"The Day Israel attacked America" was a first class effort from "Aljazeera News." The film is a compelling 48 minutes while expertly narrated. This year, 2017, was the fifty year anniversary of the attack on the "USS Liberty" by the state of Israel. While you would think that most history buffs are informed about the spy ship's destruction and subsequent cover-up by Israel and the Johnson Administration, this is not the case. So this documentary can be a valuable source for those who have not done the commensurate reading. There was a 69% casualty rate among the "Liberty's" sailors and NSA personnel with 34 dead and 172 wounded. The "Liberty"--a sitting duck--featured multiple antennas on its deck and a distinct Dish, not weapons capable of returning fire.
The film is co-produced by author of "The attack on the Liberty," American James Scott. Scott's father Ensign John Scott had served on board the fateful day of June 8, 1967 during the Six Day War between three Middle East countries and Israel. A brief war the US had only intended to listen to and record communications throughout the duration (amongst Egypt and Syria and their ally, the USSR). The "Liberty" was loaded with signal intelligence gear (SIGINT) and was by no means a combat ship. What happened was a distinct tragedy as well as a crime.
The first half of the film deals with the attack itself. The "USS Liberty" was 12 miles off the coast of Egypt in international waters flying a US flag and clearly marked with identifying GTR 5 ID's on its hull. It was 2 pm on a clear calm day. The attack began with a series of strafing and bombing runs by the Israeli Air Force. Following, was an onrush of torpedo boats from the Israeli Navy with one explosive connecting with devastating results. Machine guns aimed at life boats were the final bullets sailors and NSA personnel had to endure. Interviews with survivors are interspersed. The ship -amazingly- was not sunk by the Israelis and they were rescued a day later by a US Carrier Group. A bloodied,brave group or survivors.
The second half details the cover-up both from Israel --which was loath to cooperate with the US-- and the US Administration, which quickly came to the conclusion that Israel's story was not believable. The attack was not an error. The "Liberty" had been watched for days by the Israelis. Lyndon Johnson personally made clear in a leaked story to "Newsweek" magazine that Israel was culpable.
At first claiming they thought they were firing at an Egyptian freighter, Israel decided on another gambit. They would tacitly make it clear that they would charge the Administration with "Blood Libel" if the US pursued a case against Israel. The term, with its ancient origin, is used in the film by former NSA head, Admiral Bobby Ray Inman. He laid out the case that Israel used all its assets to try an rid itself from this charge of purposefully attacking the "Liberty." Inman indicates they were successful. Israel while admitting no guilt other than its error paid modest damages to the dead personnel and to the US for the ship's destruction.
Important new information was included with incriminating recordings purporting (in Hebrew) to demonstrate that Isl pilots knew who they were attacking. From the beginning, unanswered questions about why Israel chose to take this action were present? Fifty years later, we still need to be asking WHY?
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