Rasmea Yousef Odeh is one of eight women running the “A Day Without Women” anti-Trump protest set for this Wednesday, March 8. Odeh is a woman who spent a decade in an Israeli jail for her involvement in two terrorist bombings that took place while she was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). One of those attacks, a 1969 bombing of a Jerusalem Supersol supermarket, killed two Hebrew University students, Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner, while they were shopping for groceries.
The Palestinian-born Odeh was sentenced to life in prison for being the ringleader behind the Supersol bombing as well as an unsuccessful attempt to blow up the British Consulate in Jerusalem (the bomb was found and disarmed before exploding). After spending ten years in an Israel jail, she was released with 77 other terrorists in an exchange with the PFLP for an Israeli soldier captured in Lebanon.
After her release, she eventually moved to the United States where she served as associate director of the Arab American Action Network in Chicago and later as an Obamacare navigator. Odeh became a citizen in 2004, but in 2014 she was convicted of lying to the immigration authorities about her Israeli conviction. Odeh checked “no” on immigration and citizenship forms she filled out when asked whether she had ever been convicted of a crime. At the time, she was also accused of lying in her immigration papers about her prior residency, falsely claiming that she had lived only in Jordan from 1948 until her application.
For her immigration crime, Rasmea Yousef Odeh was sentenced to 18 months in prison, stripped of her citizenship, and considered for deportation. Odeh maintains that she lied because she had post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of her treatment by Israeli police. According to her defense committee, she falsely confessed after being tortured and raped over a period of weeks by Israeli military authorities.
However, according documents presented by website Legal Insurrection, on March 3, 1969, only three days after Odeh’s arrest, JTA reported this about the three key perpetrators of the Supersol bombing (which would have included her):
“Jerusalem police said today that they had confessions from three suspects directly involved in planting bombs that wrecked the Supersol supermarket in West Jerusalem on Feb. 21, killing two Hebrew University students and injuring nine other persons. About 40 members of the gang responsible for the supermarket blast and subsequent bomb plantings at the British Consulate in East Jerusalem have been arrested. Today police said that all members of the gang were in custody. Police said the bombs were planted by two girls who received the explosives from a third saboteur. They were concealed in shopping bags. The crime has been reconstructed with the aid of the suspects, according to police. Roundups in East Jerusalem, Ramallah and Nablus uncovered stores of explosives and sabotage equipment amidst indications that it was to have been used shortly.”
Additionally, according to Israeli court documents presented by the prosecutors in her American trial, Rasmea Yousef Odeh gave a highly-detailed confession on March 1 and 7, 1969. This is inconsistent with her claim that the confessions were the result of multiple weeks of sexual torture.
But Odeh’s attorneys appealed based on the fact that “Federal Judge Gershwin Drain allowed the Israeli military court conviction to be entered into evidence, but barred testimony about her torture at the hands of her Israeli captors. That ruling eliminated the testimony of expert witness Dr. Mary Fabri, a clinical psychologist who has decades of experience working with torture survivors. Fabri was prepared to testify that the allegedly false answers on the immigration forms were the result of Rasmea’s chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”
Even though her claims of torture do not fit with the known timeline, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the jury’s conviction and sent it back to Judge Drain for a new trial which is scheduled for this spring.
Rasmea Yousef Odeh hasn’t been sitting around doing nothing while awaiting the new trial. On Feb. 6, she joined other radicals; including former Black Panther Angela Davis, Maoism supporter Tithi Bhattacharya, as well as Linda Martín Alcoff, Cinzia Arruzza, Nancy Fraser, Barbara Ransby, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, in writing a manifesto calling for the protest.
Appearing in the British newspaper, The Guardian, under the headline, “Women of America: we’re going on strike. Join us so Trump will see our power,” the eight women call for a continuation of the “new wave of militant feminist struggle” that began with the protests of Jan. 21.
Militant struggle? It appears that Odeh’s time in jail didn’t calm her tendency toward violence.
“The idea is to mobilize women, including trans women, and all who support them in an international day of struggle — a day of striking, marching, blocking roads, bridges and squares, abstaining from domestic care and sex work, boycotting, calling out misogynistic politicians and companies, striking in educational institutions.”
Adding to the atmosphere of the March 8 “Day Without Women,” the protest is being run in conjunction of the International Woman’s Year, a U.N.-based group whose most famous act was at its 1975 conference in Mexico, where its “Zionism is racism” resolution was the first one passed by any UN-sponsored group and which set the stage for the infamous United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 in 1975 which made the same declaration.
Hopefully this week’s protests will be peaceful, but if there is violence one may be able to blame it on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ignored the evidence, vacated the original decision and allowed Rasmea Yousef Odeh, a convicted terrorist and murderer, to stay in the United States for a while longer.