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The USS Liberty Wins One!

The American Legion finally calls for a congressional inquiry

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • September 5, 2017

On June 8th 1967 the United States Navy intelligence ship the U.S.S. Liberty was attacked in international waters by aircraft and vessels belonging to Israel. Thirty-four sailors, Marines and civilians were killed in the attack. The deliberate Israeli air and sea onslaught sought to sink the clearly identified intelligence gathering ship and kill all its crew. It was in truth the worst attack ever carried out on a U.S. Naval vessel in peace time. In addition to the death toll, 171 more of the crew were wounded in the two-hour assault, which was clearly intended to destroy the intelligence gathering vessel operating in international waters collecting information on the ongoing fighting between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The Israelis, whose planes had their Star of David markings covered up so Egypt could be blamed, attacked the ship repeatedly from the air and with torpedo boats from the sea. When one Israeli pilot hesitated, refusing to attack what was clearly an American ship, he was instructed to proceed anyway.

Most Americans are completely unaware that a United States naval vessel was once deliberately targeted and nearly sunk by America’s “greatest friend and ally” Israel. The attack was followed by a comprehensive cover-up that demonstrated clearly that at least one president of the United States even back nearly fifty years ago valued his relationship with the state of Israel above his loyalty to his own country.

The most disgusting part of the tale relates to how U.S. warplanes sent to the Liberty’s aid from an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean were called back by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara acting under orders from President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who declared that he would rather see the ship go to the bottom of the sea than embarrass his good friend Israel. Ironically, the first ship to reach the foundering Liberty and offer assistance was from the Soviet Union, an offer that was declined.

The incredible courage and determination of the surviving crew was the only thing that kept the Liberty from sinking. The ship’s commanding officer Captain William McGonagle was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic role in keeping the ship afloat, though President Lyndon Baines Johnson broke with tradition and refused to hold the medal ceremony in the White House, also declining to award it personally, delegating that task to the Secretary of the Navy in a closed to the public presentation made at the Washington Navy Yard. The additional medals given to other crew members in the aftermath of the attack made the U.S.S. Liberty the most decorated ship based on a single engagement with hostile forces in the history of the United States Navy.

The cover-up of the attack began immediately. The Liberty crew was sworn to secrecy over the incident, as were the Naval dockyard workers in Malta, and even the men of the U.S.S. Davis, which had assisted the badly damaged Liberty to port were ordered to be silent. A hastily convened and conducted court of inquiry ordered by Admiral John McCain interviewed only a few crewmen and did not seek to determine what had actually happened, instead, acting under orders from Washington, it moved quickly to declare the attack a case of mistaken identity. The inquiry’s senior legal counsel Captain Ward Boston, who subsequently declared the attack to be a “deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew,” also revealed that Admiral Isaac Kidd, who presided over the inquiry, had told him that “President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him [Kidd] to conclude that the attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.” The court’s findings were rewritten and sections relating to Israeli war crimes, to include the machine gunning of life rafts, were excised.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Senator John McCain of Arizona has used his position on the Senate Armed Services Committee to effectively block any reconvening of a board of inquiry to reexamine the evidence. The documents relating to the Liberty incident from the White House perspective of McNamara and Johnson, if they have not been destroyed, have never been released to the public in spite of the 50 years that have passed since the attack took place.

In retrospect, one might well have expected little better from the likes of Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara and either Admiral John McCain or his son, but the cover-up that has endured for fifty years involving the national media as well as politicians from both parties is perhaps even more disgraceful because it has established the principle that even when Israel targets and kills American military personnel it will never ever be held accountable. Such is the power of the Israel Lobby in the United States.

Even if one is not exactly surprised by the behavior of Washington’s own apparatchiks there has been one constituency that has been steadfast in its support of the U.S.S. Liberty and its surviving crew and that is America’s veterans. Or at least that has been true with one major exception, consisting of the largest veterans’ organization, the American Legion. The second largest veterans’ group the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) has long demanded a proper investigation into what happened to the Liberty as have also the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Disabled Veterans of America, and the Retired Officers Association, but the Legion has long been actually hostile to any attempts to establish accountability for the Liberty survivors.

The Legion’s history of opposition to any examination of what happened to the U.S.S. Liberty is interesting in that it demonstrates how one or two individuals can work insidiously within a large organization to prevent the endorsement of policies overwhelmingly favored by most of its members. The American Legion did, in fact, decry the Israeli attack on the Liberty shortly after it occurred. In August 1967, after the conclusion of the flawed Admiral John McCain directed inquiry, the American Legion adopted Resolution 508 declaring that the published report “fails to provide the American public with a satisfactory answer as to the reason for the attack.” It asserted that “The American Legion denounces and condemns Israel’s irresponsible attack” and demanded “a complete and thorough investigation of the incident.” Immediately after the passage of the resolution there were complaints and pressure coming from Jewish groups and individuals, which is why the resolution was unfortunately never acted upon at a time when it might have had some impact on a congress that was not yet completely Israeli occupied territory. The 1967 resolution was rescinded by the Legion’s National Executive Committee in 1984.

There followed more than thirty years of futility as Liberty survivors and veterans groups sought to reintroduce their demand for a proper inquiry as an active American Legion resolution, but the group’s National Executive exploited a number of stratagems to block every attempt to introduce a new resolution, including rejecting proposals in committee, changing convention rules and physically confronting and expelling those who objected. Indeed, the Legion’s executive did its best to drop the U.S.S. Liberty story down a memory hole. An article written by James Ennes, an officer wounded in the attack, was commissioned for publication in the Legion magazine but was pulled at the last minute because it was “too controversial.”

Efforts by the Legion’s Michigan Department in 2012 to introduce a new resolution resulted in some heated exchanges with senior Legion officials who clearly were the driving force on blocking any action relating to the Liberty. The Legion’s Judge Advocate General Phil Onderdonk confronted the Michigan delegate Ted Arens and angrily informed him that “Your resolution is going nowhere” before describing the Liberty survivors as “anti-Semites.” He also said that “The ship should never have been there. It was a spy ship.” Onderdonk was true to his word about the resolution going nowhere. He reportedly personally removed Arens’ name from the foreign affairs committee agenda to block him from either speaking or presenting his resolution.

Onderdonk’s name pops up regularly in the reminiscences of those who have been advocating for a new Liberty resolution. Indeed, he appears to have been the Legion point-man for dealing with the U.S.S. Liberty inquiries. He is a lawyer from Indiana who served as a “contracting officer” during the Vietnam War. Onderdonk was obviously badly informed regarding the facts in the case as the Liberty was in international waters and clearly marked as an American vessel. And if it was a spy ship, that spying was being done under orders from and to benefit the United States government. And, of course, the claim of anti-Semitism is as ever the last refuge of a scoundrel who has nothing better to say, particularly if one is allegedly representing a patriotic organization and is discussing a surprise attack by a foreign government in which 34 American sailors, Marines and civilians were killed.

I should also note that Onderdonk has been the Legion Judge Advocate General since 1983, shortly before the original Liberty resolution by the Legion was rescinded. If past interaction with Liberty survivors is anything to go by, it can be assumed that he will do everything in his power to block any recognition for the ship and its crew. He is, unfortunately, still the Legion Judge Advocate General and it is at least somewhat ironic that a Religious Liberty Award has been named in his honor and recently presented to Senator Ted Cruz.

Also in 2012, two Liberty survivors were turned away from the annual convention where they had expected to man a booth for the Liberty Veterans Association, which they had paid for. They were forcibly ejected from the convention hall and the Legion’s conference coordinator Dick Holmes turned on Arens and told him “I am sick of you bastards and am going to throw you out on your ass.” In 2013, Liberty survivors’ application for a booth was similarly rejected without any reason being offered. In the following year, the Legion reached out to the VFW and tried to convince it to ban the Liberty survivors from its own gatherings. The VFW rejected the appeal.

So the attempt of the U.S.S. Liberty survivors and their supporters to get the American Legion on board for an inquiry seemed doomed to fail – until this year, the 50th anniversary of the attack. A new resolution was adopted in March by Post 40 in Seattle Washington and was later passed unanimously at the State of Washington’s own American Legion convention, thus placing it on the agenda of the national convention. It was then endorsed by the Iowa delegation, which introduced it to the Foreign Relations subcommittee. Gunnery Sergeant Bryce Lockwood, who received a Silver Star for gallantry during the Israeli attack, worked the August 17-24 national convention in Reno and performed heroically for a second time on behalf of his shipmates, shepherding the draft resolution through in spite of resistance from the American Legion Executive and Foreign Relations subcommittee chair William Flanagan.

One of the participants in the process described how the critical vote came at the National Security Committee level, which was where previous draft resolutions had been derailed. The National Executive had recommended against the resolution and there was considerable opposition from the leadership on the Foreign Relations subcommittee, but the rank-and-file on Foreign Relations did not back down and were successful in a 27-11 vote. The Security Committee then passed it on an overwhelmingly favorable voice vote, with Gunny Lockwood working hard from the sidelines on both committees as well as on the convention floor. When the resolution finally was presented to the full membership it easily passed on another voice vote, revealing that there was strong support from the Legion membership.

Resolution 40 begins by making the case for the Liberty in 11 “Whereas” paragraphs. It then states: “RESOLVED, By The American Legion in National Convention assembled in Reno, Nevada, August 22, 23, 24, 2017, that The American Legion calls upon the 115th United States Congress to publicly, impartially, and thoroughly investigate the attack on the USS Liberty and its aftermath and to commence its investigation before the end of 2017, the 50th anniversary year of the attack.”

Whether Congress can be induced to do the right thing by the Liberty remains to be seen, but the adoption of the resolution was a major victory brought about by a confluence of factors as well as a lot of hard work on the part of the Liberty survivors and their supporters. And certainly, it is no time to relax as the Israel Lobby never sleeps, never gives up. The resolution is posted on the American Legion website but one should assume that there will still be some pushback against actually doing anything about the resolution being exerted by senior officials within the American Legion bureaucracy. Israel meanwhile will certainly use all the resources that it has at hand, and they are considerable, to make sure that Congress never looks into the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty in any capacity.

We Americans who care for the Liberty and are concerned by the 50 years of lies, cover-up and general obfuscation regarding it can do our bit by calling or writing our members of Congress to remind them that all major veterans groups now are expecting action. We should also tell them that the investigation into what happened on that day is way past due. Sometimes even Senators and Representatives listen.

September 5, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 7 Comments

Hiding the Indonesia Massacre Files

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | April 29, 2016

Now that the Indonesian government has officially opened a probe into what the CIA called “one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century,” it’s time for the U.S. government to come clean about its own involvement in the orchestrated killing of hundreds of thousands of Communists, ethnic Chinese, intellectuals, union activists and other victims during the mid-1960s.

President Joko Widodo this week instructed one of his senior ministers to begin investigating mass graves that could shed light on the slaughter of more than half a million innocents by soldiers, paramilitary forces and anti-Communist gangs.

That orgy of violence followed the killing of six generals on Sept. 30, 1965, which the Indonesian military blamed on an attempted coup by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). It marked the beginning of several decades of military dictatorship and further mass murders in East Timor and West Papua.

The PKI, which had some three million members, and millions more sympathizers, was by the early 1960s the strongest political force in the country aside from the military and the revered father of Indonesia’s independence, President Sukarno.

As one CIA adviser warned in 1963, “If the PKI is able to maintain its legal existence . . . Indonesia may be the first Southeast Asia country to be taken over by a popularly based, legally elected communist government.” Two years later, the military-led bloodbath put an end to that threat.

Indonesia’s government, whose leaders include military veterans of that era, still refuses to open criminal investigations into the mass murder, as called for in 2012 by Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights.

But some survivors nonetheless welcome the chance to expose truths that have been vigorously suppressed over the years by mass political arrests, press censorship, and pervasive indoctrination programs in the country’s schools.

Hiding Secrets

To help tell the whole story, Indonesia’s human rights commission and major international human rights organizations have called on the Obama administration to declassify U.S. government documents related to the massacres, as it did recently with respect to Argentina’s “dirty war” from 1976-83.

But President Obama, like his predecessors, has so far been reluctant to shed light on tragic events in Indonesia more than half a century ago.

“The extent of America’s role remains hidden behind a wall of secrecy,” complained Joshua Oppenheimer, maker of two acclaimed documentaries about the massacres: “The Act of Killing” and “The Look of Silence.”

“C.I.A. documents and U.S. defense attaché papers remain classified. Numerous Freedom of Information Act requests for these documents have been denied,” he observed. “If the U.S. government recognizes the genocide publicly, acknowledges its role in the crimes, and releases all documents pertaining to the issue, it will encourage the Indonesian government to do the same.”

It’s easy to guess why Washington is so reluctant to bare the truth. The limited number of documents that have been released suggest that U.S. officials goaded Indonesia’s military into seizing power in 1965 and then liquidating PKI supporters throughout the archipelago. The full record could look even uglier.

Indonesia became a focus of U.S. strategic concerns as far back as 1940, when Imperial Japan threatened its immensely valuable rubber plantations, tin mines, and oil wells. President Franklin Roosevelt’s showdown with Tokyo, which culminated in the Pearl Harbor attack, stemmed from his determination to resist the loss of the islands’ strategic resources. Years later, Richard Nixon would call Indonesia “by far the greatest prize in the South-East Asian area.”

Prompted by its appreciation of Indonesia’s value, the Eisenhower administration financed a full-scale but unsuccessful military rebellion in 1958 against the neutralist Sukarno government. The Kennedy administration tried to patch up relations, but President Lyndon Johnson — angered at the regime’s threat to U.S. rubber and oil companies as well as Sukarno’s friendly relations with the PKI — cut off economic aid while continuing training and assistance to the anti-Communist military.

As one senior State Department official testified in executive session before Congress just a few months before the 1965 coup, explaining the administration’s proposal to increase military aid, “When Sukarno leaves the scene, the military will probably take over. We want to keep the door open.”

Prompting the Slaughter

To prompt the army to act against Sukarno, U.S., British, and Australian intelligence operatives planted phony stories about PKI plots to assassinate army leaders and import weapons from Communist China to launch a revolt — elements of a “strategy of tension” that would later be used in Chile.

Indonesian President Sukarno.

Indonesian President Sukarno.

According to former CIA officer Ralph McGehee, the CIA “was extremely proud” of its campaign and “recommended it as a model for future operations.”

Months after the bloodbath began, the well-connected associate editor of the New York Times, James Reston, would write, “Washington is being careful not to claim any credit” for the coup “but this does not mean that Washington had nothing to do with it.”

The events that triggered the military takeover remain murky even today, thanks to the regime’s systematic suppression of evidence. What seems clear, however, is that the PKI was largely caught unprepared when a group of junior officers — acting either on their own or as part of a “false flag” operation mounted by the anti-Communist General Suharto — killed six generals in the name of stopping a right-wing coup against Sukarno.

Suharto and his colleagues quickly arrested the killers, blamed the PKI for the atrocity, and aroused popular outrage by spreading false stories that the murdered generals had been sexually mutilated.

They also charged that Indonesia’s Communists were targeting Islamic leaders. In response, the country’s largest Muslim organization issued an order to “eliminate all Communists.”

On Oct. 5, 1965, U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Marshall Green informed Washington that Muslin groups were “lined up behind” the army, which “now has opportunity to move against PKI if it acts quickly. . . Momentum is now at peak with discovery of bodies of murdered army leaders. In short, it’s now or never.”

Green was hopeful: “Much remains in doubt, but it seems almost certain that agony of ridding Indonesia of effects of Sukarno . . . has begun.” To help make sure that came to pass, Green advised telling coup leaders of “our desire to be of assistance where we can,” while remaining in the shadows.

Fanning Flames

Green proposed fanning the flames of popular anger through covert propaganda: “Spread the story of PKI’s guilt, treachery and brutality (this priority effort is perhaps most-needed immediate assistance we can give army if we can find way to do it without identifying it as solely or largely US effort).”

To that end, he later instructed to U.S. Information Agency to use all its resources to “link this horror and tragedy with Peking and its brand of communism; associate diabolical murder and mutilation of the generals with similar methods used against village headmen in Vietnam.”

By mid-October, Green reported that the embassy had discussed strategy with Army and Muslim contacts for a “step-by-step campaign not only against PKI but against whole communist/Sukarno clique.”

Soon he was reporting the good news: the army had executed hundreds of Communists and arrested thousands of PKI cadre, with help from Muslim death squads.

“I, for one, have increasing respect for [the army’s] determination and organization in carrying out this crucial assignment,” he wrote.

To help the army succeed, Green endorsed Washington’s decision to bankroll the military’s clean-up operations against the PKI, adding that “the chances of detection or subsequent revelation of our support . . . are as minimal as any black bag operation can be.”

In addition, by December 1965 the U.S. embassy began sending the Indonesian military lists of PKI leaders — facilitating their liquidation.

“It really was a big help to the army,” said Robert J. Martens, a former member of the U.S. Embassy’s political section. “They probably killed a lot of people, and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that’s not all bad. There’s a time when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment.”

In a December 1965 story, Time magazine offered the first significant account in the American media of the scope of the killing:

“Communists, red sympathizers and their families are being massacred by the thousands. Backlands army units are reported to have executed thousands of Communists after interrogation in remote jails. Armed with wide-bladed knives called ‘parangs,’ Moslem bands crept at night into the homes of Communists, killing entire families and burying the bodies in shallow graves.

“The murder campaign became so brazen in parts of rural East Java, that Moslem bands placed the heads of victims on poles and paraded them through villages. The killings have been on such a scale that the disposal of the corpses has created a serious sanitation problem in East Java and Northern Sumatra where the humid air bears the reek of decaying flesh.

“Travelers from these areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies. River transportation has at places been seriously impeded.”

By February 1996, the U.S. embassy was estimating that at least 400,000 people had already been killed across the country — more than died from the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Media Approval

C.L. Sulzberger of The New York Times remarked in April that “the killing attained a volume impressive even in violent Asia, where life is cheap.”

Speaking for official Washington, in a column titled “A Gleam of Light in Asia,” the New York Times’ James Reston called this bloodbath one of “the more hopeful political developments” in Asia, one that could not have “been sustained without the clandestine aid it has received indirectly from here.”

The full extent of that clandestine aid remains a contested question, but historian Bradley Simpson, in a 2008 study of U.S. relations with Indonesia in the 1960s, observed that “declassification of just a fraction of the CIA’s records demonstrates that the agency’s covert operations in Indonesia were more widespread and insidious than previous acknowledged. These records also reveal that the Johnson administration was a direct and willing accomplice to one of the great bloodbaths of twentieth-century history.”

New Mexico’s Tom Udall declared last year as he introduced a Senate resolution to promote reconciliation on the 50th anniversary of the Indonesian massacres, “the United States and Indonesia must work to close this terrible chapter by declassifying information and officially recognizing the atrocities that occurred. . .

“The United States should stand in favor of continued democratic progress for our vital ally Indonesia and allow these historical documents to be disclosed. Only by recognizing the past can we continue to work to improve human rights across the globe.”

The world is still waiting on President Obama to heed that call.



Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books on international affairs, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic (Stanford University Press, 2012).

April 29, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Donald Neff: a Journalist Erased From History for Reporting on Palestine

By Alison Weir | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs | July 8, 2015

One of the top journalists to report on Palestine-Israel has died.

Donald Neff passed away on May 10 in his hometown of York, Pennsylvania, at the age of 84. The cause of death was heart disease and diabetes.

Neff was a luminous writer and meticulous reporter. From humble beginnings, he had reached the top ranks of American journalism. When he then turned his formidable talents to writing books and articles about Palestine, his contracts with mainstream American publishers dried up, his income plummeted, and his fame faded.

Today, even many activists in the growing Palestine solidarity movement are unaware of Neff’s groundbreaking work. This is unfortunate, since he exposed critical facts about Palestine with unparalleled precision and elegance. Much of the information he uncovered is still significant today.

During his long career, Neff reported on the Vietnam War from Tokyo and Saigon and was TIME magazine bureau chief in Houston, Los Angeles and Jerusalem. One of the first reporters on the scene at the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana, he also covered the Apollo moon landing and reported on the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island (not far from his hometown). In 1980 he won the Overseas Press Club of America’s prestigious Mary Hemingway Award for best magazine reporting from abroad for a 1979 cover story about Colombia’s cocaine network.

Neff was at TIME from 1965-1979. While based in Jerusalem, he exposed an incident that would change the course of his life.

In “Epiphany at Beit Jala,” an in-depth essay written for the November-December 1995 issue of The Link , Neff wrote about this incident and other eye-opening experiences covering the region.

Like most Westerners, Neff had arrived profoundly sympathetic to Israel. However, he wrote, “As my tour extended into years, I could not ignore a disturbing blindness in some of even the most gentle Israelis. They did not seem to see the Palestinians all around them… In general, this was just as well because when most Israelis did notice Palestinians their reaction to them was one of loathing or fear that quickly could escalate into violence.”

Neff’s experiences also revealed a power dynamic between the U.S. and Israel that he found astonishing.

He reported on Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s frantic attempts to convince Israel to relinquish Egyptian land Israel had acquired through its 1967 war of conquest and had managed to retain through American support during the 1973 “Yom Kippur” war. The U.S. was calling on Israel to return it to Egypt. Israel refused.

“The extent of Israel’s ability to resist U.S. advice,” Neff wrote, “was my first great eye-opener in Israel. I had had little appreciation of the astounding depth and strength of Zionism’s influence in Washington. I was stunned that a country completely beholden to the United States could thumb its nose at Washington.”

Various encounters through the years caused Neff “deep uneasiness” about the views and beliefs of some Israel partisans in the U.S., raising “the question of dual loyalty to a level I had never realized existed.”

A man who had been serving in the U.S. Navy when Israel tried to sink the USS Liberty, killing 34 and injuring over 170 Americans, told Neff that he had been “torn by the dilemma of whether he could actually participate in a U.S. retaliatory attack against Israel.” (This never came.)

Another American Zionist showed Neff his Israeli passport alongside his U.S. one. Neff was taken aback; it had been illegal for Americans to hold dual citizenship. The man proudly informed him that the policy had been changed in 1967 by the Supreme Court, adding with emphasis that the case had been brought by an Israeli and the swing vote was cast by Abe Fortas.

In later researching Fortas, Neff discovered that Fortas was a Zionist and that among his first thoughts when he left the Supreme Court had been to visit Israel. “There was nothing wrong with that,” Neff wrote, “but it did indicate an attachment of such personal importance that he should have recused himself from the dual citizenship case.” This ruling, Neff wrote, “had destroyed a 200-year tradition.”

Neff’s most intense experience, the “epiphany” of his essay title, came in March 1978, when a freelance reporter called to say that she had “heard reports that Israeli troops had just conducted a cruel campaign throughout the West Bank against Palestinian youth. Many Palestinians had suffered broken bones, others had been beaten and some had had their heads shaved.”

When Neff repeated the report to his TIME bureau staff, all Jewish Israelis, they were indignant. The report was obviously false, they said, because “that is what was done to us in the Holocaust.”

Neff decided to check out the facts for himself, taking along a skeptical Jewish American friend who was living in Israel.

“We went into the small hospital and a young Palestinian doctor who spoke English soon appeared. Yes indeed, he said matter-of-factly, he had recently treated a number of students for broken bones. There were 10 cases of broken arms and legs and many of the patients were still there, too seriously injured to leave. He took us to several rooms filled with boys in their mid-teens, an arm or leg, sometimes both, immobile under shining white plaster casts.”

When TIME published Neff’s report, it provoked outrage from both Israeli authorities and American Zionists. The New York Times failed to report on the incident, making it seem for awhile that Neff’s report was inaccurate. It wasn’t until an Israeli official investigated the incident and confirmed Neff’s facts that other journalists finally reported on it.

As a result of his reporting, Neff was made an honorary citizen of Bethlehem.

After Neff returned to the U.S. he eventually decided to leave periodical journalism in order to write books. He signed a contract with Simon & Schuster and wrote the first in what was to be a trilogy about the Israeli-Arab wars of 1956, 1967 and 1973

The book, Warriors at Suez: Eisenhower Takes America into the Middle East (1981), received wide acclaim. It was a National Book Award finalist and an alternate selection for both the Book of the Month Club and the History Book Club.

The Chicago Tribune Book World described it as “A true thriller” and said that the story was “as sobering as it is fascinating…. important and compelling reading.”

The Tribune review, however, was to be among the few exceptions to a pattern later described by Ambassador Andrew Killgore, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

Books on the Middle East that editors disliked, Killgore noted, would be assigned to “a Zionist reviewer… the reviewer usually is Jewish, never a Muslim and only occasionally a Christian. If none of the facts presented in the book can be refuted, the book’s substance has to be ignored.” Often they would simply go un-reviewed.

Neff’s second book, Warriors for Jerusalem: The Six Days That Changed the Middle East, came out in 1985 and was again praised by experts. Former Undersecretary of State George Ball called it indispensable to anyone who wanted to understand “why we are in such a dangerous mess in the Middle East.”

While the Christian Science Monitor called it “one of the most significant contributions to modern historical literature,” most newspapers ignored it.

American Zionists had long disliked Neff’s work. When his report on the Beit Jala incident came out, even some TIME colleagues had complained. Neff was called an anti-Semite to his face, while others shunned him.

The book industry included such Israel partisans, as well. Simon & Schuster did not renew its contract with Neff, and his final book in the trilogy, Warriors Against Israel: How Israel Won the Battle to Become America’s Ally, was published in 1988 by Amana, a much smaller publisher.

Once again, Neff produced a powerful volume. Archibald B. Roosevelt, Jr., a grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, a polyglot who spoke 20 languages, and a former CIA officer with considerable expertise in the Middle East, wrote: “As an observer of Middle Eastern affairs for more than four decades, I was impressed by the originality of Neff’s presentation and surprised by his devastating conclusions, assembled from facts previously known to most of us only piecemeal. It is not only a good read, but essential background for serious students of developments in the Middle East today.”

Neff’s next book, on the history of U.S.-Israel relations, was published in 1995 by the Institute for Palestine Studies, headquartered in Lebanon. A second, updated edition was published in 2002.

Neff himself, and many others, considered this his most important book. Fallen Pillars: U.S. Policy Towards Palestine and Israel Since 1945 provides a detailed history of how Zionists overcame the recommendations of U.S. diplomats, the Pentagon, and intelligence agencies to create today’s uniquely special relationship with Israel.

Citing a multitude of memos and official studies, Neff’s opus details U.S. officials’ failed attempts and frequent frustration at a special interest lobby that held more influence over U.S. policies than they did. Already by 1949 “Israeli officials were openly bragging about the power of the Jewish American community to influence U.S. policy.”

Fallen Pillars shows the deep roots of many current issues. “By 1968,” Neff reported, “the CIA was convinced Israel had produced nuclear weapons, or was capable of doing so, and informed President Lyndon Johnson. His response was to order the CIA not to inform any other members of the administration, including Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and Secretary of State Dean Rusk.”

Although, again, scholarly reviewers praised Neff’s book, most mainstream media chose not to review it. An exception was The Washington Post, which assigned it to Tad Szulc, a Jewish American journalist whose primary expertise was Latin America and Eastern Europe. Szulc called Pillars “deeply flawed” and charged Neff with being “more Palestinian than the Palestinians.”

Neff’s final book, Fifty Years of Israel, was published on the 50th anniversary of Israel’s creation. A collection of the “Middle East History” columns Neff wrote for this magazine beginning in 1993, its short, footnoted chapters were based on a detailed handbook compiled daily of events related to Israel and Palestine from 1947 to the end of the 20th century. (See excerpt in sidebar here.)

Long before Google and other Internet search engines made their appearance, Neff’s computerized database was a frequently called upon source of information for authors and journalists. As the Washington Report’s late executive editor, Richard H. Curtiss, noted in his introduction to Fifty Years: “Over the phone I could hear the ‘click, click’ as he entered into his computer—which seemingly always was turned on—the key words that brought up almost instantaneous answers to whatever questions I asked.”

Donald Neff brought honesty, precision, and courage to a topic of world-shaking significance that most top journalists feared or obfuscated. For this, he paid dearly.

Those working to rectify one of the world’s most significant injustices and causes of ongoing tragedy owe deep gratitude to Donald Neff.

I personally am profoundly indebted. I first stumbled across Neff’s books when I ­visited the Washington Report bookstore in Washington, DC in the spring of 2001. While I had already seen at first-hand Israel’s ferocious treatment of Palestinians, I was largely unaware of Israel’s power in and over the United States. Neff’s work was as enlightening as it was disturbing.

A few years later I had the honor of meeting Donald Neff in person and conducting a long interview with him about his work. (A few minutes from this are on a video If Americans Knew subsequently released.)

I expect that eventually Neff’s books and articles, like those of other journalists who worked to tell Americans about Palestine but were largely erased from public awareness, will be rediscovered, as a new generation intent on justice discovers the power and relevance of his pioneering work.

Neff is survived by his companion of 15 years, Washington Report managing editor Janet McMahon, as well as son Gregory Neff of York; two stepdaughters, Victoria Brett of Northampton, MA, and Abigail Miller of Portland, ME; a granddaughter; and two great-grandsons.

alison weir bookThis article was originally published in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, which contains an excerpt from Neff’s unpublished Middle East Handbook.

Alison Weir is executive director of  If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest and author of Against Our Better Judgement Upcoming book talks can be seen on the book’s website.

July 8, 2015 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 2 Comments