Hedy Epstein at ASU Land Day Palestinian Event / Photo courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/codepinkarizona/
By Susan Schwartz, contributing writer
The human rights movement lost a great and compassionate activist last week when Hedy Epstein passed away at the age of 91 in her St. Louis home.
Born in Germany, she was a witness to the horrors of the Nazi regime. At the age of 14, Hedy’s parents were able to find a place for her on a Kindertransport and she was sent to England, thus escaping the Holocaust. Her parents and other family members were not so fortunate. Hedy credited her parents with giving her a second chance at life. She subsequently devoted her life to the marginalized, the helpless victims, and the cause of social justice. Hedy’s first call was to work with the prosecution at the Nuremberg Trials. She subsequently came to the United States, and, after her marriage, she and her husband settled in St. Louis.
Opposition to the Vietnam war, the bombing of Cambodia, and the restrictive immigration policies of the United States were among the causes she became involved in, though this list is far from complete. In time, Hedy became a staunch advocate of the Palestinian people; an anti-Zionist, she worked to call attention to their suffering under the Israeli boot.
She was arrested at the age of 90 when she demonstrated in Ferguson with the Black Lives Matter Movement. As a member of Women in Black (WIB), she was tear gassed in Bi’lin with other activists including International Solidarity Movement (ISM) members while in her eighties. Hedy was harassed in a manner far outside the parameters of security concerns at Ben Gurion airport (and used the occasion to tell her harassers what she thought of them).
Hedy visited the occupied West Bank, Palestine and was a participant in every flotilla that attempted to reach Gaza.
“Palestinians are an amazing, resilient people. They will never give up. The Israeli may kill many of them, destroy their homes, destroy their lives, but they will never be able to destroy their hope,” she said.
Greta Berlin, a friend and fellow activist, familiar to readers of The Muslim Observer was with Hedy as her death approached. She presented her with a Palestinian flag containing the names of the many activists for the Palestinian cause.
The world is poorer for her death. She is survived by a son and two granddaughters.
Those wishing to contribute in Hedy Epstein’s name are directed to Playgrounds for Palestine. It was a project dear to Hedy’s heart for its show of solidarity with occupied Palestine, particularly with the children–the most innocent victims of Israeli occupation. The playground under construction that is devoted to Hedy’s memory is in the village of Asira al-Shamaliya, please access this worthy cause at playgroundsforpalestine.org.