Remembering Hedy Epstein (1924 - 2016)
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the broad coalition of Palestinian civil society that leads the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement for freedom, justice and equality of the Palestinian people, is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of life long social justice advocate and freedom fighter Hedy Epstein on May 26, 2016. We wish to send our deep condolences to her family and friends.
Throughout her 91 years Hedy not only spoke out on behalf of the poor and oppressed but consistently took action and risked her own life to build a better world. As a 14 year-old she was made a refugee, fleeing the brutal Nazi regime in Germany, the country of her birth. Her parents, grandparents and much of her extended family, unable to escape, perished in the Holocaust. Hedy did not surrender to despair by this horrific experience at such a young age but instead chose to dedicate her life to working for justice for all people.
Eventually settling in St. Louis, Missouri in the U.S., Hedy continued to work for justice throughout her life. Whether educating young people about the horrors of the Holocaust and why we must never allow fascism and the forces of hatred to come to power anywhere in the world, working for housing integration in St. Louis, speaking out against the U.S. invasion of Vietnam and bombing campaign in Cambodia, standing up for Palestinian human rights or most recently protesting the police murder of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri (for which she was arrested at the age of 90) Hedy never stopped working for a more just world.
Hedy visited Palestine several times. She took nonviolent direct action to resist occupation in the West Bank with the International Solidarity Movement. She attempted to break the brutal Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip by sea as part of the Freedom Flotilla as well as by land with the Gaza Freedom March. Hedy founded the St. Louis chapter of the Palestine solidarity organization Women in Black and later the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee where she was active in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns. For these actions and many more too numerous to list here, the Palestinian people, and indeed all freedom loving people around the world owe Hedy a debt of gratitude.
All of us here at the BNC draw deep inspiration from Hedy’s lifelong dedication to struggle on behalf of the oppressed. Her dedication, her resilience and her tirelessness are things we all aspire to. Hedy’s entire life truly embodied Gandhi’s famous quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. She will be remembered. She will be missed.