As background, the USS Liberty Incident took place during the 1967 Six Day War (Israel against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria) where a US Navy ship, the USS Liberty, was attacked by the Israeli Air Force. Admiral Tom Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations 1967 to 1970 and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1970 to 1974 was most upset. I discussed the incident in several books – when you have dozens available, you cannot know what will be read, and where it is important knowledge, I will repeat it to ensure that the knowledge is spread around.
The Israeli Air Force Mirage IIIs killed thirty-four sailors on the USS Liberty on 8 June 1967. They say that they thought she was Egyptian which is nonsense. There were clear signs and flags flying showing she was a US warship - how they got away with only paying some compensation is to be speculated at. Many of the survivors still claim it was a war crime. This is debatable in law. It was an act of war, yes, but the attacked country has the right to turn the other cheek under international law, here the US did exactly that.
Admiral Moorer made his views very public, “The ship was clearly identified, not only by its unique configuration but by a very large US flag that was flown at the time. The weather was calm and the visibility was excellent. During this unprovoked attack 34 US Navy men were killed and 171 wounded. Nevertheless, to this day the American public does not know why the attack took place and who was involved overall. In my opinion, the United States government and the Israeli government must share responsibility for this cover-up. I cannot accept the claim by the Israelis that this was a case of mistaken identity. I have flown for years in both peace and war on surveillance flights over the ocean, and my opinion is supported by a full career of locating and identifying ships at sea. Based on the way this tragedy was handled both in the United States and in Israel, one must conclude that there is much information that has not been made available to the public. The US Fleet, positioned nearby, received a distress call from the USS Liberty, and one carrier dispatched a squadron to go to the defense of the disabled ship. Before the aircraft reached the Liberty, they received orders from Washington directing their return to their ship. Who issued those orders? So far, no one knows. In the United States all information available to the US government indicating those who participated in controlling this operation from Washington, together with the exact text of orders transmitted to the Mediterranean Fleet, has never been made public.”
Less than a year later, North Korea captured a US Navy intelligence gathering vessel and her crew, USS Pueblo, on 23 January 1968. They still have the ship and gave the encryption machines to the Soviets. You have to wonder if the lack of reaction by Washington supported the North Korean act of war – another discussion but an interesting link.
On May 2, 2017, James North and Phil Weiss talked with Norman Finkelstein about the Six Day War, its history, its mythology and its impact on US Jewish life. Professor Finkelstein is a highly respected, by me, American political scientist, activist, professor, and author. He received his PhD in political science at Princeton University. He has held faculty positions at Brooklyn College, Rutgers University, Hunter College, New York University, and DePaul University, where he was an assistant professor from 2001 to 2007. The man wrote many books, the most controversial probably “The Holocaust Industry” translated into 16 languages. Professor Finkelstein stated his views on the USS Liberty incident:
North: What do you think happened to the USS Liberty?
Finkelstein: I corresponded with one of the surviving crew members, James Ennis, who wrote a book on the attack indicting Israel. His account was totally credible. For example, a 5-by-8-foot American flag hoisted on the Liberty was fluttering in the wind on a crystalline summer day. Ennis recalled that before the assault an Israeli pilot overhead was flying so low they even waved to each other. So how could Israeli pilots have missed the flag?
It’s ingenious - or hilarious - how Oren (a historian) explains away this inconvenient fact. He says, ‘But Israeli pilots were not looking for the Liberty, but rather for Egyptian submarines.’ In other words, the pilots didn’t see what was staring them in the face above the water because they were in search of a vessel beneath the water. This explanation must have deeply impressed the Los Angeles Times, which awarded him the newspaper’s annual book prize in history.
North: The reason for the attack?
Finkelstein: None of the standard explanations hold up. I have my own hunch but I readily admit it’s highly speculative and unorthodox.
Weiss: The conventional theory is the Liberty had radio surveillance and knocking out the Liberty allowed Israel to continue the war another two days.
Finkelstein: It’s alleged that the Liberty had gotten wind of the fact that Israel was going to seize the Golan, so Israel attacked it. But this theory doesn’t hold up on close inspection. My own hypothesis is, this is Israel’s big moment, the climactic of the Jewish people, a collective paroxysm-cum-orgasm. All the armed services want to get a piece of the action. The air force, the army, the navy. The navy hadn’t yet seen real combat. As the war was winding down, they were probably anxious to be part of this glorious chapter. To play their part in the Jewish people’s revenge on the goyim. Remember, the Israelis don’t just hate Arabs. They’re in an eternal war with all the goyim. All the goyim wanted the Jews dead. Just read Daniel Goldhagen if you have any doubts. The Americans are goyim. They refused entry to Jews fleeing the Holocaust; they didn’t bomb the railway tracks to Auschwitz; they, too, wanted all the Jews dead. Now they’re butting into our war, dispatching a spy ship into our waters, trying to restrain us in our moment of glory. Fuck the Americans! Fuck the goyim! Long live the Jews! Besides the Israeli air assault on the USS Liberty, the Israeli navy torpedoed the vessel. It got to share in the mock heroics and avenge the millennial suffering of the Jews. Everyone got their 15 minutes of drawing blood, in memoriam of the Jewish martyrs. I am the first to admit gaps in my hypothesis but it probably gets closer to the truth than positing a rational motive.
North: How was the attack suppressed?
Finkelstein: Raison d’etat. Of course President Johnson knew what happened. But Israel was now the US’s “strategic asset” in the Middle East, so Johnson gave it a pass. (Copyright belongs to Finkelstein and the entire article interview can be read at https://www.unz.com/nfinkelstein.)
I suppose it could have happened like that but we don’t know. It also could have been as claimed a tragic mistake. What I do know is that Washington should never have concealed it from the public or come down on the Liberty survivors. It is seen today as an example of how not to deal with such incidents.