US veterans snubbed by Florida city because they were killed by Israel

US veterans snubbed by Florida city because they were killed by Israel
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US veterans snubbed by Florida city because they were killed by Israel

An American city in Florida refuses to honor American soldiers who were killed in an attack at sea, because the attacking country was Israel. And the pro-Israel haters of Christians and Muslims don’t want Americans to know about it. They hope to see it buried and forgotten. Published in the Arab News Newspaper August 16, 2017

By Ray Hanania

If there is one thing Americans want the world to know, it is that they revere and admire our veterans, the men and women who have served in the military, especially during this period of heightened threats of terrorism. The US has numerous holidays to honor its military veterans, and other holidays are adapted to include recognition ceremonies for them.

The first to stand up and embrace veterans are politicians and government officials. Somehow, doing so almost makes the 95 percent of elected US officials who avoided military service look good.

But one group of veterans is vilified, marginalized, attacked and ignored: The 294 men who served on a US Navy technical research ship that was stationed in international waters north of the Sinai Peninsula on June 8, 1967, when it was viciously attacked by jets and cruisers. The USS Liberty stayed afloat despite nearly two hours of strafing and bombing.

The USS Liberty, attacked by Israel on June 8, 1967. 34 American soldiers were killed and 174 injured. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The USS Liberty, attacked by Israel on June 8, 1967. 34 American soldiers were killed and 174 injured. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The crew held their fire and tried to alert the attackers that they were openly flying a US flag and were not engaged in any military threats. The attack killed 34 crew members, all US citizens and decorated military servicemen. Another 174 were seriously wounded. The attack was launched by America’s “ally” Israel. Ever since, both Israel and its American political defenders have blocked numerous efforts to highlight it.

Prominent US politicians who have libelled the Liberty veterans by denying their heroic, defensive conduct include Sen. John McCain, whose father was a navy admiral who tried to protect Israel by covering up details of the attack.

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Instead of being lionized at Veteran’s Day ceremonies or during national holidays, they are demonized and denounced as “anti-Semites” simply because they have challenged Israel’s propaganda, which asserts falsely that it made a mistake. This was the case this past week in a city in Florida called Palm Coast, where it was proposed that “Heroes Park” include, among existing memorials for US veterans, a small plaque commemorating those of the Liberty.

“The US has numerous holidays to honor those who served in the military, and veterans are treated with great respect. Those who served on the USS Liberty in 1967 are the exception, because the attacking forces belonged to Israel.”

— Ray Hanania

The park district approved the plaque, especially since one of the Liberty survivors, Ernest Gallo, has lived in Palm Coast for 15 years. Communities with veterans living among them are usually proud to showcase them. Yet for some unexplained reason, the city council not only voted to block placement of the plaque at “Heroes Park,” but also limited public discussion about the commemoration.

I emailed the mayor to ask why she rejected the plan, but got no response. No major news media had the courage to report on the snub of American veterans. Only because of the efforts of an online blog was I able to find an article about what happened. Politicians in this Florida community decided that these veterans did not deserve recognition.

It is unheard of for US veterans to be treated so disrespectfully. Those of the Liberty are the exception because the attacking forces belonged to Israel. For the past 50 years, the National Security Agency (NSA) has kept much of the Liberty files classified, save for two documents that were released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Gallo authored several books recounting the attack, including “Liberty Injustices: A Survivor’s Account of American Bigotry.” Others, including author Eileen Fleming and Liberty survivor Phillip Tourney, have also written extensively about the attack.

But much of the writing on this subject has been funded by Israel, libelling the Liberty survivors as if they had betrayed America, and distorting the facts so badly that a Palm Coast official referred to the attack as “an incident” in which “a bomb exploded.”

As a US veteran myself who served during the Vietnam War, I am ashamed at how easily Americans can be brainwashed into hating their own soldiers, for the benefit of a powerful foreign country that gives our elected officials a lot of money to keep their morality and principles in check.

• Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian-American columnist and author. Email him at rghanania@gmail.com.

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rayhanania

rayhanania

Managing Writer at The Arab Daily News
RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and for TheArabDailyNews.com, and TheDailyHookah.com.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com

Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com www.arabnews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
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  • Moyakitsya

    When al-Jazeera had a program on TV, a documentary entitled “The Day Israel Attacked America” was aired. It is an excellent presentation of the infamous massacre of US servicemen. Of course, al-Jazeera has been discontinued.