in Israel was cowards with guns, so I am ripe to see you in a new
context. I want to debate with you on the largest stage possible. Take that
as an open challenge and let us see just how brave Israeli leaders are.
What Israel says, according to Ha'aretz: Ken O'Keefe, a 41-year-old citizen
of the United States and Britain, was another activist named by the IDF as
having links to terrorist organizations. According to the IDF, O'Keefe is an
extremist who hates Israel and whose "goal was to reach Gaza in order to
help train and establish Hamas commando units."