His friends said "Cricket" is a friendly, warm hearted man who is committed to many causes. For 21 months he was involved with a tree-sitting protest at the University of California Berkeley to try to save trees at the college. He was active in Food Not Bombs. His activism in support of Palestinian rights was fairly new.
On Friday March 13 Tristan Anderson was shot in the head by a new generation high velocity tear gas canister in Ni'lin in the West Bank. The canister can travel 500 meters. The force of the shell shattered his eye and entered his brain. (Bloody youtube video here.) In an operation, part of his frontal lobe had be removed. This 37 year old man will likely suffer many more operations.
Ironically the shooting of Anderson occurred nearly six years to the day that Rachel Corrie was murdered by Israelis (March 16, 2003). Corrie was run over by a bulldozer as she tried to prevent the destruction of a pharmacist's house in Rafah on the Gaza Strip. The Bush Administration and Congress betrayed the Corrie family, accepting the feeble Israeli excuse that it was an accident despite the testimony of several eyewitnesses. A Congressional resolution expressing sympathy with the family and calling for a independent investigation never got more than 73 sponsors and died in committee. Rachel has become an icon of the human rights movement with songs and a play written about her and her own skillful writings collected and published. Because of public pressure from the states she was not treated totally like a Palestinian whose killings receive the barest of attention. Her death merited a perfunctory "investigation" and a concluding whitewash.
Ni'lin is near Ramallah on the West Bank. It's a village whose land is lusted for by Israeli settlers. A chunk was cut away for Mattityahu , and a chunk was cut away for Hashmonaim. Now the Wall, known variously as the apartheid wall, segregation wall, or annexation wall will take away a quarter of the land of the village. The people of Ni'lin and several other Palestinians town have tried to resist the theft of their land. After Friday prayers they go out and demonstrate and if they're lucky damage part of the barbed wire near the Wall. Sometimes the protests are not totally Gandhian and boys throw some stones. The Israeli forces use a panoply of force, live ammunition, rubber coated bullets, canister of gas, and shells full of paint to mark people for arrest. Always innovative Israeli R&D has come up with "skunk" which is described in the Jerusalem Post as a "foul-smelling liquid" and is believed to be sewage water . "A terrible stench - the smell of a rotting, dead animal," said Dr. David Nir, an Israeli peace campaigner. "Like jumping headfirst into a sewer."
Four residents of Ni'lin have paid the ultimate price for resistance. Ahmed Mousa (10) was shot in the forehead with live ammunition on 29th July 2008. The following day, Yousef Amira (17) was shot twice with rubber-coated steel bullets, leaving him brain dead. He died a week later on 4 August 2008. Arafat Rateb Khawaje (22), was the third Ni'lin resident to be killed by Israeli forces. He was shot in the back with live ammunition on 28 December 2008. That same day, Mohammed Khawaje (20), was shot in the head with live ammunition, leaving him brain dead. He died three days later in a Ramallah hospital.
Ni'lin actually made a splash in the news in the U.S. last July. A soldier shot a Palestinian protester who was under arrest, handcuffed, blind-folded and standing next to him. It would have been explained away except for a youth with a camcorder who caught it all for youtube and it got on CNN.
The result for the offenders: slaps on the hand. The soldier who shot was demoted, while his commander who ordered the shooting was removed from his position and transferred to another role in his corps.
The protesters in Ni'lin are not only Palestinians. Internationals come from around the world to help. Some come from Israel (when they brave orders forbidding them entry to the West Bank). American Tristan Anderson was part of the International Solidarity Movement, the same group that had trained Rachel Corrie. www.palsolidarity.com
The Israeli army doesn't confine itself to "defending" the wall. Tristan was actually shot in the village itself. He nearly died when his ambulance was held up by soldiers. Gabrielle Silverman, Tristan's girlfriend who was with him when he was shot says that initially a soldier didn't let the Palestinian ambulance move. Then there was a 15 minute wait while he was unloaded from a Palestinian ambulance and transferred to an Israeli ambulance. (In classic apartheid practice Palestinian ambulances are not allowed to cross into Israel.) He's now on full life support.
All this took place on the West Bank, where the "good" Palestinians live. No rockets, virtually no attacks on Israelis for years, Hamas locked up or underground, a Palestinian President (in office though his term ended in January) rules who is apparently willing to do nothing but negotiate with the Israelis till kingdom come . Still West Bank Palestinians are killed and killed and killed.
Well, it's Obama's baby now. An innocent American was shot by a foreign soldier. Will Obama bow to AIPAC and turn his back on the Anderson family or will he do the decent and honorable thing and call up the wretches in Jerusalem and demand the arrest of the shooter of Tristan Anderson? Stay tuned.