by Minister of Information JR
People’s Advocate Cynthia McKinney has been and continues to be one of the most respected – and in many cases the only respected – member or former member of the federal government because of the stances she took on behalf of the people. Those stances seem to be the reason why a provocative amount of money was put into defeating her when she ran for re-election to her seventh term in Congress in 2007.
When she was in office, she took a stance to find out the government’s role in causing Hurricane America, which some call Katrina, as well as addressing the neglect of the survivors. She had a role in exposing the atrocities that were and still are happening in the Congo and U.S. corporations’ role in a war that has already claimed 6 million lives.
She has openly asked the federal government to open up their classified Cointelpro files on the assassinations of rapper Tupac Shakur and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She also told the world, while a Congresswoman, that she had evidence that Paul Robeson, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Biggie Smallz were assassinated. She was took a stance against police harassment at the Capitol when a police officer made the bogus charge that she assaulted him. I can’t name another congressperson, Black or white, including Obama, who has taken as courageous a stance as People’s Advocate Cynthia McKinney.
Recently she has been traveling to Gaza on human rights missions challenging the illegal Israeli military blockade. She, along with a number of others who were bringing humanitarian aid to the area, were confronted by the Israeli military on two occasions. The first time the Israelis rammed their ship and nearly sank it. The second time, People’s Advocate Cynthia and the rest of the Free Gaza 21 had their boat commandeered and were kidnapped by the Israelis and taken to prison. Check out the People’s Advocate in her own words.
M.O.I. JR: I’m honored to speak to you today, and I’m glad that you escaped the Israelis with your life. How are you?
Cynthia: I’m fine, but I am saddened that on my second effort to get to Gaza, I didn’t get there, yet again. If you’ll recall, the first time that I boarded the boat to go to Gaza, the Israeli Navy, the Israeli military, rammed our boat and destroyed our boat. And we were not able to get to Gaza. We had to be rescued by the Lebanese military.
M.O.I. JR: When was this? What month was this?
Cynthia: That was in December of last year. So now, the second time that I tried to get into Gaza, the Israelis literally kidnapped us, commandeered our boat and diverted our path away from Gaza to Israel, where I was held in Israeli prison for seven days. Now the important thing about going to Gaza by boat is this: If one attempts to go to Gaza by land, you have two choices – you could either go through Israel, through one of the checkpoints that connects Gaza with Israel, or you could go through the other checkpoint that connects Gaza to Egypt.
And of course for those that might not be aware, Egypt closely correlates its policies with that of Israel. So if Israel says close the border and don’t let anybody in and don’t let the Gazan people out, then Egypt will do exactly that. And there will be no movement of people or goods. And of course you know that generally there is no movement at all on the Israeli side.
But the people of Gaza have territorial water. And for those territorial waters, one need not ask the Egyptians or the Israelis for permission to enter Gaza. The people of Gaza, their governing structure, can grant access to those territorial waters. Well, that’s theoretically what’s supposed to happen, but instead what Israel has done is they’ve imposed a military blockade on Gazan territorial waters so that people can’t even get into Gaza through the Gazan territorial waters.
M.O.I. JR: As I understand, you, the boat and the other supporters were in international waters – am I correct? – when you were pirated into Israeli waters?
Cynthia: We were in international waters when the first boat was rammed by the Israeli military. Then we were in international waters when the Israeli military disabled our GPS and our communications systems and did some kind of very hi-tech wave that shook the boat, something I’ve never seen before. And that was done in the middle of the night when we were in international waters.
We were one mile inside Gaza’s territorial waters when the Israeli military commandeered the boat. And then they took us on a very circuitous route instead of taking us directly to Israel. They took us around in a circular kind of way, so that we would not be able to see what was happening in the Gazan waters.
The Gazan waters have recently been surveyed, and it is found to be very rich in natural gas deposits. We don’t know what is going on there but it very well could be that the Israelis have already begun to tap those natural gas deposits. But they actually belong to the people of Gaza.
M.O.I. JR: Let’s back up a little bit; can you tell the people how you embarked on this exact mission? And what happened this exact time?
Cynthia: Well, it’s the Free Gaza Movement, and their website is freegaza.org. And they are a human rights organization that is committed to opening the blockade against Gaza and doing it by sea so that one does not have to ask any other state’s permission in order to get into Gaza or for the people of Gaza to get out. So that is the idea behind what we’re doing.
We, on the boat, also carry humanitarian assistance. So for example in December when I was on the Dignity, we had three tons of medical supplies. This time, we had an additional three tons of medical supplies, but we also had school supplies for the children. And I personally had a suitcase full of coloring books, crayons, pencils, pencil sharpeners, water colors and paint brushes. Now that’s what we were taking to the children of Gaza.
And for Israel, which is the world’s fourth most powerful military, to say that their security is threatened because the children of Gaza have coloring books is ridiculous, but that is exactly what they say. And unfortunately, the special interest media report and repeat just that.
M.O.I. JR: As I understand, this trip was also in response to something that Obama has recently said. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Cynthia: Well, I think that a lot of people breathed a sigh of relief when they read reports that President Obama had sent messages to the Israelis demanding that they ease the blockade on Gaza and that they specifically allow in medical supplies, food, building supplies, and that was exactly what we had on our boat. So we thought surely that the Obama administration should back up its words with concrete actions to support our efforts. Unfortunately, the Obama administration did not do that.
M.O.I. JR: Can you talk a little bit about how the Israeli government pirated the ship? We understand that people’s faces were slammed on the ground, and then you were taken to Israeli prison. And I also read something that you guys put out about how there are other victims of this Israeli War in the area and that being the Ethiopians and you came in contact with a lot of Ethiopian women. Can you talk a little bit about that and your experience in prison?
Cynthia: Yes. Basically the Israeli military acted as militaries are prone to do. That is why we support peace and we are advocates of peace and we struggle very hard for peace so that the military will not have any job in occupation or in war making.
There were eight warships that surrounded us and four sea boats, and it is one of the sea boats that actually boarded us. And these were Israeli soldiers dressed like ninjas with the black ski masks, the heavy black boots. They had huge guns, and they had what looked like harpoons. They had every kind of military weapon that you could imagine. And all we had was crayons, suitcases and bags of crayons for the children. It was amazing.
They put us all in one room. They were rude, and you know they were talking a way “mucho macho” kind of talk. And our men, when they downed one of the women, our men came to her rescue. And then they were handcuffed. Then we were held when they took us on this extra long route – so that we ended up being on the boat for 37 hours – to Ashdod port, where we were detained by the military.
The military transferred us over to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior and from there we went to a detention facility, and from the detention facility we went to prison. While I was in prison, I got a chance to see that prisons in Israel, at least what I saw, are populated by people of color. One would not expect that but the men and women that I saw were from Africa and from Asia – lots of Ethiopians. The Ethiopians said that they thought that they were coming to the Holy Land, and they ended up instead getting sucked into the black hole of the Israeli injustice system.
M.O.I. JR: How did it work out when you got released? I understand that they wanted you guys to sign some documents, but they were only presented to you in Hebrew, and you refused. Can you talk a little bit about what went down and how you guys got released?
Cynthia: Well, in its Operation Cast Lead, where Israel used F-16s, white phosphorous, depleted uranium, DIME weapons, robotic weapons, cluster bombs – and it was given to them by U.S. taxpayers – Israel violated U.S. law. They also violated international law. And yet the Israelis wanted us to sign documents stating that we were in fact the criminals. And we refused to sign those documents.
The tribunal that we had to sit through was conducted in Hebrew and the paperwork that was given to us was in Hebrew, and of course no one of the Free Gaza 21 spoke Hebrew, so we totally didn’t know or didn’t understand what the proceedings were or what the decisions were that were made against us by the judge. Later I was told that one of the papers that was reflective of my experience with the judge stated that I was contemptuous of the courts because I asked – demanded actually – to have conversation with my lawyer before I spoke with the judge.
M.O.I. JR: So how did it come to the point where you guys were released?
Cynthia: The deportation went through its normal course and I think that that might have been speeded up because of the spontaneous demonstrations that took place across the country from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., New York. People in Haiti demonstrated in front of the Israeli embassy, people in Europe, people in Ireland, and so people were outraged even though there was a media blackout. When they learned about it, they were outraged about it. And I think that helped us to gain a speedy release.
M.O.I. JR: So they just took you to the airport and that was it?
Cynthia: They, yes, took us to the airport and got rid of us (laughing).
M.O.I. JR: With you being a former congresswoman and a former presidential candidate, how do you look at this experience that you went through and what the people of the area are going through under the terrorism of the Israeli state and how do you relate it to what’s going down in Honduras right now?
Cynthia: Well, of course the situation in Honduras is very similar to other situations where we’ve got the military having been prepared for their moment of triumph as a result of training that the taxpayers provide to judge these kinds of operations.
So I think I will conclude by saying that one has to look at the nature of Zionism now to understand just exactly the full importance of what Israel was allowed to get away with, with respect to the Free Gaza 21. If indeed this is the case, the significance of Zionism is that people can carry out these kinds of operations, can do these kinds of things with impunity, and at the same time can claim that the excuses that are given is because of a problem with national security or security of Israel or security of the Zionist state, it is that the children of Gaza can’t have coloring books and crayons because of the threat to the state of Israel, then we really do have a problem.