Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. Congresswoman from Georgia and 2008 Green Party presidential candidate, participated in a variety of anti-Israel campaigns and events in 2009.
McKinney has a history of using anti-Israel rhetoric, including accusing the pro-Israel lobby of sabotaging her political career and alleging that Israel of committing genocide, apartheid and war crimes. She has repeatedly condemned U.S. support for Israel.
She has also taken part in multiple organized efforts to bring Westerners to Gaza in order to attract media attention to their anti-Israel agenda. McKinney has used the attention these campaigns have received to further promote her opposition, and explicit hostility, toward Israel and Zionism.
While McKinney has supported anti-Semitic groups such as the Nation of Islam and the New Black Panther Party and aggressively opposed Israel and its supporters for many years, her efforts in 2009 demonstrate the degree to which her opposition has become a priority.
McKinney discussed her participation in anti-Israel campaigns during an appearance in Houston. During her hour-long talk, McKinney accused Israel of committing genocide and asserted that the Hamas government should be acknowledged rather than "ignored."
She repeated past charges that the pro-Israel lobby maintains undue influence in the U.S., adding that that the "ruthless" lobby "rears its ugly head in too many facets of life in this country, particularly political life." McKinney also accused Zionists of being "successful in kicking me out of Congress two times."
McKinney arrived in Gaza as part of the Viva Palestina US convoy, which was modeled after a similar campaign organized by British PM George Galloway in March 2009. The initial convoy delivered vehicles and cash to representatives of Hamas.
Included among the American convoy's approximately 200 participants were New York City Councilmember Charles Barron and representatives from the anti-Zionist Jewish group Neturei Karta. Upon arrival, McKinney joined Galloway for an impromptu press conference during which he accused Israel of carrying out a "criminal siege" on Gaza. The following day, members of the convoy met with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
McKinney was arrested and detained by Israeli authorities after attempting to enter Gaza as part of the Free Gaza Movement (FGM). FGM is a coalition of groups and individuals that has sought to challenge what it calls the "increasing stranglehold of Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine" by sending aid to Gaza by boat.
Following her arrest McKinney wrote a "Letter from an Israeli Jail," in which she compared herself to Martin Luther King, Jr. and blasted Israel for its military operation against Hamas in January.
Specifically, McKinney accused Israel of committing genocide and testing new weapons, including white phosphorus, during Operation Cast Lead. She also accused Israel of operating "a widely propagandized slick marketing campaign" that has fooled American voters, among others, into supporting the Jewish state. Citing Israel's stated security concerns, McKinney declared that "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."
McKinney had previously participated in FGM's December 30, 2008, mission, when Israeli authorities blocked FGM from entering Gaza for the first time. The group, which was attempting to sail into Gaza during Israel's military operation there, claimed that an Israeli ship rammed into the boat three times while others fired machine guns nearby. During interviews following the boat's arrival in Tyre, Lebanon, McKinney likened the incident to the USS Liberty Attack (a source of anti-Israel conspiracy theories, which McKinney has promoted for years).
McKinney gave two presentations during a lecture series titled "Israel: The Politics of Genocide," organized by the Muslim Student Union at the University of California, Irvine. McKinney's speeches, titled "Investing in Apartheid" and "Sailing to the Shores of Oppression," focused on U.S.-Israeli relations and her involvement with FGM's failed attempt to reach Gaza in the midst of Israel's military operation there. The lecture series featured anti-Semites and anti-Israel speakers such as Imam Amir Abdul Malik Ali, the leader of the Sabiqun movement, and George Galloway, British MP and leader of Viva Palestina.
During her remarks at a conference in London titled "Forum on Gaza Genocide: Solution for Palestine," McKinney accused Israel of committing war crimes and testing new weapons during Operation Cast Lead, and asserted that Israel has "unleashed death squads to commit targeted assassinations all over the world."
She accused the pro-Israel lobby of "targeting" her "for defeat," implying that members of the pro-Israel lobby sabotaged her political career. She noted her attempts to question the Bush Administration on the events surrounding the World Trade Center attacks, claiming, "And then, they decided in 2002 that I had to go… The pro-Israel lobby activated its operatives inside both the Republican and Democratic Parties, and I lost my campaign for re-election to Congress."
McKinney also highlighted her participation in the 2001 U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, which delegitimized Israel and featured hateful anti-Jewish rhetoric, as well as her past efforts to "prosecute Sharon, Barak, and Netanyahu for war crimes." She concluded that "To save the Palestinians from Israel, is to save the rest of us from Israeli abuse, and of course, saves the Israelis from themselves."
During the conference, McKinney posed for pictures with attendees Michele Renouf, a Holocaust denier and anti-Semite, and David Pidcock, an anti-Semitic and anti-Masonic conspiracy theorist. Afterwards, McKinney described listening to a member of Neturei Karta speak at the event as "particularly educational," noting that she had not previously "had the opportunity to dialog" with a member of the group.
The conference was organized by the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War and sponsored by the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
McKinney and several prominent American far left leaders joined representatives of Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorist organizations to discuss strategies for supporting Hamas and opposing Israel and American interests in the Middle East at a conference in Beirut.
At the conference McKinney accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza and condemned the U.S. for supporting "Israel's war machine." She noted her past opposition to American intervention in the Middle East and stated: "I believe it is not only possible, but imperative, to resist imperialism even in imperialism's belly." McKinney further predicted "Israel's defeat," which she linked to "the inspiring resistance in Gaza" and to the economic crisis in America.
The conference was hosted by the Consultative Center for Studies and Documentation, a Hezbollah-affiliated think tank, and co-sponsored by several international far left groups.
During a rally in Washington, DC, organized in response to Israel's military action in Gaza, McKinney charged that Israel is using "cluster bombs [and] depleted uranium munitions" in its military operations and accused Israel of "genocide and ethnic cleansing." The rally, which attracted more than 10,000 demonstrators, was organized by ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition as part of its National Day of Protest and received sponsorship and/or endorsement from a variety of anti-Israel groups.