By Jenni Frazer
June 2, 2010
A 21-year-old American art student, Emily Henochowicz, took part in a demonstration a couple of days ago in Jerusalem, protesting against Israel's actions in the Gaza flotilla operation. According to the Associated Press, a witness said that Ms Henochowicz, from Maryland, had not taken part in anything violent, but she was on the receiving end of a teargas attack by Israeli soldiers who were dispersing the demonstration. In the event, appallingly, she lost an eye, and is now in Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital recovering until her family can take her home.
Now it may be that Ms Henochowicz is the most saintly of peace activists or that she is a self-hating Jew - a repellent phrase in itself. I have no idea. The fact remains that a 21-year-old girl has now tragically been injured, a tragedy made resonant by her chosen path in the visual arts.
With what, I take it, has been some restraint, the family has not, as far as I can make out, ascribed blame to the IDF. This has not stopped the most vitriolic outpourings of hatred... towards this girl. If you Google her name and take a look at some of the comments about her, there is a level of sheer wicked viciousness expressed that has made me feel slightly sick.
You can argue that her attitudes towards Israelis and Palestinians were perhaps naive and misguided, but then she is still only 21. You can argue that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and she now has a lifetime in which to agree on that. But for people to argue, with near-pathological fervour, that she deserved what happened to her, makes me wonder, where is our humanity?
Given some of the recent personalised attacks on this website, I hope posters will take this as a really heartfelt plea to tone down some of the rhetoric. It truly helps no-one.