Friday, January 11, 2008

"What is the lesson to be learned from the Holocaust?"

A Great Interview With Hedy Epstein

By Silvia Cattori

"11/01/08 "ICH " -- - Hedy Epstein, is a German Jewish Holocaust survivor, born in 1924, whose parents were sent to Auschwitz in 1942, where they perished. In 1948, Hedy Epstein went to live in United States. In 2003, she decided to make a trip to Palestine. Shocked by the oppression that the Israeli government is imposing on the Palestinians, she is, since then, devoting herself to make it known to the world. In the interview she gave to the Swiss journalist Silvia Cattori, Hedy Epstein speaks, with her gentle and mild voice, about her last travel to Palestine after a moving visit to one of several concentration camps to which her parents were deported. And she said: "I would like to dedicate this interview to the children of Gaza, whose parents cannot protect them or send them away to safety as my parents did when they sent me to England in May 1939 on a Kindertransport”.....

Silvia Cattori: What was your interpretation of the fact that the Israeli officers treated you in such a brutal way?

Hedy Epstein: They tried to intimidate me, to silence me, hoping I would never come back. Though momentarily they may have succeeded, ultimately they did not. To quote General McArthur, an American army general, who said "I shall return", I have returned four times since the January 2004, event at the Tel Aviv airport, on my way back from Israeli occupied territory, and will continue to return. They will not be able to stop me. And, so, I plan to aboard ship to Gaza in a few months.

Silvia Cattori: Was it not too traumatic for a sensitive person like you to go back to the West Bank and see the Isreali soldiers humiliating, threatening, killing, and destroying Palestinians lives and properties?

Hedy Epstein: As an American I am a privileged person. I am very much aware of this and feel uncomfortable wearing this cloak, especially when I am in Palestine, conscious of the fact that I can come and go any time I want to, a privilege denied the Palestinians, who have great difficulty in moving from one place to another, restricted by road blocks, check points, the imprisoning 25 foot high wall, by young Israeli soldiers who can decide who can pass and who cannot, who can go to school, to the hospital, to work, to visit family and friends.......

Silvia Cattori: For the Palestinians in Hebron or Nablus, to see a Holocaust survivor travelling in such precarious conditions to express to them her love and solidarity, is it not something very unusual and touching?

Hedy Epstein: I feel it is important for the Palestinians who are not allowed to leave Palestine, who are living under the Israelis military occupation, in such horrendous conditions, to know that there are people in other parts of the world who condemn the Israeli oppression, who care enough to come there, and to share their difficulties and sufferings, even if it is for a very short time.

I am impressed again and again to discover that Palestinians know so much more about what is going on in the world. They are better informed than the American people......

And so, the situation, especially in Gaza, is so awful, I feel I must continue to be a moral voice, must continue to have the courage to take a public stand against Israel's crimes against humanity and the misinterpretations provided by the media. Israel would not be able to carry out its crimes against humanity without the United States, the world, permitting it to do so and the mass media, which, with few exceptions, dehumanizes Palestinians and instills fear, ignorance and loathing of them and their culture.......

Silvia Cattori: You said that you plan to be aboard ship to Gaza in a few months (3)?

Hedy Epstein: Oh yes, definitely. There is nothing which can stop me. I am determined to go and I am going to take swimming lessons, just in case. The "Free Gaza" boat could not go last summer for different reasons. I think it is important for all of the people who are invited on the boat, to take that chance to show to the world what Israel is really doing in Gaza and to express their intention to break the illegal siege.

The Media is so controlled - probably by Israel as well – that, whatever the power that be in United State or in Europe, they never convey what is really happening every day on the ground; how much suffering is caused by the extreme oppression, what is happening to the people, not only in Gaza, but to a lesser extent maybe to the people in the West Bank. The world needs to know, and if we can be that medium, to let the world finally know what is happening, then it is important for us to play that role......."

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