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We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that, among these, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; and, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it. -July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence

 

Home arrow Blog arrow July 2009 arrow July 4, 2009

July 4, 2009
July 4, 2009: Independence, Interdependence and HUMANITY UPDATED 8 AM EST @ end
On the morning of July 2, 2009 upon discovering the FREE GAZA website had crashed [due to heavy traffic] I phoned Greta Berlin, a founder and coordinator for the movement regarding the status of the 21 activists who were kidnapped on June 30th at gun point by Israeli Naval forces from the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, while it was sailing in international waters 23 miles off the coast of Gaza.

Greta said, "Two have been released and the Bahrainian's will be deported soon and hold a press conference when they land. The irony of it all is that Israel is probably going to charge them all with entering Israel illegally!"

I then phoned the US State Department Press office and left a message that as media I wanted to know what they are doing about the three Americans who had been kidnapped at gunpoint by Israeli Naval Forces while in international waters aboard a boat carrying token humanitarian aid but filled with the kind of hope that is angry at the way things are and courageous enough to do something to change the untenable situation in Gaza Palestine.

Within ten minutes I received a call back from spokesperson, Darby Holladay, but I couldn't take it at the time, for I had finally reached a human at the office of Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

On June 29th I left Regev my first voice message made while I was posting on my website that at the very moment the Israeli Navy had surrounded the FREE GAZA Movement boat and while in international waters it was being threatened and ordered to turn back or be fired upon.

Huwaida Arraf, one of the delegation leaders, was also on a phone at the time with the Israeli gunboats, and could be heard saying, "You Cannot Open Fire on Unarmed Civilians" several times.

Former U.S. Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney, from on board the SPIRIT was flaming "…angry. We demand that the Israeli government call off their attack dogs. We are unarmed civilians aboard an unarmed boat delivering medical and reconstruction aid to other human beings in Gaza. Why in God's name would Israel want to attack us and threaten our safety and welfare? I call on President Obama and the international community to intervene now to prevent this situation from escalating with potentially drastic results to the civilians on board."

Since the boat's navigation equipment was jammed, it turned westward to remain in international waters and the Captain and crew were forced to navigate by compass to stay clear of Israeli waters.

I didn't tell Regev's rep all of that, but I made it clear -as did Iran- that the new fourth estate is on the web and no government can stop the free flow of info. I ended my diatribe to Regev's patient rep with my new mantra: End the Siege, Free Gaza Palestine and Free Vanunu Now!

He thanked me "for all of that" and echoed the refrain most internationals will receive at any of the over 600 checkpoints in the West Bank, when after clearing security, the Israeli Occupying Force will wish one to, "Have a nice day."

I was having a blast and most grateful the unwitting rep from the State Department's Press office, could not see the huge smile upon my face as he told me that due to privacy issues he could not state who the three Americans were, but I could not resist a laugh and thought, how lame!

Anyone with an Internet connection can readily learn the abducted Americans are Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. congressperson and presidential candidate, Adam Shapiro, a documentary film maker and Kathy Sheetz, a nurse and film maker who was traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.

When Holladay reiterated Israel's claim that the unarmed boat was in Israeli waters I interrupted and informed him that no way will that float for the truth is already all over the Internet about the former ferry boat that was in international waters up until the Israeli Naval Forces commandeered her and drove her most recklessly to Israel.

I told Holladay that the State Department would be wise to keep informed about what's really happening  to the Americans @
 http://www.freegaza.org/

I also informed him that since February, I have made many phone calls, sent many emails and some faxes and snail mail letters to Clinton and Obama, requesting they speak up for Vanunu's right to leave Israel; but I have not received any reply and I want a statement as to why.

Holladay didn't thank me for any of that, but now that I have his number, he will hear much more from me next week, as will Regev's office.

I imagine the best good any of us can do at this time is be a like a gnat in the eye, a mosquito on the neck, a thorn in the side and a voice of conscience that speaks truth to power, for words can be the most powerful weapons.


Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls

For the times they have a changed



On July 3, 2009, the five kidnapped passengers from Bahrain left Israel via a private jet furnished by their king and the two Al Jazeera journalists will be freed but without the footage of the Israeli pirate-frogmen who boarded their boat and roughed up some of the passengers.

From his prison cell in Israel, Captain Denis said, "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."

No perhaps about it, and thanks for shining a light Captain Denis for "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea." –Rev. MLK



July 4th emails:
This letter was originally broadcast on WBAIX on July 3rd

Letter from an Israeli Jail

By Cynthia McKinney

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.

Cynthia McKinney is a former U.S. Congresswoman,  Green Party presidential candidate, and an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice. The first African-American woman to represent the state of Georgia, McKinney served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1993-2003, and from 2005-2007. She was arrested and forcibly abducted to Israel while attempting to take humanitarian and reconstruction supplies to Gaza on June 30th. For more information, please see http://www.FreeGaza.org

 



Interview from a kidnapped passenger, Adie Mormech

Prison Cell, Givon Jail, Ramle, Israel

Adie Mormech, one of over 21 human rights workers and crew taken prisoner on Tuesday 30th June when their boat was forcibly boarded by the Israeli navy, has spoken by mobile phone from his prison cell at Givon jail, Ramle, near Tel Aviv.

Amongst the other prisoners from the Free Gaza Movement boat, Spirit of Humanity, are Nobel Peace prize winner, Mairead Maguire, and former US Congresswoman, Cythnia McKinney. A message from McKinney on 2nd July condemned Israel for its “illegal” action in “dismantl[ing] our navigation equipment” and confiscating both the ship and its cargo of medical aid, childrens' toys and olive trees.

McKinney went on to say that “State Department and White House officials have not effected our release or taken a strong public stance to condemn the illegal actions of the Israeli Navy of enforcing a blockade of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians of Gaza, a blockade that has been condemned by President Obama.”

The Free Gaza campaign succeeded in entering Gaza by sea on several occasions in 2008, carrying humanitarian aid, medical personnel, journalists and human rights workers. However, later attempts have been met with aggression by the Israeli navy, with one boat, the Dignity, having to seek refuge and repairs in Lebanon after being rammed three times by an Israeli warship.

In a brief interview with Andy Bowman of Manchester's Mule newspaper (http//www.themule.info), Mr Mormech gave the following account:

How are you being treated?

It's bad, but the conditions are OK for me, I've not been beaten up, they're a bit nasty sometimes and when they boarded the boat we had our faces slammed against the floor. It was bad for the older women like Mairead.

The four other UK nationals are in the cell with me. There's 14 of us in the 7 by 7 meter cell which includes the toilet and shower, so very crowded. It's very hot and there's only a tiny window. We get awakened at 6 in the morning for an inspection and have to stand to attention, and then they repeat that at 9 am, and we are only allowed out of the cells for a few hours each day. They keep giving us forms to sign but they are in Hebrew so we don't. Although I'm able to cope here, other people are less comfortable than me in the situation. If we're here for a long time – like some of the other people in here have been – then it will be tough.

Have you had access to a lawyer yet?

We have, and at the moment we're discussing what to do about our deportation. They've taken our personal items – laptops, cameras, phones and many other valuables, and we want to find out where these are. They obviously want to deport us as quickly as possible, but some of us are thinking about fighting the deportation. Firstly on the basis that if we get deported we won't be allowed into the occupied West Bank or Israel for another 10 years, but also, because we didn't intend to come here to Israel – we intended to go to Gaza, and went directly from international waters into Palestinian waters. There is nothing legal about what Israel has done to us grabbing us like this. We're considering fighting the deportation on the grounds that we shouldn't accept and legitimize this barbaric military blockade of Gaza.

If you challenge the deportation could you remain in prison for a while longer?

Yes we could – there's some people that need to get home, but some will challenge. And for those it will be a few more weeks in prison at least, we expect.

And you?

I'm veering towards challenging it on the basis that it's a scar on my name to accept that I shouldn't have been here, but in fact I have every right to go to Gaza just as everyone else does. That's the whole point of these voyages and that's the principle we want to stick to.

Have they told you what has happened to the cargo of the boat?

No, we don't know what they're doing with it. We've been told a lot of lies so far about where we're going and what's happening to us, so we just don't know. They're already prepared to deprive the people of Gaza of a lot of aid anyway.

What is your message to people back in the UK?

This is not about us here in the cells, it's about the denial of human rights to the people of Palestine, and in particular the inhumane blockade of Gaza. People must not forget about what is happening to Gaza. At the moment they are even being denied food and medical supplies. After the carnage of the 1500 people killed in January, we won't forget and we'll keep on going and keep fighting for the human rights of the people of Palestine.



   
 
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"HOPE has two children.The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it."-St. Augustine

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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

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The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



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