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New:   Myths about the 1967 Israeli "Preemptive Strike"

History in the Making: State Rules on the 1967 Arab-Israeli War

Broadcast Live on c-span.jpg (1438 bytes)crowd.jpg (14505 bytes)
The United States, the Middle East, and the 1967 Arab-Israeli War
Monday, January 12, 2004 9:00 AM
Loy Henderson Auditorium and Delegates' Lounge - US Dept. of State
Panel #1 War, Intelligence, and the USS Liberty
Dr. Marc Susser, Historian, US Department of State
Dr. David Robarge, CIA History Staff
Hon Jay Cristol, US Bankruptcy Court, S. District of Florida
James Bamford, retired journalist, author of "Body of Secrets"
Dr. Michael Oren, Shalem Center, Jerusalem

Full C-Span Event (3 Hours)

The US Department of State panel discussion opening the two day conference on the 1967 Arab-Israeli war brought little clarity or unanimity about one of many tragic outcomes of the war, the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty.  Although the State Department opened the session declaring that the Israeli attack which killed 34 Americans and wounded 170 was an accident, two hours of panel presentations brought acrimonious debate and counter charges of cover-ups.  The question and answer session took an Orwellian turn as moderator Marc Susser shouted down speeches from the floor by USS Liberty survivors, pleading, "we're trying to have an academic discussion!"susser.jpg (11643 bytes)

The heated argument called for clarification.  How valuable is an official history based on what James Bamford called "opinions" with no formal investigation as thorough as the USS Cole?  Why does the conflict about the USS Liberty continue to steam ahead, nearly four decades after the attack?  What does it reveal about US interests and the feelings Americans have about the US-Israeli relationship?  IRmep attempted to find out. 

Marc Susser, Historian, State Department:
Do you have a question?

IRmep: It seems as though the Liberty is really serving here as a metaphor. Some kind of  proxy battle in which for Israelis abroad and in the US it is a symbol of perhaps US unfairness or even anti-Semitism to even raise this question. gfs.jpg (12835 bytes)For Americans it reflects this growing discomfort of the Israeli-US relation, and kind of the fact that in the US, the founding Father, George Washington didn't want us to have any 'passionate attachments' to foreign countries like we've grown to have.

I'd like to ask the panel in general whether you think this is a proxy battle, and whether the Liberty is really the issue.

Thank you.

Marc Susser:
Any Volunteers? Just a brief answer...cristol.jpg (11581 bytes)

Jay Cristol: I think that the answer is that certainly there are people who are on both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict who are arguing this issue, and sadly I think that's unfortunate from a historian's point of view, because we're here to find history. If there is any new evidence out there that anybody has send it to me and I'll incorporate it in my work. If I find proof going in a different direction, I'll gladly disclose it. But I think that unfortunately people who have their own agendas keep this thing alive and keep torturing the survivors, like poor Joe Lantini, who, if after these years he wants to believe that that the attack was intentional, if that gives him comfort. Bless him. Let him so believe. But I suggest that if you are interested in the history, look at the facts and make your own decision.

pfop.jpg (5361 bytes)IRmep Note: George Orwell correctly identified what is at stake in defining 'official histories'.  "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls
the past".  Public and academic participation in this conference derailed an official attempt to lay to rest a range of controversies related to the 1967 war.   Official historians take note: only by involving and listening to scholars with no compromising political or economic interests can we approach history and policy as honest researchers.   In the US, less genuine attempts are ultimately doomed to failure.  

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