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Live Update from Jewish Holocaust Survivor on U.S. Ship in Gaza Flotilla

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Democracy Now! producer Aaron Maté and 86-year-old Jewish Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein are on the U.S. ship, “The Audacity of Hope,” as it sits moored in an Athens port, draped in American flags, waiting to set sail for Gaza, joining nine other ships in a humanitarian flotilla to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Palestine. Asked why she is attempting to go to Gaza, Epstein says, “If I can go anywhere in the world, why not to Gaza? Because the Israelis don’t want me to go there? That’s not a good reason for me not to go.” [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re on board The Audacity of Hope right now with Aaron Maté, Democracy Now! producer. Aaron, can you tell us what’s happening? It’s afternoon, Athens, Greece, time. Are you setting sail right now?

AARON MATÉ: Amy, I’m standing on The Audacity of Hope. We’re still moored at dockside. They’ve just unveiled the banner on the side of the ship. It says, “To Gaza With Love.” And they’ve put American flags on top of the boat to remind the Israeli forces, that they expect to intercede, that this is an American ship with U.S. citizens, carrying the cargo, which I can see right now as they’ve spread out some of the cargo. It’s a bunch of letters to Gaza residents from U.S. citizens. I’m looking at one right now, picking one up, that says, “To Gaza with Love,” and it’s from Jason, who’s five, and there’s a picture of a rainbow and a sun.

The passengers are here. They’re excited. They’re getting ready to go. Of course, there’s been a lot of delays. The police have been here a lot. Of course, the ship has been held up by Greek authorities. There was a complaint filed by an Israeli group, as you know. But the spirit here is one of defiance. People are ready to go.

And actually, I’m going to pass you right now to one of the passengers. Her name is Hedy Epstein. She’s an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor, and she’s right here. So, Hedy, you’re on Democracy Now! right now.

AMY GOODMAN: Aaron is turning to Hedy Epstein right now. It’s not a great line, but they are on The Audacity of Hope, so we’re going to give this a try.

Hedy Epstein, why are you trying to—why are you on this boat attempting to get to Gaza?

HEDY EPSTEIN: Why should I not want to go to Gaza? If I can go anywhere in the world, why not to Gaza? Because the Israelis don’t want me to go there? That’s not a good reason for me not to go. I’m determined to go. This is my [inaudible] try to go to Gaza. And if I don’t make it this time, there will be other flotillas and more flotillas, until we can go to Gaza at any time we want to.

AMY GOODMAN: Hedy Epstein, a Jewish survivor of the Nazi Holocaust. She is 86 years old, on board The Audacity of Hope. We will continue to cover the attempted journey of The Audacity of Hope. They were expected to leave last Saturday. We will update you on our website at Hedy Epstein, thank you for joining us. Democracy Now!’s Aaron Maté, on board the ship, he will be covering this journey.

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