1/1/09 Cynthia McKinney: We Lived to
Tell the Story: Lebanon Rescued Us
Former Rep. Cynthia McKinney says the aid ship she was on was rammed
by an Israeli warship, an allegation Israel denies. (CNN)
An Israeli patrol boat struck a vessel carrying supplies to Gaza.
CNN's Karl Penhaul was on board the "Dignity."
From: Cynthia McKin ney (OFFICIAL)
Date: Jan 1, 2009 3:15 PM
January 1, 2009 - We Lived to Tell the Story: Lebanon Rescued Us
Yesterday, we met with the President of Lebanon, the Chief of the
Military, and the Interior Minister who all thanked us for responding and
risking our lives on a mission of mercy; we profusely thanked them for
What would we have done, stranded out at sea, prohibited from reaching our
destination, low on fuel, with a badly damaged boat if Lebanon had not
accepted us? Lebanon sent their ships to find us. Lebanon
rescued us. Lebanon welcomed us. And we are truly thankful.
It's official now. We've been told that the sturdy, wood
construction of our boat, Dignity, is the reason we are still alive.
Fiberglass would probably not have withstood the impact of the Israeli
attack and under different circumstances, we might not be here to tell the
story. Even at that, the report that came to us yesterday after the
Captain and First Mate went back to Sour (Tyre) to inspect the boat was
that it was sinking, the damage is extensive, and the boat will take, in
their estimation, at least one month to repair. Tomorrow, we will
bring the Dignity from Sour to Beirut. And now, we must decide what
to do and from where we will do it and how we are to get back to wherever
that might be.
My personal, and I know the group's, thanks must go to Al Jazeera, that
allowed three of their reporters to be onboard with us on our voyage.
As a result, Al Jazeera carried the story of the Dignity live, from
castoff in Cyprus when our spirits were high, right up through the
manacing maneuvers of the huge, super fast Israeli ships before they
rammed us, the Israeli calls on the ship phone after the ramming calling
us terrorists and subversives and telling us to return to Cyprus (even
though the Israelis later claimed that they didn't know who we were, they
knew enough about us to tell us where we had come from), and the fact that
we didn't have enough fuel to follow their instructions, right up to their
threat to fire at us if we didn't turn around, ending with our beaten-up
boat limping into Sour harbor in Lebanon. Al Jazeera carried our
story as "breaking news" and performed a real service to its
audience and to us. Al Jazeera called the Israelis to inquire about
the incident right as it was happening and I am sure the Israelis were
prepared to leave none to tell the story. Al Jazeera told the story
and documented it as it was happening.
One of those Al Jazeera reporters with us was Sami El-Haj, who was
detained in Guantanamo by the United States for six incredibly long years.
What an honor to even exchange glances with such a humble man who had
endured so much pain at the hands of the U.S. government. I
apologized to him that my tax dollars were being used in such a despicable
way. And Sami's crime according to the U.S.? Born in Sudan,
and reporting for Al Jazeera in Afghanistan, Sami was the wrong color, the
wrong nationality, the wrong religion, reporting for the wrong news
outfit, telling us the truth about a wrong war. And for that he
survived incarceration for six long years. Sami El-Haj, Guantanamo
prisoner number 345.
Another incredibly committed journalist who was with us was CNN's Karl
Penhaul. Karl reported the truth even when his own station was
repeating Israeli disinformation. The fact that we were traveling
with these alert journalists added to the flat-footedness and obvious
crudeness of the Israeli response. Sadly, Israel has changed its
story too many times to count, and that's because they are not telling the
We lived to tell the story. Karl's incredible reporting, just
a portion of our story, can be seen on CNN at:http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/12/30/gaza.aid.boat/index.html
where there's also video and a photo of our damaged boat. A little
more of the story and film of the extensive damage can be seen at:http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/12/30/gaza.aid.boat/index.html#cnnSTCVideo
This video and the photos of Karl's report is particularly interesting
given that Israel claims that our boat was only scratched and that, in
actuality, our captain, while trying to outmaneuver them, damaged their
I'm told that CNN only played my full statement once--and that's the time
that it aired live. Of course, they cut the reference to the U.S.S.
Liberty. What are they afraid of?
Last night I was on PressTV.com, along with others who were on the
Dignity, and we debated a representative from WINEP, the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy. I reminded the audience that the
Palestinians don't have nuclear weapons, depleted uranium munitions, white
phosphorous, or F-16s, but the Israelis do. The facts, however, tend
to get garbled after being processed by the "Grand Wurlitzer"
organ of state-sponsored disinformation utilizing the world's press.
With the truth clearly on our side, Israel has been reduced to releasing
the ridiculous bombast below, given to me by a reporter who came to our
hotel in Beirut for a visit. With their multiple, conflicting
stories, it is clear that the Israelis did not expect us to live to tell
On the drive from Sour through Saida to Beirut, we were welcomed like
heroes because our ordeal had been seen by everyone on Al Jazeera.
The mayor of Sour came to welcome us. The mayor of Saida insisted
that we stop there, on our way to Beirut, for a special ceremony.
But there was something else that was visible along our drive, and that is
the devastation that Lebanon, itself, has received as a result of the
Israeli war machine. The scars of the war are still evident
everywhere. I will write more on that tomorrow.
And one final note, President-elect Obama roared like a mighty lion onto
the political scene, but now he is as silent as a lamb in the face of the
death and destruction that is happening in Gaza. As we approach the
birthday celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. let us remember what
Dr. King said:
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the
silence of our friends."
And after five days of aerial bombardment by Israel, the carnage in Gaza
Here is the palaver that the Israelis put out for public consumption.
It is pitiful that a powerful and mighty country like Israel would be
reduced to publishing something so petty and weak as the following press
release dated December 30, 2008:
Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast
Office of Media Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Israel continues to take its humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza
seriously. Border crossings into Gaza remain open, and every effort
is being made to deliver aid to the Palestinian people. Nearly 100
trucks carrying relief supplies entered Gaza on the 28th & 29th of
December and additional shipments are arriving. Israel is working
closely with UNSCO, UNRWA, the Red Cross, and WHO to ensure the entry of
the required aid, especially food and medical equipment.
Unfortunately, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has taken it upon
herself to commit an act of provocation, leading a small boat of supposed
assistants into the conflict zone. She endangered herself, her
assistants, and the vessel's crew. The Israeli navy hailed Ms.
McKinney but the former Congresswoman failed to respond, thereby leading
to the incident. We regret that during this time of crisis, while
Israel is battling with the terrorist organization of Hamas and defending
its citizens, that we are forced to deal with Ms. McKinney's irresponsible
Consulate General of Israel
to the Southeast
1100 Spring St NW, Ste 440
Atlanta, GA 30309-2823
Green Party condemns Israel's massive air attack on Gaza, calls on US
to rein in Israel and seek a ceasefire
GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES
For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624, cell 202-904-7614, email@example.com
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, 916-995-3805, firstname.lastname@example.org
Green presidential candidate McKinney is safe after the SS Dignity,
carrying relief to Gaza, is rammed by an Israeli gunboat in international
Greens challenge Obama to press Israel to comply with international law
and end the illegal occupation of Gaza and other Palestinian lands
WASHINGTON, DC -- The Green Party of the United States calls for an
immediate end to Israel's bombing attacks on Gaza, which in the past four
days has already caused at least 364 deaths, including Palestinian women
and children, with hundreds more wounded.
"It's clear that President Bush gave a green light for Israel's
massive and disproportionate display of force. The Green Party demands
that the US seek a bilateral ceasefire, with immediate pressure on Israel
to stop the bombardment and end the occupation," said Rosa Clemente,
the Green Party's 2008 candidate for Vice President of the United States (http://www.rosaclemente.com).
Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party's 2008 presidential candidate, had
joined the Free Gaza Group (http://www.freegaza.org)
on the SS Dignity, which sailed from Cyprus to deliver three tons of
medicine and humanitarian aid to Gaza in defiance of an Israeli blockade.
Ms. McKinney was safe after Israeli gunboats attempted to intercept the
Dignity last night and one gunboat illegally rammed the vessel in
international waters, 90 miles off the Gaza coast (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/30/israel-gaza-aid-ship).
Despite damage sustained in the encounter, the Dignity has docked safely
in Lebanon and Ms. McKinney is on her way to Beirut.
In an interview on CNN (http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2008/12/30/am.lebanon.aid.boat.mckinney.cnn),
Cynthia McKinney said, "What we have gone through pales in comparison
to what the people of the Gaza Strip are suffering." Ms. McKinney is
challenging President-elect Barack Obama to condemn Israel's attacks on
Greens noted that Hamas, the target of Israel's aerial bombardment, was
democratically elected in 2006, and that Israel and the US have been
trying to remove Hamas from power, especially by attempting to spark a
civil war between Hamas and Fatah.
Since its election, Hamas has repeatedly offered to talk with Israel, but
Israel has rejected all such overtures. Hamas had observed a five-month
truce that was broken on November 4 when Israeli Defense Forces killed
five Palestinians. In retaliation, Hamas responded with missiles which
over the last month have injured one Israeli and caused property damage.
The Green Party categorically condemns all violence visited on unarmed
"Palestinians are living under an occupation that has continued
despite numerous UN directives ordering Israel to withdraw. Israel's
latest lethal assault will only intensify the crisis and inflict further
suffering on the Palestinian people. Two thirds of Gazans are refugees --
some doubly so, from 1948 and 1967 -- and all Gaza residents are living in
conditions comparable to a medieval siege. Israel must comply with
international law and ends its illegal military occupation of the West
Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, dismantle the illegal separation wall,
make restitution to Palestinians whose lands have been seized, and
recognize the Palestinian right of return. If President Obama wants to
make history by resolving the Middle East conflict, he must press Israel
to take these steps," said Hajja Romi Elnagar, Louisiana Green and
member of the Green Party's International Committee (http://www.gp.org/committees/intl).
"The current assumption in the US media that this is a symmetrical
conflict between equals is as absurd as the claim that Israel's bombs are
not threatening women and children. Israel is the world's fourth most
powerful military nation, a nuclear power that enjoys support from the US,
while Palestinians are impoverished, with many living without electricity,
water, food, and medicine for weeks," said Ms. Elnagar.
As a result of the Israeli blockade, 80% of Gazans live on less than two
dollars a day. Unemployment hovers at 50-60% in Gaza, with only 195
factories, reduced from 3,900 in 2005. Israel has barred the delivery of
UN relief to Gazans.
The Green Party has called for an end to US military aid to Israel and
supports the movement for international boycott, divestment, and sanctions
against Israel until Israel ends the occupation, obeys international law
(including Geneva Conventions and the UN's Universal Declaration of Human
Rights), and guarantees full human rights for Palestinians. The party
supports efforts by Palestinian and Israeli peace groups towards a
nonviolent negotiated resolution to the conflict.
The Green Party also endorses complete regional (and, ultimately, global)
nuclear disarmament to remove the threat of a nuclear exchange in the
Middle East and Asia. Greens have expressed concern that Barack Obama will
bow to demands from AIPAC and other pro-Israel lobbies and maintain the
Clinton and Bush administrations' uncritical support for Israel's military
objectives and human rights violations.
Green Party of the United States http://www.gp.org
Tally of Green election victories http://www.gp.org/2008-elections/election-results.html
Green candidate news http://www.gp.org/2008-elections/candidate-news.php
Green candidate database for 2008 and other campaign information: http://www.gp.org/elections.shtml
Green Party News Center http://www.gp.org/newscenter.shtml
Green Party Speakers Bureau http://www.gp.org/speakers
Green Party ballot access page http://www.gp.org/2008-elections
Cynthia McKinney/Rosa Clemente 2008 'Power to the People' Campaign for the
Green Party press releases:
"Greens call the 60th anniversary of Israel an occasion to affirm
international law, enact human rights, and end the illegal occupation of
Palestinian territories" (May 19, 2008)
"Greens: Obama's AIPAC speech reveals he has embraced Bush propaganda
on Iran, may support an attack" (June 12, 2008)
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