Eliza Bates

Eliza Bates (Democracy and Workers' Rights Center - DWRC): Eliza graduated with honors and a BA in globalization and social movements from UC Berkeley. Eliza is committed to the right to free association and she worked on student-labor solidarity and anti-sweatshop campaigns while at university. Following graduation, Eliza worked in the labor movement in the United States for over five years as a researcher, organizer and lead union contract negotiator. Her interest in social justice and globalization inspired her to conduct an independent field research project in Mexico on the impacts of NAFTA on rural workers. She participated in several labor delegations to Latin America. At the time of her fellowship, Eliza was studying for a Master’s degree in international affairs with a concentration in human rights concentration at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

real blood

21 Jul

The strange thing about blood is that it never looks real.

One time I arrived at the second avenue stop on the F train in New York City just after someone got knifed. The stabber and stabbee had been removed from the scene already, both still breathing. But a thick neon red puddle of blood remained.

The color and texture of the blood were so vivid. It looked like an overdone prop from a Hollywood set.

A few years earlier, when I was working as a union organizer, I rode the elevator up to the fourth floor of the San Francisco General Hospital in search of healthcare workers to invite to a union meeting. The elevator doors opened to a frantic scene of a man covered in blood lying unconscious on a gurney surrounded by doctors and nurses.

I stepped back into the elevator, walked outside, got in my car and drove back to the office.

It was a hospital after all, I shouldn’t have been so shocked. But I’m not good with blood. My stomach is too weak.

Yesterday, I saw a man shot in the head by a rubber bullet in Bil’in.

His friends ran with him in their arms, drenched in his blood. Their shirts and hands were stained surreal red. The man’s face was covered in blood.

I turned and buried my head in Tatsiana’s shoulder.

This isn’t supposed to be real. People don’t actually get shot in the head for trying to protect their land from illegal walls.

But they do. And I was there to witness it yesterday.

People ask why we go, over an over again, to play out this futile game with the IDF soldiers.

If the internationals and Israelis weren’t there, those bullets could have been real. More real that the rubber coated depleted uranium shot yesterday. Not because we are great protectors of the Palestinian people, but because in the eyes of the West, our lives are just worth more.

If they were shooting live ammunition there would have been no need to rush the man, who’s name is Ibrahim, away from the scene leaking unreal redness everywhere. Instead of just a chunk of his skull cracked and missing, he would have been dead.

He could have died anyway. The Red Crescent ambulance took him to the nearest hospital. He survived.

It is all too real.

(photo courtesy of Palestine Monitor)

Posted By Eliza Bates

Posted Jul 21st, 2007


  • Tatsiana

    July 21, 2007


    I didn’t have the nerve to check the news about the man today…
    I completely agree with you about how unreal the events seemed. Or it happens because your mind shuts out the horrible realization. And then you come home and try to rest and the realization comes.
    I constantly get the question why I go. I think you explained it very well.

  • mom

    July 22, 2007


    daughter, of course i would rather have you be home and safe, and i have been one of the ones questioning why you go but i understand that your being there as a witness is a mitzvah. an act of kindness towards a stranger. it is so sad and confusing that as humans we are still capable of so much violence towards one another. and of course, there is no end in sight. but perhaps one of the most important things to remember is that along with the sadness there are people like you and tatsiana and all of the others who are committed to bringing peace into the world, who are willing to be kind to and caring of strangers. you are our hope and we are all indebted to you for the paths you have choosen. love, mom

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