Remembering Hedy Epstein
by Stephen Lendman
On May 26, German-born holocaust survivor, human rights champion Hedy Epstein died at age 91 at her St. Louis home.
She was internationally respected for supporting human and civil rights, justifiably critical of how Israel persecutes Palestinians.
She was activist to the end. At age 90 in August 2014, wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the words “STAY HUMAN,” she was arrested “for failing to disperse” during a St. Louis, MO protest over the police murder of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.
At the time, she said she’d “been doing this since” her teenage days. She “didn’t think (she’d) have to do it (at age) 90,” adding:
“We need to stand up today so that people won’t have to do this when they are 90.” In 1939 at age 14, her parents arranged for her Kindertranport to England, allowing her to survive.
Her parents and most of her relatives were Nazi holocaust victims. She remained in England until WW II ended, returned to Germany in 1945, then emigrated to America in 1948, committed to helping others.
She was a Freedom of Residence, Greater St. Louis Committee volunteer, supporting fair housing laws, later serving as its executive director in the mid-1970s. In the 1980s, she worked for Chackes and Hoare, a law firm representing employment discrimination victims.
She outspokenly opposed US wars of aggression. Following Israel’s 1982 Lebanon invasion and Sabra and Shatila refugee camp massacres, she began actively supporting Palestinian rights.
In 2001, she founded the St. Louis chapter of Women in Black, an anti-war group formed by Israeli women in 1988, following the outbreak of the first intifada, responding to horrific IDF human rights violations, expressing strong opposition to illegal occupation.
Her later activism focused mostly on ending it, including frequent public addresses and volunteer work with the Palestine Solidarity Committee and Jewish Voice for Peace.
She traveled several times to the West Bank, was a participant in Gaza Freedom Flotilla missions, trying to deliver humanitarian aid to the illegally besieged Strip.
She remained outspoken for human rights to the end, received numerous awards for her courageous activism.
Her philosophy was simple, believing “(i)f we don’t try to make a difference, if we don’t speak up, if we don’t try to right the wrong that we see, we become complicit. I don’t want to be guilty of not trying my best to make a difference.”
Her lifelong dedication to human rights and justice earned her international respect and praise.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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