Listen 8:00- 9:00 pm (PST) to the WeThePeopleRadioNetwork.com and to our guests - Darlene Wallach, Kathleen Wang, Hedy Epstein, and Greta Berlin.
Listen 9:00- 10:00 pm (PST) to the WeThePeopleRadioNetwork.com and to our guests - Mary Hughes-Thompson, Bill Dienst, and David Halpin.
Our guests are part of The Free Gaza Movement who are gathering in Cyprus to voyage to the Gaza Strip to break through the blockade against urgently needed medical supplies. They write on their website:
We want to break the siege of Gaza. We want to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation. We want to uphold Palestine's right to welcome internationals as visitors, human rights observers, humanitarian aid workers, journalists, or otherwise.
Who are we?
We are these human rights observers, aid workers, and journalists. We have years of experience volunteering in Gaza and the West Bank at the invitation of Palestinians. But now, because of the increasing stranglehold of Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine, many of us find it almost impossible to enter Gaza, and an increasing number have been refused entry to Israel and the West Bank as well. Despite the great need for our work, the Israeli Government will not allow us in to do it.
We are of all ages and backgrounds. Back home, we are teachers, medics, musicians, secretaries, parents, grandparents, lawyers, students, activists, actors, playwrights, politicians, singer-songwriters, web designers, international training consultants, and even a former Hollywood film industry worker and an aviator. We are South African, Australian, American, English, Israeli, Palestinian, and more.
What are we going to do?
We've tried to enter Palestine by land. We've tried to arrive by air. Now we're getting serious. We're taking a ship.
Darlene Wallach is a software engineer from San Jose. She and her sister, Donna, have been tireless activists for years working on a number of causes, especially those for peace and justice in the Middle East. In 2002 Darlene was one of eight International Solidarity Movement activists arrested by Israeli Forces and began fasting to protest her illegal arrest. Donna will also be joining the others on the ship.
Kathleen Wang is 65 years old and a great grandmother. She has 7 grandchildren and 3 grown children. She belongs to Women in Black LA. This is her frist trip to Palestine.
She became interested in Palestine after the 2000 Intifada started and learned over time that this is not just a tit for tat fight between 2 entities.
- "It is the gross oppression and dominance of a militaristic Israel forcing an unarmed indigenous population of Palestinians to submit to untold control over them and suffering."
Hedy Epstein was born in 1924 in Germany. She was 8 years old when Adolf Hitler came to power. She went to England on a children's transport, part of the almost 10,000 children that England took in between December 1938 and September 1, 1939, the beginning of World War II. She never saw her family again.
After the war, Hedy went back to Germany to work for the American government. First she was with the US Civil Censorship Division, and later she worked at the Nuremberg Medical Trial, which tried the doctors accused of performing medical experiments on concentration camp inmates.
She came to the United States in 1948. Soon, she became active professionally and personally in the causes of civil and human rights and social justice. Some of her causes have included fair housing, abortion rights, and antiwar activities. As a peace delegate, Hedy journeyed to Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Cambodia in 1989. Hedy visited the Israeli Occupied West Bank five times since 2003, to witness the facts on the ground. She participated in several non-violent demonstrations, together with Israelis, Palestinians & other internationals, in opposition to Israel's occupation of Palestinian land, the 25-foot high cement wall, and the demolition of Palestinian homes and olive orchards.
She has written many articles on social issues, and her autobiography was published in May 1999 by Unrast-Verlag, a German company. The book, titled "Erinnern ist nicht genug: Autobiographie von Hedy Epstein" ("Remembering Is Not Enough: The Autobiography of Hedy Epstein"), is available in German.
Greta Berlin, is a 66 year old businesswoman from Los Angeles. She is the mother of two Palestinian-American children and has been to the occupied territories twice in the past four years with the International Solidarity Movement. She is also a member of Women in Black Los Angeles. In a June 2007 interview by Silvia Cattori entitled Sailing to Gaza Greta said:
"When I lived in Chicago, Illinois I married a Palestinian refugee from l948. That's when I began to learn the truth about Israel's ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians in order to establish a Jewish state. As I became more involved in the 60s and 70s, a group called the Jewish Defence League threatened by two small children, saying they would kill them if we continued to work for justice for the Palestinians.
"For almost 20 years I left the struggle, raising the children and working on my career. I wasn't going to jeopardize their safety for a cause I supported.
"In 1997, with my children grown and gone, I started to write letters and advocate again. I couldn't believe that almost 20 years had passed, and the situation for the Palestinians was worse by the day. On September 29, 2000, Mohammed Al Dura, a little 12-year-old boy in Gaza was murdered by an Israeli sniper. Someone just happened to catch the killing on video. I was appalled and returned.
"When Rachel Corrie was crushed to death in March, 2003 and Tom Hurndall was shot through the head several days later; both human rights workers with the International Solidarity Movement in Gaza, I made a commitment to go to the occupied territories to see for myself what Israel was doing to a people it occupies...
"Those of us who have volunteered for the ISM are peaceful and believe in nonviolently demonstrating against the occupation. The only terrorism that I witnessed in the five months I was there in 2003 and 2005 was the Israeli military violence against us and the illegal settler violence against the Palestinians and those of us who were trying to protect them. I was shot in the leg by a rubber-coated steel bullet while protesting against that dreadful wall Israel is building. And I, like hundreds of peace activists, have had tear gas and sound bombs thrown at me in Bil'in. While escorting Palestinian children to school in Hebron, settler children threw rocks at us, wounding me in the hand and the thigh.
"Almost everyone on board this boat has been beaten, shot, or tear-gassed by the Israeli military. Many of us have been arrested for protecting women and children. Israeli authorities know that we aren't connected in any way to any terrorist organization.
"But Israel is terrified that we come back to our countries and tell the truth of what happens to an occupied people. That's what they really fear- the truth.
"We are all committed to going to Gaza. And we are eagerly awaiting the support of all progressive people to join with us. Even if we don't land, we will have tried, and we will have told the world the situation. I believe that all of the people on the boat feel the same way. We know what the obstacles are. And this is not the only voyage. We will continue to return as part of a strategy of bringing the truth of Israel's occupation to the world."
Mary Hughes Thompson was born in Lancashire in 1933, lived in Canada from 1953 to 1961, when she moved to California, where she worked in the motion picture and television industry. She is a member of the Writers Guild of America and a private pilot. She wrote Olive Orchards and Armed Zealots in 2002 about her experience in Palestine, as part of the International Solidarity Movement when she was attacked by settlers.
Dr. Bill Dienst is a Family and Emergency Room physician in Omak, in rural Washington State. He has traveled to the Middle East four times, but he considers that he was raised as a product of the arms race. His father was an Air Force Colonel.
In Medical School he became active with peace groups. In 1985 after taking an intensive summer course in Arabic, he spent over 5 months in Egypt, the West Bank and Gaza volunteering with various Palestinian healthcare organizations.
He has enjoyed a wealth of cross cultural experiences in medicine with Crow and Northern Cheyenne Native American patients during his 3 years in Montana with the Indian Health Service, and with Colville tribal members and Hispanic patients in Okanogan County. He enrolled in immersion Spanish language courses in Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico totaling 6 weeks, where he lived with local families who did not speak English. He took three trips to Veracruz, Mexico with the Family Medicine Exchange Program, and has visited Cuba, as well as as Gaza.
In 2005 he was part of a delegation sponsored by Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility to Israel/Palestine. They met with prominent Palestinian groups and mostly Israeli Peace activists, and wrote all about it. In 2006 he volunteered with Palestine Medical Relief Society for one month in the North West Bank and in Gaza. His photo-journals from both trip are posted on electronicintifada.net/ (Enter Dienst in the search engine to find them).
David Halpin was born in Lyndhurst, England in 1940. He attended medical school at St Mary’s, Paddington. During his training David met his future wife, Sue, a nurse.
In 1964 he graduated and a glittering career followed, including teaching anatomy at King’s College, London, and working as a senior house officer at Bristol,posts at Exeter and Truro, six months teaching at Harvard, and an appointment as a consultant at Torbay and Princess Elizabeth hospitals in 1974. He also ventured into private practice. The intensely competitive nature of the surgical world drove that choice for him; success was often measured by the popularity of a surgeon’s private practice.
David and Sue adopted two children and fostered fourteen, from newborns to 16-year-olds, including three pairs of siblings. His love for children is one of the forces that drives him. He often says:
"We have three beautiful grandchildren - girls. I look at their lustrous skin and hair and into their happy blue eyes. In those eyes I see the two billions of our world's children. They are all equally precious. Not one should be harmed."
He is passionate about the plight of the Palestinian people and was vehemently opposed to the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2002 David wanted to help the Palestinians, when a brilliant idea occurred to him. He would buy or charter a boat, fill it with food and medical supplies, and sail to Palestine. The voyage of The Dove and the Dolphin in the Danish MV Barbara started from Haldon Quay, Torquay on 1st February 2003 and finished the 3,100 sea miles to Gaza sixteen days later. The £70,000 cost of the mercy ship mission was paid by the Halpins and over £20,000 of donations from the public paid for the food. The voyage was a success, the Palestinians received the aid David Halpin supplied, and the publicity raised international consciousness of the Palestinian plight. He has visited Palestine six times since the voyage.
He also entered the public arena, with a group of other doctors, to seek a proper investigation of Dr David Kelly’s death. He says it is impossible that Dr Kelly died of haemorrhage from one small wrist artery, which is the first official cause of death. Furthermore, he considers it preposterous that this top scientist who knew all about the biology of death would have chosen a blunt pruning knife and co-proxamol tablets for his suicide. David Halpin was the first to publish these questions. His website is dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk.