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Cynthia McKinney’s letter from an Israeli prison


gaza_swimming_pool-by-latuffThis is not the last word on McKinney’s attempts at trying to help the people of Gaza, she has already said she will join George Galloway’s attempt to enter Gaza from the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border, but her letter is worth a mention and her sacrifice at great peril to her own personal safety should be noted.

This is Cynthia McKinney and I’m speaking from an Israeli prison cellblock in Ramle. [I am one of] the Free Gaza 21, human rights activists currently imprisoned for trying to take medical supplies to Gaza, building supplies – and even crayons for children, I had a suitcase full of crayons for children. While we were on our way to Gaza the Israelis threatened to fire on our boat, but we did not turn around. The Israelis high-jacked and arrested us because we wanted to give crayons to the children in Gaza. We have been detained, and we want the people of the world to see how we have been treated just because we wanted to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.

At the outbreak of Israel’s Operation ‘Cast Lead’ [in December 2008], I boarded a Free Gaza boat with one day’s notice and tried, as the US representative in a multi-national delegation, to deliver 3 tons of medical supplies to an already besieged and ravaged Gaza.

During Operation Cast Lead, U.S.-supplied F-16’s rained hellfire on a trapped people. Ethnic cleansing became full scale outright genocide. U.S.-supplied white phosphorus, depleted uranium, robotic technology, DIME weapons, and cluster bombs – new weapons creating injuries never treated before by Jordanian and Norwegian doctors. I was later told by doctors who were there in Gaza during Israel’s onslaught that Gaza had become Israel’s veritable weapons testing laboratory, people used to test and improve the kill ratio of their weapons.

The world saw Israel’s despicable violence thanks to al-Jazeera Arabic and Press TV that broadcast in English. I saw those broadcasts live and around the clock, not from the USA but from Lebanon, where my first attempt to get into Gaza had ended because the Israeli military rammed the boat I was on in international water … It’s a miracle that I’m even here to write about my second encounter with the Israeli military, again a humanitarian mission aborted by the Israeli military.

The Israeli authorities have tried to get us to confess that we committed a crime … I am now known as Israeli prisoner number 88794. How can I be in prison for collecting crayons to kids?

Zionism has surely run out of its last legitimacy if this is what it does to people who believe so deeply in human rights for all that they put their own lives on the line for someone else’s children. Israel is the fullest expression of Zionism, but if Israel fears for its security because Gaza’s children have crayons then not only has Israel lost its last shred of legitimacy, but Israel must be declared a failed state.

I am facing deportation from the state that brought me here at gunpoint after commandeering our boat. I was brought to Israel against my will. I am being held in this prison because I had a dream that Gaza’s children could color & paint, that Gaza’s wounded could be healed, and that Gaza’s bombed-out houses could be rebuilt.

But I’ve learned an interesting thing by being inside this prison. First of all, it’s incredibly black: populated mostly by Ethiopians who also had a dream … like my cellmates, one who is pregnant. They are all are in their twenties. They thought they were coming to the Holy Land. They had a dream that their lives would be better … The once proud, never colonized Ethiopia [has been thrown into] the back pocket of the United States, and become a place of torture, rendition, and occupation. Ethiopians must free their country because superpower politics [have] become more important than human rights and self-determination.

My cellmates came to the Holy Land so they could be free from the exigencies of superpower politics. They committed no crime except to have a dream. They came to Israel because they thought that Israel held promise for them. Their journey to Israel through Sudan and Egypt was arduous. I can only imagine what it must have been like for them. And it wasn’t cheap. Many of them represent their family’s best collective efforts for self-fulfilment. They made their way to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. They got their yellow paper of identification. They got their certificate for police protection. They are refugees from tragedy, and they made it to Israel only after they arrived Israel told them “there is no UN in Israel.”

The police here have license to pick them up & suck them into the black hole of a farce for a justice system. These beautiful, industrious and proud women represent the hopes of entire families. The idea of Israel tricked them and the rest of us. In a widely propagandized slick marketing campaign, Israel represented itself as a place of refuge and safety for the world’s first Jews and Christian. I too believed that marketing and failed to look deeper.

The truth is that Israel lied to the world. Israel lied to the families of these young women. Israel lied to the women themselves who are now trapped in Ramle’s detention facility. And what are we to do? One of my cellmates cried today. She has been here for 6 months. As an American, crying with them is not enough. The policy of the United States must be better, and while we watch President Obama give 12.8 trillion dollars to the financial elite of the United States it ought now be clear that hope, change, and ‘yes we can’ were powerfully presented images of dignity and self-fulfilment, individually and nationally, that besieged people everywhere truly believed in.

It was a slick marketing campaign as slickly put to the world and to the voters of America as was Israel’s marketing to the world. It tricked all of us but, more tragically, these young women.

We must cast an informed vote about better candidates seeking to represent us. I have read and re-read Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s letter from a Birmingham jail. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I too would one day have to do so. It is clear that taxpayers in Europe and the U.S. have a lot to atone for, for what they’ve done to others around the world.

What an irony! My son begins his law school program without me because I am in prison, in my own way trying to do my best, again, for other people’s children. Forgive me, my son. I guess I’m experiencing the harsh reality which is why people need dreams. [But] I’m lucky. I will leave this place. Has Israel become the place where dreams die?

Ask the people of Palestine. Ask the stream of black and Asian men whom I see being processed at Ramle. Ask the women on my cellblock. [Ask yourself:] what are you willing to do?

Let’s change the world together & reclaim what we all need as human beings: Dignity. I appeal to the United Nations to get these women of Ramle, who have done nothing wrong other than to believe in Israel as the guardian of the Holy Land, resettled in safe homes. I appeal to the United State’s Department of State to include the plight of detained UNHCR-certified refugees in the Israel country report in its annual human rights report. I appeal once again to President Obama to go to Gaza: send your special envoy, George Mitchell there, and to engage Hamas as the elected choice of the Palestinian people.

I dedicate this message to those who struggle to achieve a free Palestine, and to the women I’ve met at Ramle. This is Cynthia McKinney, July 2nd 2009, also known as Ramle prisoner number 88794.

Israel Warns EU to tone down


Warnings usually accompany threats, as in ‘if you don’t stop doing this I’m going to do something in response’, so what is Israel’s warning of consequence?

Israel warned the European Union on Thursday to tone down its criticism of the new Israeli government or risk forfeiting the bloc’s role as broker in Mideast peace efforts.

So my question is what is it Israel can threaten the European Union with? Israeli military threats against Europe have been made before and with rabid Israeli politicians now in power, the implication of Israel’s warning is probably not lost on Europeans.  Also, Israel has never accepted the EU’s role as a peace broker, the latest Gaza offensive, is proof of that when the Israelis bombed, strafed and blocked aid supplies to Palestinians in Gaza which came from Europe.  What is really at stake here is Israeli access to European markets.  The Israelis want to ply their trade of espionage, industrial, political and military and they can’t do that now as easily as they can in the US.  Evidently old habits die hard in the relations between Europeans and Jews.

Paper is a WMD according to Israel


We’ve blogged about how israel considers clothes a WMD and has blocked them from entering Gaza but now comes word the Israelis are blocking paper that will be used to print textbooks from entering Gaza as well.   Now before you go off and think the textbooks will be about pigs and monkeys, a term I was called by an Israeli for insisting what’s happening in Gaza is “genocide”, you should know the textbooks that will be printed are human rights courses which are modeled on those developed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, with input from the human rights community in Gaza. They will be taught by specialist human rights teachers in every school, and human rights organizations in Gaza will evaluate the teachers’ performance. This should come as no surprise since the Israelis the biggest violators of human rights in the Middle East want to continue the myth that they are the victims.

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Palestinian civilians: An expendable commodity


They left behind their own unique detritus: bullet casings, roasted peanuts in tins with Hebrew script, a plastic bag containing a “High Quality Body Warmer”, dozens of olive-green waste disposal bags, some empty, some stinking full – the troops’ portable toilets.

But most disturbing of all was the graffiti they daubed on the walls of the ground floor. Some was in Hebrew, but much was naively written in English: “Arabs need 2 die”, “Die you all”, “Make war not peace”, “1 is down, 999,999 to go”, and scrawled on an image of a gravestone the words: “Arabs 1948-2009”.

There were several sketches of the Star of David flag. “Gaza here we are,” it said in English next to one.

The genocidal nature of the Israeli invasion of Gaza was designed to kill, intimidate or humiliate the civilian population. Any Hamas killed would probably be considered an unintended consequence; the primary target was the civilian population and the Israelis would use any means necessary.  Those means meant that many were, are, illegal.

On 17 January, a number of white phosphorous shells struck the yard of an UNRWA school in Beit Lahia, causing panic among the 1,600 civilians who had taken refuge there. While evacuating the shelter, an explosive shell struck the third floor of the school, killing two brothers, aged five and seven, and injuring 14 others including the boys’ mother. UNRWA has demanded an independent investigation into this incident. A total of more than 50 UN facilities have sustained damaged since 27 December. There are no bomb shelters in the Gaza Strip, and no alarm systems to warn of impending bombardment.

The Israelis knew where everyone of the UN facilities were and who was in them….civilian refugees fleeing the bombardment or advancing Israeli army.  The claim that  white phospherous was used was responded to by the Israelis that the use of all military munitions was in accordance with international conventions.  A rather dastardly response which further indicates how Israelis view Palestinians in general as all being terrorists.

1. It is prohibited in all circumstances to make the civilian population as such, individual civilians or civilian objects the object of attack by incendiary weapons.
2. It is prohibited in all circumstances to make any military objective located within a concentration of civilians the object of attack by air-delivered incendiary weapons.
3. It is further prohibited to make any military objective located within a concentration of civilians the object of attack by means of incendiary weapons other than air-delivered
incendiary weapons, except when such military objective is clearly separated from the concentration of civilians and all feasible precautions are taken with a view to limiting the
incendiary effects to the military objective and to avoiding, and in any event to minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects.

Israel agreed to the above conditions when it signed the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, but obviously doesn’t abide by it, or has a very loose definition of what is a civilian.  In the case of Palestinians there are none.

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