Austria Cancels Event Including Holocaust Survivor Who Compared Israel to Nazis

The event, meant to honor women survivors of the Holocaust, was cancelled due to 'concerns against some of the participants.'

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Hedy Epstein, center, shouting slogans in Cairo on behalf of the people of the Gaza Strip, Dec. 29, 2009.
Hedy Epstein, center, shouting slogans in Cairo on behalf of the people of the Gaza Strip, Dec. 29, 2009. Credit: AP
JTA
JTA

An event including Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, a Jewish pro-Palestinian activist who has likened Israel to Nazi Germany, was canceled by the Austrian Parliament two day after invitations were sent out.

A spokeswoman for the president of the Austrian Parliament told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that the March 8 event to honor women survivors of the Holocaust was off but did not specifically mention Epstein, who is in her early 90s.

“In consideration for the concerns against some of the participants, the Austrian Parliament has canceled the event ‘In Grandmother’s Words: The Fate of Women in the Second World War,'” the spokesman, Marianne Lackner, told the Post.

In invitations sent Friday by the office of the president of the Austrian Parliament, Epstein, whom the Anti-Defamation League has criticized for demonizing Israel, was described as a peace and human rights activist. The only Jewish guest slated to speak at the event, Epstein was invited as a witness of the Holocaust to talk about her experiences.

In a 2004 lecture at Stanford University, Epstein compared the Nazi treatment of Jews to the Israeli treatment of Palestinians. Epstein has participated in several actions to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and has signed numerous petitions of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

As a teenager, she left her native Germany in 1939 on a Kindertransport — the name for efforts to rescue European children of the era to the relative safety of Britain — where she spent the war years.

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