Hedy Epstein, 84 Year Old Holocaust Survivor, Attacked in St. Louis - updated 7/26/09

Hedy Epstein, 84 Year Old Holocaust Survivor, Attacked in St. Louis

by Bill Ramsey

Yesterday, Wednesday, June 17, at around 2 PM, Hedy Epstein was attacked by an unknown person about a half a block from her home in the 5500 block of Waterman in St. Louis.  Hedy was walking from the Forest Park Metro Link Station. She was returning from an overnight trip to Columbia, MO, where she was a speaker at the Missouri Scholars Academy. She had spoken to this group of high school students Tuesday evening about her Holocaust related experience and had spoken to three Academy classes on Wednesday morning concerning her experiences in Palestine.

Hedy was scheduled to leave for Qatar on Thursday morning to be interviewed by Al Jazeera and others. From Qatar she was scheduled to travel to Cypress to join the Free Gaza passengers who are leaving Cypress on two small boats on June 24 or 25 for a voyage to Gaza to once again break the Israeli government’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Because of her injuries, she has cancelled this trip and plans to take part in a Free Gaza boat trip to Gaza in August.

Below is her first hand account of the attack and her injuries. No one was with Hedy when she was attacked. There were no witnesses. Nothing was taken from Hedy’s purse or suitcase. There was nothing about the incident itself that gives any hint of the identity or motive of the person who pushed her to the ground. Nothing about the incident rules out that it was a random act of violence or rules out that it was a deliberate attack on her because of her work on the Middle East conflict.

Hedy and others participating in the Free Gaza Movement have received threatening calls and notes. St. Louis Police Department has been informed of this and the transcripts of two threatening calls that Hedy received in January after appearing in a Fox 2 TV News interview are being provided to the police. (see an example below)

Hedy lost a lot of blood, has stitches under her chin, and badly bruised and swollen knees. Dianne Lee, Myrna Fichtenbaum, Cathy Hartrich and I took turns being with Hedy up until 10 AM this morning. She is looking forward to going on the boat to Gaza in August.  Her spirits are good.

Hedy’s account:

On June 17, 2009 at about 1:45 P.M.I returned from Columbia, MO via MO Express to Lambert Airport, arriving there just before 1:00 P.M.  I then boarded Metrolink, which departed just before 1:15 P.M. arriving at the Forest Park Station at about 1:30 P.M.

I walked, pulling my suitcase behind me with my right hand, my handbag slung over my right shoulder.  I walked on the north sidewalk to my home.  About a half block from the building where I live on Waterman Blvd. someone pushed me hard on my back.  I lost my balance and fell to the ground.  I never saw the person nor did I hear that person coming up behind me.  I laid on the ground for about 30 seconds, stunned & shocked by what just happened, saying to myself, “you can’t just lie on the sidewalk, get up!” And I did. I looked in the direction I had just come from (west) and saw what I believe to be a man, running very fast.  I cannot remember what this person wore, nor do I know the race of this person.

I was bleeding profusely from my chin. I had some tissues in my pockets and held them up to my chin and continued on to my home. By the time I arrived home, the tissues were completely soaked with blood and dripping blood. As soon as I entered my condo, I stopped at the kitchen sink, grabbed some nearby paper towels in an attempt to put pressure on my cut chin and stop the bleeding.  But blood just continued to pour out of my chin.  I then got some ice cubes out of the freezer, hoping that would stop the bleeding.  It didn’t.

I called Dianne Lee shortly after 2:00 P.M. Dianne arrived at my home in no time and drove me to St. Mary’s Emergency Room.  Before we left my home, she gave me some towels to soak up the bleeding.  By the time we arrived at the hospital, the towels were dripping with blood.

I was immediately taken to an examining room.  The heavy bleeding continued.  I was told I needed sutures, but that could not be done as long as I was bleeding.

Still later, a surgeon came in and found that an artery had been nicked, causing the heavy bleeding.  He repaired the nicked artery and sewed me up, six stitches which will be taken out on June 25.

Transcript of January threatening phone calls to Hedy transcribed from her answering machine:

Monday 1/19/2009 8:11pm

This call is from (name) regarding your appearance on Fox and, uh, I was quite impressed. (phone number)  Thank you.

Monday 1/19/2009 8:15pm

Yes this is again (same name). I’m calling from New York.  And I saw your performance on Fox News.  You filthy vermin. You should be ashamed of yourself but you don’t have any shame. You old idiot. How’ Can perceive of danger when it is’ One day we’ll come around St. Louis and I will give you my piece of mind and spit on your ugly face.  I would like to see if you have any courage to respond to this.  My telephone number is ( number) Anyhow, uh, we will find a way to deal with protestors of your type.  You
ugly little creature.


Activists sail from Cyprus determined to break Gaza blockade http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gyqX5ZWgZPPYVkBMfHhOC-FujZHw
Against all odds: a holocaust survivor who has risked insult and injury to campaign actively for justice for Palestinians, Pat McDonnell http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2742/is_377/ai_n25004354/
For holocaust survivors, the pain remains http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=SL&p_theme=sl&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EB082E7A1EB0956&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM
Hedy Epstein, Holocaust survivor and speaker http://www.hedyepstein.com/
Hedy Epstein http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedy_Epstein
Holocaust survivor joins peace voyage into troubled waters, Michael Jansen http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2008/0806/1217923985231.html
Interview with Hedy Epstein:  “I Was Not Prepared for the Horrors I Saw”, Silvia Cattori http://www.counterpunch.org/cattori06132007.html
Other Jewish Voices, Hedy Epstein, St. Louis Women in Black http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/other_jewish_voices/
Sharon, Man of Peace or Man of Pacification?, Hedy Epstein http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/sharon_man_of_peace_or_man_of_pacification/
Why We Sail to Gaza, Hedy Epstein and Paul Larudee http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/why_we_sail_to_gaza/

Note from Sheila Musaji, Editor of The American Muslim:  Please pray for Hedy’s speedy recovery and for all of those who can’t see that violence solves nothing.

UPDATE 7/26/2009 YOU TUBE interview with Hedy Epstein http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=107960257046&h=Z-ugC&u=c3Gbc&ref=nf