Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Forgetting the Liberty
By Carl Strock
Gov. Cuomo celebrating Israel on Fifth Avenue after signing an executive order to protect it from a boycott movement.
The governor thus put himself at the service of Israel’s international campaign to quash the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement, known as BDS, that was launched in 2005 by leaders of Palestinian civic organizations and that has been growing ever since. Quash it Israel must, if it is not to go the way of South Africa and transform itself from an ethnically exclusivist state to a state of equal rights for all. A boycott, after all, was a major factor in South Africa’s makeover.
Israel has committed $26 million to the anti-BDS effort, and American Jewish potentates led by Sheldon Adelson have committed another $50 million. The effort involves getting institutions of higher learning, like the University of California, to link criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism and pressuring state legislatures, like New York’s, to pass laws punishing organizations that participate in BDS. The New York State Senate graciously obliged, but the bill it passed is hung up in the Assembly, so Gov. Cuomo boldly acted on his own, explaining that legislation “can often be a tedious affair.”
Now the state Office of General Services will be required to draw up a blacklist of companies and organizations that participate in the boycott of the Jewish State, and state agencies will have to pull out any money they have invested in those companies. The practical effect might not be great: How many companies boycott Israel? Probably not many. Boycotters tend to be religious, labor and academic organizations. But the politics for Cuomo is irresistible, meaning the play for the Jewish vote, to put it baldly, and the audience for his order-signing reflected that — a small sea of yarmulkes. The Jewish persons of my own acquaintance tend to be dismayed at Israel’s continuing military occupation of 2.8 million Palestinians in the West Bank and blockading of 1.7 million more in Gaza, but the most prominent Jewish organizations, like the regional Jewish Federations and the Hillels, not to mention prominent donors and politicians, tend to be cheerleaders for Israel, and they are all in a lather about BDS, so the governor surely made the correct calculation.
I bet he didn’t give a moment’s thought to the USS Liberty. As far as that goes, I wouldn’t be surprised if he never heard of it.
The USS Liberty was a state-of-the art surveillance ship that the Navy parked off the coast of Israel, in international waters, during the Six Day War, in 1967, to monitor electronic communications as Israel flattened the Egyptian air force and prepared to storm the Golan Heights of Syria. It was clearly marked in large letters, fore and aft, and flew a 5-by-8-foot American flag.
Dean Rusk, secretary of state at the time, later wrote: “I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. Their sustained attack to disable and sink Liberty precluded an assault by accident or some trigger-happy local commander. Through diplomatic channels we refused to accept their explanations. I didn’t believe them then, and I don’t believe them to this day. The attack was outrageous.”
George Ball, under-secretary of state, summed it up: “American leaders did not have the courage to punish Israel for the blatant murder of its citizens.”
That was forty-nine years ago today, and if you see a mention of it in any newspaper or hear a mention of it on any television news show, please let me know. What we have instead is an executive order to punish anyone who dares not to do business with Israel, along with a promise by New York’s Sen. Chuck Schumer to introduce comparable legislation on the national level.
Posted by Fred at 11:03 PM