28 July 2010

Pay Emily's Bill

I'd like to think that if one day my own kids grow up to publicly express their opinions about anything related to Israel, they won't run the risk of being shot in the face by a teargas canister, causing them, God forbid, to lose their eye.  I can't think of a worse nightmare--physical harm coming to a child.  As a Jew, I can't think of a worse nightmare happening to my Jewish child, in the Jewish state, but it does happen.  And Isabel Kershner's story in today's Times about Emily Henochowicz losing her eye in a protest at the Kalandiya checkpoint the morning of the Gaza flotilla raid brings together a variety of very painful dilemmas.

What prompts me to write this post is the simple fact that a relatively small hospital bill is at dispute in a public display of internal Jewish fighting that raises to a degree the worst nightmares about how Jews can treat each other in the face of political conflict.  The Henochowicz's and their lawyer would like the Israeli government to pay the hospital bill for the surgery to repair Emily's face and triage the loss of her eye; the Israeli government argues, thus far, that she was at a protest that turned violent against the police and therefore she shouldn't be compensated.  As is often, tragically and stupidly the case, the lawsuit has spilled over into the public sphere and now the whole world gets to watch a Jewish state argue with a Jewish kid over whether or not it should pay for the loss of her eye at a protest.

No one says that Emily threw a stone at the Border Police, an act that arguably could have put her at justified risk.  And so since everyone agrees that what happened was at best a horrible accident but could likely turn out to be (after an investigation) willful and malicious misconduct (if reports are true that the Border Police fired *at* rather than *above* the crowd.)

According to the Times report, the bill totals $10,000; according to Avi Issacharoff in today's Haaretz, the bill totals 14,000 Shekels.  What's the difference?  The bill quietly paid would have been the right thing to do--if only from a PR perspective, not to mention the correct moral and ethical perspective.  The insistence of incompetent politicians to choose the wrong path in every state and nation is an endless source of trouble for all of us; here that lack of vision and courage speaks volumes.

No one is asking me--and it's too bad because I have a few good ideas.

Here is one of them.  Prime Minister Netanyahu disburses a check to the family and visits Emily Henochowicz.  He says, "If I were a father, I would have been angry about putting yourself in harm's way at these border protests which often grow violent.  This is a terrible conflict, far from over, and tragically there may be more bloodshed before we get to peace.  However, I respect your decision--as an adult--to protest and am proud that our democracy in Israel encourages such expressions.  In this situation, you were injured grievously when you shouldn't have been and I truly regret this."

I simply don't buy the arguments that this will lead to more lawsuits; or why should Israel apologize since she put herself in harm's way; or you don't understand, these protests are meant to be a provocation to an impossible security situation for young soldiers and border guards.  None of these arguments work for me.

The fact remains that if a Jewish kid who deeply identifies with Israel, goes there to study, engages in political protest and gets shot in the face and loses and eye at such a protest either accidentally or willfully, then that kid deserves compensation.  Period.

I'm a big believer that the Palestinians are not winning the PR war--Israel is losing it.  And with more boneheaded moves like this, that war could be over.


Gillyfourth said...

I agree entirely. also, and I imagine Emily would agree, I believe anyone, Jewish or not, should have their hospital bills at the least, paid by the government of Israel if they were wrongfully injured by the IDF during a peaceful, non-violent protest.

Gilad said...

How was that a peaceful, non-violent protest? Stone throwing isn't peaceful or non-violent.
That being said, I still think quietly paying the bill would have been better.

Andy Bachman said...

Gilad--You're right that stone throwing is neither peaceful nor non-violent. And who knows if we'll even know which came first--a provocation from protesters or a provocation from the Border Police. It often occurs either way. The points is that no one reports that Emily was doing nothing other than holding flags (not the flags I would have held, either) and therefore certainly didn't deserve being hurt.

Augustus said...

I have a better idea--I think that she should pay the bill for having to call in the border police to break up a violent demonstration that was being held to support Turkish terrorists who attacked Israeli soldiers.

Anonymous said...

I could not disagree more.

Emily chose to engage in a violent Islamonazi protest while waving her Turkish flag.

I'm not objecting to her political position per se: but as a Turkish ultranationalist and Islamonazi genocidaire Emily made her choice to engage in Rebat. Turkish ultranationalists and Islamonazi genocidaires like Emily should be fair and ask Ankara or her fellow Islamonazis for financial help.

The closest we have to Emily in the United States are the Minutemen. [Or to be clear - unlike the Islamic enemy and violent Obama-supporting thugs like Emily, most Minutemen are peaceful. I'm referring to the subset of Minutemen who engage in violence against the illegal Hispanic settlers.]

If a militant Minuteman or Islamonazi genocidaire like Emily engage in violence against "illegals" and get hurt in the process its bizarre to ask the victims for help. Should Minuteman to ask the Mexican government for money? Should a genocidaire like Emily ask for help from Israel? Makes no sense.

Andy Bachman said...

Anonymous--I would ordinarily delete a comment like this but its invention of terminology is worthy of public consumption. You have a formidable imagination and a way with words. But with such strong opinions, why hide behind the designation "Anonymous." If you're going to share such views, be proud of yourself.

That said, I totally disagree with you but thanks for posting!

a said...

Difficult for me to understand why the Israeli government should treat a Jewish protester any differently than a non-Jewish protesters. Maybe this would be a PR victory for Israel, but definitely not a moral one--democracies shouldn't discriminate on the basis of ethnicity or national origin.

PS: if you don't want people to comment anonymously, don't provide that option on your blog.

andy said...

a--I don't mean to suggest paying for one ethnicity over the other and I would be interested to know if and when Israel has paid for hospital care for Palestinians wrongly injured. With regard to anonymous comments, it seems a Blogger option but I'll investigate.

Gilad said...

The picture you are painting seems naive - Emily was standing in quite close proximity to people who were being unlawfully violent. Now, ideally there would be a way to disperse only the demonstrators that were being violent - alas, this is impossible. By lacking enough sense to remove herself from the situation, she clearly should not be considered the nice girl innocently waving flags. Now, what should be examined is whether the usage of teargas was within regulations or not. But to the point, being a part - passive or active - of a violent demonstration makes you a reasonable target for anti-demonstration actions.