Rear Left

More Relative Calm

Posted in War & Culture by rearleft on March 19, 2009

While the evening news devotes several minutes of coverage to the unfortunate accidental death of Natasha Richardson, you could be forgiven for not having received word of Tristan Anderson‘s fight for life following his own traumatic head injury, which was not an accident.

An Israeli soldier shot Tristan in the head at close range with a new form of tear gas canister. Compared to the big smoking grenades you and I grew up with, these are smaller (more bullet-like), silent, go much further (400m), and at a much higher velocity.

Hebrew: 40mm bullet special/long range

Hebrew: 40mm bullet special/long range

I’m not going to recount the details here. Too much. Too sad. Links are below. There is video of the minutes after the shot on the International Solidarity Movement’s website, but it’s too much for me to post here. Be warned. It is graphic.

Tristan was taking part in the weekly demonstrations in Ni’lin against Israel’s wall. The people of Ni’lin live under siege, their farming lands behind the wall, access restricted to the whim of the occupying army. Water supply threatened. Travel beyond the checkpoints in all directions denied.

The village has taken up non-violent direct action as their form of resistance to the drastic situation they face. In the past 2 years, 4 Palestinians (including 10 year old Ahmed Mousa) have been killed at their weekly marches at the wall. These demonstrations follow a certain rhythm, a ritual that is both a beautiful expression of resistance and hope in the face of an overwhelmingly oppressive situation and a gruesome display of the callousness of both the Israelis and the foreign press and audiences who chose not to value this story.

The New York Times headline for this particular story is an excellent example of the sort of bias that is a baseline for reportage of the conflict.

American Injured in Clash at Israeli Barrier

Story here. Let’s focus on that word “Clash”. Don’t even get me started on “Barrier”. I have read many reports of what occurred in the shooting of Tristan Anderson. All of them involve a group of activists, medics, and youth being herded by soldiers and border police into a closed area and then firing on them with both live fire and these new tear gas rounds from above. A local man was shot in the leg with a live round.

There are certain key euphemisms that are used by the New York Times (and others, check the “tree-sitter” references below) that show up time and time again, across different journalists work, which suggests that there is an editorial line on what words to use. “Clash” appears to cover any situation in which Palestinians are demonstrating, but it clearly implies the presence of a return of fire or some sort of equivalency of force. None of that here.

Below is ISM’s list of press reports from the past couple of days. Tristan was shot 5 days ago now. His girlfriend is with him in the hospital in Tel Aviv and the word from today is that he is able to squeeze her finger in response to questions and raised 2 fingers when the doctor asked him to do so, which is a massive improvement on a few days ago. This Friday March 19, tomorrow, New Yorkers will march on the Israeli consulate at 4pm in support of Tristan Anderson and the Palestinian people.

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