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Written by Student Rights on 15 March 2012 at 12pm

Ken O'Keefe cancelled at University of Kent

Over the past few days the University of Kent (UKC) Palestine Solidarity Group has held a number of events as part of their Israeli Apartheid Week. These have included film screenings, discussions about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and meetings with people with personal experiences of the conflict. However, the event planned for this Friday featured a speech titled ‘Israeli Apartheid and the International Response’ by Ken O’Keefe.

 O’Keefe’s offensive views on this issue were highlighted by Student Rights on the 29th February after he spoke alongside Baroness Tonge at Middlesex University at the event which ultimately led to Tonge’s resignation. At this event he made a number of statements, including thatIsrael and Mossad were directly involved in 9/11”, and thatif Israel is inherently a racist state...then I want no part of Israel, it has no place in this world. And it must in its current form, if you want me to use some inflammatory language, in its current form should be destroyed”.

He then went on to compare Israel to Nazi Germany, saying “I make no special bones about Jewish people, but the bottom line is this. The Jewish state, that’s not my expression, the Jewish state of Israel is, therefore, acting on behalf of the Jewish people. You, like the Nazis, have now a special obligation. The decent Germans, the so-called decent Germans of World War Two Nazi Germany, what did they do, what did the decent Germans do when the Nazis came to power and started to institute their policies, what did they do? They didn’t do enough, did they? Did they do enough to stop the Nazis? No, they didn’t. And what are the Jewish people doing right now? Are you doing enough to stop your racist apartheid genocidal state? If you think that you are I beg to differ. You have a special obligation brought upon you just like the Nazis brought upon the decent Germans.

Following this event, and the news that he had allegedly been reported to the police for incitement offences, he wrote a response on his blog which reiterated his position. In this he declared that Israel is a criminal state...Israeli Mossad worked with high treason traitors in the US government to set explosives in the twin towers and building 7 on 9/11 so as to instigate the fraudulent ‘War on Terror’...all for the ‘full spectrum dominance’ agenda that intends to enslave every survivor of this madness”.

He then continued on to say that “every racist, corrupt, war murdering state, as well as the UN in its current form should be destroyed. This includes more than any others, the true ‘Axis of Evil’ in Israel, Britain and America. These three nations are the scourge of humanity and the greatest threat this world has ever faced. Hitler will look like a saint compared to those behind these criminal states if they have their way. Mass de-population is not a ‘theory’, it is their ultimate agenda”.

Alongside these delusional ideas, O’Keefe has also praised the violent terrorist group Hamas. In April 2011 after the kidnapping of Italian journalist Vittorio Arrigoni he said that it was likely the work of traitors in the Palestinian movement and that “for all of its problems, Hamas has done a good job of getting rid of the collaborators”.  This report by Human Rights Watch into the paramilitary group’s murder of 32 Palestinian civilians accused of working for Israel between December 2008 and April 2009 demonstrates what that means in practice.

Student Rights wrote to the UKC Palestine Solidarity Group and the Student Union yesterday with regards to this event and highlighted O’Keefe’s previous statements. Following this we received an email last night from the society which stated that “the organisers of Israeli Apartheid Week have deliberated and come to a decision to cancel the lecture by Ken O’Keefe”. They also said that “due to the  recent controversy surrounding O’Keefe , it would jeopardise the primary objective of organising Israeli Apartheid Week which is to raise awareness of the existence of apartheid and human rights violations of Israel and the actions we can take to stop this”.

This is a welcome move and we are glad that the UKC Palestine Solidarity Group has realised that delusional and hate-filled speakers like Ken O’Keefe can only damage their attempts to raise awareness of their issue. However, their statement does not go quite far enough and should condemn his praise for violent organisations, 9/11 conspiracy theory and latent anti-Semitism. Simply cancelling his talk due to recent controversy is not enough.