Never mind Beirut, former deputy PM Tim
Fischer could be starting the battle of Boree Creek by challenging Israel’s
preferred version of history when it comes to killing Americans.

In Friday’s AFR
letters page, Fischer added a footnote to a previous AFR article about the US and
the Israel lobby. While front pages around the world are showing photographs
of Israel attacking Lebanon, killing scores of civilians, Fischer re-opens the scandal of Israel’s
attack on the USS Liberty during the Six Day War in 1967.

Fischer states as fact that Israel
deliberately attempted to sink the Liberty, killing 34
US sailors and wounding 171 crew out of 297. Fighters scrambled from a
nearby US aircraft carrier and were ordered back by then-president Johnson.

Fischer says the White House sided with Israel
against US interests over the saga. “The head of the US Naval Court of Inquiry
has recently affirmed that the Israeli attack was deliberate (to create an
excuse to blame Egypt and build support against Egypt
with the US and its world opinion leaders),” writes Tim. The evidence of one
survivor was deleted when he said Israeli planes shot at USS Liberty lifecraft
as well.

“Although the USS Liberty cover-up saga is
fact, it is a matter of opinion as to whether this ushered in the
Israel-centric foreign policy of the US and
its contribution to some of the atrocities in the Middle East.”

That’s certainly a lot stronger than
anything that ever comes out of the federal coalition these days about US

Inevitably, the Israel
lobby has quickly hit back with its version of “fact”. Ted
Lapkin, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council director of policy analysis,
writes in today’s Fin that it was a friendly fire incident. Lapkin states that the US National Security Agency released
transcripts two years ago of Israeli Air Force radio communication intercepts
that conclusively proved the incident to be a tragic case of misidentification.

Hmmm, two conflicting statements of fact about the Israel. SNAFU.
Standby for a return of fire from Boree Creek.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey