Thursday, May 6, 2010

Josh Ruebner: "Impunity for criminal acts spurs criminal behavior"

This post is contributed by US Campaign National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner: More than seven years ago, the Israeli military crushed to death U.S. citizen Rachel Corrie who was nonviolently protecting a Palestinian home from being demolished in the occupied Gaza Strip when she was repeatedly run over by a Caterpillar bulldozer. Shortly thereafter, Rep. Brian Baird, whose constituents include the Corrie family, introduced H.Con.Res.111, calling for an independent U.S. investigation into her death. Although the resolution garnered an unexpectedly large number of cosponsors—77 in all—due primarily to the Corrie family’s tireless lobbying efforts, the resolution failed to make it out of the largely AIPAC-friendly House International Relations Committee. To date, the United States has not undertaken an investigation into Corrie’s killing, even though to do so is standard procedure when a foreign government kills a U.S. citizen. Impunity for criminal acts spurs criminal behavior. Therefore, Israel’s shooting of U.S. citizen Tristan Anderson almost six years to the day after Corrie’s killing was horrific, yet hardly unexpected, given previous U.S. failures to hold Israel accountable. On March 13, 2009, the Israeli military shot Anderson in the forehead with a high-velocity tear gas canister during an unarmed protest against Israel’s illegal Apartheid Wall in the Palestinian West Bank village of Ni’lin. Anderson was critically injured and suffered brain damage; he remains today in a Tel Aviv hospital. An extremely graphic and disturbing video of the Anderson’s shooting can be viewed by clicking here. After the Israeli Ministry of Justice announced in February that it would not file any indictments stemming from Anderson’s shooting, Rep. Barbara Lee, in whose Oakland-based district Anderson lives, introduced H.Con.Res.270 on April 28, calling “on the United States Government to undertake a full, fair, and expeditious investigation of the circumstances that led to the injury of Tristan Anderson.” In a press release, Rep. Lee noted that “It is with great urgency that we must seek accountability in this matter, and most importantly, ensure that such an unfortunate event does not occur again.” Her sense of alacrity unfortunately does not seem to be shared by many of her colleagues. As of this writing, the resolution has attracted only three cosponsors. Clearly voters disturbed by Anderson’s shooting will need to make their voices heard with their Members of Congress for this resolution to stand any chance of passing. Since May 4, more than 1,000 people have done so by asking their Representatives to sign on as cosponsors to this resolution through an action alert sponsored by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. People wishing to add their voices can do so by clicking here. During the great Netanyahu-Biden settlement expansion dust-up of March 2010, Vice President Biden pledged that the Obama Administration would hold Israel "accountable for any statements or actions that inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of talks." Israel’s gruesome shooting of U.S. citizen Tristan Anderson is an occasion for Congress and the Obama Administration to demonstrate that its talk of accountability for Israeli actions is more than empty rhetoric. Pass H.Con.Res.270. Tristan Anderson deserves justice, and this resolution is a first step towards it.