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April 13, 2016 451

Anti-Semite Ken O’Keefe On A U.S. Speaking Tour

Ken O’Keefe, an anti-Zionist ex-Marine and anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rist with a sub­stan­tial fol­low­ing on YouTube, is cur­rently on a national tour of the United States titled “F-ck the USSA/TSA/ Home­land Secu­rity Tour.” He is sched­uled to visit cities all over the U.S., as well as Canada.

O’Keefe proudly announced that he would embark on this tour, tak­ing Amtrak instead of fly­ing. In announc­ing the tour, he claimed that the secu­rity polices of the TSA and Home­land Secu­rity vio­late people’s rights by “order­ing” them to undergo a body scan, which he termed “radi­a­tion crap.” How­ever, while osten­si­bly focused on secu­rity poli­cies, his talks mostly pro­mote anti-Semitic and anti-Israel themes.

Ken O'Keefe

Ken O’Keefe

For exam­ple, at a talk in Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia, on March 17, hosted by the con­spir­acy the­o­rist group 9-11Truth.org, O’Keefe pro­moted a vast array of con­spir­acy the­o­ries vil­i­fy­ing Jews and Israel. He alleged that a small group of individuals—later referred to as Jew­ish bankers—controls the world’s money. He called these indi­vid­u­als trai­tors, psy­chopaths, sociopaths, pedophiles and “oth­er­wise cor­rupt, immoral, lack­ing in empa­thy peo­ple” who “bought every­thing and every­one that can be bought.”

He went on to say that Jews con­trol the media and Hol­ly­wood. He also claimed that Israel oper­ates within “Tal­mu­dic dic­tates” and alleged that the Tal­mud allows for Jews to rape non-Jewish three-year-old girls.

Later, when talk­ing about Israel’s 1967 acci­den­tal attack on an Amer­i­can ship, the U.S.S. Lib­erty, O’Keefe asserted that Israel can do any­thing with impunity. He added, “They even abduct, tor­ture, have sex with and rit­u­ally sac­ri­fice young chil­dren.” He also pro­moted the con­spir­acy the­ory that Israel would take the “Sam­son option,” and exter­mi­nate the world “if it feels that its exis­tence is threatened.”

Ear­lier in the week, at a pro­gram in San Diego, also hosted by the 9-11Truth.org, O’Keefe expounded on sim­i­lar anti-Semitic themes. He claimed that Israel and Mossad were behind the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks. O’Keefe’s tour con­tin­ues into the end of April, and he has stated that he plans to reach 17 cities across the U.S. and into Canada.

In 2014, O’Keefe attended Iran’s New Hori­zon Con­fer­ence, which drew anti-Semites and Holo­caust deniers from the U.S. and other parts of the world. He has also appeared on Press TV, the anti-Semitic Eng­lish lan­guage sta­tion run by Iran, and has writ­ten arti­cles for Vet­er­ans Today, an anti-Semitic conspiracy-oriented website.

O’Keefe has been an anti-Israel activist for many years. His YouTube videos, some of which have gar­nered hun­dreds of thou­sands of views, fea­ture anti-Jewish and anti-Israel themes. He sup­ports the Pales­tin­ian cause and has claimed both Irish and Pales­tin­ian cit­i­zen­ship. He was on a flotilla in 2010 that was stopped by Israel before the ship made it to Gaza. A num­ber of activists on that ship were killed by Israeli armed forces and O’Keefe was arrested and deported. In addi­tion, he was on a flotilla that entered Gaza in 2008. He was also jailed by Israeli author­i­ties in 2004 when he attempted to enter the Gaza Strip to dis­cuss with Pales­tin­ian rep­re­sen­ta­tives his pro­posed plan to bring 10,000 activists to the West Bank and Gaza.

As O’Keefe trav­els the coun­try, it is likely that he will con­tinue to pro­mote vir­u­lent anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries to his audi­ences. The spon­sors of his talks often tout him as a peace activist and ignore his anti-Semitism. In some cases, they have been recep­tive to his anti-Semitic tropes, as they were in Berke­ley, and even applauded his rhetoric.

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April 7, 2016 62

Alison Weir’s New Billboard Campaign Promotes USS Liberty Conspiracies

Ali­son Weir, the direc­tor of the anti-Israel orga­ni­za­tions If Amer­i­cans Knew and the Coun­cil for the National Inter­est, is behind a series of bill­boards that read “Help the USS Lib­erty Sur­vivors Attacked by Israel.”

Billboard in Pennsylvania

Bill­board in Pennsylvania

The bill­boards, which have appeared so far in Cal­i­for­nia, Con­necti­cut, Mass­a­chu­setts, North Car­olina and Penn­syl­va­nia, are “paid for by www.honorlibertyvets.org,” a web­site that pro­motes the anti-Israel con­spir­acy the­ory that Israel inten­tion­ally tar­geted a U.S. war­ship dur­ing the height of the 1967 Six-Day War. This web­site as well as the GoFundMe page rais­ing money for the bill­boards are linked to anti-Israel activist Ali­son Weir.

The tragic assault by Israeli forces dur­ing the Six Day War in 1967 on an Amer­i­can ves­sel, the USS Lib­erty, has been a source of con­tro­versy and con­spir­acy the­o­ries since it occurred. Sev­eral gov­ern­ment inves­ti­ga­tions have con­cluded that the attack, in which 34 Amer­i­can ser­vice­men were killed and many more injured, was car­ried out in error. Fur­ther­more, every piece of infor­ma­tion declas­si­fied to date has sup­ported this conclusion.

Nev­er­the­less, the Honor Lib­erty Vets web­site claims Israel had a “motive” for attack­ing the Amer­i­can ship, stat­ing “One hypoth­e­sis is that Israel intended to sink the ship (with no sur­vivors) and blame Egypt because this might have brought the United States into the 1967 war.” The site also paints Israeli inter­ests as trump­ing America’s: “No nation or peo­ple should be above the law; nor should Amer­i­can inter­ests be sub­or­di­nated to the inter­ests of any for­eign nation. Those Israelis respon­si­ble for order­ing the attack and the result­ing mur­der of Amer­i­can sailors must be held account­able for their actions.”

For Weir, and oth­ers who sub­scribe to the belief that Israel inten­tion­ally tar­geted the ship with the goal of killing Amer­i­can ser­vice­men, the inci­dent and the alleged U.S. gov­ern­ment cover-up that fol­lowed pow­er­fully demon­strate the sup­posed treach­ery and power of the Jew­ish State and its Amer­i­can sup­port­ers. The story, told from this per­spec­tive, has become a pro­pa­ganda tool to under­mine the legit­i­macy of Israel.

These the­o­ries about the USS Lib­erty fit into Weir’s world­view, in which the Jew­ish State is a vio­lent aggres­sor that cor­rupts the Amer­i­can polit­i­cal sys­tem and pre­vents crit­i­cism of its con­duct from being voiced by the main­stream media. As a result, she con­tends, Amer­i­cans are kept in the dark about how their taxes fund Israeli mis­treat­ment of Palestinians.

In Weir’s dis­cus­sions of Israel’s influ­ence, she often employs anti-Semitic imagery and por­trays Israel as a ruth­less force that con­trols Amer­i­can pol­icy through bru­tal intim­i­da­tion and decep­tion. Weir views her­self and her orga­ni­za­tions as part of a grow­ing move­ment to pro­mote U.S. inter­ests by edu­cat­ing Amer­i­cans about the vast con­spir­acy to keep the truth about Israeli prac­tices hid­den from them.

Weir’s Coun­cil for the National Inter­est, an anti-U.S. aid to Israel group based in DC, pre­vi­ously employed bill­boards to dis­sem­i­nate its mes­sag­ing with a 2013 cam­paign called “Stop the Blank Check to Israel.” At least ten such ads, which read, “$8 Mil­lion a day to Israel just doesn’t make sense! STOP The Blank Check.org,” were erected in Atlanta.

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March 22, 2016 3

Intended or Not, SJP’s Actions Have Consequences for LGBTQ People

By Seth M. Marnin, Vice Pres­i­dent for Civil Rights

Recent homo­pho­bic and anti-Semitic inci­dents at Brown Uni­ver­sity came on the heels of the announce­ment that Janet Mock, trans­gen­der author and founder of #Girl­s­LikeUs, a social media project that empow­ers trans women, had can­celled her sched­uled speak­ing engage­ment there. Mock’s talk, Redefin­ing Real­ness, was spon­sored by Moral Voices, the Brown Cen­ter for Stu­dents of Color, Sarah Doyle Women’s Cen­ter, LGBTQ Cen­ter, Sex­ual Assault Peer Edu­ca­tors, Swearer Cen­ter for Pub­lic Ser­vice, Office of the Chap­lains, the Rhode Island School of Design’s Office of Inter­cul­tural Stu­dent Engage­ment, and Brown/RISD Hillel.

React­ing to the fact that Hil­lel was one of the co-sponsors of pro­gram, the Brown Uni­ver­sity chap­ter of Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) launched a change.org peti­tion urg­ing Ms. Mock to reject Hillel’s invi­ta­tion to speak, say­ing that she should accept “Brown stu­dents’ spon­sor­ship instead of Hillel’s.”  Although they were only able to gain 159 sup­port­ers (of the nearly 9,000 stu­dents who attend Brown), SJP’s divi­sive efforts led to Ms. Mock can­celling her talk.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

While some may be quick to crit­i­cize Ms. Mock’s deci­sion, con­dem­na­tion should instead be lev­eled against SJP and their efforts to splin­ter a com­mu­nity and use Ms. Mock as a pawn. In their effort to link Hillel’s Moral Voices’ cam­paign — a largely domes­tic ini­tia­tive high­light­ing vio­lence against LGBT+ indi­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties — to vio­lence in the Mid­dle East, SJP forced a trans­gen­der woman of color to choose between silenc­ing her­self or allow­ing her­self to be exploited for their unre­lated cru­sade.  She should never have been put in that position.

The homo­pho­bic and anti-Semitic graf­fiti that appeared on Brown’s cam­pus just days later occurred in an envi­ron­ment that SJP helped cre­ate. Their claim to be sur­prised is unper­sua­sive.   More­over, the graf­fiti is only one vis­i­ble sign of the con­se­quences of SJP’s actions. While SJP’s efforts to alien­ate Jew­ish stu­dents are well doc­u­mented, there are other impli­ca­tions too.

There are far too few vis­i­ble trans­gen­der role mod­els and lead­ers. Efforts that have the effect of quash­ing those scarce voices have far-reaching reper­cus­sions.  For exam­ple, stud­ies have shown that the sui­cide attempt rate among trans­gen­der men and women exceeds 41%, greatly sur­pass­ing the 4.6% of the over­all U.S. pop­u­la­tion who report a sui­cide attempt at some point in their lives. The ele­vated rates of sui­cide attempts are con­nected with sur­vivors’ expe­ri­ences of fam­ily rejec­tion and dis­crim­i­na­tion and vio­lence at school and work. The absence of trans­gen­der voices in main­stream dis­course also plays a role. There few role mod­els for young trans­gen­der peo­ple, and fam­i­lies, co-workers, and friends of trans­gen­der peo­ple have lim­ited oppor­tu­ni­ties to hear from trans­gen­der lead­ers.  Such an expe­ri­ence would bet­ter equip them to be allies in the future. Unfor­tu­nately, SJP’s actions fore­closed that pos­si­bil­ity for the Brown Uni­ver­sity campus.

The impor­tance of pro­vid­ing plat­form for trans­gen­der voices is under­scored by the fact that, accord­ing to the National Coali­tion of Anti-Violence Pro­grams’ most recent report, vio­lence against trans­gen­der women and par­tic­u­larly trans­gen­der women of color remains at an alarm­ingly high rate. At present, only 17 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia have hate crime laws that explic­itly cover gen­der iden­tity. Crit­i­cal efforts to address vio­lence against LGBTQ peo­ple, includ­ing advo­cacy for inclu­sive hate crime laws like the 50 States Against Hate cam­paign, are under­mined by orga­ni­za­tions that engage in activism that results in silenc­ing trans­gen­der voices. That too is what SJP did.

SJP encour­aged a speaker – wholly unre­lated to Israel — to reject an invi­ta­tion from a broad coali­tion of stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions solely because one of those orga­ni­za­tions is Jew­ish. Intended or not, SJP harmed the LGBTQ com­mu­nity at Brown and beyond.  It’s well beyond time to reject these divi­sive tactics.

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