On Tuesday, convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmieh Odeh will go on trial in Detroit for allegedly lying to U.S. immigration officials about her past. More than forty years ago, Odeh was sentenced to life in prison in Israel for a bombing in a Jerusalem supermarket that killed two civilians and wounded many others. She was released after ten years in a prisoner swap, and then immigrated to the U.S., telling officials nothing about her history.
Odeh claims that Israel tortured her into making a confession. Yet she herself confessed (in Arabic) to a role–if not the leading role–in the terror attack in a 2004 documentary, Women in Struggle. Her lawyers now argue that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is why she did not tell U.S. officials the truth–neither when she became a permanent resident, nor when she became a U.S. citizen nearly a decade ago.
Cynically, Odeh is casting herself as the victim of anti-Arab discrimination by the U.S. government. Amazingly (perhaps), many leaders of the Arab-American community, along with activists for the Palestinian cause, are siding openly with Odeh, using her trial as an opportunity to vent their hatred at Israel. She is even described as a “community leader” among Arab- and Palestinian-Americans. She is not just being defended, but venerated.
Upon arriving in the U.S., Odeh did not try to keep a low profile. She became an activist at that Arab American Action Network (AAAN)–the group founded by Rashid Khalidi, and funded by a young Barack Obama (and Bill Ayers) through the Woods Fund. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), and the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) have rallied to her cause.
They complain that the federal judge in Detroit has narrowed the case to the simple question of whether she lied about her criminal past, not the broader question of Israeli policy in the region. They also claim the judge found her claims of torture to be credible, obscuring the fact that he had to draw inferences in her favor in order to rule on the question of whether those claims–never substantiated or proven in any way–should reach the jury.
Above all, Odeh and the Arab-American organizations that support her show no remorse for Israeli victims of terror. In a series of videos at the Investigative Project on Terrorism, the relatives of one of the victims, Edward Joffe, speak out. Their voices are a searing indictment of Odeh’s past.
There are certainly Arabs and Palestinians who reject terror. Unfortunately, as the Odeh case shows, their self-appointed leaders in the U.S. feel otherwise.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak