By Christian Viveros-Fauné
By Miriam Felton-Dansky
By Tom Sellar
By Tom Sellar
By Jessica Dawson
By Tom Sellar
By R. C. Baker
By Tom Sellar
But when a group of Palestinian boys started throwing stones, she recalls, "I thought to myself, 'Oh, no, don't throw stones.' " She says she knew it would lead to the IDF troops responding by firing tear-gas canisters.
"I didn't know what to do," she says as those launches began. "There was a line of media, and I thought of running over to be near them—but I didn't want to leave the protest, either. I was there to protest."
She turned to fellow ISM volunteer Sören Johanssen and said, "I promised my family I wouldn't do anything dangerous, and this is getting dangerous!"
Johanssen later told reporters that the IDF shot tear-gas canisters right at them—the IDF denies this. In any case, a canister landed on either side of Henochowicz, and a third smacked her in the face.
She felt "like a slap, with a little crunch," she says, and fell back. Quickly—perhaps even before she hit the ground—a Palestinian woman in a hijab caught her and held her, immediately produced gauze, and covered her face with it.
YouTube video and the photo of her bloody face in the Israeli paper Haaretz are shocking: "The IDF maintains that the tear-gas canister bounced off a wall, and that they acted impeccably—but what wall? Where?" Henochowicz asks incredulously.
She was taken to Ramallah Hospital and then to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. She was desperate to call her father, but he got her on her cell first. Because of the time difference, he was waking up to news of the flotilla, calling to tell his daughter not to attend any demonstrations that day. Too late. Henochowicz remembers looking into a mirror for the first time while in the Jerusalem hospital. "I see this gray gloop," she says. The medical staff "start muttering something in Hebrew. 'I'd lost my eye' is what it sounds like to me. They say my eye was smushed. Not all of it was in the eye. And it's not like they can scoop it up and sew it back in. It was destroyed, basically."
Stuart Henochowiz raced to Jerusalem, and for the week his daughter was in the hospital—the canister had also broken several bones in her skull and knocked out a tooth—he slept in a chair at the foot of her bed. The situation was worrisome enough even without all the guns nearby. "Emily was in one room with another patient, and next door was one of the prisoners from the flotilla," he recalls. "There were four soldiers there with their submachine guns in front of that room. While I was in the darkened room with Emily, this soldier comes in with a nurse, dangling his submachine gun." Dr. Henochowicz says he knew that the soldier was just following orders, but "the thought of her facing a submachine gun at night, after everything she'd been through—I didn't appreciate the lack of tact."
Adding to the situation were comments from one doctor and nurses who spoke, he says, "with racism that was straight out of the 1930s."
"There was one doctor who was explaining Emily's CT scan," Dr. Henochowicz recalls, "and what they'd done with the surgery, and then he asked me, in Hebrew, 'Are you Jewish? Because, then, how could your daughter be involved in such an activity?' "
Several nurses, he says, tried to explain Middle East politics in terms they thought he would relate to. "You have your blacks—and we have our Palestinians," he says they told him. He adds, "They thought I should think of Palestinians in the same way. And I told them, 'We don't really think that way in the States anymore! We have a black president.' And I told them I voted for him and gave money to his campaign, and they replied, 'You mean, Hussein Obama?' "
At least, he says, "they come honestly by their racism. It's right there. They don't sugar-coat it. They just come out and say it." And despite everything, the hospital was used to dealing with acts of war and terrorism and gave his daughter decent medical care.
But Stuart Henochowicz says he's outraged by what he calls "a basic lack of decency" from the Israeli government. He says he knows that "Israel takes a very hard line," and so he thinks the military's stance is that "her face got in the way of the canister." But, he adds, "these people are fathers. Couldn't they even bother to ask, 'Gosh, how is she doing?' No one from the Israeli government would even talk to me. No one. Why is that? You might not agree with me, or with Emily, but why didn't they even call me?"
Father and daughter left Israel about a week later, the American Embassy arranging for them to be whisked through security at the airport. Back home in Maryland for recuperation, what Emily calls her "basically silly" personality seemed intact: "I was just full of giddiness—which I think was quite confusing for my mother," she says.