The Israeli plan to attack Syria


‘… Far more serious has been the claim that the Israelis attacked the Liberty because it had been eavesdropping on Israel’s plans for capturing the Golan Heights. Thus Adm. Thomas Moorer, writing in the July-August 1997 issue of The Link magazine, has speculated that Israel was preparing to seize the Golan Heights from Syria despite President Johnson’s known opposition to such a move….

And I believe [Israeli Defense Minister] Moshe Dayan concluded that he could prevent Washington from becoming aware of what Israel was up to by destroying the primary source of acquiring that information – the USS Liberty.

Historian Donald Neff takes the supposition a step further, presenting it as fact: ‘If the ship could listen in on Israeli military communications, as it could, then the United States could discover Israel’s plans to attack Syria. Foreknowledge of the attack might bring an ultimatum from the United States, an ultimatum that could not be ignored because Israel desperately still needed Washington’s support both in the United Nations and to fend off any threats from the Soviet Union. Without the United States, the Soviet Union might directly intervene if Israel took on its last, comparatively unscathed, client, Syria.

Indeed, Neff goes so far as to posit that Israel actually delayed its attack on Syria until after the Liberty was neutralized.

The theory that the attack on the Liberty was motivated by a desire to conceal the impending Israeli attack on the Golan Heights is not, then, confined to the extremist fringe, but has made headway in important political and academic circles. In the past, refuting it was dependent largely on appeals to common sense, such as that made by Ernest Castle, the former U.S. naval attaché, in an interview with British television:

Let us presume the Israeli high command was… fearful that the United States would learn of what was an evident Israeli plan to take the Golan, or any other plan on the part of the Israelis. Would they say, “my golly, that will irritate the United States, our great friend. We’d better not… let that happen – so let’s sink their ship instead”…

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