Former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (back row, red blouse) is shown with other passengers before their detention.
Former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (back row, red blouse) is shown with other passengers before their detention.

McKinney Follows UC Irvine Speech With Israeli Detention [UPDATED, THE SEQUEL]

Former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia) is shown speaking at UC Irvine May 13 as part of the Muslim Student Union's controversial, three-week "Israel: The Politics of Genocide" teach-in. Here she makes the case that forces hellbent on continuing U.S. wars in the Middle East devised a coordinated effort to get her defeated in her unsuccessful 2006 reelection bid. That, she says, paved the way for Congress to pass a war funding bill--despite public opposition--by one vote. Later, when asked by an audience member if she blames the Jews for her defeat, McKinney answers that individuals who belong to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) were part of the conspiracy against her. 

Against that backdrop comes came word today Wednesday that McKinney is among the 21 Free Gaza Movement activists aboard a humanitarian relief ship that was stopped and held by the Israeli navy in international waters.

The Greek-flagged Spirit of Humanity was carrying medical supplies, olive trees and children's toys to Palestinians under blockade in the Gaza Strip. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is among the groups urging President Obama to intervene on behalf of the ship's passengers.

The Israeli government had indicated the passengers would be processed by immigration officials on the Israeli shore and released. But McKinney just issued a statement saying they remain jailed. USA Today's Eugene Kiely reports he spoke earlier today with Scott McLarty, a spokesman for the Green Party, whose 2008 presidential nominee was McKinney. McLarty said he received the following message from McKinney, who he said is being held in a Ramle prison:

We were in international waters on a boat delivering humanitarian aid to people in Gaza when the Israeli Navy ships surrounded us and illegally threatened us, dismantled our navigation equipment, boarded and confiscated the ship. 

All of us on board were then taken off the ship and into custody, and brought into Israel and imprisoned. Immigration officials in Israel said they did not want to keep us, but we remain imprisoned. 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.

Israeli's military had previously said the ship would be forced to sail to an Israeli port, where passengers would be met by immigration officials. "Nobody wants to keep them here," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. "They will be released as soon as they are checked."

Besides McKinney, passengers included Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Ireland and other activists from Britain, Bahrain and Jamaica. A previous post on Free Gaza's website said they "are not the story."

Since its founding in 1948 the State of Israel has regularly kidnapped and tortured Palestinians, throwing them into forgotten prisons where they can languish for years. Today, over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners without benefit of due process, some never even charged - men, women, and children - endure torture and isolation in Israeli jails, outdoor prison camps, and secret black sites. They come from all walks of life: doctors, journalists, parliamentarians, workers, resistance fighters, homemakers, students and others. They are our sisters and brothers.

The 21 passengers aboard the Spirit of Humanity have been illegally incarcerated for their solidarity work with Palestine. 11,000 other members of our common human family are already imprisoned simply for being Palestinian.


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