Rasmea Odeh, a 69-year-old convicted Palestinian terrorist, has accepted a plea bargain that revokes her American citizenship. Although Odeh will not serve any time in a U.S. prison, she will be forced to leave the country and go to Jordan.
Prior to accepting the plea deal, Odeh was sentenced in the U.S. to 18 months in prison for failing to disclose her criminal record to immigration authorities when she applied for American citizenship in 2004. Specifically, Odeh failed to disclose her conviction and imprisonment in Israel for her role in a 1969 Jerusalem bombing that killed two Hebrew University students.
Odeh has previously confessed to planting the bomb in that Jerusalem terror attack, but later claimed her confession was made under duress. In 1970, she was sentenced to life in prison by an Israeli court and served 10 years of her sentence before being released early in a prisoner exchange deal in 1980.
Recently, Odeh has taken on prominent public roles in the BDS movement against Israel and the international Women’s March protest.
Following her acceptance of the deal, the Rasmea Defense Committee released a statement containing anti-Semitic overtones, saying, “The prosecution team is now under the regime of racist Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and a new superseding indictment re-frames this as a case about ‘terrorism’ rather than immigration…there is the great likelihood that a jury would be prejudiced by hearing the Zionist Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel call Rasmea a ‘terrorist.’
OS News has previously written about Rasmea and her crimes. It all began in February 1969, when the 20-year-old Odeh, together with a fellow member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), set off a bomb in a Jerusalem supermarket, SuperSol.
Two Hebrew University students who were shopping in the store, Eddie (Efraid Dovid) Joffe and Leon (Aryeh) Kanner approached the meat counter, an explosive device, a cookie can filled with 5 Kgm of dynamite, which had been placed by Rasmieh Odeh and Ayesha Oudeh, was detonated and Eddie and Leon were both instantly killed and nine others were wounded.
Eddie Joffe immigrated from South Africa. He joined the Tzanchanim/Paratrooper unit in the IDF. He fought in the Six Day War when during the paratroopers’ first strike at the Egyptian forces in Rafah, and was wounded by shrapnel in the throat, but two weeks later he “escaped” from hospital and rejoined his unit. He also distinguished himself in the Battle of Karameh where he was again wounded by a bullet to the leg.
Edward’s mother recorded this heartbreaking video just 2 weeks before her death at the age of 90. She left a message to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and said she had lived a very long and full life but it was not complete because it was overshadowed with the death of her son Edward, which she never recovered from.
Aryeh Leon Kanner was born in Uruguay. He was the youngest in his family, brother of Miriam, Irit and Rachel.
His parents immigrated to Uruguay from Europe and settled in Uruguay, they then immigrated to Israel where his sisters Irit and Rachel were already living in Israel.
On his arrival he joined Kibbutz “Hamapil” and began studying Hebrew.
Odeh and her accomplice were soon arrested. It didn’t take long for the authorities to build an airtight case. Bomb-making materials, including explosives, had been found in Odeh’s home. She confessed to the bombing within a day of her arrest, provided details of the operation and even made a videotaped reconstruction of how she planted the bombs. Her co-conspirators also confessed, and they all implicated each other. (Later, in a documentary film, one of her comrades named Odeh as the mastermind of the attack.)
Release and moving to USA
Not surprisingly, Odeh was convicted of the two murders. She was also convicted of membership in a terrorist organization, the PFLP. Odeh was sentenced to life imprisonment, but in 1980 she was released in a prisoner exchange. In 1995, she moved to the U.S., and in 2004 received American citizenship.
[DePaul University Vigil for Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner]
In 2013, federal immigration officials became aware of Odeh’s background and took a second look at the forms she filled out when applying for citizenship. The form asked if she had ever been convicted of a crime; she wrote, “No.” and because of that she was indicted her on charges of immigration fraud.
Odeh was convicted and ordered deported to Jordan. But an appeals court ruled last year that her lawyers were wrongly denied permission to argue that Odeh lied on the forms because she suffered “post-traumatic stress disorder” while imprisoned in Israel. A new trial is set to begin May 16.
When Rasmea applied for naturalization (after changing the spelling of her name) to become a U.S. Citizen, she again falsely answered key questions (yellow highlighting added):
Since she has so little chance of prevailing in court on the merits, Odeh has been desperately trying to create political pressure that she hopes will influence the legal process.
Odeh found allies in the Arab-American community in Chicago, where she lives. That’s disheartening, because one would like to think that the Arab-American community is as horrified by Odeh’s terrorism as everyone else.
As it turned out, though, Odeh’s Arab-American allies have proven rather ineffective. The Arab-American Action Network (AAAN), for which Odeh works, has formed its defense of her around two arguments. One is that Odeh “misunderstood” the question on the form; that’s obviously absurd.
Convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh speaks in March 2016. Credit: YouTube screenshot.
The AAAN’s second line of defense is that Odeh confessed to the bombings only after several weeks of “torture” and “sexual abuse” by Israeli interrogators. That, of course, conflicts with the fact that Odeh confessed after just one day in jail. And the AAAN has no way to explain the bombs found in Odeh’s apartment, the statements of her co-conspirators or her undisputed involvement with a terrorist group.
So Odeh has been looking for other allies. And she’s found one—on the edges of the Jewish community. The far-left JVP has announced that Odeh will be one of the featured speakers at its national conference, in Chicago, at the end of March at the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) 2017 National Member Meeting. Odeh is slated to speak alongside Linda Sarsour, a vocal anti-Israel activist who supports Shariah law.
JVP was founded by three undergraduates at the University of California, Berkeley. It’s ironic that an organization founded by college students should be embracing someone who murdered two college students. I suppose as long as she didn’t murder any members of JVP, they don’t consider her to be the enemy.
JVP is pretty much as far to the left as you can get in the American Jewish world. The Anti-Defamation League has called it “the most influential anti-Zionist group in the United States.” JVP is well-known for supporting BDS, the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and wholeheartedly endorsing the Black Lives Matter platform, which charges Israel with “genocide” and “apartheid.” In other words, the “Jewish” in JVP’s title is essentially a cover for anti-Israel activitiesThe problem is when left-wing Jewish groups that are not as radical as JVP start to treat JVP as legitimate, instead of as a pariah. Note, for example, that JVP’s director spoke at J Street’s 2011 national conference. After Odeh speaks at the JVP gathering in March, she will surely look for other audiences in the Jewish community. She needs them to soften her image and create pressure against her deportation.
Odeh in an anti-Police protest for Black Lives Matter
Mainstream Jewish liberal groups need to understand that Odeh represents a red line. Anyone who gives a platform to this convicted murderer will be crossing that line. If groups like Americans for Peace Now, Ameinu (Labor Zionists) and others in their camp want to maintain their credibility and be taken seriously in the Jewish community, they need to make it unequivocally clear, right now, that they reject JVP’s hosting of Odeh and will never have anything to do with her.
Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.
(Jns.org and Legal Insurrection contributed to this post)