Cynthia McKinney’s no martyr

Cynthia McKinney back in Washington, July 8, 2009

Former six-term Congress member Cynthia McKinney is no martyr. Although the political establishment gives her “no respect,” she is no Rodney Dangerfield. Her plight is identical to that of millions of people around the world.

Snakebit, is an accurate way of describing the scorn in which she is held throughout the corporate-owned media.

For an entire week she languished in an Israeli jail, with only e-mail notices reporting on her whereabouts and her well being. No helicopter gun-ships were sent off the offending country’s coast. No warships. Not even any threatening diplomatic language.

On June 28 out on the open seas, a boat on which she was a passenger was hijacked by Israeli Defense Forces and the 21 persons on board–including Ms. McKinney and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire were arrested. The boat was carrying humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip and it was captured on the open seas!

“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,” Ms. McKinney said in a statement released by the Green Party July 4.

“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,” the statement continued.

“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?” Ms. McKinney continued.

In Washington, supporters organized daily vigils near the Israeli embassy for the “Free Gaza 14.” Many of the original Free Gaza 21 has already been released, including now, Cynthia McKinney.

“The response (of the U.S. government) has been monitoring, and they say, intervening with discussions, but there has not been the sort of response that in your memory and mine would be the case of even U.S. citizens, much less U.S. Congress people, former or current being pirated at sea and kidnapped and taken under custody by any country or element. I think there would have been a great hue and cry and even perhaps some intervention by military means,” Mr. Judge told this writer

“Americans taken hostage are generally responded to with military force, or covert operations, or certainly public statements of outrage. But not in this case. This is the exceptionalism that seems to surround both these issues of Israel-Palestine, and Cynthia McKinney herself.” That’s the “martyr” syndrome some folks are trying to inflict on Ms. McKinney.

Not everyone sees the picture so darkly. Richard Falk the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories denounced the “unlawful naval seizure by an Israeli gunboat on the high seas of a ship carrying medicine and reconstruction material to blockaded people of Gaza,” according to a U.N. statement released electronically from Geneva.

“This Israeli action implements its cruel blockade of the entire Palestinian population of Gaza, in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that prohibits any form of collective punishment directed at an occupied people,” Mr. Falk said. “Such a pattern of continuing blockade under these conditions amounts to such a serious violation of the Geneva Conventions as to constitute a continuing crime against humanity,” said the human rights authority.
The peace activists on the boat were charged with “illegal entry” into Israel even though they had no intention of going to Israel.

McKinney’s supporters protested at the Israeli embassy demanding that Israel “stop the blockade of humanitarian aid to Gaza; release U.S. citizens and Congress woman McKinney from prison; release all aid workers from prison and restore property.”

But most protests of Israeli policy get a deaf ear in this country, so she might as well be Rodney Dangerfield, because issues and individuals who find fault with Israeli will continue to “get no respect” in this country.

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