- Anti-Israel activist
- Former member of the International Solidarity Movement
In January 2003 — while studying herbal medicine in Albuquerque, New Mexico — Avery developed an association with both ISM and a local group called the Arab-Jewish Peace Alliance. By the end of that month, he had joined ISM and was preparing to go to the West Bank to serve as an activist for the organization. “I’m not going to be a fighter,” Avery assured his worried parents. “I’m going to report on the events and write articles.” ISM’s main “actions,” he explained to them, consisted of “being monitors and witnesses at military checkpoints” and “lodging in the homes of the families of individuals who chose suicide bombing as their method of resisting the occupation.”
In April 2003, Avery garnered a great deal of media attention when he suffered severe facial wounds while volunteering with ISM in the West Bank city of Jenin. Though he claimed that an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier had intentionally shot him in the face, Avery was most likely hit by ricocheting shrapnel from warning shots fired at the ground. What is indisputable, as Avery’s fellow activist Tobias Karlsson admitted, is that Avery broke curfew and was harmed when he left his building to investigate whether any casualties had resulted from a barrage of gunfire he had heard coming from outside.
Immediately after suffering the aforementioned injuries, Avery was taken to Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel, where Israeli doctors saved his life and rebuilt his face via multiple surgical operations. Lasse Schmidt, another ISM activist and a friend of Avery’s, wrote that one of the first sentences Avery wrote after his initial surgery was: “I feel more Palestinian than ever before.” Avery was thereafter allowed to recover for two months in an Israeli hospital free of charge; all of his care was paid for by the IDF.
In a December 2004 petition to Israel’s High Court of Justice, Avery demanded that the state’s Military Criminal Investigation Division look into the Jenin incident where he had been injured. On November 27, 2006, the state agreed to initiate such a probe.
Meanwhile, Avery had also launched a civil suit against the state to compensate him for the injuries and suffering he had sustained, and for the costs of additional facial reconstruction procedures which he had undergone after returning to the United States. In November 2008, Avery accepted a $150,000 settlement from the state of Israel in exchange for dropping the lawsuit.
In 2004 Avery was a featured speaker at a Duke University event sponsored by the Palestine Solidarity Movement, where he criticized the “campaign of misinformation by Zionist-leaning news editors” in the U.S. media. Avery also urged attendees to pressure the U.S. government to stop giving military aid to Israel. “In a lot of ways, the real battle is not in Palestine, the real battle is in America,” he said. “That’s where the power is, that’s where the money is.” Moreover, Avery exhorted audience members to engage in grassroots efforts aimed at stopping Israel’s “destruction of a culture.” On other occasions, Avery has said:
- “We need to dismantle the military culture of the U.S. and Israel and dismantle the entire Military-Industrial complex.”
- “For longer than I have been alive, Palestinians have dealt with this persistent campaign of abuse, intimidation, robbery, rape, and murder as the ideological elite of Israeli governance have sought annexation of their lands as part of a manifest destiny policy of national expansion.”
Over the years, Avery has also been a guest speaker at events sponsored by the anti-Israel group Wheels of Justice. In 2014 he was interviewed by The Voice of Palestine, a radio station “committed to bringing the often muffled and neglected voice of the Palestinian people to the Canadian public.” And in 2015, Avery spoke at an event held by the Rutgers University chapter of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.
For additional information about Brian Avery, click here.