No Safety without Peace, No Peace without Change
Former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) delivered the following speech to the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation organizers conference, Washington, DC, July 19.
On October 25, 2001 I stood at the United States Capitol House Triangle with individuals from walks of life much different than my own. But we all shared one thing in common: a desire for a peace in the Middle East that was fair and just to all who live there and to those others who would like to live there.
I was proud to have extended to Uri Avnery an invitation that turned out to be his first visit to Capitol Hill. Uri Avnery, former Member of the Israeli Knesset and presently leader of Gush-Shalom Peace Bloc is one of the foremost human rights activists in Israel. His “80 Theses for Israeli-Palestinian Peace,” published in October 2001 makes for compelling reading. Today, his courageous campaign against the Separation Wall and support for the Israeli Conscientious Objectors makes him a force of conscience, if not a political force, in a part of the world where lone voices cry out for justice and peace.
It was good to hear a new Israeli voice in Washington, DC. Could this new voice be projected across the American political landscape? Could we really put a stop to the endless trail of blood and tears? So, just as I stood with the East Timorese; the U’wa in Colombia; Native Americans in New Mexico, I stood with JUNITY.
The media turnout was fantastic. Even C-Span came. When the event was over, everyone rushed back to their respective offices, some started the long drive home, and searched on the web for when C-Span would broadcast its coverage of the event. And then it began to unravel.
We called C-Span to find out why the event had disappeared from its website only to learn that the event, itself, had been “disappeared.” What C-Span had previously thought was newsworthy enough to send a camera to, was suddenly deemed not so. The event was “delisted” from C-Span’s website and never aired. Incredibly, I was derided in the Atlanta press for associating with fringe elements of the Jewish community.
I would never think that Jews Against the Occupation, Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel, Not in My Name, Boston Women in Black, Jewish Voices for Peace, and the many other organizations that participated in our press conference were “fringe.” In fact, these groups are doing the hard work of educating for peace that the White House could use right now.
Well, in addition to the derision, we now know that stories emerged that AIPAC had targeted me for defeat.
David Kahn and Jeffrey Snyder wrote in a solicitation letter:
“Hilliard has been extremely dangerous to not only our community but the U.S./Israel relationship. As Chairman of the Black Caucus he has lobbied members of the Black Caucus to oppose initiatives supporting Israel together with Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney from Atlanta, GA . . . It is important that Earl Hilliard be defeated in the June 4th Alabama Democratic Primary. Money is the deciding factor on who will win this primary race.”
Writing for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Eli Klintish wrote that:
“In the 2002 election cycle, wealthy Jewish donors from around the country, many of them AIPAC members, supported Democratic primary challengers against incumbents McKinney and Hilliard.”
I was outspent and after 48,000 Republicans crossed over and voted for the black woman Republican that had been drafted to run in the Democratic Primary against me, Josh Ruebner said to the Washington Times:
“This is a dangerous dynamic. Jews are the ones who started picking off African-American politicians because of their views on the Middle East, and that was undue meddling. It is doing irreparable harm to relations with African-Americans.”
And then, on March 21, 2003, Elie Kintisch wrote in the Forward:
“Embattled Rep. James Moran could face a primary challenge next year from a former staffer at the country’s top pro-Israel lobbying group. . . . [Jeremy] Bash’s supporters say he will be able to tap into the same national network of Jewish political donors that last year helped oust two black Democratic incumbents in the House, Earl Hilliard of Alabama and Cynthia McKinney of Georgia.”
The point I’m trying to make here is that what happened to me will happen over and over and over again unless you make a stand. You say you want a better US foreign policy, but what are you willing to do about it? What are you willing to risk about it?
Dr. King wrote that it’s not where we stand at times of comfort that count; but rather where we stand in times of discomfort that reveal our true character.
Our country should be able to sit with credibility at the table of peace and recommend solutions that are sustainable for all parties. We should be able to do that with Northern Ireland, North Korea, Kashmir, and Palestine.
Currently in METRO trains around DC is an ad campaign launched by California Peace Action. The campaign reminds us of a handshake between a grinning Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein.
According to Paul Wolfowitz, it is Saddam Hussein who is responsible for not only September 11th, but also the 1993 World Trade Center bombing as well as the 1995 Alfred P. Murrah Building bombing in Oklahoma City. So I want to know, what’s our Secretary of Defense doing shaking this guy’s hand?
Thanks to the British press, we also know Rumsfeld’s company, ABB, sold nuclear material to North Korea.
How is it that in 2000 Rumsfeld’s company felt that North Korea was a good business partner and in 2002 he’s calling for regime change there?
How is it that Dick Cheney’s Halliburton can do business with Iraq and Iran and now Cheney’s calling for regime change there?
Sadly, we know exactly what they’re doing.
In his book, “Fortunate Son,” J. H. Hatfield meticulously researches the life and times of George W. Bush. He informs us, after detailing the various business and personal relationships, that “Ironically, the money used to underwrite the first business venture of a future president of the United States [Arbusto Energy] may have been derived at least in part, from the family fortune of Saudi terrorist, Osama bin Laden.”
The Boston Herald ran a two-part series on the money connections between the Saudis and the Bush coterie of influential men.
It starts out:
“Many of the same American corporate executives who have reaped millions of dollars from arms and oil deals with the Saudi monarchy have served or currently serve at the highest levels of U.S. government, public records show.”
The Boston Herald goes on to inform us that The Carlyle Group “has. . . financial interests in U.S. defense firms hired by the kingdom to equip and train the Saudi military.”
“Dick Cheney’s firm, Halliburton, last month was awarded a $140 million contract to develop an oil field in Saudi Arabia by the kingdom’s state-owned petroleum firm, Saudi Aramco, and a Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, . . . was hired by the Saudis to build a $40 million ethylene plant. The current national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, is a former longtime member of the board of directors of another giant oil conglomerate with business in the Saudi desert, Chevron. . . . Rice even has a Chevron oil tanker named after her.”
Incredibly, the Senate is about to hold hearings on a bill drawn up by the Administration basically designed to torpedo lawsuits aimed at holding guilty foreign governments responsible for terrorist acts that kill Americans. Bush’s legislation would establish a compensation fund paid for by US taxpayers, instead of the perpetrators, and deny Americans the right to sue the terrorists and their supporters. This is in direct contradiction to a bill that I introduced that would give the right to any US victim to claim compensation from any US-taxpayer funded compensation fund and allow them to sue the perpetrators, too.
Why would our President stand in the way of victims’ compensation?
I want my government to fund health care, education, social security, Medicare, prescription drugs, reparations; I don’t want it shielding terrorists and their supporters from punishment.
Helen Thomas reminds us that oil makes strange bedfellows, too.
You have called this conference to explore ways to change US policy. US policy will never change unless you have people elected to office who are willing to stand up for peace. And then you must protect them.
This Administration has filled Washington DC with warmongers and profiteers. There is a place in our process for advocates of peace, but the advocates of war are squeezing us out. While our President says “Bring it on” to the Iraqis who harm our soldiers, we mustn’t forget that this is the same man who went AWOL when he had the chance to serve his country. Sadly, the death toll of The Son’s Gulf War now surpasses that of the Daddy’s.
These are the same Republicans who considered Nelson Mandela a terrorist and supported impeaching Bill Clinton for having an affair.
California Republican Congressman Darrell Issa recently appeared on Canadian TV. Congressman Issa has put nearly $1 million of his own money into the Gray Davis recall effort, that is apparently now successful. On Canadian TV Congressman Issa said:
“This governor has been felony stupid in the operation of the state; he has used the power of his office to deceive the people; and ultimately in three more years he will bankrupt this state.”
Well, if Gray Davis deserves to be recalled under these standards, then George Bush deserves to be impeached.
Republicans have set these standards. Now, let George Bush live by them.
You should also pay very close attention to Terry McAuliffe and Democratic Party behavior in the California matter and compare it to their treatment of me, where a known Republican was allowed to stand in the Democratic Primary.
You must agitate for peace. Change Washington, DC. If you don’t, neither America nor the world will be safe.