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Ken O’Keefe tainting campus Palestine activism with his anti-Semitic rant

This is a cross post

Last week, whilst speaking at Middlesex University, Ken O’Keefe launched into what we feel was an undeniably anti-semitic rant. Unfortunately, Middlesex University Free Palestine Society have as yet failed to come out and condemn his remarks, forcing us to publicly condemn O’Keefe’s comments.

Many people, including us, admired Ken O’Keefe’s anti-war, anti-imperialist stance on the war and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and his bravery in the face of Israel’s murderous attack on the Mavi Marmara aid ship to Gaza. However, none of this can excuse the unacceptable nature of his comments last week.

On his recent tour of UK universities, Professor As’ad Abu Khalil (aka the Angry Arab) rightly asserted that “the cause of Palestine is too important, and too precious, to be tainted with anti-semitism.” Professor Abu Khalil is of course correct, however we abhor anti-semitism not only for the damage it could do to Palestine solidarity activism, but because like all forms of racism it is immoral, inhumane, and grotesque. We stand against all forms of racism, including Zionism.

We are proud to be part of the struggle against Zionism, and part of the the ever-growing global civil society movement against the apartheid state of Israel and its inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people. We note that the Palestinian struggle for freedom, equality, and return brings together people of all ages, religions, ethnicity, social backgrounds, ideologies and nationalities, united in their commitment to fighting injustice and racism.

We believe that the student movement here in the UK has become very strong because it reflects and upholds these beliefs and values. We believe this is reflected in the phenomenal success our groups have had in aiding the growth of the BDS movement here in the UK.

It is therefore vitally important that we allow no opportunity for anti-semitism, along with all other forms of racism, to enter our groups or campaigns.

We believe the basis of unity with the Palestinians should be that of;

  • Supporting the three aims of the Palestinian call for BDS; Ending the Occupation of all Arab lands seized in 1967 and dismantling the Apartheid Wall, granting full and equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel, and recognizing and facilitating the Right of Return of refugees as enshrined in UN resolution 194.
  • Recognising our responsibility as advocates/representatives of the Palestinian cause and BDS movement on our campuses, and respecting the great sacrifices the Palestinians have made in their resistance: sacrifices we do not have to make.
  • Challenging and combating all forms of racism,in and outwith our campaigning both on campus and in our communities, including anti-semitism and Islamophobia.

In line with these principles, we wish to openly state that Ken O’Keefe is not welcome to speak on our campus. We urge Middlesex University Free Palestine Society to distance themselves from his comments, and condemn them as anti-semitic.

We invite our fellow student Palestine activists to add their societies names to this statement.

Glasgow Caledonian University Palestine Society

Leeds University Palestine Society

Dundee University Action Palestine

Edinburgh University Students for Justice in Palestine

Glasgow University Palestine Society

Liverpool University Friends of Palestine

(Ken O’Keefe replies on Atzmon’s deLiberation website, here)