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.
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Do you think your actions and those of the other activists involved in this flotilla have served to further the cause of peace in the region? Do you think resisting a sovereign state’s orders is a peaceful action?Skip to next paragraph
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I believe when states have polices that are unjust we all have a moral obligation to challenge them. We are not against the state of Israel or its people, but we believe that civil disobedience helps change polices and Israel’s policies need to be changed. Look at what we accomplished in South Africa and in Northern Ireland. It is possible to bring about change. It is only by people mobilizing that governments will change their policies.
There is much talk that not all the activists on board the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, where Israel's fatal raid took place, were peaceful. Did you know anything about militant passengers on board that ship? What do you think of them?
I have been reading the first-hand reports just today, and how the actions of the Israelis were carried out. It was shameful. I think the people to hold responsible here are those in the Israeli government and whoever is in charge at the army who sent young Israeli soldiers into such a difficult and impossible mission.
The entire ship was searched before it sailed. There were no arms on board and everyone had pledged to be peaceful. But what happened was, it was 4 a.m. and helicopters and Zodiacs were approaching, and there was live shooting as the soldiers came on board from the air and the sea. You had over 600 people on that ship, and some surely panicked, and would have been absolutely scared.
You boarded a ship in international waters. This was a civilian ship filled with unarmed people. It's surprising that more people did not die. It was a shameful act of the Israelis. I do hope that those who ordered such an exercise are investigated.
I am a pacifist and totally not violent, and I have spend my life working for non violence and we worked hard to ensure the Rachel Corrie was totally non violent.
I was not on board the Turkish ship but I do believe that with over 600 people, many of them for the first time on the sea…. when they were attacked it must have been extraordinarily frightening. It is the Israelis who behaved badly.
What’s next for you? Do you intend to try and return to Gaza in the near future?
In October I will be joining some other Nobel prize-winning women in a trip to Ramallah and to Israel, where we will be meeting people on the ground and advocating for nonviolence. This is no other way. We must support those who are working for a nonviolent and peaceful solution to the conflict. If it can happen in Northern Ireland, it can happen in Israel, too.
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