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Holocaust survivor to participate in Gaza Freedom March


December 12, 2009 - Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein will head to Gaza with 1,000 international delegates of the Gaza Freedom March, set for 31 December, a statement released by the event’s organizers said on Friday. Hedy Epstein, 85, was 8 years old when Adolf Hitler came to power and remembers the Kristallnacht in Germany; the anti-semitism in school, the revocation of German citizenship, the burning of synagogues, and males over 16 being sent away to concentration camps...

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Holocaust survivor to participate in Gaza Freedom March

Ma'an News

December 12, 2009

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein will head to Gaza with 1,000 international delegates of the Gaza Freedom March, set for 31 December, a statement released by the event’s organizers said on Friday.

Hedy Epstein, 85, was 8 years old when Adolf Hitler came to power and remembers the Kristallnacht in Germany; the anti-semitism in school, the revocation of German citizenship, the burning of synagogues, and males over 16 being sent away to concentration camps. In 1939, when Epstein was just 14 years old her parents found a way for her to escape the persecution, sending her on the Kindertransport to England. Epstein never saw her parents again; they perished in Auschwitz in 1942, the statement described.

After World War II, Ms Epstein worked as a research analyst at the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi doctors who performed medical experiments on concentration camp inmates.

After moving to the US, Epstein became an activist for peace and social justice causes. "Unlike most Holocaust survivors, one of the causes she has taken up is that of the Palestinian people," the statement said. "She has traveled to the West Bank, collected material aid and now she hopes to enter Gaza," wrote the Gaza Freedom March organizers.

"It is important to let the besieged Gazan people know they are not alone. I want to tell the people I meet in Gaza that I am a representative of many people in my city and in other places in the US who are outraged at what the US, Israeli and European governments are doing to the Palestinians and that our numbers are growing," Epstein said in the statement.

Departing for Cairo, Epstein and the 1,000 international activists will caravan into Gaza to witness the devastation from last year's attacks and on 31 December, will join Palestinians in a non-violent march from Northern Gaza to the Erez border crossing with Israel. On the Israeli side of the Erez border Palestinians and Israelis will also call on the Israeli government to open the border, the statement added.

Prominent Jewish delegate, South African anti-apartheid leader Ronnie Kasrils whose grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Czarist Russia, will also join the Gaza Freedom March. He joined the African National Congress in 1960 after the Sharpeville massacre and was deputy minister of defense in South Africa's first democratic government and Minister Intelligence Services until 2008.

The statement further added that other participants include Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker, leading Syrian comedian Duraid Lahham, French Senator Alima Boumediene–Thiery, author and Filipino Parliament member Walden Bello, former European Parliamentarian Luisa Morgantini from Italy, President of the US Center for Constitutional Rights Attorney Michael Ratner, Japanese former Ambassador to Lebanon Naoto Amaki, French hip-hop artists Ministere des Affaires Populaires. Also coming are families of three generations, doctors, lawyers, diplomats, 70 students, an interfaith group that includes rabbis, priests and imams, a women's delegation, a Jewish contingent, a veterans group and Palestinians born overseas who have never seen their families in Gaza.

"Inside Gaza, excitement is growing. Representatives of all aspects of civil society, including students, professors, refugee groups, unions, women's organizations, NGOs, have been busy organizing and estimate that at least 50,000 Palestinians will participate. People from the different sectors will march in their uniforms, fishermen, doctors, students, farmers, teachers, etc. Local Palestinian rappers, hip-hop bands and Dabbkeh dancers will perform on mobile stages," the statement said.

Organizers have described the Gaza Freedom march as "an historic initiative to break the siege that has imprisoned the 1.5 million people who live there. Conceived in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and nonviolent resistance to injustice worldwide, the march will gather people from all over the world to demand that the Israeli government open the borders."





:: Article nr. 61014 sent on 12-dec-2009 23:43 ECT

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