Holocaust Survivor Hedy Epstein Heads to Gaza with 1,000 International Delegates Gaza Freedom March to Israeli Border Set for December 31
The Gaza Freedom March to take place in Gaza on December 31 is 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. One of the marchers will be 85-year-old Hedy Epstein, a Holocaust survivor.
Hedy Epstein was 8 years old when Adolf Hitler came to power. She 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 Hedy was just 14 years old her parents found a way for her to escape the persecution, sending her on the Kinder Transport to England. Hedy never saw her parents again; they perished at Auschwitz in 1942.
As an adult, Hedy moved to the United States and 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. “It is important to let the besieged Gazan people know they are not alone.” Hedy has traveled to the West Bank, collected material aid and now she hopes to enter Gaza. Ms Epstein has written her story, entitled “Remembering Is Not Enough: The Autobiography of Hedy Epstein".
Departing for Cairo, Egypt, Hedy and the 1,000 international activists will caravan into Gaza to witness the devastation from last year's attacks and on December 31, join Palestinians in a non-violent march from Northern Gaza to the Erez/Israeli border. On the Israeli side of the Erez border Palestinians and Israelis will also call on the Israeli government to open the border.
Other participants include Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker, leading Syrian comedian Duraid Lahham, South African anti-apartheid leader Ronnie Kasrils, French Senator Alima Boumediene–Thiery, autthor and Filipino Parliament member Walden Bello, former European Parliamentarian Luisa Morgantini from Italy, President of the U.S. 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.
To contact Gaza Freedom March Organizers in country:
Ann Wright in Egypt (19) 508-1493, Gaza (599) 501-517
Tighe Barry, in Egypt (19) 481-2932, Gaza (598) 289-860
Medea Benjamin in Egypt (18) 956-1919, Gaza (599) 501-519
Haider Eid Gaza (599) 441 766
In U.S. contact after departure:
Emily Siegel Emily@codpinkalert.org 202-441-6716
For more information see www.gazafreedommarch.org