Tell that to the Liberty’s survivors, Mr. Lieberman

Question: Why is it that in this Christian season of “Peace on Earth and good will to all men (and women)” the name of Israel’s Soviet-born foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, described by some as Israel’s “Hitler in-the-making”, should enter my mind?

Answer: Because I’ve been thinking about a most extraordinary statement (extraordinary even by his own standards) he made on a recent visit to Australia.

His Australian counterpart, Kevin Rudd, had apparently asked him if Israel would sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to assist the cause of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.

Liberman said “No” because “Israel does not pose a threat to peace in the world.” (My emphasis added).

The problem, Liberman asserted, “is not focused on the issue of the deployment of nuclear weapons itself” but on “the responsibility of the states which possess weapons of this kind.”

So according to Lieberman, the nuclear-armed Zionist state is a responsible state. There’s no need for the world to be concerned about its refusal to sign the NPT.

When Lieberman joined Ehud Olmert’s coalition government as minister in charge of strategic threats, Ha’aretz’s editorial writers commented as follows: The choice of the most unrestrained and irresponsible man around for this job constitutes a strategic threat in its own right. Lieberman’s lack of restraint and his unbridled tongue, comparable only to those of Iran’s president, are liable to bring disaster down upon the entire region.

Back in November 2003, the findings of an unpublished but leaked poll for the European Commission in 15 EU member states found that Israel was regarded as the “top threat to world peace” – ahead of North Korea, Afghanistan and Iran – by 59% of the 7,500 Europeans interviewed. Seven years and two Israeli wars (acts of state terrorism) later, that finding can only have been re-enforced.

If Lieberman really believes there is a plausible case for Israel as a “responsible” state, he could test it by making it to the Liberty’s survivors – those who survived Israel’s attack on America’s most advanced and sophisticated spy ship, an assault by air and sea including torpedoes that killed 37 Americans and wounded 174, 90 of them seriously. If on the fourth day of the 1967 war things had gone according to the plan of the man who ordered the attack, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, the Liberty would have been sunk with all American hands on board, leaving nobody to tell the story of what really happened.

For those who are not aware of the truth of what happened, the Liberty was on station off the coast of Gaza as the Johnson administration’s insurance policy. Listening to Israeli military communications, its main mission was to prevent Israel going to war with Syria and possibly provoking a U.S-Soviet confrontation. President Johnson had given Israel a greenlight to attack Eygpt but only Eygpt. Dayan ordered the attack on the Liberty to prevent it giving the Johnson administration early warning of his intentions to extend the war to Syria after he had taken the West Bank of Jordan. As it happened, Israel’s last land grab of the war – the taking for keeping of the Syrian Golan Heights – did provoke the threat of Soviet military intervention. For some hours there was the prospect of a superpower confrontation and possibly World War III. But at the brink, catastrophe was averted by use of the White House-Kremlin hot line.

Israel’s attack on the Liberty ought to have been a sensational, headline-grabbing news story, but beyond the fact that an “accident” had happened and that Israel had apologized, it did not get reported by America’s news organisations. It was too hot an issue for them to handle. If it had been an Arab or other Muslim attack on an American vessel, it’s reasonable to speculate that America would have resorted to a military strike, if not war, on the country it held responsible. What did President Johnson do? Out of fear of offending the Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress, he ordered and led a cover-up which remains in force to this day. And the mainstream media went along with it. As it still does.

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