A “human shield” Anti-war Protestor Changes His Mind about Saddam Hussein After Being in Iraq-Disputed!
Summary of eRumor:
A “human” shield” anti-war protestor who went to Iraq to oppose the war in 2003 changed his mind after being there and talking with the citizens. Rev. Kenneth Josephs said he protested the war during demonstrations in Japan, where he lives, as well as opposed the war through speeches and radio broadcasts. After actually being in Iraq, however, he realized that Saddam Hussein was a monster, that most of the people wanted the war to happen, and he came to the conclusion that he had been wrong about the whole thing.
The story of the pacifist who changed his mind about the war in Iraq after actually being there got wide coverage just before the war started, especially because of a United Press International story that went around the world.
There is question, however, about the pacifist credentials of the Rev. Kenneth Josephs, the man featured in the stories.
TruthOrFiction.com has not been able to find any evidence of his having participated in pacifist demonstrations, anti-war demonstrations, or having the motive of halting the war with his visit to Iraq.
He was definitely not a human shield, but we have not found any occasion when he claimed to be.
That seemed to have been attached to his story by other writers, especially in a 3/24/03 article on Newsmax.com.
The headline read “Reality Stuns ‘Human Shield’: ‘Saddam Was a Monster.”
The article described a “group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers.”
Last updated 4/29/03
Reality Stuns ‘Human Shield’: ‘Saddam Was a Monster’
Some of the appeasement activists who went to Iraq as “human shields” got shocked into common sense when reality dashed their passivist fantasies.
Arnaud de Borchgrave, UPI’s Editor at Large and a member of NewsMax’s board of directors, wrote Friday from Jordan:
A group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border today with 14 hours of uncensored video, all shot without Iraqi government minders present.
Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip “had shocked me back to reality.”
Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera “told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn’t start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam’s bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists.
“Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head.”
Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, Adrien Brody, Chris Cooper and Barbra Streisand, are you listening?
Subject: Pacifisit says “I was wrong”
Pacifist says ‘I was was wrong’ – Back from Baghdad,
Rev. Ken Joseph now favors liberation of Iraq
United Press International
March 27, 2003
Rev. Ken Joseph Jr.
AMMAN, Jordan (UPI) – I was wrong. I had opposed the war on Iraq in my
radio program, on television and in my regular columns — and I
participated in demonstrations against it in Japan. But a visit to
relatives in Baghdad radically changed my mind.
I am an Assyrian Christian, born and raised in Japan, where my father
had moved after World War II to help rebuild the country. He was a
Protestant minister, and so am I.
As an Assyrian I was told the story of our people from a young age —
how my grandparents had escaped the great Assyrian Holocaust in 1917,
settling finally in Chicago.
There are some 6 million Assyrians now, about 2.5 million in Iraq and
the rest scattered across the world. Without a country and rights even in
our native land, it has been the prayer of generations that the Assyrian
Nation will one day be restored.
A few weeks ago, I traveled to Iraq with supplies for our Church and
family. This was my first visit ever to the land of my forefathers. The
first order of business was to attend Church. During a simple meal for
peace activists after the service, an older man sounded me out carefully.
Finally he felt free to talk: “There is something you should know –we
didn’t want to be here tonight. When the priest asked us to gather for a
Peace Service, we said we didn’t want to come because we don’t want peace.
We want the war to come.”
“What in the world are you talking about?” I blurted.
Thus began a strange odyssey that shattered my convictions. At the same
time, it gave me hope for my people and, in fact, hope for the world.
Because of my invitation as a “religious person” and family
connections, I was spared the government snoops who ordinarily tail
foreigners 24 hours a day.
This allowed me to see and hear amazing things as I stayed in the homes
of several relatives. The head of our tribe urged me not to remain with my
people during its time of trial but instead go out and tell the world
about the nightmare ordinary Iraqis are going through.
I was to tell the world about the terror on the faces of my family when
a stranger knocked at the door. “Look at our lives!” they said. We live
like animals — no food, no car, no telephone, no job — and, most of all,
That’s why they wanted this war.
“You can not imagine what it is to live like this for 20, 30 years. We
have to keep up our routine lest we would lose our minds.”
But I realized in every household that someone had already lost his or
her mind; in other societies such a person would be in a mental hospital. I
also realized that there wasn’t a household that did not mourn at least
one family member who had become a victim of this police state.
I wept with relatives whose son just screamed all day long. I cried with
a relative who had lost his wife. Yet another left home every day for a
“job” where he had nothing to do. Still another had lost a son to war and a
husband to alcoholism.
As I observed the slow death of a people without hope, Saddam Hussein
seemed omnipresent. There were his statues; posters showed him with his
hand outstretched or firing his rifle, or wearing an Arab headdress. These
images seemed to be on every wall, in the middle of the road, in homes.
“Everything will be all right when the war is over,” people told me. “No
matter how bad it is, we will not all die. Twelve years ago, it went almost
all the way but failed. We cannot wait anymore. We want the war, and we
want it now.”
When I told members of my family that some sort of compromise with Iraq
was being worked out at the United Nations, they reacted not with joy but
anger: “Only war will get out of our present condition.”
This reminded me of the stories I heard from older Japanese who had
welcomed the sight of American B-29 bombers in the skies over their country
as a sign that the war was coming to an end. True, these planes brought
destruction — but also hope.
I felt terrible about having demonstrated against the war without
bothering to ask what the Iraqis wanted. Tears streamed down my face as I
lay in my bed in a tiny Baghdad house crowded in with 10 other people of my
own flesh and blood, all exhausted, all without hope. I thought, “How dare
I claim to speak for people I had not even asked what they wanted?”
Then I began a strange journey to let the world know of the true
situation in Iraq, just as my tribe had begged me to. With great risk to
myself and those who had told their stories and allowed my camera into
their homes, I videotaped their plight. But would I get that tape out of
To make sure I was not simply getting the feelings of the oppressed
Assyrian minority, I spoke to dozens of other people, all terrified. Over
and over, they told me: “We would be killed for speaking like this.” Yet
they did speak, though only in private homes or when other Iraqis had
assured them that no government minder was watching over me.
I spoke with a former army member, with someone working for the police,
with taxi drivers, store owners, mothers and government officials. All had
the same message: “Please bring on the war. We may lose our lives, but for
our children’s sake, please, please end our misery.”
On my last day in Baghdad, I saw soldiers putting up sandbags. By their
body language, these men made it clear that they dared not speak but hated
their work; they were Unmistakably on the side of the common people.
I wondered how my relatives felt about the United States and Britain.
Their feelings were mixed. They have no love for the allies — but they
“We are not afraid of the American bombing. They will bomb carefully and
not purposely target the people,” I was told. “What we are afraid of is
Saddam and the Baath Party will do when the war begins.”
The final call for help came at the most unexpected place – the border,
where crying members of my family sent me off.
The taxi fares from Baghdad to Amman had risen within one day from $100
to $300, to $500 and then to $1,000 by nightfall.
My driver looked on anxiously as a border guard patted me down. He found
my videotapes, and I thought: It’s all over!
For once I experienced what my relatives were going through 365 days a
year — sheer terror. Quietly, the officer laid the tapes on a desk, one by
one. Then he looked at me — was it with sadness or with anger? Who knows?
He clinically shook his head and without a word handed all the tapes
back to me. He didn’t have to say anything. He spoke the only language left
to these imprisoned Iraqis — the silent language of human kindness.
“Please take these tapes and show them to the world,” was his silent
message. “Please help us … and hurry!”