Polemics & Exchanges

On Liberty

In his piece on the tragedy of the U.S.S. Liberty (Cultural Revolutions, January), Matthew Rarey engaged in the type of blatant distortion and misrepresentation that is only too common in the mainstream media.  I am sad to see it appear in Chronicles.

Mr. Rarey suggests the possibility that Israel intentionally attacked the Liberty during the Six Day War with the purpose of sinking the ship and blaming the attack on Egypt, in order to draw the United States into the war on Israel’s side.

If Israel had intended to sink the Liberty, however, why did she break off the attack before the job was done?  Mr. Rarey states that the ship’s captain, William L. McGonagle, received the Congressional Medal of Honor for “heroically saving the ship from destruction.”  No doubt Captain McGonagle did behave heroically, as did his crew, but nothing he nor his crew did could have saved the Liberty, since the ship was essentially unarmed.  The impression that Mr. Rarey leaves to those who are unfamiliar with the incident is that the Israelis were beaten off, when, in reality, they suddenly ended the attack with the Liberty perfectly helpless.  The obvious explanation for this is that the Israelis stopped attacking when they finally recognized that the...

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