Tag Archives: Medea Benjamin

Freedom Flotilla II faces Shayetet13 in showdown at the naval siege of Gaza

Freedom Flotilla II - Stay HumanIt promises to be quite a showdown. Israel has repeated that it will let no ship through to Gaza, the IDF has promised “surprises” for the would-be blockade-runners, while this relief convoy is upping the ante with luminaries political and literary. The US boat is carrying novelist Alice Walker and a who’s who of peace activists, no less than Medea Benjamin, Kathy Kelly, Ray McGovern, and Ann Wright. There will be journalists from CBS, CNN and NPR, so you’d think Israel wouldn’t dare jam their signal and superimpose its own news package like it did with the Mavi Marmara, but maybe it won’t have to.

We’ve seen water hose on Freedom Riders before, only this time the blastees will be activist-squires. You might wonder what kind of sympathy they’ll garner, that is if an audience will see it at all. Will there be an independent media vessel cruising alongside the flotilla, with footage and equipment outside the jurisdiction of an Isreali commando raid? In the past the IDF was able to confiscate every scrap of evidence which could be used against them, at least until their doctored video could shape the official narrative.

Then too, with the absence of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Palestine-champions like Ken O’Keefe, the IDF’s interdiction may meet no resistance at all. Remember the MV Rachel Corrie, surrendering themselves with nary a ripple of media coverage?

Another less provocative strategy adopted by the US boat was not to carry any aid cargo, simply letters of support from American donors. I’m not sure why, except that the IDF cannot accuse them of smuggling anything past the blockade. But what does that make the Audacity of Hope exactly? The Freedom Flotilla is what, if it’s not a relief convoy?

There’s time before the flotilla leaves from Greece, please please please put something aboard to take to Gaza. Break the siege with SOMETHING. You can’t very well assert that Israel wouldn’t otherwise grant entry to all these American activists, many of the Jewish, through the formal border crossings, with or without stacks of correspondence.

I’ll spare further critique for now and wish Team Nonviolence the best success. NotMyTribe has complied a Twitter list of who to follow on the Freedom Flotilla II. Here is an incomplete listing of the passengers on three ships, Ireland’s MV Saoirse, Canada’s Tahrir, and USA’s The Audacity of Hope.

Ireland – MV Saoirse
National Coordinator Fintan Lane, Skipper Shane Dillon, John Hearne, Pat Fitzgerald, Paul Murphy, Hugh Lewis, Rik Walton, Mags O’Brien, Gerard Barron, Jim Roche, Zoe Lawlor, John Mallon, Charlie McMenamin, Philip McCullough, Hussein Hamed, Aine Joyce, Former Fianna Fáil TD Chris Andrews, Senator Mark Daly, Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó’ Snodaigh, Sinn Féin councilor Gerry MacLochlainn, artist Felim Egan, rugby international Trevor Hogan. Representing the Irish Ship to Gaza campaign, the Free Gaza Movement, Irish Anti-War Movement, and Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Canada – Tahrir
Rifat Audeh, Stéphan Corriveau, Karen DeVito, Bachar Elsolh, David Heap, Miles Howe, Soha Kneen, Irene MacInnes, David Milne, Marie-Eve Rancourt, Jase Tanner, Kevin Neish, Dylan Penner (Independent Jewish Voices Canada), Vivienne Porzsolt (Jews Against Occupation in Australia), Harmeet Singh Sooden, Muhammed Hamou (the London Muslim Mosque), Robert Lovelace (Former Chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and professor of Indigenous Studies at Queen’s University), Lyn Adamson (Canadian Voice of Women for Peace Co-Chair), Manon Massé (Quebec Solidaire representative), Sue Breeze, Kate Wilson, filmmaker John Greyson, Mary Hughes-Thompson, co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement), Sofia Smith, Amira Haas

US Boat – The Audacity of Hope
Medea Benjamin, Hedy Epstein, Ray McGovern, Kathy Kelly, Ken Mayers, Richard Levy, Henry Norr, Gail Miller, Ridgely Fuller, Robert Naiman, Linda Durham, Brad Taylor, Nic Abramson, Alice Walker, ?Libor Kožnar?, Hagit Borer, Kit Kittredge, G. Kaleo Larson

French
Two boats: Louise Michel & Le Dignité-El Karameh
Julien Bayou (co-founder, Black Thursday), Olivier Besancenot (NPA), Alain Bosc (Cimade), Annick Coupé (porte-parole et déléguée générale de l’Union Syndicale Solidaires), Ismahane Chouder (Participation et Spiritualité Musulmane), Jean-François Courbe (département international de la CGT), Nabil Ennasri (président du Collectif des Musulmans de France), Raymond Fabrègues (Coalition contre Agrexco et Confédération paysanne), Patrice Finel (Parti de Gauche), Georges Gumpel (membre du bureau national de l’UJFP et représentant de l’EJJP), Nicole Kill Nielsen (députée européenne EE-LV), Claude Léostic (vice présidente de l’AFPS), Jean-Paul Lecoq (député du PCF), Catherine Lecoq (Mouvement de la Paix et le Collectif 13 Un bateau pour Gaza), Jo le Guen (navigateur), Yamin Makri (Collectif 69 de soutien au peuple palestinien), Oussama Mouftah (Collectif 59 Palestine), Marie Jo Parbot (auteur de BD), Eugène Riguidel (navigateur), Thomas Sommer (CCIPPP), Henri Stoll (Collectif Palestine 68), Omeyya Seddik

Norway
Torstein Dahle, Stine Renate Haheim, Aksel Hagen, Mina Boldermo Eriksen, Bjørn O. Bjørnsen, Tove Henny Lehre, Bard Vegar Solhjell

Denmark
Gitte Seeberg
John Ekebjaerg-Jakobsen
Adam Qvist

(NOTE: This post will be updated an appended as more information becomes available.)

Green Party-pooper insubordination more embarrassing than imaginable

And I thought I hade a vivid imagination. Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney has issued a press release detailing her explicit intention to participate in the Sunday DNC rally. The letter is very diplomatic but it spells out the ultimatum she was given by the Colorado Greens to desist. Cynthia McKinney for President Compelling reading. On a related note. Cindy Sheehan will also be joining the lineup. This represents a significant divergence from her close allies Medea Benjamin and UFPJ’s Leslie Cagan. It shouldn’t be that way.

If you’re not inclined to read McKinney’s letter, and I’ll add it’s as direct as her speeches, I can summarize the threats made and actions taken. Spoiler alert. For agreeing to speak at a rally organized by R-68: Resignation threatened. Fundraiser, place to stay, withdrawn. All scheduled engagements canceled. Assistance to get on Wyoming ballot, withdrawn. Every effort to remove her from Colorado ballot, threatened. McKinney was also informed she had been last choice candidate of Colorado delegation. So there.

Are we witnessing someone’s hissy-fit nervous self-immolation? Could be, but it packs the wallop of a suicide bomber. Local party gutted; bystanders, fellow Greens, burned; vital preparations annulled just months from the election. Third parties probably attract people who have difficulty with authority. In this case with irreparable consequence.

Cynthia McKinney & Rosa Clemente Announce Their Participation in Anti-war, Anti-human rights Abuse Events Before the DNC
August 14, 2008

As the United States activated Navy ships and the Air Force to begin an airlift of non-specified goods into the former Soviet state of Georgia, and military exercises began in the Persian Gulf near Iran, I received communications from certain individuals among the Colorado Greens who were organizing campaign support events there, suggesting that I not participate in an anti-war program being organized by other individuals in Colorado.

Perplexed, I began to do my research to understand the nature of the fissure that I seemed to be placing myself in the middle of. The communications to me about not participating in one of the scheduled events became more and more shrill. The events ran through August 26th. When the lineup of speakers, including Rosa and me, was announced for the events in question, I received multiple communications stating in various ways that the sender from the Green Party of Colorado, was on the verge of desperation over the matter. Within a few hours, I was reading messages stating that the Green Party of Colorado would be ruined if I participated in the End the Occupations/End the War march and rally slated to take place on the morning of August 24th on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol, or if Rosa participated in a Freedom March and Rally for Human Rights and Political Prisoners at Civic Center Park the following day.

An article appeared in a local Colorado newspaper stating that Rosa and I would not appear at the events for which we had been scheduled. Rosa responded to our Colorado Green Party contact that yes, indeed, we were appearing at the two events. Both Rosa and I then received messages demanding to know by a time certain what our plans were, and asserting that the Green Party of Colorado would be totally ruined if we associated with the group sponsoring the events. In addition, we were told that at least one resignation and sustaining membership would be tendered to the Party, and that Rosa and I could expect no support on the ground in Denver from the Green Party of Colorado, including a planned fundraiser and a place to stay.

Without receiving any additional response or information from either Rosa or I, the correspondent sent a message informing us that all Green Party of Colorado events previously scheduled for us had been canceled. Further, the message stated that ballot access petitioning by Green Party of Colorado would cease in neighboring Wyoming and that all efforts would be made to remove Rosa’s and my names from the ballot in Colorado. The message also noted that the Colorado delegation overwhelmingly supported Elaine Brown at the Green Party Convention.

With the e-mail messages flying “fast and furious,” I hope I have mentioned the highlights of this episode in somewhat chronological order. What Rosa and I would like to address now, is the ideological and rational order that produced this outcome. At the very first Green Party debate held in San Francisco earlier this year, I pleaded for unity of action and purpose as we face the challenges that confront us as a country. Rosa and I are proud to join with others who are sick and tired of war, occupation, human rights abuses, and the continued incarceration of our political prisoners. We are proud to join with others who are willing to do something about it. In the context of activities in Denver, that means cooperating with some organizations new to us and others with which Rosa and I have had a long-standing relationship. Let me explain some of those relationships.

I am proud to have received a Backbone Award from the Backbone Campaign, one of the co-participants of the anti-war, anti-occupation events in question, according to the organizers.

Rosa and I are pleased to have received the endorsement of M-1 of Dead Prez, who put out a video of endorsement and is rallying other conscious Hip Hop, Generation X voters to the Green Party with Rosa and I as its nominees. Rebel Diaz was on the stage with Rosa as she accepted her Green Party nomination for Vice President. Both Dead Prez and Rebel Diaz are participating in the events in question, according to the organizers.

Fred Hampton, Jr.’s mother, a victim of COINTELPRO, came to Georgia in the mid-1990s to help me gain reelection after a malicious redistricting case that went all the way up to the Supreme Court. Ward Churchill has traveled to my Congressional district to educate my former constituents on the COINTELPRO of yesterday and the COINTELPRO of today. Natsu Saito introduced me to other victims of COINTELPRO. I asked Kathleen Cleaver to co-author a report that was submitted to Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the time of the World Conference Against Racism, on the unsolved murders of Black Panther Party members who were victims of COINTELPRO. Fred Hampton, Jr., Ward Churchill, Natsu Saito, and Kathleen Cleaver are all participating in the events in question, according to the organizers.

As a Member of Congress, I supported the release of all political prisoners and welcomed information from the American Indian Movement about Leonard Peltier. I have at many times in my political career been allied with the ACLU, and have always supported Pam and Ramona Africa and the MOVE Organization. The American Indian Movement of Colorado, King Downing of the ACLU, and Pam and Ramona Africa of MOVE are all participating in the events in question, according to the organizers.

Mumia Abu Jamal has endorsed the Power to the People Campaign and my Green Party candidacy. According to the organizers, Mumia will transmit a message to all of us participating in the events in question.

Finally, I have appeared on various stages with many Palestinians; I have proudly spoken at rallies organized by Larry Holmes. Debra Sweet with World Can’t Wait was among the very first to my knowledge to organize around impeachment as an imperative and I support hers and all other impeachment groups in their efforts. And finally, I have known Ben Manski for a long time as a socially conscious activist who is also a member of the Green Party. According to the organizers, a Palestinian refugee is slated to speak at the events in question, as well as Larry Holmes, Debra Sweet, and Ben Manski.

Rosa and I have not been given any rational, ideological, or strategically-acceptable reason by the Green Party of Colorado to dissociate ourselves from the movement that this country so desperately needs and that these individuals and organizations participating represent, as we all attempt to hold the Democratic Party accountable for its complicity in all of the crimes of the Bush Administration. Therefore Rosa and I will keep our appointments in Denver and we hope that the members of the Green Party of Colorado will attend our sessions and listen to what we have to say. I have faith that by taking principled stands against war and occupation, human rights abuse, the prison-industrial complex, and in support of freedom for political prisoners, the Green party will emerge stronger.

Cynthia McKinney
Green Party Nominee for President of the United States

Rosa Clemente
Green Party Nominee for Vice President of the United States

The Rosa Parks Lone Rider Theory

Rosa Parks photographed after the Montgomery Bus Boycott, posed with newspaper reporter“Rosa Parks did so act on her own!” I’m faced with this repudiation yet again, as J’s high school class revisits the civil rights movement. Their reading list includes Howard Zinn, but still the lesson plan is determined to press home the Parks as lone rider theory.

It makes a heroic story, to tell of lone brave Parks (she’s even painted as elderly, are you kidding me?), riding home from a tiring day at work, so tired that she becomes tired of being told to go to the back of the bus. She stands her ground, an example to us all, and changes history.

Yes it is inspiring, yes it feels empowering. But IS it empowering? Does it empower you to stand up to injustice in the face of harsh, legal if also physical, consequence? Have you yet? You’re no Rosa Parks I could confidently guess, and it’s not your fault.

Do you doubt that there haven’t been countless upstarts, individuals railing against repressive authority, who’ve spoken their piece, made their gesture, only to be humbled by arrest, jail, judges, fines, and the ridicule of the community? It happens all the time. They are marginalized, broken, and ultimately worn down.

Let me describe another kind of heroism. Working for civil rights activists as a stenographer, being in on the discussions about who would make the strongest test case, and picking the right moment mindful of the preparations needed to mobilize colleagues to rally to your defense; thus committing your act of civil disobedience with ready support. Is that any less heroic? I’d suggest it takes more bravery because you know you are launching a political act that will have legs. And it will require more from you than just anger or being tired.

Cindy Sheehan didn’t just march down to Crawford Texas and pitch her lone tent. She consulted with an incredible network of organizers to conceive the plan, Code Pink maven Medea Benjamin among them

Rosa Parks and the bus she rode in on launched a key maneuver for the civil rights movement, and that’s certainly not a lesson the establishment wants to teach its children. Teach them that history is made by individuals, unique, gifted iconoclasts, with whom you’d have to have delusions of grandeur to identify. “You Sir, are no Kennedy,” or Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks. It’s the monarchist belief that only special people are endowed to rule. No need for commoners to concern themselves, the aptitude for nobility is hereditary.

Don’t teach children that to change anything you have to take on the establishment with its own weapons. Idealistic youth don’t want to hear that you have to fight politicians with politics.

You don’t have to become the system to defeat it, but you have to inhabit the system and understand that it operates with the mechanisms of human nature. You must play the system, and no one, absolutely no one, has ever done it alone. Not even Eve.

Was Rosa Parks an iPod-wearing  rebel-without-a-cause? Not hardly.