7,000 Miles for the USS Liberty

I’m on my sailboat in Valetta, Malta, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, on my way to perform a memorial service for American servicemen killed in action almost 45 years ago.

With Texan crew members Joe and Sherrie Wagner, I’ve sailed 7,000 miles from Galveston. We’re going 1,000 miles more to the exact spot where Israeli forces perpetrated a ruthless, two-hour assault on the USS Liberty, killing 34 and injuring 174.

Israel said it was a “tragic mistake.” The survivors said it was deliberate. Lifeboats were shot up and stretcher-bearers machine-gunned.

The attack occurred in international waters off the coast of Egypt while the Liberty was monitoring communications during Israel’s Six Day War. Most Americans are unaware of that attack because the cover-up began even before the smoke had cleared, the wounded cared for and the dead counted (see ussliberty.com).

The cover-up occurred because President Lyndon Baines Johnson did not want to embarrass Israel, thus alienating the powerful Israel lobby that would then pour money into his opponent’s campaign.

The cover-up continues to this day, which is why I undertook this voyage. I’m planning to commemorate the victims as best I can and to support their shipmates, sons, daughters and widows (most of the mothers and fathers are now gone) in their demand for the investigation that never happened.

Congress never formally investigated the incident because members are intimidated by the pro-Israel lobby. That same lobby is picking up the travel expenses for 81 members of Congress to visit Israel this very month.

Apparently, new members need to be oriented before voting on the appropriation that gives $8 million per day to Israel.

Refusal to participate in the trip would mark a member as unfriendly to Israel and the lobby would work to defeat him or her in their next election.

Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold is among the 81.

Now that we’ve sailed across the Atlantic and halfway across the Mediterranean without any serious problems, there is one more obstacle.

Israel has continued its practice of harassing Americans at sea. Survivors Joe Meadors of Corpus Christi and Jim Ennes, who wrote the first book about the attack, have been communicating with U.S. embassies in Tel Aviv and Cairo, trying to ensure the Israeli navy will leave me alone.

The U.S. gives Israel $3 billion a year, but then must plead with the country not to harass, injure, or kill innocent Americans!

I merely want to exercise my right as an American citizen to proceed to a point in international waters where a grave injustice was perpetrated against U.S. sailors and express my dismay that injustice is being extended by Congress’s timidity.

Members of Congress never miss an opportunity to say to a U.S. service man or woman, “We thank you for your service!”

But their service is not praised if doing so would embarrass the state of Israel, the pro-Israel lobby or diminish campaign contributions.

Larry Toenjes lives in Clear Lake Shores. Follow his progress. Read other articles by Larry.