Thursday, June 24, 2010

Extremist Kenneth O'Keefe

BBC's HARDtalk just introduced me to one of the world's most bizzare characters. Tattooed, crazy-eyed ex-US Marine (and ex-US citizen) Kenneth O'Keefe was interviewed about the events onboard the Mavi Marmara, which he witnessed first hand as one of the pro-Palestinian passengers. [Update: video available after the jump]. The guy is mad as hell at Israel and the world at large.


O'Keefe is a one-stater who dismisses Qasam and Grad rockets as "glorified firecrackers". He said he's willing to die for his cause. He's so extreme he renounced his American citizenship. In the interview, he said he did so because the United States violated human rights, so I assumed this came after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. According to O'Keefe's website, this is not the case. He renounced his citizenship six months before 9/11, and accepted "Hawaiian [Kingdom] citizenship" (which, of course, does not exist), as part of his battle for Hawaiian independence, an idea which I doubt most Hawaiians support. He also believes the United States is engaged in genocide against native Hawaiians.


On a different front, O'Keefe organized "Human Shield Action to Iraq", which was meant to prevent the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Many criticized it as protecting Saddam Hussein's regime rather than Iraqi civilians.



The more interviews this aggressive nut gives, the better for Israel. He's not likeable at all, in contrast with some of the softer-spoken pro-Palestinian activists such as Huwaida Arraf. I don't think he convinced a lot of people who aren't die-hard anti-Israel/anti-Western activists as it is.


A self-proclaimed anti-Imperialism activist who is an ex-Marine: doesn't that sound like a James Bond villain?


Reminder: Ken O'Keefe's interview on BBC's HARDtalk after the jump (video via the blog Jews sans frontieres, which takes the exact opposite view from me on this). Judge for yourselves.


Part 1 (Of course, "Exposing Israel" would not have been my choice for this video's title)


Part 2


Part 3

10 comments:

  1. To any self-perceived 'centrist' anyone who fights a little harder is of course an 'extremist'. Or a 'Tattooed, crazy-eyed' person...

    He renounced his American citizenship? Brave and principled I call that...

    You know he was, shall we say a little 'roughed up' by Israelis during his detention. Do you approve of it? Do you think they were trying to beat his extremism out of him?

    "Many criticized it as protecting Saddam Hussein's regime rather than Iraqi civilians."

    Like who? Sarah Palin? Mike Huckabee? John 'bomb, bomb, bomb Iran' McCain. Other extremists in expensive suits?

    "I don't think he convinced a lot of people who aren't die-hard anti-Israel/anti-Western activists as it is."

    Wooow. What with the 'anti-Israel/anti-Western' thingy? Please don't tell me you're going the 'Clash of Civilisations' way, like Aznar and Wilders. Or believe Bibi when he claimed Israel was once a 'bulwark against Communism'...

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  2. "To any self-perceived 'centrist' anyone who fights a little harder is of course an 'extremist'. Or a 'Tattooed, crazy-eyed' person..."

    It's not just the fact that he "foughed a little harder" and participated in the attempted kidnapping of soldiers on the Mavi Marmara, it's also his general stance that nothing but the one-state solution is acceptable and his very militant views against the United States.

    What do you think about his claim that the United States is conducting genocide against Native Hawaiians right now as we speak? Doesn't that sound kind of crazy to you? Just because you agree with him on many issues doesn't mean you have to defend everything he does (or even his sanity).

    "You know he was, shall we say a little 'roughed up' by Israelis during his detention. Do you approve of it? Do you think they were trying to beat his extremism out of him?"

    Nobody should have been roughed up or mistreated during their time in Israeli custody. If it happened, the prison guards who did it should be punished.

    "He renounced his American citizenship? Brave and principled I call that..."

    I guess you're very unprincipled, since you accepted colonialist British citizenship.

    "Wooow. What with the 'anti-Israel/anti-Western' thingy? Please don't tell me you're going the 'Clash of Civilisations' way, like Aznar and Wilders."

    No, I don't believe in the concept of the "Clash of Civilisations", but it seems like O'Keefe and many of his ilk believe in some kind of version of it. They adhere to a simplistic view according to which Israel, the United States and the West are always to blame, and the rest of the world are nothing but victims who need to stand up to Evil Colonialism.

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  3. Well, well, well. Thanks to Jews sans Frontieres I've now been able to watch the HardTalk episode, clearly anti-Zionism has more than just a few uses.

    Ken comes across more like George Clooney than as a 'Tattooed, crazy-eyed' person, for starters.

    Not a word about Hawaiian independence or genocide either.

    Ken was involved in 'kidnapping soldiers from the Marmara'? Is that what they say on the streets of liberal Tel Aviv? Are all of you now collectively losing your marbles?

    I'm not British BTW but it's a moot point: I'm the citizen of a country with a colonial past, which now dutifully supports Israel. Ken's definitely more principled than me: renouncing one's citizenship of Imperialist banana republics (like the US) is something that hopefully could catch on.

    "They adhere to a simplistic view according to which Israel, the United States and the West are always to blame, and the rest of the world are nothing but victims who need to stand up to Evil Colonialism."

    You know jack shit really, don't you? With 'liberals' like you, I don't think the crazies on the Hyper Right of the Promised Land have much to fear. Enjoy while your country falls apart...

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  4. You don't agree that Ken O'Keefe didn't come across as awfully angry and hostile towards the woman who was interviewing him? He was yelling the whole time and kept repeating the same mantras over and over. I guess different people can see the same thing and have different conclusions.

    The Hawaii thing isn't from HARDtalk, it's from O'Keefe's website. The interview made me think he might be crazy, and when I checked out his website I came to the conclusion that I'm right.

    "Ken was involved in 'kidnapping soldiers from the Marmara'? Is that what they say on the streets of liberal Tel Aviv? Are all of you now collectively losing your marbles?"

    He said he disarmed two soldiers himself and held them at the bottom of the ship. What were they planning on doing with them? It's plausible that the activists wanted to negotiate the release of the soldiers in exchange for free passage to Gaza - holding hostages is not exactly pacifist action.

    By the way, I have no idea what the word is on the streets of Tel-Aviv. Havn't been there in a while.

    "You know jack shit really, don't you? With 'liberals' like you, I don't think the crazies on the Hyper Right of the Promised Land have much to fear. Enjoy while your country falls apart..."

    Your reaction seems a bit disproportional to what I wrote. Most critics of Israel don't adhere to the "Evil West vs. Righteous East" worldview. Ken O'Keefe and some others do.

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  5. Just saw the link. Thanks for sending people my way, even if only to mock my stupid Zionist misconceptions about O'Keefe.

    Thanks to you, I also added the video of the interview to my post.

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  6. You don't agree that Ken O'Keefe didn't come across as awfully angry and hostile towards the woman who was interviewing him? He was yelling the whole time and kept repeating the same mantras over and over. I guess different people can see the same thing and have different conclusions.

    I don't agree at all: I would have found it much harder to stay calm and collected. I suppose it was Bimbo's job to provide 'balance' but Ken had already been interrogated once, remember?

    You talk about 'kidnapping' but who was being kidnapped here? Even the rest of the flotilla that, dixit Ayalon, 'came peacefully' was being taken to Ashdod at gunpoint. Your leadership has lost the plot completely and most of the country seems in a coma about it...

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  7. 'Thanks for sending people my way, even if only to mock my stupid Zionist misconceptions about O'Keefe'.

    I trust you will have many more hours solicitude on your hands, Emmanuel. I for one wish I hadn't read a single word of your babblegaf.

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  8. Gert, regarding the question of "kidnapping", though I think the Israeli government acted stupidly in this case, I believe it does have a right to impose a blockade and to stop people from breaching it. Simply sending the ships back to where they came from, without taking everybody to Israel first, would have been better, but apparently it wasn't an option.

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