Saturday 28 June 2008
My friend Dianne Lee and I wrote the following letter….
We want to let you know of an amazing initiative a friend of ours is taking.
At the age of 83, Hedy Epstein, a long-time activist for peace and justice in Saint Louis, is going to the Gaza Strip as part of the Free Gaza Movement. This August, internationals like Hedy from around the world are taking a boat from Cyprus to BREAK THE SIEGE Israel has forced on the Gaza Strip, the site of immense human suffering. Israel claims it has left Gaza; nevertheless, it controls the air, the land, and the sea. With this creative nonviolent direct action, Hedy and her companions are hoping to bring attention to the humanitarian catastrophe caused by this strangulation of Gaza.
As a teen-ager, through the Childrenâ€™s Transport to Great Britain, Hedy was able to flee Germany in 1939. Both her parents were murdered at Auschwitz. These experiences have been the basis of Hedyâ€™s decades-long commitment to social justice and human rights and to speak out against terrible injustices at home and abroad. Her autobiography, which has been published in Germany, is entitled, â€œRemembering is not Enough.â€
Hedy knows that this venture is a risky one. Yet over the past five years, she has made five trips to Israeli-occupied West Bank to accompany and be in solidarity with the Palestinian people as they remain under military occupation by one of the most powerful countries in the world. She would be the first to say that real courage is manifested every hour, day and night, by Palestinians struggling for a dignified existence.
The South African Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has written: â€œPeace and security, we discovered in South Africa, do not come through the barrel of a gun. No, they happen when the inalienable rights of all are recognized and respected. I deplore the bombing attacks on the civilian population of Gaza which is suffering under a cruel siege. Most of the casualties have been civilians, including your children. The targeting of civilians contravenes international law as also does the practice of collective punishment. I also deplore the firing of Qassam rockets on the civilian population of Sderot. Please, please for Godâ€™s sake stop this carnage; for the sake of Israelâ€™s children, for the sake of Palestinian children, for the sake of all our children. I support the Boat Convoy in its attempt to bring ongoing humanitarian relief to the people of Gaza.â€ Others in support of the Free Gaza Movement include Noam Chomsky, the Carter Center, and Jewish Voice for Peace.
The Free Gaza Movement urgently needs our financial support. To make this project happen, boats need to be bought, insured, and registered and Hedy is responsible for paying her own way. Therefore, funding is urgent. On Hedyâ€™s behalf, we ask for your support in the following ways: (1) Send Hedy a letter of support, and, if possible, include a small donation. Mail them to her at 5547 Waterman Boulevard, Saint Louis 63112. (2) Send a tax-deductible donation to: The Free Gaza Movement/405 Vista Heights Road/El Cerrito, CA 94530. (3) Read the postings at www.freegaza.org to learn more about the crisis in Gaza and how the boat to break the siege is faring. (4) Initiate conversations with people you know about what is happening. (5) Join Hedy and her friends on Sunday, July 20th at the Center for Theology and Social Analysis, 1077 S. Newstead, at 12 pm for conversation, refreshments, and a proper send-off as we wish our dear friend â€œsmooth sailing.â€