General (Ret) James David is mentioned on the cover of the third edition of former Republican congressman Paul Findley’s ‘They Dare to Speak Out’ book about the power/influence of the pro-Israel lobby (AIPAC and similar) on the US political system and media:
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
You either love her. Or you don’t. Few politicians evoke passionate responses the way former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney does.
AJC file Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney said she is currently working on building up Dignity, an organization she helped start.
Since losing her 4th House District seat to DeKalb County’s Hank Johnson in 2006 and moving to California, the 54-year-old McKinney has run for president as the Green Party’s nominee. Last fall, she set her sights on the international stage. She’s taken two tumultuous trips to Gaza, which she said were humanitarian missions. On the last such mission in July, she and a group of other activists were arrested by the Israeli navy for trying to sail through a blockade. They were held in an Israeli jail for nearly a week.
Q: Your trip to Gaza in July wasn’t your first attempt at trying to deliver humanitarian aid there, correct? December of 2008 was the first trip, no?
A: In December, we had medical supplies on a boat that was called the Dignity. We were trying to deliver those medical supplies to the people of Gaza. It was during that attempt that the Dignity was basically destroyed by the Israeli military that rammed the boat.
Q: You’ve said the Israeli navy attacked your party. Why would they just out and out attack you?
A: Well, I think you would have to speak to the Israelis to find out why they would do such a thing.
Q: Then tell me about this last trip in July when you were arrested and taken into custody by the Israeli navy.
A: Basically, there were 21 of us aboard the Spirit of Humanity, and again we were trying to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza … school supplies to the children. And again, while we were in international waters, the Israelis surrounded our boat, boarded it, then took us not to our destination, which was Gaza, but to Israel, and we were incarcerated for seven days.
Q: So they gave you no warning?
A: I didn’t say that. I said we were in international waters.
Q: OK, when you were brought to Israel, what was the experience like?
A: We were in prison.
Q: Behind bars?
A: We were in prison, just like prisoners are treated.
Q: I’m just trying to find out if you were mistreated while you —
A: Of course I was mistreated! I was kidnapped!
Q: How do you view the current administration’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What would you like to see happen?
A: When the Palestinian people speak about self-determination and the right of resistance, the right to live, these are all principles that are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So I would like to see a more pronounced support from the Congress as well as the Obama administration for these principles.
Q: These principles as they apply to both sides, Palestinian as well as Israeli? Because of, you know, Israel’s right to exist, the right to defend itself against attack.
A: Well I think it’s clear that Israel exists. What is not clear is the extent to which a Palestinian state exists or will exist.
Q: Then what would you like to see Israel do to move the peace process forward?
A: Israel has nuclear weapons. It has F-16s, helicopters, gunships, white phosphorus, uranium, cluster bombs and the list goes on of the sophisticated technology and military hardware that is used to kill people. What I would like to see is less use of such technology to kill people and more readiness to respect international law.
Q: Israel says it has those weapons because it’s surrounded by countries that won’t recognize its right to exist.
A: I was carrying crayons to the children of Gaza and the Israeli military attacked me.
Q: OK. Let’s jump to your presidential campaign last year. What were some of the lessons you learned as the Green Party nominee?
A: Winning the Green Party nomination was definitely one of the most wonderful affirmations of my policy prescriptions and advocacies that I have experienced. I was able to travel across the country and meet with people from all backgrounds and all walks of life, all people who were interested in finding a better way.
Q: The health care debate has garnered a tremendous amount of opposition. What sort of health care deal do you think we’ll see in the long run? It’s pretty obvious that we won’t see universal care.
A: Well, if you predict that we won’t see universal care without asking why we won’t get universal care, then of course your prediction will come true.
Q: I hear you, but indulge me just a little. What would be your prescription for a workable health care system?
A: Medicare for all.
Q: Medicare for all?
A: That’s correct.
A: Because it works.
Q: But the cost …
A: The system that we have costs an entire fortune and the costs are borne by the people, unfortunately, who suffer worse health outcomes as a result. What costs a lot is war and occupation.
Q: Let me ask you this then, what’s your assessment of how the Obama administration is performing so far?
A: I would start by saying we still have restrictive ballot access laws. We still have electronic voting. The Patriot Act, the Secret Evidence Act, the Military Commissions Act are all still law. We still have ethnic and racial disparities. No one is talking about full employment. Our free trade agreements are still on the books. We would rather have these issues addressed.
Q: But people have already criticized the administration for spreading itself too thin and taking on too much.
A: It is feasible for an administration to set its priorities and to implement its priorities. I think the administration has demonstrated what its priorities are.
Q: Do you miss being in Congress?
A: Well, I certainly miss being able to help people. But, at the same time, the Power to the People Campaign [Green Party presidential run] was a way for me to get to know the people of this country and gain a clearer appreciation for just how many people there are who are looking for alternatives.
Q: Would you ever run again for public office, and do you think you’d do it in Georgia?
A: We will cross that bridge when we get to it. Right now I’m doing the work of building the organization that I and several other people founded and that is Dignity. We’re looking at the opportunities to partner with other organizations that are doing bold and courageous and much-needed work in the areas of housing, jobs and health care and many more issues.
Q: What was your congressional legacy?
A: Of course, we were able to do a lot of things for the district. We were also able to do things for our veterans and for the homeless population, which is always important. We were also able to serve as advocates for a vision of where our country should be in terms of policy.
Q: But was there any one piece of legislation that you took up [sponsored] and now you look back on it and say, “Yes, that was it. That is the thing that makes me smile.”
A: My entire 12 years in Congress makes me smile, and I don’t want to be narrowed, as you are trying to do.
Q: Do you have any regrets when you look back over your political career?
A: I enjoyed the mandate for 12 years from the people of Georgia, and it was an honor and a privilege to work in the United States Congress.
Q: All the controversy that surrounded the whole accosting of the police officer and the —
A: I thought that you asked the question and I answered that question in terms of the regrets. I did answer your question.
Q: And it’s not a yes or no answer. You said you were proud of your 12 years and the service you provided.
A: I think that’s an excellent answer, myself.
Q: I just wondered if you had regrets, if you look back and say, “I wouldn’t change a thing,” or “Hmmm, maybe I would’ve handled that differently.” That’s a human thing to do.
A: I’ve answered your question.