Cynthia McKinney: ‘We lived to tell the story, Lebanon rescued us’

Posted at On The Wilder Side

Letter from Cynthia McKinney:

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.”

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 rescuing us.

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 menacing 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 truth.

We lived to tell the story. Karl’s incredible reporting, just a portion of our story, can be seen on CNN at:

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:

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 warship.

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, 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 the truth.

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 continues.

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

Press Release

Office of Media Affairs


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 behavior.

Consulate General of Israel
to the Southeast
1100 Spring St NW, Ste 440
Atlanta, GA 30309-2823

Michael Printy Arthur
Director of Media Affairs

6 thoughts on “Cynthia McKinney: ‘We lived to tell the story, Lebanon rescued us’

  1. Karole Noymann

    I hate defending Israel, and I’m sympathetic to Hamas (at least some of their goals), but I don’t believe McKinney is sincere. If she were she would demand that Egypt, which is complicit in Israel’s aggression, open its border with Gaza to allow the free flow of humaniarian provisions and medical supplies. It is much easier and efficient to deliver these supplies by land than by sea. Obviously McKinney pulled this stunt for her own publicity and to cast Israel in the most unfavorable light.

    Given Hamas is not totally blameless I cannot fault the Israelis for preventing private vessels from breaking the blockade since it is just as easy to deliver rockets by boat as it is to deliver medical supplies. There is no practical way for Israel to verify if a boat is carrying medical supplies without stopping and searching every single one. And if Hamas decides to send a hundred small boats, some carrying medical supplies and others carrying rockets, how are the Israelis supposed to know which ones to stop? In this instance the Israelis are caught between a rock and a hard place; they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. And I’m sure McKinney is aware of this.

    The real culprit here is Egypt and Mubarak who wants Israel to destroy Hamas and do his dirty work. Mubarak has reason to fear Islamic extremists in general and Hamas in particular because he would never have ascended to the presidency if his predecessor Anwar Sadat had not been assassinated by the same kind of extremists Israel is trying to destroy.

    If McKinney is sincere about trying to deliver medical supplies to Gaza she should go to Egypt and demand that they open their border crossings to allow humanitarian shipments. After all, Hamas isn’t firing rockets at Cairo or Alexandria. If she doesn’t do that she simply shows herself for what she really is; an anti-jewish political opportunist.

  2. Libertarian Joseph

    I take Hamas’ side in this conflict.. They are a private, and voluntary, organization. What are the states of Israel and Palestine? Neither.

    I know that they want to become a state, but atleast they’re not.

    That’s how I see it.

  3. Karole Noymann

    Hamas was voluntary and private but right now they are the government. Ironically (and one of the reasons I sympathize with their plight) is they were democratically elected two years ago. It is the Israel and US-backed Fatah regime which delegitimized the democratic process.

    Democratically, Hamas is the legitimate government of Palestine.

  4. Libertarian Joseph

    hmmm I think we are proponents of two different things here, Karole. I support voluntary governance, you appear to support indirect democracy. Alright.

    I didn’t know that they had a state, I just thought of Hamas as a radical group fighting against Israel.

    Glazed over it. Hamas is a private organzation. They’re described as a political organization, but that’s still private.

    “Hamas also runs extensive social programs[3] and has gained popularity in Palestinian society by establishing hospitals, education systems, libraries and other services”

    I certainly am not a fan of their policies 🙂

  5. Karole Noymann

    Perhaps Hamas may be compared to political parties in the nineteenth century. Before social services became governmentalized political parties provided services in exchange for loyalty and votes.

    Hamas is a combination of religion, social services agency, and politics. Since there is no separation of religion and state they can do both. They (or their candidates, if you want to be technical about it) did win the parliamentary elections two years ago, and by all rights they should be recognized as the legitimate governing authority, not only in Gaza but the West Bank as well.

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