UPDATE: A report from McKinney’s family in the Atlanta Journal Constitution says that McKinney has been released by Israeli authorities and is en route to Ben Gurion airport. The newspaper report does not indicate whether McKinney agreed to a 10 year re-entry ban demanded by the Israelis. There is also no word on the fate of the other 20 detainees. I just checked FGM’s Twitter account and it indicates the 21 did NOT sign a deportation agreement and that Israel dropped all charges against them. If so, this is a victory for common sense and the FGM campaign to end the siege of Gaza.
A journalist from Iran’s Press TV had the chutzpah to ask State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly what the U.S. government was doing to gain the release of four U.S. citizens (among them former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney) abducted and imprisoned by Israel for four days now. Of course, an Iranian journalist had to ask this question becuase no native U.S. journalist cared enough about the story to ask the question themselves.
Here, from Kelly, is a portrait in spinelessness:
“We can’t comment on any of the individuals or the number of individual American citizens on board.”
…the Washington, DC spokesperson added…that the US Embassy had been in touch with Israeli authorities and was seeking access to its citizens, and made a point of noting that “we don’t take any position regarding the Free Gaza Movement or any of its messages.”
In response to other questions about the fate of those on board and the ship’s medical and construction aid for Gaza, Kelly responded, “I don’t know the answer, actually. I think I have to refer you to the government of Israel.”
It is simply preposterous that the chief spokesperson for the U.S. government’s foreign policy apparatus would have so little interest in the welfare of imprisoned U.S. citizens and could respond so callously as to suggest those interested in their whereabouts should contact the country that abducted and jailed them. What about the U.S. government itself? Doesn’t it give a crap? And if it doesn’t, why is it behaving in such an inexcusable fashion?
You may remember the film Missing, about the U.S. citizen abducted and murdered during the Pinochet coup. Then too the State Department misled the victim’s family and lied to them and the press about what happened. I’m not suggesting quite that level of malevolence in this instance. But the State Department should be damned embarrassed about its performance in this entire seamy incident. It should get off its duff and do its job, which is to protect the interests of U.S. citizens in danger abroad.
Let’s compare U.S. apathy to the response of a government that genuinely cares about its own citizens: Ireland. Here is the statement from the Irish foreign minister about his two citizens also imprisoned in the Israeli Gulag:
Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin called for the swift release of two Irish nationals detained from the ship, including the Nobel Peace Prize winner…
“My immediate priority is ensuring the safety and welfare of Ms Maguire and Mr Graham and securing their release as soon as possible,” Martin said. “I would again renew my call for the release of Ms Maguire and Mr Graham as well as the other nineteen passengers detained on The Spirit of Humanity.”
“I would also call upon the Israeli Government to ensure that the humanitarian supplies for the people of Gaza being transported on The Spirit of Humanity are made available as soon as possible to the Palestinian authorities for distribution,” he added.
Why must is take a nation like Ireland to teach us what our own foreign affairs personnel should be doing? Why are the latter not fighting tooth and nail for McKinney’s release? Why are they not bellowing at the Israeli blackmail used to get her to agree to a 10 year ban on re-entry to Israel which would happen if she signs her own deportation order admitting violation of Israeli rules with which she vehemently disagrees?