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JUDGE CRISTOL AND HISTORIAN BREGMAN CLASH OVER USS LIBERTY

by USS LIBERTY Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2003 at 11:40 PM

JUDGE JOE CRISTOL AND HISTORIAN AHRON BREGMAN CLASH OVER ISRAELI ATTACK ON USS LIBERTY

There are two people, outside the Israeli government who have heard and transcribed

the tapes: Cristol and Dr. Ahron Bregman. Dr. Bregman, the Israeli author of “A History of Israel”, gave the following response to an

inquiry about the accuracy of Cristol’s translation in a letter dated

February 5, 2003:

“I understand from your letter (31 Jan 2003) that according to Dr, Jay

Cristol the only difference between my and his interpretation of the

conversations of the pilots before and during the attack on USS

Liberty is the "tone" of those conversations. Yes, the tone seems to

be one issue on which we disagree, but then the tone is very important

for in these tapes the tone sometimes makes the music. It is

sufficient to listen to the tone of Robert (here I am using the names

used by Cristol in his book) at 1353 where he says: "What do you say?"

to realize that, in fact, he refers to the previous suggestion of L.K.

that it might well be that the ship is American. It seems that when it

suits him Cristol himself refers to the tone of conversations. At

1412, according to Cristol, Kislev says: "Leave her!" and Cristol then

adds in brackets: "There is a dramatic change in the tone of Kislev's

voice". So here we are. The tone is indeed a matter that should be

taken into consideration when analyzing the tapes.

But it seems that Cristol and me differ on substance as well. You see,

Cristol is not a plumber, or a mechanic but rather a Judge - a Federal

Judge - and as such his is the world of words and he fully understands

- I am pretty sure - the meaning of words and the need to be accurate

when using them. But when it comes to the audiotapes it seems as if

Cristol no longer understands the importance of words and in his text

there are omissions and the text itself is sometimes heavily edited.

Here is an example (and for the sake of accuracy I am not even quoting

from “A History of Israel” but rather straight from the tapes):

Cristol's version:

13:54

LK: What is that? Americans?

Shimon: What Americans?

Kislev: Robert, what did you say? [No one answers.]

Bregman's version:

13:53

LK: What is it? American?

Shimon: How do you mean, American?

Kislev: Robert, what do you say? [namely: what's your opinion and

clearly a reference to the query just raised regarding the ship's

identity - AB)

Robert: I didn't say (the tone: I don't want to know - AB)

Why did Cristol) edit the text by saying that "no one answers" where

in fact Robert does answer by saying "I didn't say" in a tone which

suggests "1 don't want to know" or "no comment"?

Another critical moment in the audiotapes comes a bit later:

Cristol's version:

14:13

Menachem: Kislev, what country? [Menachem has become concerned.]

Kislev: Possibly American.

Bregman's version:

14:14

Menachem: Kislev, what state?

Kislev: Probably American

Menachem: What?

Kislev: Probably American.

Why did Cristol) shorten this passage?? In order that the word

"American" will not ring in our ears for too long? True, this latter

passage is far from being a "Smoking gun", but why to edit such a

critical moment in the event??

if Judge Cristol was chosen to be the messenger whose task it is to

put an end to a terribly painful debate then - in my opinion - the

opposite was achieved.”

It would seem that there are some serious questions about the accuracy

of Cristol’s translation, as well as questions about Cristol’s

honesty. If Bregman is correct, then Cristol deliberately falsified

the transcripts. Of course the difference could just be that Bregman,

an Israeli scholar, is a native speaker of Hebrew, where Cristol does

not speak Hebrew fluently. That still wouldn’t explain the omissions.

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