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Blinding the Witnesses

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There is something way too literal about Israel shooting out the eye of a witness to its crimes.

This photograph of Emily Henochowicz's bandaged face needs to be seen by the world.

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Like many of us around the world, Henochowicz, a 21-year-old Cooper Union art student, joined protests on Monday against Israel's outrageous attack on the humanitarian flotilla. But unfortunately, the protest Emily attended was in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and like so many protests in the West Bank, it was violently attacked by the IDF. According to a report from the International Solidarity Movement, Emily was "hit in the face with a tear gas projectile fired directly at her by an Israeli soldier during the demonstration at Qalandiya checkpoint today." Sören Johanssen, a Swedish activist standing beside Henochowicz, reported that, "They fired many canisters at us in rapid succession. One landed on either side of Emily, then the third one hit her in the face."

This courageous young woman is now the wrenching embodiment of a policy that systematically targets witnesses and human rights advocates -- from Stop the Wall's Mohammad Othman, arrested on his way back from a European speaking tour, to the vicious smear campaign waged against Justice Richard Goldstone.

Visiting Emily's homepage, I was struck that eyeballs are a recurring theme in her work. Not surprising, I suppose, for a visual artist. But an eyeball was how she chose to present herself to the world.

And there are eyeballs all over this beautiful piece:

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She devoted her life to seeing, to witnessing. And for this she lost her left eye.

We owe it to Emily to look at her tragedy -- both its physical and its metaphorical implications -- as hard as we possibly can.

This post originally appeared on MondoWeiss.net.