Monday, June 04, 2007

40 years ago and the USS Liberty

I've been hearing a lot about the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War and it's kind of odd how the American coverage is so out of whack with the coverage in the UK. To hear the BBC or the Economist tell it, the Israelis attacked Egypt and Jordan totally unprovoked and have had to deal with the disastrous consequences of that stunning victory ever since. One amazing quote in a BBC story has Moshe Dayan saying he expected violent resistance to the occupation and when he was asked why, he said: "Because I would do the same thing." You won't hear that sort of thing on NPR.

According to one of their pieces on the war today, that since '67 Israel has had to defend herself from "waves of suicide attackers." See, the occupier is defending itself. I kind of had the impression that an occupation -- in this case, an occupation which is viewed by every country on earth as totally illegal -- is an act of aggression. How can Israel be always be the side portrayed as the helpless victim "retaliating" against Palestinian attacks when it's own violent occupation is the cause of the violence to begin with? If the IDF wasn't kicking down doors in Gaza and manning check points in the West Bank to make sure Israeli settlers can build their illegal homes on occupied territory in peace, there would be no resistance.

I'm not saying that part of the Middle East would be Amsterdam on the Mediterranean if Israel pulled out of the occupied lands but I can't see any Arab country anywhere near Israel, including a Palestinian state, too eager to pick a fight with the IDF, even on one of its bad days. In fact, if the IDF wasn't so ground down by 40 years of maintaining the occupation, it would be in a much better position to defend Israel-proper than it is now.

But that's all just crazy talk.

Deaths from car accidents may have killed more Israelis in Sderot these past few years than Kazams have, but Israel is totally justified in dropping 500 lbs bombs on Gaza from American F-16s every day because the good citizens of that fine town are being inconvenienced. The Israeli press may be able to discuss the futility of the occupation and condemn the high Palestinian civilian death toll, but not the media in the land of the free and home of the brave. Anyone who dares question why we've pumped three trillion dollars into the Israeli occupation of the Palestinians, along with another several hundred billion into securing the oil lanes because of the instability the conflict engenders, is obviously an anti-Semite.

Just keep that in mind Congress, don't even think about pulling the plug on Israel. And whatever you do don't open a Naval Inquiry into the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967.

Remember the Liberty! 40 Years ago:

On June 8 1997, at a ceremony commemorating 30th anniversary of the deaths of 34 sailors killed by a vicious Israeli attack on an unarmed American spy ship 12 miles off the coast of the Sinai during the Six Day War, the ship's Captain William McGonagle said:

"I think it's about time that the State of Israel and the United States Government provided crew members of the Liberty and the rest of the American people with the facts of what happened, and why it came about that the Liberty was attacked 30 years ago today."

Well, its 10 years later and we're still waiting. Maybe someone should ask John McCain why he steadfastly resists calls for any type of investigation. Could it have something to do with the fact that his dad Admiral John McCain was instrumental in covering up the whole thing? The Navy's initial "investigation" into why unmarked Israeli jets strafed the clearly marked American ship with napalm, sent in torpedo boats, and when the ship wouldn't sink, followed up by attempting to land a boarding party from helicopters to finish off the survivors -- which was aborted at the last moment when the Israelis discovered the Liberty had miraculously had been able to get an SOS out to a nearby US carrier -- was a whitewash signed off on by McCain who was in charge of the US Sixth Fleet at the time.

Out of crew of 294 men aboard, 34 Americans were killed and 171 wounded. They and their families deserve an explanation of what happened that day. Don't hold your breath hoping to hear anything about this dubious anniversary in the all the congratulatory coverage of Israel's sneak attack on Egypt 40 years ago. Discussion of the Liberty is radioactive in the US media. Questioning Israel's version of events is tantamount to questioning the Holocaust.

In the words of LT. Jim Ennes, who survived the attack and was an eyewitness:

"The Israelis claim they mistakenly plotted our speed at 32 knots, making us a warship suitable for attack. We were moving at only five knots, and we were more than 30 miles away -- double their 16-mile radar horizon. The Israelis claim the officers on two torpedo boats mistook the Liberty for a 40-year old, out-of-service Egyptian horse transport. Israeli naval officers tell me that story is an embarrassment. It should be. It is unbelievable.

Despite these things, a few Americans seem to accept the preposterous claims that a tiny motor torpedo boat can have a 30-mile radar horizon, can miscalculate a target's speed by 500 percent, can mistake a clearly marked 10,000 ton US ship a mile away for an ancient 2,640 ton Egyptian horse carrier, can fail to recognize an oversize American flag from as close as fifty feet and can then continue to fire from close range for another forty minutes before suddenly recognizing it as American after learning the Sixth Fleet jets were on the way. Survivors cannot accept that.

The typical Israeli reaction is that we are liars or anti-Semites, which of course we are not. We are American sailors honestly reporting an act of treachery at sea

Clearly, this man hates all Jews!
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