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Top: Jewish Atrocities: Bombingof the U.S.S. Liberty
Washington Report readers know the story well. In 1967 on the fourthday of the Six Day War,the armed forces of Israel attacked the American intelligence ship USS Libertyfor 90 minutes ininternational waters in broad daylight following several hours of close,low-level reconnaissance.Thirty-four men died, 171 were hurt, and the ship was so badly damaged thatit had to bescrapped.
The government of Israel has lied about the circumstances ever since,telling a story markedlydifferent from that told by American survivors. Congress has refused toquestion Israel'sdemonstrably false account, even though the State Department's own analysisfinds the Israelistory to be untrue.
Yet the most pressing question remaining from that infamy is not whetherthe attack wasdeliberate. That was settled long ago for most reasonable people. The questionis why Israelrisked its cozy relationship with America by killing American seaman onthe high seas.
Indeed, spokesmen for Israel use that question in Israel's defense. Why,they ask, would Israel riskalienating its American friends?
So why did Israel attack? Intelligence analysts and others have longsupposed that Israel attackedto prevent the ship from reporting the impending invasion of the Golan Heights,then imminentdespite cease fire pleas by the United States. Israel's defenders rejectthat explanation.
Recent reports in the Israeli and Egyptian press suggest another powerfulpossibility.
According to eyewitness accounts by Israeli officers and journalists,the Israeli Army - the armythat claims to hold itself to a higher moral standard than other armies- executed as many as 1,000Arab prisoners during the 1967 war.
Historian Gabby Bron wrote in the Yediot Ahronot in Israel that he witnessedIsraeli troopsexecuting Egyptian prisoners on the morning of June 8, 1967, in the Sinaitown of El Arish.
Bron reported that he saw about 150 Egyptian POWs being held at the ElArish airport wherethey were sitting on the ground, densely crowded together with their handsheld on the back oftheir necks. Every few minutes, Bron writes, Israeli soldiers would escortan Egyptian POW fromthe group to a hearing conducted by two men in Israeli army uniforms. Thenthe man would betaken away, given a spade, and forced to dig his own grave.
"I watched as (one) man dug a hole for about 15 minutes," Bronwrote. "Afterwards, the (Israelimilitary) policeman told him to throw the shovel away, and then one of themleveled an Uzi at himand shot two short bursts, each of three or four bullets."
Bron says he witnessed about ten such executions, until the grave wasfilled. Then an IsraeliColonel threatened him with a revolver, forcing him to leave the area.
USS Liberty was nearby
As those executions were underway, America's most sophisticated intelligenceplatform, USSLiberty, was less than 13 miles from El Arish.
We were close enough to see the town mosque with the naked eye. Withbinoculars we couldmake out individual buildings and might have seen the executions if we hadlooked in the rightplace.
Could our operators have heard voice radio messages revealing these killings?Did senior Israeliofficers sanction the murders, or did they learn of them? How would theyhave reacted to theknowledge that USS Liberty was nearby and might have heard incriminatingradio traffic?
Would they have been desperate enough to attack an American ship?
The Liberty attack was a war crime
The attack on USS Liberty was itself a war crime. US Navy Commander WalterJacobsen, a NavyLegal Officer then doing graduate work at George Washington University,conducted anextensive legal analysis of the attack.
His conclusion, reported in the Winter, 1986, Naval Law Review, was thatseveral aspects of theattack violated provisions of the Geneva Conventions -- war crimes. Specifically,CommanderJacobsen found that the attack was not legally justified, that it constitutedan act of aggressionunder the United Nations Charter, that the use of unmarked aircraft, thewanton destruction of liferafts in the water, the jamming of international radio distress frequencies,and the failure of thetorpedo boat commanders to render immediate assistance to a disabled andhelpless enemy wereall violations of international law.
US refusal to investigate violates Geneva Conventions
For years, USS Liberty survivors have asked Members of Congress to investigatethecircumstances of the attack.
The Israeli version is untrue. We did fly a flag. We did identify ourselves.We were in internationalwaters. They did not stop firing after seeing our flag as they claim, butcontinued to fire foranother 40 minutes. The attack lasted 75 minutes and was not brief or accidentalas Israel claims.We did not "attempt to hide" or escape when detected, as Israelihas charged. These things areeasy to prove.
More important are the war crimes discussed by Commander Jacobsen. Thesethings should havebeen investigated in 1967. Yet U.S. officials have ignored the offensesfor 29 years, refusing toinvestigate or even to acknowledge them.
That refusal is itself a crime. The United States, as a signatory tothe Geneva Conventions of1949, is "under the obligation to search for persons alleged to havecommitted, or to have orderedto be committed" violations of the conventions, and to see that violatorsare brought to trial.
There are no exceptions. War crimes reported to government officialsmust be investigated andperpetrators tried.
Yet even this is ignored by U.S. officials. Liberty survivors for manyyears have reported thecrimes committed against us and have requested an appropriate investigation.Despite the law, ourcomplaints are ignored. No investigation of these charges has ever beenheld.
Recently Liberty's Joe Meadors, a former president and chairman of theLiberty VeteransAssociation, has filed formal complaints with the House and Senate EthicsCommittees againstmembers who have ignored our complaints.
To no surprise, these complaints, too, are being ignored.
Navy Refusal to investigate violates Navy Regulations
When the Liberty was attacked, Captain Joseph Tully in the aircraft carrierUSS Saratogareceived the ship's call for help and immediately sent jet aircraft to herassistance. Tully's jets wererecalled almost immediately by orders from Washington. As a result, Americanjet fighter supportwas withheld for more than 90 minutes. By then the damage was done and 34men were dead ordying.
Had those aircraft been sent, they would probably have arrived beforethe torpedo boats startedtheir part of the attack. At least 25 lives could have been saved.
We survivors have tried for 29 years to learn why we were denied theimmediate air support thatwe were promised in case of trouble. There are no answers. The Navy stillwill not even admitthat help was not sent, even though one of the aircraft carrier commandershas offered to testifythat he was forbidden to help us.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice, the body of law that governs everymilitary person,provides that "Any person subject to this chapter who before or inthe presence of the enemy . . .does not afford all practicable relief and assistance to . . . troops, vessels,or aircraft of the armedforces . . . when engaged in battle . . . shall be punished by death orsuch punishment as a courtmartial may direct."
That provision was clearly violated when Liberty's air support was withheld.Yet the Navy willnot even admit that we were not defended.
George Orwell suggested in 1945 that some animals are more equal thanother animals. Somecountries, too, it would seem.
James Ennes retired from the Navy in 1978 as a lieutenant commanderafter 27 years of enlistedand commissioned service. He was a lieutenant on the bridge of the USS Libertyon the day of theattack. His book on the subject, Assault on the Liberty (Random House, 1980),is a "NotableNaval Book" selection of the U.S. Naval Institute and was "editorschoice" when reviewed in TheWashington Post. top of page
JerusalemPost Response to Jew Watch
Concerning the Israeli Bombing of the U.S.S. Liberty
Archived on June 25, 2004, from an Article on the Internet at http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/Printer&cid=1088046788934&p=1006953079897in accordance with "fair use" provisions of the copyright law for useas a scholarly, educational, or research reference at the scholarly website www.jewwatch.comin case this page drops off or is changed.
Eye on the media: Blood in the water
This is how the dots connect.
I am surfing a web site called Jew Watch (www.jewwatch.com). Itsself-declared purpose is to keep "a Close Watch on Jewish Communities &Organizations Worldwide." I came across the site while looking into anallegation of a 1967 massacre of 1,000 Egyptian POWs by Israeli troops in El-Arish,on the Mediterranean shore of the Sinai. And I came across the allegation whilewatching a documentary first broadcast by the BBC.
Jew Watch is a virtual warehouse of anti-Semitic literature: It bringshundreds of Fascist, Leftist and Arab links together in a revealing whole. Thereare headings for "Jewish World Conspiracies," "Zionist OccupiedGovernments," "Jewish Genocides Today and Yesterday," and"Jewish Hate Groups"– among them, the Anti-Defamation League, theSimon Wiesenthal Center and the ACLU.
Under the section for "Jewish Atrocities," there is a link to the"1967 Egyptian Massacre" about which I'm curious. This, in turn, linksto an article James Ennes wrote in 1996 for The Washington Report on MiddleEast Affairs, which Jew Watch reprints "with permission." The Report,published under the auspices of the American Educational Trust, bills itself asa sober, non-partisan publication; its publisher, Andrew Killgore, is a formerUS ambassador to Qatar who recently won respectful attention with an open letterdenouncing Bush's Israel-Palestine policy. Yet even the most cursory look at theReport's site reveals it for what it is. "Journals of opinion," itsays in an appeal for private donations, "do not bring in the sameadvertising revenue as mainstream magazines. Big corporations and the Zionistlobby want to control the editorial content around which their ads will beplaced."
As for Ennes's article, it purports to explain Israel's motives for attackingthe USS Liberty, an American spy ship operating just north of the Sinaicoast, on June 8, 1967. Israelis have always claimed the attack was a case ofmistaken identity, whereas Ennes, who served as a deck officer on the Liberty,believes the IDF knew exactly who it was hitting. But why would Israel risk thewrath of its ally and patron by attacking the ship? This was always thestumbling block for those who suspected Israeli malice. Ennes's theory is thatIsrael feared the Liberty might discover what Israeli troops had been upto in El-Arish. Therefore it chose to commit a war crime in order to disguise awar crime.
LET'S MOVE now to the BBC. Earlier this month, Israel's Channel 8 aired"Dead in the Water," a documentary about the Liberty firstbroadcast last year by BBC 4. The documentary reconstructs the eventssurrounding the Liberty incident. Members of the crew, including Ennes,are interviewed, as are such former senior officials as Robert McNamara, RichardHelms, Ezer Weizman, Shlomo Gazit and Rafael Eitan.
It is an expensive production, and its promotional material promises"startling new evidence to reveal the truth behind the seeminglyinexplicable attack." For instance, the viewer is told that, following theattack, "the US was about to launch a nuclear strike against Egypt, the Liberty'spresumed attacker." The El-Arish "massacre," and Ennes's theoryabout it, is offered, as are two other theories to explain Israel's motives:One, that "the attack was intended to be blamed on Egypt, and wouldtherefore draw America into the war"; and two, that the attack "waspart of a larger plan hatched by Israeli and American intelligence, to invadeEgypt and overthrow Nasser." What is beyond cavil, according to thedocumentary, is that the Israelis knew exactly what they were doing. "Theinescapable conclusion," goes the voiceover, "is that Israel wanted noone left to tell the tale."
But there's a problem: If it was Israel's intention to leave nobody alive,why did they? Certainly there was nothing stopping them. Assuming Israel reallywas trying to cover up a massacre in El-Arish, why didn't the Israeli torpedoboats circling the crippled, unescorted, unarmed Liberty deliver the coupde grace? Assuming the attack had been planned well in advance, why did theIsraeli Air Force drop napalm on the deck, instead of ship-sinking iron bombs?Assuming the attack was meant to look like the work of the Egyptians, therebyprovoking US retaliation on Cairo, why did the Israelis attack in broad daylightinstead of by stealth?
These are simple questions – so simple, in fact, that it may seem strangethat the makers of "Dead in the Water" neither address nor answerthem. But of course it isn't strange. For the only way "Dead in theWater" can be taken seriously is if one is predisposed to believe thatIsrael is capable of perpetrating irrational and basically frivolous cruelties.And plainly, the makers of this documentary are so disposed.
Why, for instance, would Israel massacre a thousand Egyptian POWs? Israeltook tens of thousands of prisoners during the Six Day War; most of them, itquickly let go. So why kill a thousand? Because, one supposes, that is just thesort of thing Israelis do; they kill people for sport, in the manner that onehunts ducks for sport. (For the record, the principal sources of the massacrestory – Israeli journalist Gabi Bron and scholar Aryeh Yitzhaki – bothinsist no massacres took place and that they were misquoted in an AssociatedPress dispatch out of which the El-Arish story arose. Their denials, a matter ofpublic record, go unmentioned in "Dead in the Water.")
Similarly, why would Israel seek to inveigle the US into bombing Egypt? Afterall, by the time of the Liberty attack, Israel was well on the road tototal victory over the Arabs, and US assistance was not required. So why do it?Because, the documentary implies, having the Americans vaporize Cairo would be anice bonus for the Jewish state. And – guess what? – they very nearly gotthe US to do it.
The documentary goes on to tell how Israel – which in point of factinstantly apologized to the United States, paid $12 million in reparations, andlaunched three commissions of inquiry – succeeded in perpetrating a 35-yearcover-up. There is also the suggestion that Lyndon Johnson did not want toantagonize his Jewish constituency, or his Jewish advisers, or his relationshipwith the Jewish state, and thus let the matter slide. Again, the impressionconveyed is that Israel not only bombed an American ship deliberately, but gotits pawn of an American president to do its bidding.
All in all, the portrait painted of Israel in "Dead in the Water"is of a country that asks itself "what can we get away with thistime?" and then makes every effort to achieve new heights of wickedness. Inthis scenario, bombing your only ally's ship in order to cover up your massacre,getting him to pulverize the enemy capital, and then have him cover it all upfor you, must seem like the ultimate trick. But leave it to the Jews to (nearly)carry it off.
We can be under no illusions about what we're dealing with here. "Deadin the Water" is of a piece with everything that is to be found on JewWatch. Its illogic cannot be explained as a failure of understanding, but ratheras a function of intent. That intent is to demonize the Jewish state preciselyin the way that Jews themselves have traditionally been demonized: asinternational manipulators and bloodthirsty connivers.
The principal researcher for "Dead in the Water" is Peter Hounam,better known as the champion of nuclear spy Mordechai Vanunu. Hounam has beenbarred from entering the country by the Interior Ministry. He now seeks toappeal that decision in an Israeli court, presumably on the grounds that no freecountry can reasonably or honorably bar an honest journalist from its shores.But "Dead in the Water" is not honest journalism. It is notjournalism. It's the Damascus blood libel for the 21st century. And the Jewishstate is under no obligation to entertain the motions of an anti-Semite.
Dept.of Navy on U.S.S. Liberty
Archived from the Internet at http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-l/agtr5.htmon June 25, 2004 for the scholarly website www.jewwatch.comfor research, educational, and scholarly reference in case this page drops offor is changed..
USS Liberty, a 7725-ton Belmont class technical research ship,was built in 1945 as the civilian cargo ship Simmons Victory. Sheoperated in commercial trade until 1958, when she was laid up in the NationalDefense Reserve Fleet. Simmons Victory was acquired by the Navy inFebruary 1963 for conversion. Renamed Liberty and classified AG-168 inJune 1963, she was reclassified AGTR-5 in April 1964 and commissioned inDecember 1964. In February 1965, she steamed from the west coast to Norfolk,Virginia, where she was further outfitted to suit her for a mission ofcollecting and processing foreign communications and other electronic emissionsof possible National defense interest.
In June 1965, Liberty began her first deployment, to waters off thewest coast of Africa. She carried out several more operations during the nexttwo years, and went to the Mediterranean in 1967. During the "Six-DayWar" between Israel and several Arab nations, she was sent to collectelectronic intelligence in the eastern Mediterranean. On the afternoon of 8 June1967, while in international waters off the Sinai Peninsula, Liberty,though clearly marked as a U.S. Navy ship, was struck by Israeli aircraft. Aftersuffering damage and many personnel casualties from gunfire, rockets and bombs,she was further attacked by three Israeli Navy motor torpedo boats. One torpedohit her on the starboard side, forward of the superstructure, opening a largehole in her hull. In all, thirty-four men were killed in the attacks and nearly170 wounded. Israel subsequently apologized for the incident, explaining thatits air and naval forces had mistaken the Liberty for a much smallerEgyptian Navy ship.
Though severely damaged, Liberty's crew kept her afloat, and she wasable to leave the area under her own power. She was escorted to Malta by unitsof the U.S. Sixth Fleet and was there given interim repairs. After these werecompleted in July 1967, Liberty returned to the United States. She wasdecommissioned in June 1968 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register twoyears later. USS Liberty was sold for scrapping in December 1970.
This page features, or provides links to, all our views of USS Liberty(AGTR-5).
For pictures and information on Liberty's June 1967 CommandingOfficer, who was awarded the Medalof Honor for his conduct during the attacks on her, see:
CaptainWilliam L. McGonagle, USN.
For views of the attack on USS Liberty and its immediate aftermath,see:
|If you want higher resolution reproductions than the digital images presented here, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."|
Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.
|Photo #: NH 97473 |
USS Liberty (AGTR-5)
Photographed circa 1966.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.
Online Image: 78KB; 740 x 605 pixels
|Photo #: NH 66862 |
USS Liberty (AGTR-5)
At the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Virginia, 2 October 1966.
USS Waldron (DD-699) is tied up astern of Liberty.
Courtesy of the Mariners Museum, Newport News, Virginia. Ted Stone Collection.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.
Online Image: 99KB; 740 x 605 pixels
|Photo #: K-39927 |
USS Liberty (AGTR-5)
Underway in Chesapeake Bay, 29 July 1967, upon her return from the Mediterranean Sea. She had been attacked and seriously damaged by Israeli air and surface forces while operating off the Sinai Peninsula on 8 June 1967, during the "Six-Day War", and was subsequently repaired at Malta.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph.
Online Image: 111KB; 740 x 615 pixels
Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system as Photo # 428-K-39927.
NOTE: Though reproductions of this photo from the Naval Historical Center's collections are available in black & white only, those from the National Archives should be available in color.
|Photo #: NH 83352-KN (Color) |
Insignia of USS Liberty (AGTR-5)
This emblem was in use in 1967.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.
Online Image: 94KB; 700 x 635 pixels
For pictures and information on Liberty's June 1967 Commanding Officer, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his conduct during the attacks on her, see:
For views of the attack on USS Liberty and its immediate aftermath, see:
|If you want higher resolution reproductions than the digital images presented here, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."|
Page made 14 January 200
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