Zahir Ebrahim | Project Humanbeingsfirst.org
To: Mary Rizzo of Italy, Editor/owner Palestinethinktank.com
Cc: Tim King of United States, Editor/owner Salem-News.com
Date: Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 9:47 AM
Subject: Re: Ken O'Keefe, Road to Hope and a Kidnapping that Wasn't
In Ref. To: Mary Rizzo's much publicized and gratuitously emailed adverse opinion of American Activist in Gaza, Dec. 06, 2010
I hope you are well. I would briefly like to respond to your letter which arrived in my emailbox this morning directing me to your article on PTT. Please note that I am cc'ing Tim at Salem-news.com (and I hope Tim might forward this letter to Ken) for reasons which are apparent below.
First, please permit me to state the following very matter of factly: I am unwilling to criticize an individual who willingly puts himself under the following life-threatening situation unless I have done the same first:
“Despite this entire event being completely peaceful on our end, Israelis shot at us and bullets whizzed by within feet of us. You can clearly hear one bullet whizz by myself (Ken O’Keefe) and several others in my area.” -- http://www.pacificfreepress.com/news/1/7508-getting-shot-at-in-beit-hanoun.html
I speed-read your missive at PTT with interest Mary, and I applaud your courage to speak your mind on this. I didn't read it entirely because I saw some issues in your article which I address in this letter. But I begin with a personal note by saying that I wish I had that much courage as you Mary to so openly critique my own Muslim brethren for our common failings with such candor. The fear of being used as a 'native informant' for the purpose of acquiring more cultural competence over us is a great moderator for me. This is why I greatly admire courageous Jews who stand up to Israel, and courageous Christians who stand up to the tyrannies and failings of their own. And they do have a tad less to fear of the same issues that I have to constantly grapple with when taking on our 'House Negroes' and the silent apathy of our peoples, as being from the 'untermensch' civilization bearing the full brunt of the uber criminals and brilliant hectoring hegemons from among the so called 'judeo-christian' civilization waging an incessant cultural as well as physical war upon us, I don't wish to be victimized twice.
Thus, I greatly admire and am most envious of the courage of ISMs and their opportunities to exercise their un-inhibitions boldly and to the fullest, even if there may be room for improvement in their modus operandi and in their conceptualization of the problem domain which ab initio creates mis-calculations on their solution-spaces, thus leaving the struggle for Palestine entirely without efficacy in no less a measure than the Palestinians'' own futile attempts. Who is more to blame? The co-opted and out-witted Palestinians themselves like the ones in Diaspora waging a 'safe' weekend jihad from the comforts of their living rooms, or those not among them but who courageously come to the rescue of those beleaguered on ground Zero directly braving a bullet to their brains, and fail?
I have critiqued that entire concept of the largely symbolic, in-efficacious and vacuous dissent against the Jewish State, and you have previously published some of my writings which carry such critiques, as for instance this article which had once been published on PTT: http://print-humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/2009/11/rescuing-thestruggle-for-palestine.html. And at other times, you have simply refused to publish other critiques because as you have explained, you will never criticize that individual as he has done so much for the Palestinian peoples. So you had declined the following submission which took on the most visible and respectable Palestinian in Diaspora for his own unforgivable errors of omission which I feel are the 'highest order bit' of the matter in even having any hopes of success for reclaiming Israel-Palestine from the clutches of Zionism: http://print-humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/2010/04/resp-abusitta-rothschild-not-zabara.html. That of course is your choice as PTT is your soap-box. You make value decisions on what is good dissent, and what is bad dissent. What is appropriate and what isn't. That is just a factual statement, not an indictment, to highlight the fact that there is a great deal of subjectivity involved here. Right?
Having said all that to get it out of the way so that my following statements have a complete context, here is the short meat of this letter.
Mary, you have certainly identified some real tactical problems. And I would like to see a broader discussion of them without necessarily putting down the courageous peoples who boldly stand up for moral principles by putting their own lives on the line. The genuine rebel is a rare breed indeed, too few in numbers, too weak in power, and too caught up in their emotional responses to have a real 'Mens et Manus' – 'mind and hand' – engineering efficacy in an interlinked multivariate domain of oppression so vast, and dominated by powers so elusive, that he and she is unable to see the invisible "iron wall" which protects the many visible effects from being rectified. My little Pamphlet on Palestine ( http://humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/p/pamphlet-how-to-return-to-palestine.html ) has analyzed that in some depth, and you had published one or two of its trilogy of essays at one time as I recall. My latest article examines the rebel and is equally applicable to the ISMs, and to Ken O'Keefe et. al: Of Ostriches and Rebels on The Hard Road to World Order
I invite my comrade Tim at Salem News to pick up this topic that my comrade Mary has tried to courageously highlight, and as a more detached journalist, perhaps put some forensic spotlight on the issues raised, primarily of activists becoming more important than the activism for which they started, due to at times because of the very nature of the high-visibility modus operandi they employ. There is no way in hell, and justifiably so, that Rachel Corrie's singular murder under the Israeli D-9 Caterpillar bulldozer would not get more spotlight than the many Palestinians' daily slaughter and murder of small children. Rachel Corrie herself wrote about it in her letters. And this is also the case here. And as Rachel put it (paraphrasing as her letters are not here with me, but I do possess a hardcopy which was distributed at a funeral event in Berkeley where my family was the only Muslim family in attendance), her hope was that because of her white skin, blue passport, etc., that the spotlight would be drawn back upon the Palestinians. That hasn't happened to the degree that Rachel Corrie and the Palestinians would have wanted, obviously - but that is not the failing of Rachel Corrie. It is our combined failure.
With best wishes,
---------- Original Email received from Mary Rizzo ----------
From: mary rizzo
Date: Mon, Dec 6, 2010 at 11:43 PM
Subject: Ken O'Keefe, Road to Hope and a Kidnapping that Wasn't
What we have, dear readers, is a lesson and we better be ready to learn it or risk it being repeated. We witness an act to be condemned, yes. This is the conclusion. There is no excuse for this turn of events and it is clear that what happened was never in the interests of Palestinians, but it involved the Pro-Palestinian community in a way that they could not subtract themselves from. In the midst of all the contradictions of those releasing statements and emergency messages, in the presence of all the outright lies causing distress to the loved ones of those involved, totally ignoring the actual purpose of the convoy and putting the spotlight onto themselves and not on Gaza, we see the situation clearly. Having spared no effort to draw the world's attention to themselves and promoting their "media image", spreading panic in the media and provoking diplomatic irritation between six countries, all of this in the name of GAZA, a few persons changed the course of a legitimate and ethical effort to relieve Gaza and change the situation for the better, and this is nothing less than scandalous. We were manipulated, the facts withheld or distorted and urged to "SPREAD" "EMERGENCY NEWS" and to contact every possible embassy, consulate, diplomatic authority, ministry, Members of the EU Parliament, the European Commission, the Press, even to organise Demonstrations for the "Gaza Ten". Rather than depending upon precise logistics, including chartering the air travel for the over 50 persons who would NOT board the ship that fateful night, thus leaving them in constant state of emergency actions, as they were suddenly left to figure out how to get to Gaza, though the aid was eventually carried on another ship, we see calls to divert money into the travel of activists, and star activists get the priority and special private accounts urged to be donated to publicly.
All of this, solely due to an incident caused by the irresponsibility of a few. Dragging more and more people into a power game and using political propaganda, censorship, gatekeeping, lies and insinuation and all of this, for the sake of a few people, and none of it to do with GAZA!
Mary, my name is not "Zahar,". It is Zahir – thanks in advance for spelling it correctly in the future.
If your only response [in the comment] to my carefully worded letter is this two sentences:
"Zahar, thanks for your point of view but read the entire article before arriving at a conclusion. If you believe that someone is beyond criticism if he is in Gaza when he actually has endangered every effort in future in favour of Gaza due to the current mess involving his recklessness and the story he invented about being kidnapped, expecting everyone to believe it, well, I disagree.",
[then] it is reflective of the only reason why I neither read PTT, nor submit any articles. PTT is your private website and has little to do with anything else. Sorry. The only reason I wrote you a carefully worded letter and posted it here as comment is because of your unsolicited email which landed in my mailbox. Otherwise I haven't visited here for many months and I don't care to read anything here – but I am sure a lot of it is most valuable – all filtered through your particular biases and subjectivity.
I have no further time to spend on your personal opinions. Your work is admirable – for it takes courage to go against the grain – but so is other peoples. And unless you can stand there with bullets buzzing by your head, I am so very un-interested in your expert assessment of those who are in that position. Please let me know if you actually were in that position, or were a member of this journey, describe to me what risks you took under what circumstances, and then I'll read your opinion [on Ken O'Keefe] further.
Those who criticise others in such matters, in my view, have only legitimacy to do so if they have taken the same/similar risks and understand what it takes to take such risks. This is a lesson I learnt from my prof. Noam Chomsky – and before I could, in good conscience, critique him publicly as in my essay "Endless trail of red herrings" for instance, I took the same risks and far greater ones than he claimed he had taken with his own physical protests during the Vietnam War.
When I challenged some Palestinians' sacred god, and evidently yours too, the good Dr. Salman Abu Sitta for his omissions, which you rejected as disclosed in my letter, it was only after I had written about those very omissions myself and taken the risks inherent in going where no one here on PPT ever goes. At one time I had searched on PTT for the word "Rothschild" and the only essays and comments on the pertinent topic were mine. There was only one other hit, and it was a reference to that name in only an irrelevant ancient context.
In that vein, I'll critique Mr. Ken, a person whom I have never met nor ever communicated with (but I have communicated with salem-news editor Tim who happens to be his colleague and who occasionally publishes my essays) once I have found myself in a similar precarious situation as he found himself and became familiar with the realtime decision making under such a condition and errors of hindsight inherent in it.
Since I apply that standard to myself first, I also apply it to others. And if I might err on that standard, perhaps someone will remind me of it – no one is perfect.
Zahir's response to Mary Rizzo at PTT: 'Ken O'Keefe, Road to Hope and a Kidnapping that Wasn't'