Most Americans have never heard of the Israeli, Ephraim “Eppie” Evron. A half century ago, in May of 1967, he was deputy chief of mission in the Israeli embassy in Washington and in that ostensible capacity had a meeting with President Lyndon Johnson in the Oval Office on May 26. From all indications, as we learn from Phillip Nelson in Remember the Liberty!: Almost Sunk by Treason on the High Seas, Evron was likely the real power in the embassy as the top Mossad official there. An even more interesting thing about Evron was that he was “one of the main conspirators” in the infamous Lavon Affair, a failed plot in 1954 by Israel to bomb U.S. and British facilities in Egypt and pin it on Arab extremists. (In 2005 the Israeli government outrageously honored nine of its agents involved in that episode.) Thanks to America’s Israel-first press, the appalling, treacherous Lavon Affair is no doubt as little known to Americans as is Eppie Evron.
Thirteen days after that meeting, on June 8, 1967, on the fourth day of Israel’s highly successful Six-Day War with its Arab neighbors, after hours of aerial surveillance, Israel would launch a murderous, multi-staged assault on the American intelligence ship, the USS Liberty. The identity of the ship was as unmistakable as if it had been the Statue of Liberty. It was bristling with antennas, it flew a large American flag, and its name was clearly painted on its stern. The 4-foot high identification numbers on either side of the bow were in Latin writing, GTR-5, not in Arabic. The weather and visibility were perfect.
Beginning shortly after dawn, “at least twelve, possibly thirteen Israeli aircraft began surveilling the Liberty, some of which were only 1,000 feet or less in altitude, apparently to photograph and ‘map’ her for later targeting purposes.” The assault began without warning just before 2:00 p.m. when three curiously unmarked French-built Mirage fighter jets “bore down on the ship in a fast low-level attack that began with rockets targeted at the four gun mounts and heat-seeking missiles aimed at the communications gear, with their warmed transmitters.”
USS Liberty Archive
David Martin Archive
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