February 2, 2010
When I heard about the case of Tristan Anderson in
March 2009 I was disturbed and heart-broken for his family and
friends. The muted reaction among the American public (excluding
progressive voices) reminded me of that which became apparent after
news spread of the violent murder of Rachel Corrie.
Here was a young American who had travelled across the world to stand
in solidarity with people he had no direct connection to. The only
thing that linked Anderson and others like him to Palestinians was
their shared humanity and their devotion to standing up for peace and
social justice in the face of harsh adversity.
Anderson, a member of the
International Solidarity Movement, was peacefully protesting against
Israel’s Apartheid Wall in the West Bank village of Ni’ilin when he was
shot in the face with a tear gas cannister by an Israeli soldier. This is his girlfriend’s eye witness account:
I was very close to
him when he was shot. I was only a few feet away. The demonstration had
been going for several hours. It was wrapping up; it was almost over.
Most people had already gone home.
We were standing on some grass nearby a village mosque, and Tristan was
taking pictures. He likes to take pictures and post them on Indymedia,
sometimes under assumed names. And he was taking pictures, and he was
shot in the head with the extended range tear gas canister. He fell
to—nothing was happening immediately around us, by the way, I should
mention. No one was throwing rocks around us. Nothing was happening. We
were standing there.
Corrie who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer while
peacefully protesting against the demolition of a Palestinian home,
Anderson did not engage in any violent behavior (not to suggest
that Israel’s actions would be permissible even if he did). He also
did not do anything to aggravate the Israeli forces. His only crime
was his willingness to stand alongside Palestinians. Anderson chose to
side with the oppressed.
Today, almost one year later,
the 38 year old remains in an Israeli hospital. He has suffered
permanent brain damage and may never be the same again.
On January 31st the Israeli
Ministry of Justice announced that it would not indict anyone. In
other words, they would treat this case in the same way that they have
treated so many others (for westerners and of course more so
Palestinians) by avoiding responsibility and culpability – essentially
slapping the victims and their families in the face.
After stating that the Israeli police investigation of the case was "gravely negligent", Israeli attorney Michael Sfard will be filing an administrative appeal with the Israeli Attorney General, demanding that the investigation be reopened:
I am embarrassed to
say that the investigation team did not even go to Ni’ilin, the scene
of the shooting…If a Jewish man had been shot and wounded, there is no
doubt that the entire village would be under curfew and Israel would do
everything possible to investigate.
The International Solidarity Movement website also reports:
The Anderson family
wants Israel to take responsibility for shooting Tristan, which means
both bringing the people involved to justice and helping to take care
of Tristan, who will likely require assistance for the remainder of his
life. In addition to demanding a thorough criminal investigation and
appropriate indictments, the Anderson family is further filing a civil
lawsuit in the case.
What can we do? If you’re
American, write to and call your governmental representatives demanding
that Israel be held accountable for its attacks against US citizens
like Anderson, Corrie, and Brian Avery, and for killing thousands of
Palestinian civilians with US weapons. Demand that they stop sending
billions of your tax dollars to Israel’s killing machine every year.
Demand that they spend your tax dollars on healthcare, public education
and creating jobs for Americans instead.
If you’re not American, tell
people about Anderson’s story. Demand that local and international
media provide better coverage on it. Those who are unfamiliar with the
history of the region are especially important to be reached. Correct
people when they use the word "conflict" when referring to Israel and
Palestine – it is the longest standing occupation in modern history and
it is illegal. If you know people who haven’t done this already, it’s
time to begin urging them to start.