Rasmea Odeh, convicted of two deadly terrorist bombings in Israel, is set to be a featured speaker at Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) 2017 National Member Meeting next month. Odeh was granted US citizenship twelve years ago, but her subsequent conviction for immigration fraud accents the present court battle against President Trump’s travel ban.
JVP, a strong proponent of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, recently announced the schedule for its event in Chicago at the end of March. Odeh, a convicted murderer, appears as a featured speaker. On their website, they state the charges against Odeh are a result of “Islamophobia”, and describe her as “a respected Chicago-area Palestinian-American community organizer and long-time activist for justice.
In 1970, Odeh was sentenced by an Israeli court to life imprisonment for her part in two bombings in Jerusalem, one of which killed two Israelis. She was also convicted of membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which the United States lists as a terror organization. She served ten years of the sentence until she gained her freedom in a prisoner exchange. Upon her release, she testified before the United Nations about Israeli human rights abuse.
In 1995, she came to the US and was granted citizenship in 2004. In 201, her case was brought to the attention of US officials for review. She was convicted of immigration fraud in 2014 for claiming on her application that she had never committed a crime. Odeh told the court that her confession to Israeli police had been extracted under duress. In 2015, after appeals, Odeh was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and will be deported after serving her time. She is currently out on bail pending another appeal in May.
Linda Sarsour is also slated to speak at the JVP conference next month. Sarsour came to prominence during the last presidential campaign as a strong supporter of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and served as a co-chairperson of the Women’s march held n protest the day after Trump’s presidential inauguration. She has recently appeared in the news for leading Muslims in raising money to repair a vandalized Jewish cemetery in St. Louis. Born in Brooklyn to Palestinian parents, members of Sarsour’s family have been arrested in Israel for supporting Hamas. Though she claims not to share these views, she says their arrests were “just the reality of Palestinians living under military occupation.”