David Rovics has written an evocative song called “All Aboard the Mavi Marmara.” The Free Gaza team has added images in tribute to the nine brave men on board who gave their lives in pursuit of justice for the Palestinians.
Cynthia McKinney is a former US Representative who served from 1993-2003 and from 2005-2008 . She was the 2008 Green Party presidential nominee and has been an active member of the Free Gaza Movement. In 2004, The Backbone Campaign awarded her the fifth annual Backbone Award “because she was willing to challenge the Bush administration and called for an investigation into 9/11 when few others dared to air their criticism and questions.” Here, Ishmahil Blagrove, Jr. talks to McKinney about her experience with the situation in Gaza and her views on today’s political landscape.
Last year in the midst of the Israeli onslaught against the people of Gaza, you attempted to break the Israeli siege by entering by boat. What happened?
We were rammed by the Israelis. There I got a chance to see the complicity of the media. We had CNN on board and the CNN reporter was literally arguing in the midst of a tragedy; he was arguing with headquarters because they didn’t believe what he was telling them. They would have rather run the story as the Israelis told them. I have seen how the media self-censor, twist, contort themselves to report misleading stories and then they report outright lies.
Many of you have been asking us what has happened to the kidnapped passengers and our boat, The SPIRIT OF HUMANITY. Here then is our current update.
All 21 passengers have now left. Huwaida and Lubna were freed right away, because they hold Israeli citizenship.
Many passengers did not get all of their belongings back, many computers were stolen, some that were returned had their hard drives completely erased. Many of the pieces of camera equipment were not given back as well, and, of course, none of the tapes of the boarding, roughing up or incarceration of the 21 people who have been returned.
However, all passengers are already in their country or origin or are returning tonight. The London 6 had a press conference last night, the Bahraini 5 had a press conference in Bahrain over the weekend, and the Irish 2 are being feted tonight with a massive rally at Dublin airport. There will be a big reception and press conference there.
The two men from Al Jazeera have both been returned to Jordan through the Allenby bridge.
That leaves the three Americans… Cynthia McKinney, Kathy Sheetz and Adam Shapiro. We hear little from the American media about these three brave passengers, and it will be up to the Americans to express their outrage over their treatment. If they had been kidnapped by the military from Irah or Venezuela, their stories would have been all over the media. Because they were kidnapped by a ‘friendly’ nation, few in the U.S. have opened their mouths.
As far as Israel is concerned, we will demand that our boat be returned, that our equipment and tapes be returned, and they cease and desist their interference with our human rights trips to Gaza. Because we are going back. Israel can ram our boat, threaten us with bodily harm, shoot at us, board and confiscate the boat, shuttle us off to prison, and we will still return.
The outrage in many countries over what happened is muted by the fact that 11,000 Palestinians remain in Israeli jails, many without benefit of trial, many languishing for years without being able to see their families.
And this fact is something we must all remember. We came from countries around the world. We attempted to break Israel’s draconian siege of 1.5 million Palestinians. Even when arrested, the Israelis treated us with kid gloves, afraid of the consequences from governments, activists and human rights organizations. Who will stand up for the Palestinians and do the same thing?
Please go and watch, if you have not already, our video of our incarceration and the incarceration of Palestinian men, woman and children.
With grateful thanks from all of us to all of you.
McKinney released from Israeli Prison, returning to United States
Rhonda Cook and Larry Hartstein
The Atlantic Journal-Constitution
Cynthia McKinney’s mom said she’s learned that her daughter is on the way home.
Leola McKinney said a friend who contacted the U.S. Embassy in Israel reported that the former congresswoman was released from Israeli custody and taken to Ben Gurion International Airport.
“We finally got word that she was released,” Leola McKinney said late Sunday afternoon. “We don’t know what time she is supposed to fly out. All we know is that they took her to the airport.
“I would be more relieved when I know she’s on the flight,” Leola McKinney added. “But I am relieved that she’s away from there.”
McKinney had been in custody since Tuesday, when she and 20 others were swept up by the Israeli Navy while allegedly trying to sail through a navy blockade. The group says it was attempting to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza.
Larnaca, Cypus, July 3, 2009: This morning, the five kidnapped passengers from Bahrain left Israel via a private jet sent by their king. They will hold a press conference in Bahrain tonight at 7 pm Bahrain time. The two Al Jazeera journalists will be freed sometime today, their equipment given back to them but not the footage of the Israeli terrorist frogmen boarding the boat and roughing up some of the passengers.
All passengers are fine, but they are still imprisoned by a country that illegally boarded their small boat, towed it, and confiscated the supplies that had already been inspected in Cyprus.
The following message has come from Captain Denis inside the prison cell in Israel where he is being held, along with 11 more of our passengers, including former Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney and Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire.
“At least four of us went to a hearing yesterday, and we were told we were going to be deported. However, they did not tell us where we were going or when. The boat has been impounded and all of the charts stolen by the Israeli navy. The people at the prison told us we would get all of our stuff back today, but, so far, that has not been true.
It appears as though the Israeli government is drilling for natural gas in the buffer zone. That gas belongs to the people of Gaza. It seems to be one of their reasons for stopping us, perhaps they’re worried that we may go back and tell the world what we have seen.”
When asked if he thought the Free Gaza Movement would go again, his response was, “Of course. We’re going to get another boat, or more than one boat and we will head toward Gaza again.”
From the comments in Haaretz about the boat seizure
1. It is laughable that Israel is so scared of one tiny boat and 21 unarmed civilians. This shows the level of cowardice in Israel.
2. Israel has made sure this story will gain the publicity that allowing the boat to reach Gaza would not have created.
3. Israel has confiscated medical supplies, toys and olive trees, all items guaranteed to make Israel look pathetic.
4. Israel has again proven that they still occupy Gaza.
5. What is the difference between Somali pirates and the Israeli navy? The Israeli navy has no excuse for their actions.
6. Israel seem hellbent on making sure that Shalit stays in Gaza for the rest of his life.
Israel is not only a joke but it`s own worse enemy. I can`t wait to see how Israel spins this to a world still waiting for justice after the Gazan genocide of Jan/Dec.