Tristan Anderson Deserves Medal of Freedom

By Mahmoud El-Yousseph
Tristan Anderson is a young American fighting for his life 5000 miles away in a hospital after being shot in the face. Upon learning of what happened, his parents rushed to Tel Aviv. The family is holding hope and a vigil at his bedside. Mom is holding one of his hand while his girl friend, Gaby Silverman holding the other hand.

Tristan–38 years old and of Oakland, California–was shot by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on March 13th while peacefully protesting against the “separation wall” deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in the Palestinian West Bank village of Bi’ilin.

Israel was ordered to halt building the wall and compensate Palestinians for land illegally annexed. The wall–longer and taller than the infamous Berlin wall–zigzagged into Palestinian lands, thus preventing farmers and villagers from reaching their farms, hospitals, and schools.

Tristan was among 400 Palestinian villagers and international peace activists. He was shot directly by tear gas canister fired by an Israeli soldier at the end of the protest. Contrary to Israel’s claim, Tristan was not shot “during clashes” with the soldiers and was not in a closed military zone either. The Israeli claim was refuted by an Israeli peace activist, Jonathan Pollock in an interview with Israeli press.

IOF has a history of targeting medics, children, journalists, and peace activists. Only one day prior to this attempted murder, six unnamed Israeli soldiers admitted to Israeli Daily Haaretz that they were involved in indiscriminate killing of civilian during the assault on Gaza.

When medics were tending to Tristan, IOF fired more canisters on clearly marked medics. A blatant and unlawful violation action by IOF. These high-velocity canisters–due to their size and weight–are to be fired up into the air and not directly at protesters. Video images shows a Palestinian ambulance carrying Tristan as it was delayed five minutes at the Israeli check point while the victim was bleeding heavily. Palestinian ambulances are not allowed into Israel. Then came another 15 minute-delay until an Israeli ambulance finally arrived.

Thanks to the internet and not mainstream news media, we now know that Tristan has went through three surgical operations on his brain and that part of his brain was removed. He is still in a comma, and his parents are getting messages of support from all over the world. Both of his parents and Ms. Silverman are giving daily update on Tristan via the internet.

Meanwhile in the United States, there were no reports of even the slightest outrage expressed by politicians, newspaper editors, talk show hosts or churches. Tristan’s story was buried in the back pages of the news papers. It is deeply disturbing and sad how America responded to this tragedy! Why is Israel immune from all form of criticism? One gets the impression that America fears death less than it fears Israel!

Historically, when Israel targeted American citizens and U.S. interests abroad, the U.S. response can best be described by either (1) dead silence or (2) cover-up. That goes back 55 years ago. Here are few examples:

July 14, 1954- Israeli agents fire-bombed U.S. Information Service Centers in Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt. Better known as, The Lavon Affair.

June 8, 1967- Israeli Air Force bombed and destroyed the USS-Liberty in international waters, killing 34 U.S. sailors and the injuring 172 others.

March 16, 2003- Israeli army bulldozer crushes to death an American peace activist Rachel Corrie as she stood in the way to protect a Palestinian home from being demolished. She was 23 years old and a college student from Olympia, Washington.

Until now, neither President Obama nor Secretary Clinton has commented on the shooting of Tristan. How come senators Schumer and Lieberman who do not miss an opportunity to defend Israel interests are silent all of the sudden? Why is Abe Foxman chief of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) who has shown he cares more about Israel than for the U.S.A., has switched into mute mode and is nowhere to be found?

It is worth noting here, when Jewish American Leon Klinghoffer was killed during the 1985 hijacking of Italian cruise ship the sky almost fell down. Rewind 25 years ago:

U.S. Ambassador to Egypt stated, “those bastards” should be captured and brought to justice.

U.S president called the Klinghoffer family to offer condolences, then he ordered the U.S. Navy to intercept the Egyptian airliner carrying the hijackers and forced it to land at a NATO base in Italy.

Pictures of the Klinghoffers were blasted on front pages of every newspaper across the country, and stories of his tragic death were published day after day for a month.

The Klinghoffers sued the killers in a court of law and collected an undisclosed settlement from the PLO. Thanks to ADL!

A U.S. senator of from New York recommended the victim be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
As an Arab American who has more than once and on record denounced the senseless killing of Mr. Klinghoffer, I don’t know of any other country that honors and supports its citizens based solely on their religion or the religion of those who harmed them. 

Tristan’s life will never be the same again even if he survives. He was injured in the line of duty- that is moral duty of course, while trying to uphold international law. His rare courage and solidarity is inspirational, and–just like Rachel Corrie six years ago–was someone willing to sacrifice his life for Palestinian justice. Tristan Anderson deserves the Presidential Medal of Honor.

– Mahmoud El-Yousseph is a retired USAF veteran. He contributed this article to Contact him at:

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