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Cynthia McKinney has more courage than a thousand warrior men. She is of the substance history is compelled to remember, and is the greatest African-American woman presently walking the face of this terra firma. She is our modern-day Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman rolled up into one. She doesn't have to speak of God; she manifests God in her anointed actions to serve humanity; and her service is impeccable. She is a glorious Light in this Earth that the oppressed as well as the oppressor must recognize, and a great enough poem does not yet exist for her from SIAM. She is a deliverer of potent purifying fire and a Holy committed messenger of universal vision and desperately needed planetary direction. Her august intellect is matched only by a Sacredness of manifest humility and a royal dignity that can walk in softness, the delicateness of this rice paper existence without breaking or harming the continuity of its precious surface. She is a wise solitary eagle who does not suffer for company, flies to the highest point in this age's horizoned sky, and possesses monocular vision while viewing and addressing the atomic and cosmic detail of today's troubled political landscape. i have tasted her wonderful creative fragrance when experiencing her exciting written speeches and liberating social essays. In my estimation, she is our great regal Nubian Queen and prophetic teacher and healer this entire planet must know, recognize, honor, and welcome.

                        Cynthia McKinney - Green Party
                        2008 Presidential Candidate and
                    former Georgia State Representative.

"We don't have to lose because we have commitment to the people.
And we don't have to lose because we refuse to compromise our core values.
We don't have to lose because we seek peace with justice and diplomacy over war.
We don't have to lose. By committing to do some things we've never done before I'm certain that we can also have some things we've never had before." 
~ Rep. Cynthia McKinney


Continue reading below to experience
the compassion, wisdom, and courage
of this dynamic woman...

From Cynthia McKinney: Ruminations on President Obama's Tenure Thus Far and "Acceptable Punditry"

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I have played around with this idea for hours now, on whether or not to write this piece. But the events of the last few hours, I believe, mandate that I raise my voice once again.

I have read and re-read President Obama's Joint Congressional Address. All of the "acceptable punditry" have spoken and given the President glowing reviews. And so, to them and the population that still believes in them, "All is right with the world." But for the rest of us, who refuse to swallow the pill that puts us into the Matrix, a good dose of reality is strongly called for.

But reality is not what we're getting, not even from one of the national columnists whom I've met, Maureen Dowd.

I think Maureen Dowd characterized it as "Spock at the Bridge." Now, being the Trekkie that I am, that headline grabbed my attention. I nearly gagged, however, when I got to the line supposedly from President Obama calling President Bush to proclaim, "'I'm ending your stupid war.' Mission Relinquished."

Why write things like this now that it is clear that the Obama Administration is continuing the Bush policies for missile strikes inside Pakistan; torture; rendition for torture; public release of Bush Administration e-mails; illegal wiretaps; status of prisoners at the U.S. base in Bagram, Afghanistan; and workplace immigration raids?

For the record, President Obama is also pursuing Bush policies on Iran and Israel. As recently as yesterday, President Obama's Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, responded when asked whether Iran was capable of building an atom bomb. Admiral Mullen replied, "We think they do, quite frankly."

Dowd concludes her "Spock" piece by imbuing the President with "a Vulcan-like logic and detachment." But I think the detachment of "acceptable" political punditry from the real world is what is totally lamentable. In the process, they render themselves irrelevant.

So, it's clear. I'm about to step into marshy soil here, by noting that I found 19 questionable Obama policies or statements in his Joint Congressional speech delivered three days before his announcement that upon the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq, up to 50,000 U.S. troops could remain through 2011, after the "pullout."

And while various "mint" operations are peddling Obama "Change" coins for purchase, complete with a certificate of authenticity, I wade further into the muck by noting that the President continues the giveaway of our hard-earned coins to an economic team intent on keeping mismanagement structures in place, serving economic ends that do not constitute the common good. I would refer readers to the many statements that I issued during the final days of our Power to the People Green Party Presidential campaign about re-creating an economic system truly and finally owned by the people, operating in our interest. It is possible to do that. All it requires is enough political will.

But what forces me out into the open marshland of "non-mainstream" political punditry has to do with the latest Obama "pullout:" the decision to withdraw from the April 2009 Geneva United Nations World Conference Against Racism, dubbed Durban II.

We heard the same palaver in 2001 from the same forces inside our country, basically that a discussion of Zionism, in the context of such a Conference, would be anti-Semitic; therefore all the world's dispossessed and marginalized people must continue to suffer and sacrifice while muting their grievances so that no discussion of Israel would take place on the world stage in this context.

Well, in 2001, upon hearing this line of reasoning, I went to then-Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairwoman, Eddie Bernice Johnson, and asked if I could be appointed as the CBC Task Force Chair on Durban. The non-participation argument was also a handy "peg on the track" with the potential of derailing many conversations, including a real discussion about the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the issue of reparations. Respectful of the excellent preparatory work that had been done, I wanted to avoid that outcome.

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson made the appointment and I led a delegation of 5 Members of Congress to Durban.

The current Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Barbara Lee, was a member of my delegation to Durban. From my position on the International Relations Committee, we successfully argued for U.S. participation in that Conference at a Hearing designed to quash our effort. We not only met with then-United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, we also presented her with the untold story of COINTELPRO and the remaining unsolved deaths of its Black Panther Party member victims, commissioned by me and written by Kathleen Cleaver and Paul Wolf.

Our CBC Chairwoman made a beautiful statement of why it was imperative that the United States join with our Native American and Latino brothers and sisters and with oppressed peoples all over the planet and not only make our statement of solidarity, but also institute policies at the Congress that recognized their needs. It is incorrect to say that the United States was not present at Durban. We were there and only when the duties of Congress pressed us to return to Washington, DC did the Bush Administration make a big deal about anti-Semitism and then staged its phony walk out. The United States delegation of Congressional Black Caucus Members was there to support the phenomenal work of U.S. activists and the African and Caribbean delegations, in particular. I think everyone in Durban was moved by the plight of the Dalits in India and understood better the surging political power of Afro-Latinos.

Durban was a clear victory for the world's marginalized peoples, including those of us who reside inside the United States. But, when the Congressional Delegation returned to the U.S., there was no time for celebration because the tragedy of September 11, 2001 unfolded.

What has happened in the interim has devastated the very people that Durban was designed to address, unfortunately, much of it due to U.S. policy. Now is not the time for the United States to shrink from this call.

In order to prevail in Durban, I had to go toe to toe with the Anti-Defamation League and Members of Congress Tom Lantos and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who, among many other Members of Congress, vociferously denounced Durban. This was something that I did because I felt it was the right thing to do. Given Israel's recent actions in Gaza that have brought upon it the world's opprobrium, I can imagine that this is the last point in time that Israel might want to revisit Durban. Israel has said that it will not attend the Conference in Geneva.

Early last year, a government official announced Canada's decision to not attend Durban II after deeming the Conference to be anti-Israel. Shortly afterwards, France followed suit with French President Nicolas Sarkozy stating that the "excesses of 2001" transformed the Conference "into an intolerable platform against the State of Israel." I would note also that France must be particularly loath to discuss racism now with what is happening in Guadeloupe and Martinique as I write this piece. And remembering that Paris, itself, was literally on fire just a few years ago.

The UK, which has been under severe racial tests with Asians rebelling openly in the streets since Durban 2001, and the Netherlands have both threatened to withdraw their support for the Conference if a "negative spiral" of events takes place.

Interestingly, these remarks came at the same time as the release of a European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance report which found that the tone of Dutch political and public debate on immigrant integration, racism, and other issues relevant to ethnic minorities, had experienced a "dramatic deterioration."

So, we shouldn't be surprised that the racism stress test is revealing cracks and fissures in human relations. But the United States and President Obama should not shield them or this country from these stresses. This Conference gives us the opportunity to get the issues out in the open and to deal with them. That's the way to put them to an end. The world might have changed because of events occurring in September 2001, but it wasn't because the United Nations successfully convened the World Conference Against Racism.

And now that I am as completely in the middle of the marsh as I was as completely in the international waters of the Mediterranean Sea when my boat was rammed by the Israelis, let me make an observation about one aspect of marshes. I have witnessed the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets on the Savannah, Georgia marshland. And the most beautiful rainbows. Being away from the glass and concrete can give one a better perspective.

I observed last year that I thought U.S. voters went to the polls in large numbers to try and regain a bit of dignity lost during the eight years of outright banditry played out in our names, with our resources, against our interests. But I was reminded at the recently adjourned Transpartisan Alliance convention in Colorado that dignity will not come without first an acknowledgment of the truth: with truth we can have justice; and with justice we can have peace; and it is only with peace that we can truly have dignity. Something as easy as a vote, alone, is not going to be enough to wrest us from this mess that has been wrought.

This morning, I sent the following message to the White House:

`Mr. President, it was with great disappointment that I read of your decision to pull out of Durban II. Even the Bush Administration, under pressure from the Congressional Black Caucus, provided some funding for the United Nations effort and sent staff to support the Congressional delegation that attended the Conference. I was there. I was head of the Congressional Black Caucus Task Force that negotiated Congressional and Administration engagement on this issue. There is still time for the U.S. to participate. Your decision is not irrevocable. I would encourage you to please reconsider this decision and not only attend the Conference, but also provide funding to ensure its success."

I implore the Members of the Congressional Black Caucus to spearhead the participation of the United States in the United Nation's World Conference Against Racism: to boldly go where we have gone before. Dr. King reminded us that "the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." On this issue, President Obama has shown us his measure. I hope that the Congressional Black Caucus and the Progressive Caucus and the Democratic Caucus can show us, oh, so much more.

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From the Walter Rodney Committee at BU:
2008 Green Party Nominee Visits Binghamton University

PRESS RELEASE

BINGHAMTON, New York – The controversial former member of Congress, human rights activist, and 2008 Green Party Presidential Nominee, Cynthia McKinney, will be speaking on the campus of Binghamton University in a forum entitled "Black in America, Black in Palestine" on November 10, 2009 at the Watters Theater of the Binghamton University Anderson Center at 7 pm.

The "Black in America, Black in Palestine" sessions are designed to explore the policing and confinement of cultural and ethnic groups as part of the function of the world-economy. "Black in America, Black in Palestine" will take place in three parts. The first is a private reception. The second is a round table discussion with Binghamton University students and members of faculty concerning intellectual and activist perspectives on Palestine and U.S. inner cities as places of imprisonment. The third is an address to the Binghamton community about the larger meaning of her experiences as a human rights activist including the hijacking of the Free Gaza and her arrest in Israel.

This address is free and open to the public.

---------

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To read
I Finally Made it to Gaza; No Wonder the Israelis Didn't Want Photos Taken
by Cynthia McKinney
July 16, 2009

The Viva Palestina convoy, led by George Galloway, is about to leave Gaza after having been permitted to enter for a period of 24 hours after waiting 11 days in Cairo for permission to enter Gaza. That in and of itself is a major story when expanded to include the inability of Gazans to exit The Strip--even if only to enter another part of their country, the West Bank or to move about freely in the fictional "Palestinian State." I say fictional because it continues to dwindle even while peace talks are underway. Fictional, because Palestinian elections deemed by international observers to be free and fair, don't count if the US- and Israel-approved party loses, and the winners get to sit for years in an Israeli jail. Fictional, because they use Israel's currency here, the shekel, and the international roaming on our US cell phones indicates calls are from Israel.

Gaza is beautiful. Gaza is full of life, despite Israel's Operation Cast Lead. And now, I have seen, Gaza has been bombed to smithereens. I think I've mastered my video camera enough to share some images with you. I'll post them on the sites below when I return. In the meantime, my fellow Americans and citizens of the world, we have a lot to do to put right all the wrong things done in our name. Much love to all of you who helped me, guided me, prayed for me, to make this successful entry into Gaza happen.

Viva Palestina!!

Free Gaza!!

Viva Palestina USA calls for President Obama's Support in Breaking Gaza Seige
From Cynthia McKinney
July 14, 2009

Cairo (July 14, 2009) - Today, one day after its expected arrival in Gaza from Cairo, Viva Palestina USA announced that it will depart for Gaza as soon as it receives the necessary clearances from the Egyptian government with whom it currently is in direct negotiation. Viva Palestina USA today contacted White House and Secretary of State offices and calls on President Barack Obama to speak to Egyptian authorities and ask that its convoy be allowed to proceed to Gaza. Viva Palestina USA yesterday provided additional information requested on the same day by the Egyptian government, such as serial numbers and expiration dates for the medical aid.

In addition to Egyptian requests for supplemental information, all U.S. participants were required to sign and pay for an affidavit acknowledging individual participant assumption of risk for travel to Gaza with the understanding that consular services will not be provided by the State Department during Viva Palestina USA's presence in the Gaza Strip. According to those knowledgeable about recent U.S. citizen travel to Gaza, the affidavit is an entirely new procedure never before required by the U.S. State Department for U.S. nationals traveling to Gaza. Viva Palestina USA has met this last-minute requirement.

Viva Palestina USA is ready to meet all requirements in order to get its humanitarian assistance to Gaza. However, Viva Palestina USA has bright lines that it cannot cross. One of those bright lines concerns the fate of some one half million dollars worth of vehicles that Viva Palestina USA purchased in Egypt and planned to deliver to hospitals and charitable organizations in Gaza. Those vehicles are now stranded at the Egyptian Freeport in Alexandria while negotiations take place.

Viva Palestina USA remains hopeful that all remaining issues will be resolved in the next few hours as negotiations continue.

The following message was sent to the White House and State Department today by Viva Palestina USA:

Dear Mr. President Dear Madam Secretary

Viva Palestina USA, a humanitarian relief effort for Gaza, is now in Egypt and requests your immediate assistance. We were supposed to have arrived in Gaza on Monday, July 13, 2009, but our arrival into Gaza was delayed because our departure from Cairo, Egypt was delayed by at least two days. Last-minute bureaucratic questions and additional requirements caused the delay. The people of Gaza can't wait.

You have noted that Israel's siege of Gaza should be eased and medical supplies should be allowed in. We are implementing what you reportedly put into writing. The people of Gaza need your help and we have important assistance for them. Please contact the Egyptian authorities and ask them to let Viva Palestina USA humanitarian assistance proceed through the Rafah crossing. We need your help today so that we can help the people of Gaza rebuild their lives devastated by occupation and brutal invasion.

Charles Barron
Cynthia McKinney
(on behalf of 200 Viva Palestina USA volunteers and thousands of Viva Palestina USA donors)

Video of our Capture at Sea, thanks to Ismahil and Kathy
by Cynthia McKinney
July 12, 2009

Just a note to let you know that video is available thanks to Ismahil, videographer with Ricenpeas.com and Kathy Sheetz, one of my new Free Gaza sisters. You can see the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65UW1E_ebQM.

http://www.livestream.com/dignity

http://dignity.ning.com/

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http://www.myspace.com/dignityaction

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http://www.facebook.com/CynthiaMcKinney

I'm back home; Thanks to all of you!
From Cynthia McKinney
July 8, 2009
 
Hello,

Well, all I can say is "Thank you!"  Your calls, faxes, protests, and prayers all made a huge difference and helped to secure our protection and our release.  I would also like to thank those at the Tel Aviv Embassy for their work on behalf of the three U.S. citizens held by the Israelis.  For those of you who missed it, here is the statement I put out from the Israeli prison.  Please forgive the undone, but needed edits.  I have tried twice, now, to get into Gaza.  I just got off the phone with George Galloway who extended a personal invitation to me to join him and the US convoy in Viva Palestina!  I'm certainly excited about that.  Maybe I will finally make it to Gaza.

Here's my "Letter from an Israeli Prison:"

Letter from an Israeli Jail
By Cynthia McKinney

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.

---
Cynthia McKinney is a former U.S. Congresswoman, Green Party presidential candidate, and an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice. The first African-American woman to represent the state of Georgia, McKinney served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1993-2003, and from 2005-2007. She was arrested and forcibly abducted to Israel while attempting to take humanitarian and reconstruction supplies to Gaza on June 30th. For more information, please see
http://www.FreeGaza.org

===

Report from the Kidnapped Passengers in Ramle Prison, July 4, 2009

On Monday, June 30, 21 passengers going to challenge the blockade of Gaza on board the Spirit of Humanity were seized by the Israeli Navy and taken to Israel against their will. All their equipment was taken and some of were roughed up. All were thrown into prison to await Israel's decision on how and when they would be deported.
The majority of the group ended up in Ramle Prison. Those of us who are Free Gaza organizers had been hearing some news from them, statements, interviews and letters since they arrived. From the first night, the Free Gaza 21 have been busy trying to get news out of the prison about the illegality of Israel's actions in relation to themselves and the other inmates inside Ramle Prison who have no voice.

Report from E: I received a 2am phone call during one of the first sleepless nights from Ramle Prison to let me know that in one of the cells, four of the FG group had been busy writing a press release on an old phone one of their cellmates had loaned them. It had taken them hours to write the press release. but they were just ready to send it out, and `could I check my email to see if I had received it?'
Since that first night I have been hearing more increasingly about the plight of the other inmates of the prison; men and women who have not nearly as good an opportunity as our folk for media coverage of their stories and not nearly as good an opportunity as our folk of ever getting out of Ramle Prison.

To Fathi Jaouadi, Adie Mormesh, Ishmael Blagrove, and Captain Denis Healy, the situation of their fellow inmates is something they want to talk about and act upon. Fathi wanted to pass on news of what they have been doing inside Ramle prison; he wanted to let everyone who supports the Free Gaza Movement know that `Free Gaza Members are never lost for things to do when it comes to trying to expose Israel's appalling treatment of not just Palestinians, but all people who come to Palestine and get caught up in Israel's abuse of justice and the law.'

Fathi Jaouadi has been actively involved in Palestinian rights since he was 15 years old. Now in Ramle prison, he has already managed to organize a meeting with a UN representative and to raise the issue of the other inmates with him. He said that the UN official has agreed to follow up on some of the cases; Fathi has also been in contact with local NGO's to raise the issue of many of the inmate's situations. He told me he wants to focus on the fact that none of the inmates have any access to legal advice or help, most of the inmates have not been able to contact family to let them know of their situation and none of the inmates have committed anything that warrants them to be held indefinitely inside Ramle prison.

Fathi is in the process of collecting statements from all the inmates, and he is translating them from Arabic. He says the majority of the inmates in their cell are from Arab countries, and they have not had access to their embassy officials. He will follow up with the UN and other organizations once he is released, contact all the families and give statements and details to the relevant embassies.

Ishmael Blagrove is a well-known documentary filmmaker and has been speaking extensively about the Palestinian struggle for more than twenty years. In Ramle prison, he has been working tirelessly to get contact with refugee councils and organizations in Britain to present to them the case of the refugees inside. He says that many of the men from neighbouring Arab countries just want to go home, they don't want to stay in Israel and yet they are not being given the opportunity to speak. Ishmael says that many of the inmates are entitled to legal representation, but they do not know this, nor do they have any idea how to contact any refugee organization to advise them. Ishmael is in the process of establishing links between the refugee councils in Britain and the inmates of his cell in Ramle Prison.

Fathi and Ishmael have already established channels to publish these issues in Britain on their release.

When we called Ramle Prison today Fathi said that Adie had just finished his daily English lesson with the inmates. Adie is reportedly very happy with the progress of his students and said this morning they had successfully completed an intense session on Past Participles. Adie Mormesh has also been very active for the rights of Palestinians for many years. He spent two weeks in the West Bank with the Olive Coop (Zeitoun) and Action Palestine in 2007. He worked with and documented the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction Campaign and participated in the World Social Forums for Palestine in Porto Alegre and Mumbai in 2003 and 2004. He has now become a teacher of English in Ramle prison.

Captain Denis Healey who has been the Free Gaza Movement's captain since October 2008 and bravely steered the DIGNITY to safety in December when she was attacked by the Israeli Navy at sea, has also been quite busy; he has been giving in-depth lectures to his fellow inmates about life at sea. Apparently there are many interested parties amongst the inmates; some hope that they may pursue a life on the sea when (and sadly if) they ever get out. They are full of questions as to the procedure of getting qualified to work on and sail boats in the Mediterranean, and Captain Denis is giving them a good run down on what they should do to follow such a dream.

This is how four of our passengers have been keeping busy during the past week, they wanted to let you all know; they also said they realize the news they are sending out is not new to any of us. We have all been working with these issues of injustice for years. But that doesn't mean that every new story about the violation of human rights, about the cruelty, brutality and flagrant misuse of justice by Israel should not be published.

Our friends are stuck in Ramle prison, because they tried to visit the war-stricken people of Gaza, and they are furious at what they are seeing. They know they have generated media interest around the world, and that sooner or later, they will leave Ramle Prison, but they also know that the other inmates of the prison have no such privilege, and without our interest in them, they could well be stuck inside Ramle prison for the rest of their lives, or exiled to some foreign country that is not their home, facing a life without family or loved ones to share it with. And so it is for the 11,000 Palestinian prisoners at present inside Israeli jails. Every one of them has a story that ought to be heard.

Statement #1 taken by Fathi Jaouadi.

From Ramle Prison, 3rd July 2009.

My name is M.

I am 26 years old.

I am a Palestinian born in Al Quds and I hold a birth certificate showing this. My family comes from a village called Sour Bahr.
We have two houses there owned by my grandfather who fled in '48 to Jordan and left the houses with my Aunt.

When I was 5 years old I went with my family to Jordan to bring back the papers that proved our ownership of these two houses. We stayed in Jordan for 2 years and then, when we had all the papers we came back to Sour Bahr.

I lived all my life in one of the houses and some of my family lived in the other. We always used to make our way between our two houses which were only minutes apart from each other.

However when the Wall was built, it split our two houses apart. It used to take minutes and then it took 4 hours to go from house to house.

The house I lived in was in the West Bank, the other on the side of the Wall that is Al Quds.

When I was 16 I began the process to try and obtain Israeli ID so that I could continue to enter Al Quds and go to our house that was on the other side of the Wall.

Every day my mother would go to the Interior Ministry to try and obtain my ID. She contacted many lawyers about the case but although she worked on this for 8 years, there was no result. During this time I tried often to visit our house on the Al Quds side of the wall and every time I was caught by the Israeli forces and sent back to the West Bank.

When I was 24 years old I had a fight with a friend, I was caught by Israel during the fight and imprisoned for 1 years.

I am a normal Palestinian trying to live a normal life. I am not involved in any political movement and I have no security issues with Israel. I am just trying to live my life, but when I had served my time in prison for fighting with a friend, Israel could not decide where to release me.

My birth certificate said Al Quds but I had no Israeli ID. When Israel started investigating, they discovered that when I was 5 years old I had gone with my family to Jordan for 2 years.

It was then that I was told by an Israeli judge that the Law states:
`Any Palestinian who spends 2 years outside Israel has no right to return'

I have since seen Judge twice in the past two months. and he has told me that I will be returned to Jordan.

But Jordan has refused to accept me. So now I have been told I will just have to wait in prison.

I am very depressed now and hate my life. I am afraid of how long they will make me wait. It could be years. I am afraid I will be sent to Jordan. I have no one in Jordan. I was there when I was 5 years old! All my family are in Palestine. I know if they send me to Jordan I will never be allowed back into Palestine. I will never be allowed to see my family again. And I have done nothing.

I just want to be allowed to live a simple life with my family and the people I know and love, in my own land.

--
Greta Berlin
Free Gaza Movement
357 99 284 102
www.freegaza.org

===

Interview from a kidnapped passenger, Adie Mormech
Prison Cell, Givon Jail, Ramle, Israel

Adie Mormech, one of over 21 human rights workers and crew taken prisoner on Tuesday 30th June when their boat was forcibly boarded by the Israeli navy, has spoken by mobile phone from his prison cell at Givon jail, Ramle, near Tel Aviv.

Amongst the other prisoners from the Free Gaza Movement boat, Spirit of Humanity, are Nobel Peace prize winner, Mairead Maguire, and former US Congresswoman, Cythnia McKinney. A message from McKinney on 2nd July condemned Israel for its "illegal" action in "dismantl[ing] our navigation equipment" and confiscating both the ship and its cargo of medical aid, childrens' toys and olive trees.

McKinney went on to say that "State Department and White House officials have not effected our release or taken a strong public stance to condemn the illegal actions of the Israeli Navy of enforcing a blockade of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians of Gaza, a blockade that has been condemned by President Obama."
The Free Gaza campaign succeeded in entering Gaza by sea on several occasions in 2008, carrying humanitarian aid, medical personnel, journalists and human rights workers. However, later attempts have been met with aggression by the Israeli navy, with one boat, the Dignity, having to seek refuge and repairs in Lebanon after being rammed three times by an Israeli warship.

In a brief interview with Andy Bowman of Manchester's Mule newspaper (http//
www.themule.info), Mr Mormech gave the following account:
How are you being treated?

It's bad, but the conditions are OK for me, I've not been beaten up, they're a bit nasty sometimes and when they boarded the boat we had our faces slammed against the floor. It was bad for the older women like Mairead.

The four other UK nationals are in the cell with me. There's 14 of us in the 7 by 7 meter cell which includes the toilet and shower, so very crowded. It's very hot and there's only a tiny window. We get awakened at 6 in the morning for an inspection and have to stand to attention, and then they repeat that at 9 am, and we are only allowed out of the cells for a few hours each day. They keep giving us forms to sign but they are in Hebrew so we don't. Although I'm able to cope here, other people are less comfortable than me in the situation. If we're here for a long time – like some of the other people in here have been – then it will be tough.

Have you had access to a lawyer yet?

We have, and at the moment we're discussing what to do about our deportation. They've taken our personal items – laptops, cameras, phones and many other valuables, and we want to find out where these are. They obviously want to deport us as quickly as possible, but some of us are thinking about fighting the deportation. Firstly on the basis that if we get deported we won't be allowed into the occupied West Bank or Israel for another 10 years, but also, because we didn't intend to come here to Israel – we intended to go to Gaza, and went directly from international waters into Palestinian waters. There is nothing legal about what Israel has done to us grabbing us like this. We're considering fighting the deportation on the grounds that we shouldn't accept and legitimize this barbaric military blockade of Gaza.

If you challenge the deportation could you remain in prison for a while longer?

Yes we could – there's some people that need to get home, but some will challenge. And for those it will be a few more weeks in prison at least, we expect.

And you?

I'm veering towards challenging it on the basis that it's a scar on my name to accept that I shouldn't have been here, but in fact I have every right to go to Gaza just as everyone else does. That's the whole point of these voyages and that's the principle we want to stick to.

Have they told you what has happened to the cargo of the boat?

No, we don't know what they're doing with it. We've been told a lot of lies so far about where we're going and what's happening to us, so we just don't know. They're already prepared to deprive the people of Gaza of a lot of aid anyway.

What is your message to people back in the UK?

This is not about us here in the cells, it's about the denial of human rights to the people of Palestine, and in particular the inhumane blockade of Gaza. People must not forget about what is happening to Gaza. At the moment they are even being denied food and medical supplies. After the carnage of the 1500 people killed in January, we won't forget and we'll keep on going and keep fighting for the human rights of the people of Palestine.

The Israelis are hopping mad. And they're flexing their muscles in all the ugly places. They can't ram us again without sparking an international uproar, so they're trying to stop us from leaving the port at all. The Limasol, Cyprus Port Authority which controls the port of Larnaca also, sent their inspector to Larnaca with a letter saying that the boat failed inspection, only thing, the letter was written BEFORE he even arrived in Larnaca to do the inspection! Reuters is doing the story at this very moment saying that we were prevented from leaving due to Cypriot authorities. We just learned from a Cyprus government source that pressure is being applied by Israel to deny us departure credentials. It appears, then, that Israel is putting us into contortions because they don't want us to take cement into Gaza. After white phosphorus, depleted uranium, DIME, cluster bombs, F16s, death, destruction, and mayhem. All of *this* over a few bags of cement. Can you believe???

 

1. Read the Haaretz article here, showing Israeli concern about us taking

    cement to Gaza

 

2. Hear the interview with Don Debar on the contortions we're being put

    through by Cyprus Port Authority

 

3. Read the Reuters article here (interesting that the story broke in Israel

    and not Cyprus!!)

 

4. Individuals have already started to contact the Cyprus UN Mission and their

    DC Embassy to inquire why they are arbitrarily not allowing the Spirit of

    Humanity and the Free Gaza to set sail.

 

1. Here is the Ha'aretz article:

 

Activists plan to send Gaza cement, in violation of Israel blockade

By Reuters and Haaretz Service

June 18, 2009

 

Activists campaigning for an end to Gaza's blockade by Israel will sail to the Hamas-run enclave from20Cyprus despite the presence of the Israeli navy, they said on Thursday.

 

Two boats, including one carrying cement and building supplies -- materials not permitted in by Israel over fears that they could be used for military purposes -- will sail from Cyprus on June 25, the multi-national Free Gaza Movement said.

"We are taking 15 tons of cement, which is just a token of how much the Palestinians need, because the Israelis won't allow building supplies into Gaza," said Greta Berlin, a representative of the group.

 

The group started regular shuttles to Gaza from Cyprus in August 2008, but was turned back by the Israeli navy on its last journey in mid-January of this year.

Israel tightened a blockade on Gaza in 2007 after the Islamist Hamas took control of the enclave, a strip of land that is home to 1.5 million people.

 

Israeli forces bombed and then invaded Gaza in late December 2008 in a bid to rout out militants lobbing rockets into Israel, badly battering its already decrepit infrastructure.

 

Related articles:

* U.S. ups pressure on Israel to end Gaza blockade http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1093870.htm

* Ex-president Carter urges Obama to remove Hamas from U.S. terror list http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1093577.html

 

2. Hear Greta Berlin and I explain what is happening with the purposeful delay of our departure.  http://www.livestream.com/wbaix

 

3. Read the Reuters article:

Cyprus halts aid boats bound for Gaza Strip

LARNACA, Cyprus, June 25, 2009 (Reuters) –

 

Cyprus stopped two boats planning to carry aid to the Gaza Strip in defiance of an Israeli blockade from leaving port on Thursday, officials said. The U.S.-based Free Gaza Movement had been planning to take 33 activists to Gaza with medical supplies and cement, a material that Israel does not allow into the Palestinian territory devastated by a short war that ended early this year.

 

The Free Gaza Movement started sending regular aid voyages from Cyprus to Gaza in August 2008, but one of its boats was involved in a collision with an Israeli vessel in December, and was turned back on another mission in January.

 

Cypriot shipping officials cited inspection requirements for stopping the two vessels, a small ferry and a sailing boat, from leaving port two hours before their scheduled departure. Both vessels had traveled to Gaza before.

 

"One of the ships was only recently registered in Cyprus and under Cyprus law it has to undergo inspection before being given permission to sail," said Serghios Serghiou, head of Cyprus's Department of Merchant Shipping. "(The second) ... did not apply for any inspections before sailing." Israel tightened a blockade on Gaza in 2007 after the Islamist group Hamas took control of the enclave, a tiny sliver of territory home to some 1.5 million people. Israel bans imports of cement, steel or other building supplies to Gaza, saying militants could use them for military purposes. One of the vessels was to carry 15 tons of cement. Israeli forces bombed then invaded Gaza in late December 2008 with a declared aim of ending cross-border rocket attacks from the Hamas-ruled territory. The war damaged infrastructure and hurt an economy already hobbled by years of isolation.

 

(Writing by Michele Kambas, editing by Lin Noueihed)

((michele.kambas@thomsonreuters.com; 357 22469607; Reuters

messaging michele.kambas.reuters.com http://michele.kambas.reuters.com/ @reuters.net http://reuters.net/ )) Keywords: PALESTINIANS ISRAEL/ACTIVISTS

 

We are determined to depart, if not today, then tomorrow.

 

http://www.livestream.com/dignity

http://dignity.ning.com/

http://www.twitter.com/dignityaction

http://www.myspace.com/dignityaction

http://www.myspace.com/runcynthiarun

http://www.twitter.com/cynthiamckinney

http://www.facebook.com/CynthiaMcKinney

 

Cynthia McKinney - From London
March 29, 2009:

Hello! I'm currently in London, invited by the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War, to participate in a Forum for Palestine sponsored by the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The event is taking place at the Marriott Grosvenor Hotel on March 31, 2009. This one-day Forum will feature the Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato Serri Rais Yatim giving the opening address and former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Mahathir presenting the keynote address. I will speak for about 20 minutes on the Genocide in Palestine and, of course, what happened to me in international waters while on a boat carrying medical supplies, attempting to reach the beseiged people of Gaza.

Of course, it is right here in London that George Galloway's triumph must be marked of reaching Gaza by land in a convoy of vehicles. Even in triumph, M.P. Galloway acknowledged that they still had to ask Israel's permission for some of the vehicles to enter Gaza. Nonetheless, what Galloway did was absolutely phenomenal and those of us who tried to reach Gaza by sea, through the territorial waters of the Gaza remained committed to that goal. However, we must deal with the issue of impunity. Right now, we see that justice is blind--meaning that those most in need of justice are the ones to whom the system of justice constructed in our country and internationally, is blind. We must change that.

For those of you who are, or who have friends who are in London, please pass this message along. It would be great if we could have a better-than-expected turnout of our Power to the People friends who are "across the pond."

I am in the process of putting a message together on the current economic morass into which Obama's economic team, following Bush's, is leading us. In short, what Washington, D.C. is doing is devoid of all sense, unless the objective is to aid and abet those who want to rob the taxpayer. During our Power to the People campaign, we put forward some principles that would ensure that the economy of the United States was one that worked for the people. In the time since then, I've met some wonderful "people's economists" who point the way with practical policy recommendations that are being ignored. Heck, even David Walker, the US former Comptroller, is still being ignored. It's not rocket science--although those in charge would want you to believe it is. And the it's not being done because those in charge don't want us to be the arbiters of our economic destiny. More on that later. In the meantime, enjoy this Bendib cartoon:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Ruminations on President Obama's Tenure Thus Far
and "Acceptable Punditry"
March 2, 2009

I have played around with this idea for hours now, on whether or not to write this piece. But the events of the last few hours, I believe, mandate that I raise my voice once again.

I have read and re-read President Obama's Joint Congressional Address. All of the "acceptable punditry" have spoken and given the President glowing reviews. And so, to them and the population that still believes in them, "All is right with the world." But for the rest of us, who refuse to swallow the pill that puts us into the Matrix, a good dose of reality is strongly called for.

But reality is not what we're getting, not even from one of the national columnists whom I've met, Maureen Dowd.

I think Maureen Dowd characterized it as "Spock at the Bridge." Now, being the Trekkie that I am, that headline grabbed my attention. I nearly gagged, however, when I got to the line supposedly from President Obama calling President Bush to proclaim, "'I’m ending your stupid war.' Mission Relinquished."

Why write things like this now that it is clear that the Obama Administration is continuing the Bush policies for missile strikes inside Pakistan; torture; rendition for torture; public release of Bush Administration e-mails; illegal wiretaps; status of prisoners at the U.S. base in Bagram, Afghanistan; and workplace immigration raids?

For the record, President Obama is also pursuing Bush policies on Iran and Israel. As recently as yesterday, President Obama's Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, responded when asked whether Iran was capable of building an atom bomb. Admiral Mullen replied, "We think they do, quite frankly."

Dowd concludes her "Spock" piece by imbuing the President with "a Vulcan-like logic and detachment." But I think the detachment of "acceptable" political punditry from the real world is what is totally lamentable. In the process, they render themselves irrelevant.

So, it's clear. I'm about to step into marshy soil here, by noting that I found 19 questionable Obama policies or statements in his Joint Congressional speech delivered three days before his announcement that upon the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq, up to 50,000 U.S. troops could remain through 2011, after the "pullout."

And while various "mint" operations are peddling Obama "Change" coins for purchase, complete with a certificate of authenticity, I wade further into the muck by noting that the President continues the giveaway of our hard-earned coins to an economic team intent on keeping mismanagement structures in place, serving economic ends that do not constitute the common good. I would refer readers to the many statements that I issued during the final days of our Power to the People Green Party Presidential campaign about re-creating an economic system truly and finally owned by the people, operating in our interest. It is possible to do that. All it requires is enough political will.

But what forces me out into the open marshland of "non-mainstream" political punditry has to do with the latest Obama "pullout:" the decision to withdraw from the April 2009 Geneva United Nations World Conference Against Racism, dubbed Durban II.

We heard the same palaver in 2001 from the same forces inside our country, basically that a discussion of Zionism, in the context of such a Conference, would be anti-Semitic; therefore all the world's dispossessed and marginalized people must continue to suffer and sacrifice while muting their grievances so that no discussion of Israel would take place on the world stage in this context.

Well, in 2001, upon hearing this line of reasoning, I went to then-Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairwoman, Eddie Bernice Johnson, and asked if I could be appointed as the CBC Task Force Chair on Durban. The non-participation argument was also a handy "peg on the track" with the potential of derailing many conversations, including a real discussion about the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the issue of reparations. Respectful of the excellent preparatory work that had been done, I wanted to avoid that outcome.

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson made the appointment and I led a delegation of 5 Members of Congress to Durban.

The current Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Barbara Lee, was a member of my delegation to Durban. From my position on the International Relations Committee, we successfully argued for U.S. participation in that Conference at a Hearing designed to quash our effort. We not only met with then-United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, we also presented her with the untold story of COINTELPRO and the remaining unsolved deaths of its Black Panther Party member victims, commissioned by me and written by Kathleen Cleaver and Paul Wolf.

Our CBC Chairwoman made a beautiful statement of why it was imperative that the United States join with our Native American and Latino brothers and sisters and with oppressed peoples all over the planet and not only make our statement of solidarity, but also institute policies at the Congress that recognized their needs. It is incorrect to say that the United States was not present at Durban. We were there and only when the duties of Congress pressed us to return to Washington, DC did the Bush Administration make a big deal about anti-Semitism and then staged its phony walk out. The United States delegation of Congressional Black Caucus Members was there to support the phenomenal work of U.S. activists and the African and Caribbean delegations, in particular. I think everyone in Durban was moved by the plight of the Dalits in India and understood better the surging political power of Afro-Latinos.

Durban was a clear victory for the world's marginalized peoples, including those of us who reside inside the United States. But, when the Congressional Delegation returned to the U.S., there was no time for celebration because the tragedy of September 11, 2001 unfolded.

What has happened in the interim has devastated the very people that Durban was designed to address, unfortunately, much of it due to U.S. policy. Now is not the time for the United States to shrink from this call.

In order to prevail in Durban, I had to go toe to toe with the Anti-Defamation League and Members of Congress Tom Lantos and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who, among many other Members of Congress, vociferously denounced Durban. This was something that I did because I felt it was the right thing to do. Given Israel's recent actions in Gaza that have brought upon it the world's opprobrium, I can imagine that this is the last point in time that Israel might want to revisit Durban. Israel has said that it will not attend the Conference in Geneva.

Early last year, a government official announced Canada's decision to not attend Durban II after deeming the Conference to be anti-Israel. Shortly afterwards, France followed suit with French President Nicolas Sarkozy stating that the "excesses of 2001" transformed the Conference "into an intolerable platform against the State of Israel." I would note also that France must be particularly loath to discuss racism now with what is happening in Guadeloupe and Martinique as I write this piece. And remembering that Paris, itself, was literally on fire just a few years ago.

The UK, which has been under severe racial tests with Asians rebelling openly in the streets since Durban 2001, and the Netherlands have both threatened to withdraw their support for the Conference if a "negative spiral" of events takes place. Interestingly, these remarks came at the same time as the release of a European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance report which found that the tone of Dutch political and public debate on immigrant integration, racism, and other issues relevant to ethnic minorities, had experienced a "dramatic deterioration."

So, we shouldn't be surprised that the racism stress test is revealing cracks and fissures in human relations. But the United States and President Obama should not shield them or this country from these stresses. This Conference gives us the opportunity to get the issues out in the open and to deal with them. That's the way to put them to an end. The world might have changed because of events occurring in September 2001, but it wasn't because the United Nations successfully convened the World Conference Against Racism.

And now that I am as completely in the middle of the marsh as I was as completely in the international waters of the Mediterranean Sea when my boat was rammed by the Israelis, let me make an observation about one aspect of marshes. I have witnessed the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets on the Savannah, Georgia marshland. And the most beautiful rainbows. Being away from the glass and concrete can give one a better perspective.

I observed last year that I thought U.S. voters went to the polls in large numbers to try and regain a bit of dignity lost during the eight years of outright banditry played out in our names, with our resources, against our interests. But I was reminded at the recently adjourned Transpartisan Alliance convention in Colorado that dignity will not come without first an acknowledgment of the truth: with truth we can have justice; and with justice we can have peace; and it is only with peace that we can truly have dignity. Something as easy as a vote, alone, is not going to be enough to wrest us from this mess that has been wrought.

This morning, I sent the following message to the White House:

‘Mr. President, it was with great disappointment that I read of your decision to pull out of Durban II. Even the Bush Administration, under pressure from the Congressional Black Caucus, provided some funding for the United Nations effort and sent staff to support the Congressional delegation that attended the Conference. I was there. I was head of the Congressional Black Caucus Task Force that negotiated Congressional and Administration engagement on this issue. There is still time for the U.S. to participate. Your decision is not irrevocable. I would encourage you to please reconsider this decision and not only attend the Conference, but also provide funding to ensure its success."

I implore the Members of the Congressional Black Caucus to spearhead the participation of the United States in the United Nation's World Conference Against Racism: to boldly go where we have gone before. Dr. King reminded us that "the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." On this issue, President Obama has shown us his measure. I hope that the Congressional Black Caucus and the Progressive Caucus and the Democratic Caucus can show us, oh, so much more.

 

Oh What a Day!
December 30, 2008:

I'm so glad that my father told me to buy a special notebook and to write everything down because that's exactly what I did.

When we left from Cyprus, one reporter asked me "are you afraid?" And I had to respond that Malcolm X wasn't afraid; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn't afraid. But little did I know that just a few hours later, I would be recollecting my life and mentally preparing myself for death.

When we left Cyprus, the Mediterranean was beautiful. I remember the time when it might have been beautiful to look at, but it was also filthy. The Europeans have taken great strides to clean it up and yesterday, it was beautiful. And the way the sunlight hit the sea, I remember thinking to myself that's why they call it azure. It was the most beautiful blue.

But sometimes it was rough, and we got behind on our schedule. We stayed on course, however, despite the roughness of the water and due to our exquisite captain.

There were no other ships or boats around us and night descended upon us all rather quickly. It was the darkest black and suddenly, out of nowhere, came searchlights disturbing our peace. The searchlights stayed with us for about half an hour or so. We knew they were Israeli ships. Who else would they be?

They were fast, and they would come close and then drop back. And then, they'd come close again. And then, all of a sudden there was complete blackness once again and all seemed right. The cat and mouse game went on for at least one half hour. What were they doing? And why?

Calm again. Black sky, black sea. Peace. And then, at that very moment, when all seemed right, out of nowhere we were rammed and rammed again and rammed again the last one throwing me off the couch, sending all our food up in the air; and all the plastic bags and tubs--evidence of sea sicknesses among the crew and passengers--flew all over the cabin and all over us. We'd been rammed by the Israelis. How did we know? Because they called us on the phone afterwards to tell us that we were engaging in subversive, terroristic activity. And if that if we didn't turn around right then and return to Larnaca, Cyprus, we would be fired upon. We quickly grabbed our lifevests and put them on. Then the captain announced that the boat was taking on water. We might have to evacuate. One of my mates told me to prepare to die. And I reflected that I have lived a good and full life. I have tasted freedom and know what it is. I was right with myself and my decision to join the Free Gaza movement.

I remembered my father's parting words, "You all will be sitting ducks." Just like the U.S.S. Liberty. We were engaged in peaceful activity, a harmless pleasure boat, carrying a load of hospital supplies for the people of Gaza, who, too are sitting ducks, currently being bombarded in aerial assault by the Israeli military.

It's been a long day for us. The captain was outstanding. Throughout it all, he remained stoic and calm, effective in every way. I didn't know how to put my life jacket on. One of the passengers kindly assisted me. Another of the passengers pointed out that the Israeli motors for those huge, fast boats was U.S. made--a gift to them from the U.S. And now they were using those motors to damage a pleasure boat outfitted with three tons of hospital supplies, one pediatrician, and two surgeons.

I have called for President-elect Obama to say something. The Palestinian people in the Gaza strip are seeing the worst violence in 60 years, it is being reported. To date, President-elect Obama has remained silent. The Israelis are using weapons supplied to them by the U.S. government. Strict enforcement of U.S. law would require the cessation of all weapons transfers to Israel. Adherence to international law would require the same. As we are about to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, let us remember that he said:

1. The United States is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, and

2. Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent about things that matter.

I implore the President-elect to not send Congress a budget that contains more weapons for Israel. We have so much more to offer. And I implore the Congress to vote "no" on any budget and appropriation bills that provide more weapons transfers, period.

Israel is able to carry out these intense military maneuvers because taxpayers in the U.S. give their hard-earned money to our Representatives in Congress and our Congress chooses to spend that money in this way. Let's stop it and stop it now. There's been too much blood shed. And while we still walk among the living, let us not remain silent about the things that matter.

We really can promote peace and have it if we demand it of our leaders.

mckinneyimage.jpg
 
 A Funny Thing Happened to Me
 on My Way to the Damascus
 Conference
November 23, 2008

Today, November 23rd, I was slated to give remarks in Damascus, Syria at a Conference being held to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, sadly, the 60th year that the Palestinian people have been denied their Right of Return enshrined in that Universal Declaration. But a funny thing happened to me while at the Atlanta airport on my way to the Conference: I was not allowed to exit the country.

I do believe that it was just a misunderstanding. But the insecurity experienced on a daily basis by innocent Palestinians is not. Innocent Palestinians are trapped in a violent, stateless twilight zone imposed on them by an international order that favors a country reported to have completed its nuclear triad as many as eight years ago, although Israel has remained ambiguous on the subject. President Jimmy Carter informed us that Israel had as many as 150 nuclear weapons, and Israel's allies are among the most militarily sophisticated on the planet. Military engagement, then, is untenable. Therefore the exigency of diplomacy and international law.

The Palestinians should at least be able to count on the protections of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What is happening to Palestinians in Gaza right now, subjected to an Israeli-imposed blockade, has drawn the attention of the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who noted that over half of the civilians in Gaza are children. Even The Los Angeles Times criticized Israel's lockdown of Gaza that is keeping food, fuel, and medicine from civilians. Even so, Israel stood fast by its decision to seal Gaza's openings. But where are the voices of concern coming from the corridors of power inside the United States? Is the subject of Palestinian human rights taboo inside the United States Government and its government-to-be? I hope not. Following is the speech I would have given today had I been able to attend the Damascus Conference.

Cynthia McKinney

Right of Return Congregation
Damascus, Syria
November 23, 2008

Thank you to our hosts for inviting me to participate in this most important and timely First Arab-International Congregation for the Right of Return. Words are an insufficient expression of my appreciation for being remembered as one willing to stand for justice in Washington, D.C., even in the face of tremendously difficult pressures.

Former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir, thank you for including me in the Malaysian Peace Organisation's monumental effort to criminalize war, to show the horrors of the treatment of innocent individuals during the war against and occupation of Iraq by the militaries and their corporate contractors of Britain, Israel, and the United States. Thank you for standing up to huge international economic forces trying to dominate your country and showing an impressionable woman like me that it is possible to stand up to "the big boys" and win. And thank you for your efforts to bring war criminal, torturer, decimator of the United States Constitution, the George W. Bush Administration, to justice in international litigation.

Delegates and participants, I must declare that at a time when scientists agree that the climate of the earth is changing in unpredictable and possibly calamitous ways, such that the future of humankind hangs in the balance, it is unconscionable that we have to dedicate this time to and focus our energies on policies that represent a blatant and utter disregard for human rights and self-determination and that represent in many respects, a denial of human life, itself.

In the same year as Palestinians endured a series of massacres and expulsions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights became international law. And while the United Nations is proud that the Declaration was flown into Outer Space just a few days ago on the Space Shuttle, if one were to read it and then land in the Middle East, I think it would be clear that Palestine is the place that the Universal Declaration forgot.

Sadly, both the spirit of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the noblest ideals of the United Nations are broken. This has occurred in large measure due to policies that emanate from Washington, D.C. If we want to change those policies, and I do believe that we can, then we have to change the underlying values of those who become Washington's policy makers. In other words, we must launch the necessary movement that puts people in office who share our values.

We need to do this now more than ever because, sadly, Palestine is not Washington's only victim. Enshrined in the Universal Declaration is the dignity of humankind and the responsibility of states to protect that dignity. Yet, the underlying contradictions between its words and what has become standard international practice lay exposed to the world this year when then-United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour proclaimed:

"In the course of this year, unprecedented efforts must be made to ensure that every person in the world can rely on just laws for his or her protection. In advancing all human rights for all, we will move towards the greatest fulfillment of human potential, a promise which is at the heart of the Universal Declaration."

How insulting it was to hear those words coming from her, for those of us who know, because it was she who, as Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, willfully participated in the cover-up of an act of terror that resulted in the assassination of two democratically-elected Presidents and that unleashed a torrent of murder and bloodletting in which one million souls were vanquished. That sad episode in human history has become known as the Rwanda Genocide. And shockingly, after the cover-up, Louise Arbour was rewarded with the highest position on the planet, in charge of Human Rights.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that justice delayed is justice denied. And 60 years is too long to wait for justice.

The Palestinian people deserve respected self-determination, protected human rights, justice, and above all, peace.

On the night before his murder, Dr. King announced that he was happy to be living at the end of the 20th Century where, all over the world, men and women were struggling to be free.

Today, we can touch and feel the results of those cries, on the African Continent where apartheid no longer exists as a fact of law. A concerted, uncompromising domestic and international effort led to its demise.

And in Latin America, the shackles of U.S. domination have been broken. In a series of unprecedented peaceful, people-powered revolutions, voters in Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and most recently Paraguay used the power of the political process to materially change their countries' leadership and policy orientation toward the United States. Americans, accustomed to the Monroe Doctrine which proclaimed U.S. suzerainty over all politics in the Western Hemisphere, must now think the unthinkable given what has occurred in the last decade.

Voters in Cote d'Ivoire, Haiti, Spain, and India also took matters clearly in their hands to make "a clean break" from policies that were an affront to the interests of the majority of the people in those countries.

In country after country, against tremendous odds, people stood up and took their fates in their hands. They did what Mario Savio, in the 1960s, asked people in the United States to do. These people-powered, peaceful revolutions saw individuals put their bodies against the levers and the gears and the wheels of the U.S. imperial machine and they said to the owners if you don't stop it, we will. And I know that people of conscience inside my country can do it, too: especially now that the engines of imperial oppression are running out of gas.

Even though the Democratic Party, at the Convention that nominated Barack Obama, denied its microphone to Former President Jimmy Carter because of his views on Palestine, let me make it clear that Former President Carter is not the only person inside the United States who believes that peace with justice is possible in Palestine.

Inside the United States, millions who are not of Arab descent, disagree vehemently with the policy of our government to provide the military and civilian hardware that snuffs out innocent human life that is also Arab.

Millions of Americans do not pray to Allah, but recognize that it is an inalienable right of those who do to live and pray in peace wherever they are--including inside the United States.

Even though their opportunities are severely limited, there are millions of people inside the United States struggling to express themselves on all of these issues, but whose efforts are stymied by a political process that robs them of any opportunity to be heard.

And then there are the former elected officials who spoke out for what was right, for universal application of the Universal Declaration, and who were roundly condemned and put out of office as a result. My father is one such politician, punished—kicked out of office--because of the views of his daughter.

In my case, I dared to raise my voice in support of the World Conference Against Racism and against the sieges of Ramallah, Jenin, and the Church of the Nativity. I raised my voice against the religious profiling in my country that targets innocent Muslims and Arabs for harassment, imprisonment, financial ruin, or worse. Yes, I have felt the sting of the special interests since my entry onto the national stage when, in my very first Congressional campaign, I refused to sign a pledge committing that I would vote to maintain the military superiority of Israel over its neighbors, and that Jerusalem should be its capital city.

Other commitments were on that pledge as well, like continued financial assistance to Israel at agreed upon levels.

As a result of my refusal to make such a commitment, and just like the old slave woman, Sojourner Truth, who bared her back and showed the scars from the lashes meted out to her by her slave master, I too, bear scars from the lashes of public humiliation meted out to me by the special interests in Washington, D.C. because of my refusal to tow the line on Israel policy. This "line" is the policy accepted by both the Democratic and Republican Party leadership and why they could cooperate so well to coordinate my ouster from Congress. But I have survived because I come from the strongest stock of Africans, stolen then enslaved, and yet my people survived. I know how to never give up, give in, or give out. And I also know how to learn a good political lesson. And one lesson I've learned is that the treatment accorded to me pales in comparison to what Palestinian victims still living in refugee camps face every day of their lives.

The treatment accorded to me pales in comparison to the fact that human life is at stake if the just-released International Atomic Energy Agency report is true when it writes that "The only explanation for the presence of these modified uranium particles is that they were contained in the missiles dropped from the Israeli planes." What are the health effects of these weapons, what role did the U.S. military play in providing them or the technology that underlies them, why is there such silence on this, and most fundamentally, what is going on in this part of the world that international law has forgotten?

Clearly, not only the faces of U.S. politicians must change; we must change their values, too. We, in the United States, must utilize our votes to effect the same kind of people-powered change in the United States as has been done in all those other countries. And now, with more people than ever inside the United States actually paying attention to politics, this is our moment; we must seize this time. We must become the leaders we are looking for and get people who share our values elected to Congress and the White House.

Now, I hope you believe me when I say to you that this is not rocket science. I have learned politics from its best players. And I say to you that even with the failabilities of the U.S. system, it is possible for us to do more than vote for a slogan of change, we can actually have it. But if we fail to seize this moment, we will continue to get what we've always been given: handpicked leaders who don't truly represent us.

With the kind of U.S. weapons that are being used in this part of the world, from white phosphorus to depleted uranium, from cluster bombs to bunker busting bombs, nothing less than the soul of my country is at stake. But for the world, it is the fate of humankind that is at stake.

The people in my country just invested their hopes for a better world and a better government in their votes for President-elect Obama. However, during an unprecedented two year Presidential campaign, the exact kind of change we are to get was never fully defined. Therefore, we the people of the United States must act now with boldness and confidence. We can set the stage for the kind of change that reflects our values.

Now is not the time for timidity. The U.S. economy is in shambles, unemployment and health insecurity are soaring, half of our young people do not even graduate from high school; college is unaffordable. The middle class that was invested in the stock market is seeing their life savings stripped from them by the hour. What we are witnessing is the pauperization of a country, in much the same way that Russia was pauperized after the fall of the Soviet Union. There are clear winners and the losers all know who they are. The attentive public in the United States is growing because of these conditions. Now is the time for our values to rise because people in the United States are now willing to listen.

So the question really is, "Which way, America?"

Today we uplift the humanity of the Palestinian people. And what I am recommending is the creation of a political movement inside my country that will constitute a surgical strike for global justice. This gathering is the equivalent of us stepping to the microphone to be heard.

We don't have to lose because we have commitment to the people.

And we don't have to lose because we refuse to compromise our core values.

We don't have to lose because we seek peace with justice and diplomacy over war.

We don't have to lose.

By committing to do some things we've never done before I'm certain that we can also have some things we've never had before.

I return to the U.S. committed to do my part to make our dream come true.

Thank you.

For more information on Cynthia McKinney please visit www.allthingscynthiamckinney.com.


"And advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool."
--PNAC, Rebuilding America's Defenses, p. 60
 
"The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can "throw the rascals out" at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy."
--Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in our Time

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