[hq2600] From Cynthia McKinney: U.K. Parliament Set to Debate our Abduction Tonight; Read this: The Villification of Cynthia McKinney
hq2600 at gmail.com
Mon Jul 13 09:25:06 PDT 2009
The U.K. House of Commons, like our House of Representatives, is set to
debate our abduction by the Israelis. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could
get real debate in the U.S. Congress on all the real issues? Seems, as long
as we accept palaver, we will get palaver. The House of Commons debate is
set for tonight.
Here's the announcement from the U.K.:
House Of Commons To Debate Abduction Of Human Rights Workers Bound For
Gaza *WorldNews.com,Mon 13 Jul 2009* *[image: E Mail]Email this story to a
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* [image: Nobel peace prize winner, Mairead Maguire, at a press
conference following her abduction, by the Israeli Navy, from a boat
delivering aid to Gaza. (Photo:
peace prize winner, Mairead Maguire, at a press conference following her
abduction, by the Israeli Navy, from a boat delivering aid to Gaza.(LONDON)
- The House of Commons will tonight be debating the interception of a boat
in international waters by the Israeli Navy and the abduction of six British
civilians on board. The debate will be led by Emily Thornberry, MP, and
constituent MP for Alex Harrison, a human rights worker who was one of those
On June 30th 2009 a small ferry, carrying 21 unarmed civilians and a small
amount of humanitarian aid, was forcibly boarded by armed Israeli commandos
as it sailed towards the partially destroyed seaport of Gaza city, in the
besieged Gaza Strip.
The boat, the Spirit of Humanity, was in international waters at the time it
was taken. Through the night prior to the boarding, the boat had been
sailing only by compass after its navigational systems had been jammed by
Israeli war ships which had surrounded and trailed the boat. The Navy had
also threatened to fire on those on board. Following the boarding, in which
the Al Jazeera journalists on board had their cameras taken, and in which at
least one passenger was assaulted, the boat, its cargo and the 21 were
forcibly taken to Israel, where they were then charged with illegally
entering the country. The British film maker on board, Ishmahil Blagrove,
managed to retain footage of the night's events.
The voyage was the latest attempt by the international Free Gaza movement
to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, which results in the
imprisonment of the 1.5 million population and conditions of desperate
poverty and siege conditions for the civilian population.
"People in Gaza are being made to live in subhuman conditions. Children are
dying, and governments are silent. It is important to continue sending boats
to Gaza to challenge the criminal blockade enforced by the Israeli
military," said Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza organiser and who was on board the
Amongst the human rights workers on board was Nobel peace prize winner,
Mairead Maguire, Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. Congresswoman from Georgia
and award winning British film maker Ishmahil Blagrove. Six of those on
board, including the Captain, were British, and after almost a week in
Israeli custody the six were deported to Britain.
British supporters of Free Gaza contrast the silence of the British Foreign
Office over the abduction and false imprisonment of six of its citizens with
their very public reaction to the arrest of British Embassy staff in Iran.
The Free Gaza movement is most concerned, however, with what the abduction
in international waters reveals about Israeli determination to enforce its
illegal blockade, to prevent any attempt by human rights workers to travel
to Gaza, and by the silence of international governments, including the
British Government, to Israeli actions.
Free Gaza movement www.freegaza.org
 Debate, 'The interception of the boat The Spirit of Humanity', is due to
take place at approximately 10 p.m. Monday 13th July 2009.
 The Free Gaza Movement, a human rights group, sent two boats to Gaza in
August 2008. These were the first international boats to land in the port in
41 years. Since August, four more voyages were successful, taking
Parliamentarians, human rights workers, and other dignitaries to witness the
effects of Israel's draconian policies on the civilians of Gaza. On December
30, their boat, the DIGNITY was rammed in international waters, on its way
to deliver emergency medical supplies to the people of Gaza, while they were
under the infamous attack by Israel. Contact them at www.freegaza.org. For
photos, please check www.flickr.com/photos/29205195 at N02/
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Jul-09-09 07:53 PM
Original message *The Vilification of Cynthia McKinney*
It makes me sad and angry to hear Cynthia McKinney accused of bigotry.
Itâs bad enough to hear right wingers do that â thatâs to be expected.
But to hear charges like that spread on progressive web sites is depressing.
During her 12 year Congressional career, Cynthia McKinney was one of our
most progressive members of Congress. In these times when so many Democratic
members of Congress have disappointed us so much by their failure to stand
up for liberal/progressive causes, I am especially appreciative of a
congresswoman who has been consistently unafraid to stand up for what she
(and we) believes in.
Because of her outspokenness on some key issues, there are few if any
members of Congress who have been as feared and hated by the powerful as
much as Cynthia McKinney. This
article<http://www.workers.org/2006/us/mckinney-0824/>sums up many of
the reasons for that:
First elected to Congress in 1992, McKinney was an outspoken opponent of the
Bush administrationâs policies on issues ranging from the war on Iraq to
cutbacks in social programs.
She took on the blatant disenfranchisement of Black voters in the Florida
election in 2000. She held a hearing that determined that Florida state
officials knowingly used faulty data to remove tens of thousands of
registered voters from the precinct lists for being convicted felons.
McKinney helped expose the horrific conditions of Katrina evacuees. She
castigated the Patriot Act and compared it to the FBIâs Cointel program
that targeted Dr. Martin Luther King, the Black Panther Party and other
freedom fighters during the 1960s. She stood up for African nations to get
favorable trade agreements and loans to improve their economies.
The right-wing focused on a lengthy radio interview she did in 2001, where
she commented on the Bush administrationâs objections to there being an
official investigation into 9/11. She stated that the public had the right
to know what the administration and the various governmental agencies knew
about any impending threats and when they knew. In this period prior to the
onset of the war on Iraq, any and all criticism of the Bush administration
was treated as heresy. McKinney was pilloried in the press, called a
âwackoâ and worse...
As a result of McKinneyâs many high profile words and actions, her primary
opponent in her 2002 bid for
Georgiaâs 4th District House seat âwas massively assisted by a
national media campaign of slander against McKinneyâ. She won her seat
back in 2004, but in 2006 her seat was targeted again, thus ending her
Congressional career (apparently), as she was the only Congressional
Democrat to lose her seat that year. Itâs a shame that some on the left
have bought into the right wing slander against her.
*A few words about anti-Semitism*
As I noted in my last
I know something about anti-Semitism because of my Jewish family history.
Much or all of my family from my parentsâ and grandparentsâ generations
were subjected to a great deal of anti-Semitism, and some were Holocaust
victims. So I learned a lot about anti-Semitism from my family, though
fortunately for me I was never subjected to much of it myself. Anyhow, in
making charges of anti-Semitism against people, we should get some
Derogatory comments about Jews as a people are anti-Semitic. Derogatory
comments about specific Jews, however, do not necessarily constitute
anti-Semitism â unless the derogatory comments are based on the fact that
the person is Jewish, rather than something else. For example, Iâve
criticized Joe Lieberman many times. That is not anti-Semitism unless I
specifically targeted him for criticism because he is a Jew.
Derogatory comments against Israel are NOT anti-Semitic â any more than
the criticism of *any* government is an indication of bigotry. For example,
I have posted numerous criticisms of my own government, and yet I donât
believe that that makes me anti-American or unpatriotic. By the same token,
voicing concerns about or criticizing those who
lobby<http://www.aipac.org/>on behalf of Israel in the United States
is not anti-Semitic.
Then there is a gray area with respect to Zionism.
Zionism<http://www.mideastweb.org/zionism.htm>was originally defined,
beginning in 1897, as a political movement aimed at
establishing a unique homeland for the Jewish people. Zionism was motivated
by the fact that Jews throughout many parts of the world had suffered
through many centuries of severe discrimination. Following the Nazi
Holocaust, Zionism became much more popular, for obvious reasons. Being
against Zionism was not *necessarily* a sign of anti-Semitism. There were
many Jews at the time who were not Zionists or who were against Zionism â
for many different reasons. Nor was it necessarily considered an insult to
be called a Zionist.
Today however, there are many people who use the word Zionist to denote
something akin to Jewish imperialism. Is that anti-Semitic? The way some
people use that word, it seems like a back-door means of expressing their
anti-Semitism. But in order to know whether use of that term is an
indication of anti-Semitism, one would have to consider the context in which
it is used, and/or make assumptions about a personâs motives in using it.
Thatâs why I say itâs a gray area. It may be that most people who use
that word today use it with anti-Semitic intentions. I donât want to argue
about that here. It is usually best not to use that word unless one makes it
clear how it is being used and that it is not meant as a slur against Jews.
*On the claim that Cynthia McKinney is anti-Semitic or bigoted*
Iâve heard the claim that Cynthia McKinney is anti-Semitic many times, yet
Iâve never heard her make an anti-Semitic statement. When Iâve looked
into those and other allegations against her Iâve never found anything
substantive. Articles that accuse her of anti-Semitism make wide use of
guilt by association, or cite criticism of Israel by McKinney herself as
proof of her anti-Semitism. Youâd think that if she was really
anti-Semitic her accusers would be able to find a single anti-Semitic
statement that she spoke or wrote herself.
For example, I recently listened to a radio interview in which McKinney was
accused of exhibiting anti-Semitic views. Though the interviewer made
several statements that could have been construed as anti-Semitic, McKinney
did nothing to facilitate that. She never used the word Jew or Zionist. She
did harshly criticize the Israeli government, primarily for its obstruction
of a humanitarian mission to
which she was involved in December 2008. She said that the boat she
on was surrounded by Israeli warships that purposely and with violent
intentions rammed her boat (the Dignity), threatened her and her fellow
passengers, and prevented the boat from completing its humanitarian mission.
She accused the Israeli government of lying about the episode in several
Only once during the interview did McKinney mention the Jewish people
(actually she said âthe people of Israelâ), as opposed to the Israeli
government. That was when she said something to the effect that she
believesâ¦ or hopes to believe that the vast majority of the people of
Israel are peace loving people who want to live in peace with their
neighbors. She made it clear that her complaints were with the Israeli
government, not its people.
And what about the complaint that McKinney shouldnât give interviews with
interviewers like that, or that she should have argued with him when he made
statements that could have been construed as anti-Semitic?
First of all, progressives are often interviewed by FOX News or other
bigoted or corporate news organizations. Wesley Clark was even a commentator
for FOX News. How many liberals have appeared on news shows with Pat
Buchanan or other like-minded talking heads, for example? Do we accuse them
of being bigots because of that?
Is there not a double standard operating here?
Secondly, McKinney granted this particular interview because she wanted to
register a public complaint against the actions of the Israeli government
â an ally of her own country â and draw attention to the humanitarian
crisis in Gaza. Would ârespectableâ news organizations in the United
States have granted her such an interview? Not likely. She had a point to
make, and she used that particular forum to make it. She didnât wish to
dilute her message by getting involved in a discussion about whether or not
her interviewer had anti-Semitic intentions with regard to his remarks about
Zionists. But she did not publicly agree with any remotely anti-Semitic
sentiments that may have been implied during the interview.
*The most important reason for right wing hatred of Cynthia McKinney*
McKinneyâs questioning of the Bush administrationâs role in the 9/11
attacks on our country, and her opposition to the Iraq War were probably the
biggest reasons why she became a right wing target. Indeed, it is fair to
say that her words about George Bush in this 2002
lineâ that many Americans consider sacred, especially with
regard to Bushâs role in the 9/11 attacks on our country, and also with
regard to McKinneyâs adamant opposition to the Iraq War.
I'm most proud of my work to hold this Administration accountable to the
American people. And after I've asked the tough questions, here's what we
That President Bush was warned that terrorists were planning to hijack
commercial aircraft and crash them into buildings in the USâ¦. (She then
lists much more evidence of pre-knowledge of the event)â¦.
All of this has become public knowledge since I asked the simple question:
What did the Bush Administration know and when did it know it? Now against
this backdrop of so many unanswered questions, President Bush wants us to
pledge our blind support to him. First, for his war on terrorism and now for
his war in Iraq. How can we, in good conscience, prepare to send our young
men and women back to Iraq to fight yet another warâ¦
*Letâs Not Help the Far Right in their Efforts to Destroy Cynthia
The far right and corporate interests in the United States have developed a
powerful, insidious and effective echo chamber for destroying those who pose
a threat to them. Letâs not forget the way that they repeatedly lied about
Al Gore <http://www.consortiumnews.com/2000/020100a.html> during the 2000
election campaign; how the zillions of repetitions of the âDean
destroyed Howard Deanâs Presidential candidacy in 2004; the swiftboating
of John Kerry <http://www.alternet.org/story/41375/> in 2004; or the Harry
and Louise adds
derailed a national health care plan during the Clinton
In large part, these efforts and many more were successful because they were
able to convince some moderates and even progressives to buy into their pile
of lies and exaggerations.
Cynthia McKinney has some issues with the nation of Israel, in particular
with their alliance with militant Neoconservatives in the United States. She
has not hesitated to voice her opinions on these issues. Her enemies,
especially those with an interest in propagating war in the Middle East,
have used this to paint her as anti-Semitic or bigoted, and too many people
have bought into that myth. As a matter of fact, the same people did the
same thing to former President Jimmy Carter, with respect to his book,
But this is NOT a âJewishâ issue. American Jews in general are far to
the left of the state of Israel and those Jews who lobby on behalf of Israel
in the United States. In 2008, Jews voted
President in overwhelming numbers (78%), more than any other religious
group, including ânoneâ and âotherâ. I feel certain that if my
parents were alive today that they would have similar criticisms of Israel
to those that McKinney has.
McKinneyâs courageous stands have gotten her into great trouble with the
far right and the powers that be on many occasions: Her steadfast anti-war
stance; her efforts on
the victims of Hurricane Katrina; her questioning of our
account of the events of 9-11; her introduction of impeachment
George W. Bush on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives;
her participation with the Free Gaza movement in helping to
relief to the people of Gaza; and most recently, her refusal
Israeli document that would have allowed her to be released from an
Israeli jail in return for admitting guilt for violating an Israeli blockade
in connection with her humanitarian mission.
Our country desperately needs politicians like Cynthia McKinney â
politicians who will not shrink from protecting the vulnerable or
criticizing the powerful. Her words and actions mean a great deal to us in
an era when so few public officials are willing to speak the truth about
grave abuses of power by high government officials. Those same words and
actions mark her out as a prime target for those whose main interest is in
maintaining the status quo. Consequently, her words and actions are
constantly twisted, exaggerated, and misinterpreted with the intent of
marginalizing, vilifying and demonizing her. Letâs hope that those who do
that donât continue to get away with it.
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