Palestinians in Bil’in, West Bank protesting in support of the Libyan opposition movement
Dearest Cynthia McKinney,
Two years ago, you spoke out against Israel’s human rights abuses in Palestine. You were even put in an Israeli prison after your attempts to help deliver medical supplies and humanitarian aid on a ship to Gaza in 2009. For your sacrifices, you gained respect from many Palestinians all over the world.
However, we can’t help but be irked by your recent stance on Libya. It’s fine to be against NATO intervention in Libya. You’re entitled to your own opinion. But to praise Libyan dictator Muammer Gaddafi is completely unacceptable. Anti-intervention shouldn’t equate to whitewashing Gaddafi’s crimes.
Last month, you appeared on Libya State TV, a propaganda organ of the Gaddafi regime. In an interview, you said that the “last thing we need to do is spend money on death, destruction and war… I want to say categorically and very clearly that these policies of war…are not what the people of the United States stand for and it’s not what African-Americans stand for.”
Maybe you could have garnered some legitimacy with that statement if you weren’t speaking on a station run by Gaddafi. Or even better, if you at least offered some recognition that Gaddafi is guilty of perpetrating “death, destruction and war” on his own people.
In the interview, you also claimed you were in Libya on a “fact-finding mission” to “understand the truth.” But Ms. McKinney, you were only in Tripoli, a city under Gaddafi’s control. If you were really on a trip to Libya to see the truth for yourself, why didn’t you go to Benghazi and speak to the opposition movement as well?
Not only that, you praise Gaddafi in the interview, asserting that his Green Book advocates “direct democracy.” You also declare on your Facebook page that Gaddafi was “democratically elected.” Umm, you obviously haven’t met any Libyans before your trip to Tripoli. If you did, you’d know how the majority of Libyans feel about him. And if anything, someone ruling over a country for 42 years should be a hint that they aren’t democratically elected. Claiming that Libyans wanted Gaddafi as a leader is like saying Palestinians asked for Israel to occupy them. It just doesn’t make sense.
Now, you’re on a nationwide speaking tour, Eyewitness Libya: Cynthia McKinney reports back on the Massive Bombing of Tripoli. Also speaking on the tour will be Akbar Muhammad of the Nation of Islam, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition.
First of all, why aren’t there any Libyans speaking on this tour? Secondly, Nation of Islam? Really? The Nation of Islam has defended Gaddafi since the beginning of the Libyan pro-democracy protests in February. Of course, this is probably because the Libyan government has given the Nation millions of dollars over the years.
Not only are Libyans not invited to speak on your tour about Libya, but in Los Angeles, Libyans have been denied entry into the event itself.
Ms. McKinney, this is truly a disappointment. You support the Palestinians, but you are not supporting the Libyan people in their fight for freedom and dignity. What exactly is your motive? A charitable explanation is that you are just completely naïve to Gaddafi’s atrocities. Another reason is that you might support Gaddafi for ideological reasons, like Chavez or Castro. Or, worst case scenario, you could just be another tool on Gaddafi’s payroll. Whatever the case may be, we are extremely disheartened.
The Palestinian and Libyan peoples are connected, both struggling against state-sponsored brutality and political repression. Palestinians stand in solidarity with our Libyan brothers and sisters in their revolution against Gaddafi, as well as others rising up against oppressive dictatorships in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. The Palestinian movement for human rights, civil rights and equality has been invigorated and inspired by these pro-democratic movements.
Ms. McKinney, your pro-Gaddafi stance is completely hypocritical and contradictory to your support for the Palestinians. Unless you retract your statements supporting Gaddafi, we don’t think you have any business sailing to Gaza again. We refuse to accept opportunistic support from people who advocate for murderers.
A Group of (Severely) Disappointed Palestinians from Gaza, West Bank, and the US
This open letter originally appeared on the blog Yansoon. The authors of this piece are a group of 5 Palestinian youth in the US, Gaza and the West Bank who became connected through social networking sites. They chose not to name themselves because they have been targets of harassment by the FBI and Israeli security personnel for their activism.