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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

October 01, 2002



The Liberty Incident: The 1967 Attack on the U.S. Navy Spy Ship
by A. Jay Cristol



This book discusses the USS Liberty incident in which a US ship, monitoring the coast during the '67 war, was attacked by Israeli forces. The incident has been used by anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish groups to point to the "cover up" that American Jewish "lobby" groups brought to bear on American politicians. The new book by Michael Oren, Six Days of War (the 1967 war) also absolves Israel of sinking the Liberty on purpose. But the myths persists among those who see conspiracies perpetrated by Jews.

Draws on newly declassified documents and high-level interviews with numerous officials from the United States and Israel, including the late prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, that resolve lingering questions
A former naval aviator provides a page-turning, minute-by-minute account of the battering suffered by the U.S. Navy’s intelligence ship, USS Liberty

Includes diagrams, maps, and photographs, including images taken by the gun cameras of participating Israeli aircraft

On June 8, 1967, at the height of the Six-Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Israeli air and naval forces attacked the USS Liberty, an intelligence-collection ship in the service of Israel’s closest ally, while that vessel steamed in international waters off the Sinai Peninsula. The Israelis killed 34 Americans, wounded 171, and nearly sank the ship. Dozens of theories exist about what happened that day. Official inquiries conducted in both the United States and Israel attributed the event to faulty communications and tragic error, but survivors remain outspoken and not alone in their belief that the Israelis acted deliberately.

Federal judge and former naval aviator A. Jay Cristol places the incident in its proper context. The Israeli strike, he argues, can only be understood in light of the Cold War, the outbreak of war in the Middle East, interservice rivalry within the Israeli Defense Forces, and the chaos of an operational environment. That both the United States and Israel kept much of the data concerning the incident classified for more than ten years served only to fuel the fires of intrigue and charges of conspiracy to cover up the truth, but since the incident significant portions of most of the official inquiries have now been declassified. Cristol draws on these, documents recently obtained by him through the Freedom of Information Act, and extensive oral history interviews to deliver the most comprehensive treatment of the episode that threatened to ruin Israel’s relations with the United States and has served as a nagging source of suspicion for so many years.


About the Author
A. Jay Cristol, J.D., Ph.D., is a federal judge serving the southern district of Florida. An aviation enthusiast, he spent eighteen years as a naval aviator and twenty in the Navy’s Judge Advocate General Corps. He retired as a captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve and lives in Miami, Florida.
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