On February 21, 1969 a bomb exploded in a crowded Jerusalem supermarket filled with “mostly women and children” doing their pre-Sabbath shopping, killing Hebrew University students Leon Kaner (21) and Edward Jaffe (22). This was followed four days later by a foiled attempt to blow up the British Consulate. Both incidents were perpetrated by the same terror organization, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Rasmea Yousef Odeh was convicted by an Israeli court and sentenced to life in prison for her involvement in both acts of terror. She was released 10 years later in a prisoner swap, making her way to Jordan and eventually the United States in 1995.
But according to the U.S. government, Odeh committed immigration fraud in 2004 when she lied in her application for citizenship, answering “no” when asked if she was ever charged, convicted or imprisoned, first when she applied to enter the U.S. from Jordan in 1995 and then when she pursued U.S. citizenship, nine years later.
This past November a federal jury in Detroit agreed with government prosecutors, finding her guilty of illegally obtaining naturalization.
But according to William A. Jacobson, a clinical professor of law at Cornell Law School, writing in The Detroit News, “Odeh now is portrayed by anti-Israel activist groups as a victim of Zionist oppression. Odeh has become, in the words of one supporter, ‘a Palestinian woman who embodies the Palestinian history of dispossession, struggle and resilience.’”
Facing up to 10 years in prison and the prospect of losing her U.S. citizenship, Odeh plans to appeal the verdict. The anti-Israel advocacy group Students for Justice in Palestine has organized a fundraiser for her defense fund on the campus of DePaul University in Chicago.
The February 3, 2015 event is being touted as “a fundraiser to celebrate the resilience of Rasmea Odeh.” But some Blue Demon students believe this gathering serves as an indictment of SJP and their support of terrorism, not peace.
“While we’ve seen SJP use a variety of underhanded tactics on campuses across the country, this is a new level of extreme,” Mick Silverman, VP Students Supporting Israel at DePaul, told the Salomon Center. “It just goes to show that this is an organization that has no interest in a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but only seeks to continue to destabilize that situation by allying with convicted terrorists.”
This is not the first time SJP at DePaul has elicited controversy.
Last spring the university made national headlines when their SJP chapter began a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the Jewish State, leading to accusations of intimidation. Numerous Jewish students came forward claiming they feel “targeted” and “no longer felt safe on this campus.”
Brett Cohen, National Campus Program Director for the Israel advocacy group StandWithUs in an exclusive email to the Salomon Center said:
SJP is besmirching DePaul University’s name by running a fundraiser for a convicted murderer of college students. SJP is once again putting out false information and rewriting history about Rasmea Odeh’s convictions for murder in Israel and for immigration fraud in the U.S. Similar to what the Palestinian Authority and Hamas do on a regular basis, SJP is glorifying and also justifying the actions of people who commit barbaric acts. The facts are out there, and hopefully the public is wise enough not to be misled.
When asked if the fundraiser for Odeh is an appropriate event to take place on campus, Carol Hughes, Executive Director of News and Integrated Content for DePaul University, told the Salomon Center via email:
Many different types of events take place on our campus every day, including those initiated by student groups. An academic institution of higher learning, by design, is a place where diverse perspectives can be exchanged and discussed. That said, views expressed do not represent an endorsement by the university.
According to an events page set up on Facebook, approximately 2600 individuals have been invited to the fundraiser for Odeh. To date, over 200 have confirmed their attendance.
Neither SJP’s national office nor its Chicago chapter responded to requests for comment.
Paul Miller is Executive Director of the Salomon Center