On the surface of things, the United States and Israel seem perfect allies. U.S. President Harry Truman acknowledged the modern state of Israel the same day it was created in 1948.
The United States gives Israel $3.1 billion annually. In a region of the world that very generally does not espouse great love for the U.S., Israel has been its little darling.
So it may come as something of a surprise to learn the U.S-Israel relationship has not been unmarred: Israel fighter jets and a torpedo boat fired on the USS Liberty, an American spy ship posted in the Mediterranean Sea June 8, 1967. In this unprovoked attack on its ally, Israel killed 34 U.S. Naval personnel and injured 121 more.
The attack took place smack dab in the middle of the “Six-Day War,” and Israel attributed the matter to mistaken identity, allegedly believing the ship to be Egyptian. Israeli officials apologized for the incident, and paid $6.7 million reparations to survivors and families of the lost, as well as $6 million for the loss of the vessel itself. The 2007 National Security Agency (NSA) declassification of documents pertaining to the attack on USS Liberty, along with accounts from survivors of the incident, seem to suggest Israeli pilots knew full well they were firing on an American vessel.
Despite declassifying the pertinent documents, the NSA has taken the position that it is not that agency’s role to prove or disprove anything incriminating Israel in this way.
“I don’t believe that for a minute! You just don’t shoot at a ship at sea without identifying it, making sure of your target!” proclaims veteran Marine staff sergeant and USS Liberty survivor Bryce Lockwood in a Chicago Tribune interview.
A Documentary About the Hidden History