Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Was there academic freedom at Annapolis during the Israeli ambassador’s visit?

When the Israeli ambassador visited the U.S. Naval Academy last week, students were instructed not to bring up the USS Liberty incident, reports one midshipmen. That may sound like simple courtesy — except that the diplomat’s subject apparently was the history of friendship between the American naval service and his country. "His speech was primarily ...

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When the Israeli ambassador visited the U.S. Naval Academy last week, students were instructed not to bring up the USS Liberty incident, reports one midshipmen.

That may sound like simple courtesy -- except that the diplomat's subject apparently was the history of friendship between the American naval service and his country. "His speech was primarily aimed at convincing a group of young midshipmen that Israel was their eternal and greatest ally," the midshipmen says. "Drawing on historical anecdotes, he was able to create a sense of kinship between not just America and Israel, but the U.S. Navy and Israel." 

The midshipmen says the pre-visit instructions were along the lines of, "It is not appropriate, in a setting like this, to bring up any major points of contention during conversation, current or historical. It is okay to talk about issues like Iran or the two state solution, where our nations have a largely common view. But it's not okay to bring up grievances like the USS Liberty, if you are familiar with that incident."

When the Israeli ambassador visited the U.S. Naval Academy last week, students were instructed not to bring up the USS Liberty incident, reports one midshipmen.

That may sound like simple courtesy — except that the diplomat’s subject apparently was the history of friendship between the American naval service and his country. "His speech was primarily aimed at convincing a group of young midshipmen that Israel was their eternal and greatest ally," the midshipmen says. "Drawing on historical anecdotes, he was able to create a sense of kinship between not just America and Israel, but the U.S. Navy and Israel." 

The midshipmen says the pre-visit instructions were along the lines of, "It is not appropriate, in a setting like this, to bring up any major points of contention during conversation, current or historical. It is okay to talk about issues like Iran or the two state solution, where our nations have a largely common view. But it’s not okay to bring up grievances like the USS Liberty, if you are familiar with that incident."

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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