27 January 2017

Today the Palestine solidarity and human rights organization BDS South Africa joins millions of people around the world in commemorating the UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

We as BDS South Africa commemorate this day in recognition that the Nazi Holocaust was a human tragedy of unspeakable proportions. We also pay tribute to and draw great inspiration from the many courageous and moving stories of the human spirit, stories of love and strength during that horrific time. Who amongst us would not admire the voice of a young child, hiding from the murderous Nazi soldiers, Anne Frank, who in the midst of such hostility said: “As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?” When we think of the smiles upon the children of Palestine today, we can see Ann Frank’s words being lived out.

Indeed the brutal regime and unimaginable abuse against the Jewish community under the German fundamentalist extremist Nazi regime is remembered, but sadly the pain is relived by millions in the world today. We believe strongly that in reflecting on this terrible memory, the likes of Anne Frank must be weeping, as the world today is witness to endless destruction and oppression of children the world over.

Today members of  BDS South Africa visited the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre to pay their respect. Sadly we were unable to stay there as we were told that the centre was booked out for a private corporate function by ABSA bank which was unrelated to the holocaust.

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As we mark the 2017 UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we also mourn the loss, less than a year ago on 26 May 2016, of Holocaust survivor, Palestine solidarity activist and BDS supporter, Comrade Hedy Epstein.

We recall Epstein’s life long commitment to social justice throughout her 91 years. 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 Nazi Holocaust. The BDS National Committee in Ramallah, mourning her death last year said: “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.”

Hedy Epstein protested against not only Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people but also the invasion of Vietnam, the bombing campaign of Cambodia and most recently in support of BlackLivesMatter – in fact, Epstein, at the age of 90, was arrested in 2015 for protesting the police murder of the unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Michael Brown (click here for more info on Hedy Epstein).

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Click here for an article titled “If the Jews disappear, then so will all of us” written by BDS South Africa board member, Professor Farid Esack, on a previous commemoration of the Nazi Holocaust. 

ISSUED BY KWARA KEKANA ON BEHALF OF BDS SOUTH AFRICA