Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 1st, 2014

The Day Israel Attacked America

Al Jazeera investigates the shocking truth behind a deadly Israeli attack on a US naval vessel in 1967.

Investigation aired on October 30, 2014

In 1967, at the height of the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War, the Israeli Air Force launched an unprovoked attack on the USS Liberty, a US Navy spy ship that was monitoring the conflict from the safety of international waters in the Mediterranean.

Israeli jet fighters hit the vessel with rockets, cannon fire and napalm, before three Israeli torpedo boats moved in to launch a second more devastating attack. Though she did not sink, the Liberty was badly damaged. Thirty-four US servicemen and civilian analysts were killed, another 171 were wounded.

Later Israel apologised for what it claimed to be a tragic case of mistaken identity. The flag – known as the “holiday colours”  was huge, clearly visible for miles, and I knew immediately that no one could ever have been in any doubt about the nationality of the ship beneath it.

It said that it had believed the ship to be hostile Egyptian naval vessel. US President Lyndon Johnson was privately furious but publicly the White House chose not to challenge the word of its closest Middle East ally and accepted that the attack had been a catastrophic accident.

However, as this exclusive Al Jazeera investigation reveals, fresh evidence throws new light on exactly what happened that fateful day – and the remarkable cover up that followed.

By Richard Belfield

I was first told about the attack on the USS Liberty in 1980 over dinner with a former analyst from the National Security Agency (NSA) in Washington DC.

Back in 1980, I promised my friend that if I ever got the chance I would make a film about it. Over the years, I pitched the idea to numerous broadcasters and always got the same response: eyes rolled upwards, usually followed by the statement, “Are you completely mad?”

Fast forward to 2009 and I was a guest speaker at the NSA’s biennial conference on historical cryptography, talking about an unsolved code on an 18th century monument in an English stately home.

While there, I went to two other sessions – both about attacks on American signal intelligence naval vessels.

The first was the capture of the US spy ship, the Pueblo (boarded by North Korean forces in 1968 – and never returned). The survivors of that incident were treated like heroes and feted on stage.

The next day there was a session about the USS Liberty.

James Scott, who has written easily the best book on the Liberty attack, was on stage and limited to his allotted 20 minutes. Ranged against him were three Israeli apologists, all of whom were allowed to overrun their time.

Survivors from the Liberty affair were allowed to sit in the audience, but they were denied any say in proceedings. (What a shame and inflicted indignity)

As an Englishman, I was brought up with a strong sense of fair play and I thought this was a disgrace. It was gruesome to watch.

First, the crew had been attacked in broad daylight by a close ally, then they were betrayed by their government and now they were being humiliated by the same agency many had worked for back in 1967.

Earlier this year, I acquired a copy of the audiotape of the attack as it had unfolded, the real time conversations between Isreali Air Force pilots and their controllers back at base. It had never been broadcast before. I went to talk to Al Jazeera and after careful consideration, the network commissioned the film.

On location, it all started with James Scott (who gets a co-producer credit on this project).

When writing his book, he had already interviewed the survivors as well as many of the key people in the Washington political and intelligence machine from that time. The introductions he made would prove invaluable as we began filming interviews.

The veterans were extraordinary. One after another, they were generous with their time, uniformly eloquent and passionate and above all, honest in their recollections.

They all felt betrayed by the American government but were keen to exonerate ordinary Jewish people both in Israel and without, for any responsibility for the incident. Their beef was simply with the senior Israeli officers in the control room and their superiors higher up the command chain who had ordered the attack.

After a few days filming, I rang Elaine Morris, my producer back in London. She asked how things were going. All I could say was that the quality of the interviews was the best I had ever experienced in many decades in this business.

In Texas we interviewed Bobby Ray Inman, an intelligence officer with a glittering track record at the CIA, Naval Intelligence and as a former director of the NSA.

My contacts in the UK intelligence world had always told me “he is one of the good guys” and I quickly discovered why. He was frank and clear. The top Israeli commanders, he explained, had known exactly what they were doing when they attacked the Liberty and when it came to holding them to account, the US government rolled over for them.

We filmed an annual memorial ceremony in Washington, D.C. It was emotional, visceral and tense, with survivors, family and friends gathered in the morning sun. Listening to a sole bugler playing the US Navy’s lament, ‘Taps’ is a memory that will never fade.

Years earlier, I had visited the US military graves in Arlington Cemetery but now, following the ceremony, I got to go there again with Dave Lucas, one of the survivors of the attack and a truly wonderful man.

We filmed as he walked up the hill carrying a wreath from the ceremony. Alongside him was a crew member, a Portuguese language specialist, who had left the Liberty in Spain just a few days before it sailed off up the Mediterranean to take up position off the Egyptian coast.

He had been temporarily replaced for the mission by an Arab linguist. He wept openly for the comrades he had said goodbye to, never to see again. As we filmed the pair laying the flowers, an interview with one of the other survivors, Jim Kavanagh came suddenly to mind. “I went through hell,” he had said about his shipmates. “But they left this earth.”

Finally, we filmed on a sister ship to the Liberty, now moored in San Francisco. The crew hauled an outsized US flag up a mast for us. The flag – known as the “holiday colours” – was identical to that which was flown from the Liberty on June 8, 1967. It was huge, clearly visible for miles, and I knew immediately that no one could ever have been in any doubt about the nationality of the ship beneath it.

Watching the Stars and Stripes unfurl into the wind, I realised that I had got to keep the promise I first made to my friend in a Washington restaurant 34 years ago.

(And the question remains: Why Israel attacked this spy ship? And why the US had to roll over?)

It is these kinds of No responses that emboldened this worst of apartheid state to constantly humiliate the US and its citizens.

 

 

Memorabilia? This effort justification prize?

Suppose a fire broke into your house and you got a lousy minutes to gather what you feel is the most precious of your belonging.

Obviously, you’ll leave your gold and diamond jewels: They won’t melt in the fire, and you’ ll have plenty of time to rummage through the debris to retrieve them later.

Probably you’ll snatch the album of your younger years photos

Probably you’ll locate the box that contains the gifts of your sweet hearts and dear friends

Most probably you won’t forget this small box, closest to your heart, which has the ribbons, insignia, badges. stars, totems, medals… that have insignificant monetary price attached to them, but that are the dearest to your heart: They represent your humiliations, indignities, suffering that you went through before the institution” decided that you earned them.

Many of us cling to one or a few memorabilia that remind them of the effort they endured to earn a badge, a reward, a souvenir…

Why gangs, fraternities, armies… initiate bitter and humiliating rites to the members of their group?

And the harder the “entrance exam” is to pass, the greater the subsequent pride and the value attached to membership.

What we assemble ourselves seems more valuable than any expensive designer piece.

If you want to sell any product, allow the customer a small personal effort or a step in the ready-made assembly or the cooking of the cake mixes.

Catcalling Video in NY city: White people edited out?

On Tuesday, Slate and everyone else posted a video of a woman who is harassed more than 100 times by men as she walks around New York City for 10 hours.

More specifically, it’s a video of a young white woman who is harassed by mostly black and Latino men as she walks around New York City for 10 hours.

The one dude who turns around and says, “Nice,” is white, but the guys who do the most egregious things—like the one who harangues her, “Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful! You should say thank you more,” or the one who follows her down the street too closely for five whole minutes—are not.

Hanna Rosin
Hanna Rosin posted:

This doesn’t mean that the video doesn’t still effectively make its poinst:

1. a woman can’t walk down the street lost in her own thoughts, (particularly if attractive?)

2. men feel totally free to demand her attention and get annoyed when she doesn’t respond, (and vice versa?)

3. a woman can’t be at ease in public spaces in the same way a man can.

But the video also unintentionally makes another point: that harassers are mostly black and Latino, and hanging out on the streets in midday in clothes that suggest they are not on their lunch break.

As Roxane Gay tweeted, “The racial politics of the video are fucked up. Like, she didn’t walk through any white neighborhoods?”

The video is a collaboration between Hollaback, an anti-street harassment organization, and the marketing agency Rob Bliss Creative. At the end they claim the woman experienced 100-plus incidents of harassment “involving people of all backgrounds.” Since that obviously doesn’t show up in the video, Bliss addressed it in a post.

He wrote, “We got a fair amount of white guys, but for whatever reason, a lot of what they said was in passing, or off camera,” or was ruined by a siren or other noise. The final product, he writes, “is not a perfect representation of everything that happened.”

That may be true but if you find yourself editing out all the catcalling white guys, maybe you should try another take.

This is not the first time Bliss has been called out for race blindness.

In a video to promote Grand Rapids, Michigan, he was criticized for making a city that’s a third minority and a quarter poor look like it was filled with people who have “been reincarnated from those peppy family-style 1970s musical acts from Disney World or Knott’s Berry Farm,” as a local blogger wrote.

Activism is never perfectly executed. We can just conclude that they caught a small slice of catcallers, and lots of other men do it, too. But if the point of this video is to teach men about the day-to-day reality of women, then this video doesn’t hit its target.

The men who are sitting in their offices or in cafes watching this video will instead be able to comfortably assure themselves that they don’t have time to sit on hydrants in the middle of the day and can’t properly pronounce “mami.” They might do things to women that are worse than catcalling, but this is not their sin.

A really good video about catcalling actually already exists. In “Jessica’s Feminized Atmosphere,” Jessica Williams of the Daily Show covers the whole range of street harassment, from construction workers (of all races) to security guards to Wall Street “douche bags” to teenagers hanging on the corner. She and a group of women lay down pins on places in New York to avoid and by the end, the entire map is covered.

There are race and class issues latent in her video, too. She is black, and the women she gathers for her discussion group are all races. But you don’t leave with that icky impression of a white woman under assault by the big bad city. Plus, she has the group demonstrate the armor they wear while walking down the street, which turns into a glorious mosaic of bitch face.

Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.

“Jewish settlers are the problems, Not the Palestinians”. Israeli soldier wrote

Recent attacks by right-wing Jewish  extremists on Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the West Bank are just one manifestation of the violence to which many have been subjected during their service in recent years.

Both regular and reserve soldiers, including junior officers, spoke about the complicated situation they find themselves in: having to protect the settlers while at the same time being attacked by the settlers.

Gili Cohen Published 00:41 16.12.11

IDF soldiers: Problem in West Bank isn’t Palestinians, it’s the Jews

‘Our purpose there is to protect the Jews, but they generate many of the problems. It’s very confusing,’ says combat soldier discharged last year.

Nadav Bigelman - Abdulla Shama - 16122011
Nadav Bigelman of Haifa. ‘It’s the same people who bring you cake at 2 A.M.’ / Photo by Abdulla Shama

“Our purpose is to protect the Jews, but they generate many of the problems. It’s very confusing,” said Nadav Bigelman, a combat soldier who was discharged last year.

“You understand pretty quickly what is going on, but it’s not so clear what you are supposed to do about it,” he said.

“We never received an order telling us what to do when a Jewish boy throws stones at a Palestinian. Are we allowed to detain him or not? There’s a gap between the battalion commander’s instructions and what happens on the ground. (Most probably, the battalion commander’s instructions are to kill the Palestinians and get an excuse to administratively lock up the youth)

“It’s the same people who bring you cake when you’re on guard at 2 A.M.,” he added. “What, are you going to arrest their kid when he throws stones the next day?”

As Haaretz reported on Thursday, the “new instructions” the prime minister issued this week to deal with Jewish rioters in the West Bank had for the most part already been in force on paper.

But authority to act in principle does not always translate into clear orders out in the field. What counts there are the personal relations between settler leaders and IDF commanders.

A reservist platoon commander who served in the South Hebron Hills about three months ago said he had discussed the possibility of friction between settlers and Palestinians with his commanders beforehand. But nothing prepared him for the confrontation at the Mitzpeh Eshtamoa outpost, where settlers and Palestinians were in a face-off over grazing ground.

“We stood as a buffer between the Palestinian shepherds and the settlers and the settlers started arguing with us,” he related. “They said awful things to me: ‘[Ariel] Sharon evacuated Gaza, he got what was coming to him, don’t worry, God will see to you too. Why do you come for reserve duty? You’re a disgrace as soldiers.’ They ranted and raved.

We didn’t know what to do, we were in shock. We thought the problem would be with the Palestinians, but the problem is with the Jews.

“There were 15 settlers swearing at us, not three. This is an entire community whose agenda is to treat soldiers like that. Even the chief security officer told us, ‘listen, that’s the way it is. In a few days they’ll puncture my car tires.’

“These guys [the settlers] are out of control. I guard them, I’m responsible for protecting them and I know one day they’ll sabotage my car. That’s what is going on here,” the reservist concluded.

A junior officer serving in the West Bank now said “the clashes with [settlers] are mainly at the checkpoints. They come to the checkpoints a lot and it’s beneath their dignity to wait like others, so they break through and drive on. Not many harass us, but when the moment comes to inspect them, they humiliate us. They don’t understand we’re doing security work. They’re not all like that, but the clashes with Jews at checkpoints are much worse than they are with Palestinians.”

(So, when Israel removes a checkpoint, it would mean that settlers are totally disturbing the peace there?)

The situation in the West Bank has turned upside down, he said. “We used to have a code for Palestinians throwing stones. Today it’s been reversed to indicate Jews are throwing stones at Palestinians.”

Bigelman, today a researcher for the Breaking the Silence organization, served in Hebron in 2008. At the time he kept a “Hebron diary” documenting settlers’ violent activities, from stone throwing to cursing Palestinians, tourists and left-wing activists.

One day a settler attacked his battalion commander during an argument and tore his epaulets off.

“That’s the clearest example,” Bigelman said. “Here is a man who is sacrificing his life for them. Suddenly they don’t like something he does, and that’s the way they react?

“And if it happens to your commander, what does it say about you? That you can’t do anything. You hate it. You hate being there. You know whom you’re protecting but you don’t understand why you have to pay such a price for it.”

 


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