Tag: Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia McKinney’s letter from an Israeli prison
This is not the last word on McKinney’s attempts at trying to help the people of Gaza, she has already said she will join George Galloway’s attempt to enter Gaza from the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border, but her letter is worth a mention and her sacrifice at great peril to her own personal safety should be noted.
This is Cynthia McKinney and I’m speaking from an Israeli prison cellblock in Ramle. [I am one of] the Free Gaza 21, human rights activists currently imprisoned for trying to take medical supplies to Gaza, building supplies – and even crayons for children, I had a suitcase full of crayons for children. While we were on our way to Gaza the Israelis threatened to fire on our boat, but we did not turn around. The Israelis high-jacked and arrested us because we wanted to give crayons to the children in Gaza. We have been detained, and we want the people of the world to see how we have been treated just because we wanted to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.
At the outbreak of Israel’s Operation ‘Cast Lead’ [in December 2008], I boarded a Free Gaza boat with one day’s notice and tried, as the US representative in a multi-national delegation, to deliver 3 tons of medical supplies to an already besieged and ravaged Gaza.
During Operation Cast Lead, U.S.-supplied F-16’s rained hellfire on a trapped people. Ethnic cleansing became full scale outright genocide. U.S.-supplied white phosphorus, depleted uranium, robotic technology, DIME weapons, and cluster bombs – new weapons creating injuries never treated before by Jordanian and Norwegian doctors. I was later told by doctors who were there in Gaza during Israel’s onslaught that Gaza had become Israel’s veritable weapons testing laboratory, people used to test and improve the kill ratio of their weapons.
The world saw Israel’s despicable violence thanks to al-Jazeera Arabic and Press TV that broadcast in English. I saw those broadcasts live and around the clock, not from the USA but from Lebanon, where my first attempt to get into Gaza had ended because the Israeli military rammed the boat I was on in international water … It’s a miracle that I’m even here to write about my second encounter with the Israeli military, again a humanitarian mission aborted by the Israeli military.
The Israeli authorities have tried to get us to confess that we committed a crime … I am now known as Israeli prisoner number 88794. How can I be in prison for collecting crayons to kids?
Zionism has surely run out of its last legitimacy if this is what it does to people who believe so deeply in human rights for all that they put their own lives on the line for someone else’s children. Israel is the fullest expression of Zionism, but if Israel fears for its security because Gaza’s children have crayons then not only has Israel lost its last shred of legitimacy, but Israel must be declared a failed state.
I am facing deportation from the state that brought me here at gunpoint after commandeering our boat. I was brought to Israel against my will. I am being held in this prison because I had a dream that Gaza’s children could color & paint, that Gaza’s wounded could be healed, and that Gaza’s bombed-out houses could be rebuilt.
But I’ve learned an interesting thing by being inside this prison. First of all, it’s incredibly black: populated mostly by Ethiopians who also had a dream … like my cellmates, one who is pregnant. They are all are in their twenties. They thought they were coming to the Holy Land. They had a dream that their lives would be better … The once proud, never colonized Ethiopia [has been thrown into] the back pocket of the United States, and become a place of torture, rendition, and occupation. Ethiopians must free their country because superpower politics [have] become more important than human rights and self-determination.
My cellmates came to the Holy Land so they could be free from the exigencies of superpower politics. They committed no crime except to have a dream. They came to Israel because they thought that Israel held promise for them. Their journey to Israel through Sudan and Egypt was arduous. I can only imagine what it must have been like for them. And it wasn’t cheap. Many of them represent their family’s best collective efforts for self-fulfilment. They made their way to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. They got their yellow paper of identification. They got their certificate for police protection. They are refugees from tragedy, and they made it to Israel only after they arrived Israel told them “there is no UN in Israel.”
The police here have license to pick them up & suck them into the black hole of a farce for a justice system. These beautiful, industrious and proud women represent the hopes of entire families. The idea of Israel tricked them and the rest of us. In a widely propagandized slick marketing campaign, Israel represented itself as a place of refuge and safety for the world’s first Jews and Christian. I too believed that marketing and failed to look deeper.
The truth is that Israel lied to the world. Israel lied to the families of these young women. Israel lied to the women themselves who are now trapped in Ramle’s detention facility. And what are we to do? One of my cellmates cried today. She has been here for 6 months. As an American, crying with them is not enough. The policy of the United States must be better, and while we watch President Obama give 12.8 trillion dollars to the financial elite of the United States it ought now be clear that hope, change, and ‘yes we can’ were powerfully presented images of dignity and self-fulfilment, individually and nationally, that besieged people everywhere truly believed in.
It was a slick marketing campaign as slickly put to the world and to the voters of America as was Israel’s marketing to the world. It tricked all of us but, more tragically, these young women.
We must cast an informed vote about better candidates seeking to represent us. I have read and re-read Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s letter from a Birmingham jail. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I too would one day have to do so. It is clear that taxpayers in Europe and the U.S. have a lot to atone for, for what they’ve done to others around the world.
What an irony! My son begins his law school program without me because I am in prison, in my own way trying to do my best, again, for other people’s children. Forgive me, my son. I guess I’m experiencing the harsh reality which is why people need dreams. [But] I’m lucky. I will leave this place. Has Israel become the place where dreams die?
Ask the people of Palestine. Ask the stream of black and Asian men whom I see being processed at Ramle. Ask the women on my cellblock. [Ask yourself:] what are you willing to do?
Let’s change the world together & reclaim what we all need as human beings: Dignity. I appeal to the United Nations to get these women of Ramle, who have done nothing wrong other than to believe in Israel as the guardian of the Holy Land, resettled in safe homes. I appeal to the United State’s Department of State to include the plight of detained UNHCR-certified refugees in the Israel country report in its annual human rights report. I appeal once again to President Obama to go to Gaza: send your special envoy, George Mitchell there, and to engage Hamas as the elected choice of the Palestinian people.
I dedicate this message to those who struggle to achieve a free Palestine, and to the women I’ve met at Ramle. This is Cynthia McKinney, July 2nd 2009, also known as Ramle prisoner number 88794.
Webster, in one of its definitions of “character”, says it is moral excellence and firmness, and in the case of Cynthia McKinney the definition is appropriate. McKinney is now in an Israeli prison because she along with other humanitarians decided to defy the self-imposed Israeli blockade of Gaza, a blockade that everyone except Israel, says must be removed. I’m inclined to think it must be in the water of the state of Georgia that gives its residents, or some of them, the moral courage, backbone, to face and speak out against injustice, especially when it comes in the form of political Zionism.
There was Martin Luther King who spoke against racism, interestingly enough which “Zionism” has been equated with and there’s Jimmy Carter who has been a vocal opponent of the oppression of Palestinians and the proponent of an equitable solution for all parties in Israel and the Occupied Territories. Now along comes McKinney, drinking the same water of the Georgia hills and calling out from the jails of Israel to let freedom ring. The “movement” is catching, isn’t it?
On another level, McKinney has taken up a cause that for now is not a very politically correct one and which puts her in the cross hairs of the status quo. That parallels the path travelled by King in his fight against Jim Crow. At the time, King’s movement wasn’t a very popular movement and while it ended up getting him killed, there were people who said he was fanatical, impatient, a communist, and everything else bad that could be said about a person to marginalize him in the eyes of the American public and the world. It didn’t work and now there’s a holiday named after him….but it came with great personal sacrifice for Dr. King and his family. I am reminded of Muhammad Ali who took a stand against the Vietnam war….a stand which took him all the way to the US Supreme Court. Along the way he was vilified, despised, stripped of his livelihood for a time. Not Ali, and though he took a position which made him a lone figure in many ways, he too prevailed, politically and personally. Now he’s the darling of media…he lit the Olympic flame in Los Angeles during the Olympic games and is applauded everywhere he goes, but that didn’t come without courage and character.
Oceans and time zones removed from the shores of America was one Nelson Mandela who languised in a South African prison for almost three decades for opposing the racist and brutal political movement apartheid….. a system of government which by the way Israel supported politically and militarily. Most of that time he stayed there, as did civil rights predecessors of Mandela while being demonized by the establishment and denied any sense of humanity or dignity, yet he persevered and later bacame the president and leader of a New South Africa in spite of his oppressors and because of them. Liberty cannot be denied a people who want it or those who want it for them, even when it’s opposed by the strongest of nations. Israel should have learned that lesson since they too were the oppressed, but it will have to be repeated for them but with roles reversed and this time at the expense of their political zionism.
Mckinney has joined the list of people who have chosen to give up a comfortable life to oppose slavery. She picked up the gauntlet thrown down by Obama who said, along with an international community of nations, that the blockade of Gaza must be lifted.
Now we must extend a hand of opportunity to those who seek peace. As part of a lasting cease-fire, Gaza’s border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce, with an appropriate monitoring regime, with the international and Palestinian Authority participating.
Relief efforts must be able to reach innocent Palestinians who depend on them. The United States will fully support an international donor’s conference to seek short-term humanitarian assistance and long-term reconstruction for the Palestinian economy. This assistance will be provided to and guided by the Palestinian Authority.
Let’s be clear that the blockade of Gaza is not about the security of Israel, the strongest military government in the Middle East and some would say one of the strongest in the world, but rather it, the blockade, is about destroying the will of the Palestinian people, denying them sovereignty and continuing a military presence in the occupied territories. For Israelis, all Palestinians are terrorists. Witness the recent round up by the Israelis of non Hamas supporters in the West Bank. Meanwhile civilians living in Gaza continue to suffer as a result of the seige with only a minimal amount of the supplies needed by the people living there actually arriving. It is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions and one that McKinney responded. She now sits in an Israeli jail as a result of her activism, like activists who’ve gone before her, having broken no law, yet speaking for those whose voices aren’t or can’t be heard. Her detractors, like Obama’s have resorted to the race card; the blogosphere is full of unflattering pictures of McKinney and what they mean, which further underscores the correctness of her position, for McKinney’s position is the only position on which to fall during this crisis in Gaza. It is the same position required of humanity in all other similar scenarios, despite the attempts of revisionists to the contrary. Political zionism doesn’t take too kindly to exposing the sufferings of any people except their own.
What is perverse is the Israeli lack of regard for law. The confiscation of aide and the imprisonment of relief workers comes on the heels of a human rights report that says Israeli committed war crimes in its assault on Gaza late last year and early this, and on the heels of another announcement that America will renew Israeli loan guarantees. The message is quite clear, Israel can endlessly break the law and suffer no negative consequences. Kudos, therefore to a small movement of which McKinney is a part that is going against the oppressive jugernaut of political zionism and siding with its brothers and sisters of humanity in being a part of a solution. I think it’s the Georgia water that does it.
Cynthia Mckinney is mad as hell and isn’t gonna’ take it anymore!
Another voice of conscience speaking out against the inhumanity taking place in Gaza. Of course, such people as McKinney are considered on the fringe and not worthy of consideration so it comes as no surprise her side of the story hasn’t appeared in any major media, but the episode she mentions in the above speech can be found here.