Nobel laureate aboard Rachel Corrie: 'We were kidnapped' by Israeli navy
Mairead Corrigan Maguire was one of five Irish activists who challenged the Gaza blockade aboard the Rachel Corrie just days after a fatal Israeli raid on the "Freedom Flotilla." She shared her account with the Monitor.
Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire was one of five Irish activists who rode the MV Rachel Corrie toward Gaza last week in a follow-up attempt to break the blockade after Israel's fatal raid on the "Freedom Flotilla" May 31.Skip to next paragraph
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Ms. Maguire, a Northern Ireland peace activist, is the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She received it in 1976 at age 32 for her work in mobilizing hundreds of thousands of women to demand an end to violence in Northern Ireland.
Maguire is a frequent visitor to Israel and the Palestinian territories, who has made news in the region before. In 2004, for example, she traveled to Israel to welcome home nuclear engineer Mordechai Vanunu, who had just been released from prison for divulging Israel's nuclear program to a British newspaper in 1987. In 2007, Maguire was struck in the leg with a rubber bullet during a march from Ramallah to the separation barrier erected by Israel to guard against Palestinian suicide attacks in Israel proper.
Last week, Maguire and her fellow activists aboard the Rachel Corrie were stopped by the Israeli navy, diverted to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod, and detained incommunicado for several days. She returned to Dublin Monday and spoke to the Monitor by phone from there. The views she expresses are her own. For the Monitor's news coverage of the flotilla and its fallout, please click here.
Why Israel? Why of all the conflicts in the world is this the one that you have decided to devote your time to?
Because I love Israeli and Palestinian people. When I first went to Israel about a decade ago – at the invitation of Rabbis for Human Rights, friends of mine – and saw the ongoing violence, it made me think of Northern Ireland, and I knew that in Israel, like at home, militarism would not solve the problem.
Since my first trip to Israel I have continued to go back, once or even twice a year. I have many friends in both Israel and Palestine, and those friendships are very important. I think the policies of the government are what need to be changed. And I think once they are changed there is a great potential for peace. I don’t think the problem is between Arab and Jewish people. It is the [Gaza] siege that must be ended.
Tell me what happened on your trip to Israel. How were you treated by the Israeli authorities and where were you between Saturday, when the Rachel Corrie ship was stopped, and Monday afternoon when you flew back into Dublin.