13 July 2010

Gaza Freedom Flotilla : Participants Speak Out

Gaza Freedom Flotilla participants Ann Wright and Joe Meadors spoke in Austin about their experiences. Photo by Alice Embree / The Rag Blog.

Col. Ann Wright and Joe Meadors:
What really happened on the Freedom Flotilla

By Alice Embree / The Rag Blog / July 13, 2010
Col. Ann Wright is Thorne Dreyer's guest on Rag Radio, Tuesday, July 13, 2-3 p.m. (CST) on KOOP 91.7 FM in Austin. They discuss her history in the military and as a diplomat, why she resigned from the State Department, her involvement in the peace movement, and what happened on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

For those outside the listening area, go here to stream the show. To listen to this show on the Rag Radio archives after the broadcast, go here. To listen to earlier shows, go to the Rag Radio archives.
AUSTIN -- Two participants in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, Col. Ann Wright and Joe Meadors, spoke to an Austin audience July 11 as part of a statewide speaking tour. They were part of a six ship flotilla attempting to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza with a delivery of humanitarian supplies. On May 31, Israeli special forces boarded the largest ship, the MV Mavi Marmara, shooting nine passengers to death and injuring more than 40. One U.S. citizen was among the dead.

Wright and Meadors had been sailing on smaller ships in the flotilla. They described being surrounded by Zodiac boats at 4:30 in the morning, 70 miles off coast in international waters. Percussion bombs were fired on their ships, breaking windows, before Israeli special forces boarded and detained those on board. Personal items -- cameras, laptops and cell phones -- were confiscated and passengers were held on board before being removed and detained in Israeli jails. All the cargo was seized.

Ann Wright, a retired Army Colonel and career diplomat, is best known for resigning from her State Department position in protest at the onset of the Iraq War. Since her resignation she has been active in the peace and social justice movements. Wright spoke with Joe Meadors, a survivor of the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. The Liberty was a Naval electronic intelligence-gathering ship deployed near Israel.

Meadors, who was a Navy signalman, described the attack by Israeli planes and torpedo boats that left 34 dead and two thirds of the remaining crew injured. Naval investigations of the attack were scuttled and Israel was never held accountable for the deaths. Meadors, a Corpus Christi resident, said “I knew what Israel could do.”

The Gaza Freedom Flotilla included more than 600 participants from 37 countries. The deadly attack prompted an international outcry and has increased pressure on Israel to lift the blockade which confines 1.5 million people in a strip of land about five miles wide and 25 miles long. This densely populated area was devastated by the Israeli bombing attacks launched in December 2008.

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