“But I will continue my struggle for justice for my people wherever I land.” -Rasmea Odeh at the Jewish Voice for Peace National Membership Meeting. Read her remarks here.
Last month Palestinian American community leader Rasmea Odeh accepted a plea agreement, bringing to a close her battle to win justice after years of repression by the US government. She will lose her US citizenship and be deported but will not spend any time in prison or detention by US immigration authorities.
After living in the United States for more than 20 years, Rasmea was charged in 2013 with an immigration violation and convicted one year later. From the start it was clear that these charges were just a pretext for a broader attempt to criminalize Palestinian organizing. Since then she has been leading a powerful battle to resist this attack, joined by hundreds of supporters for every court appearance and thousands more across the country and the world.
Rasmea was scheduled to have a new trial in May, but the prospects for a fair trial are now slimmer than ever with Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and a new superseding indictment re-framing this as a case about “terrorism” rather than immigration. In this racist and Islamophobic climate, it is impossible for Rasmea to expect a fair trial in US courts.
In a statement released by the Rasmea Defense Committee, which the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights has been honored to be part of, activists explained how due to the organizing, “Rasmea Odeh- a long-time icon of the Palestine liberation movement- is now a name known in every corner of the movement for social justice in the U.S. From the Movement for Black Lives in Ferguson, Chicago, and beyond, to the call for a global #WomenStrike on International Women’s Day, Rasmea has become synonymous with resilience and resistance. This fight not only brought her story to the US and the world, but also pushed forward the cause of the liberation of Palestine. She exposed Israel for what it is – a racist occupier and colonizer – and put its policy of torture and sexual assault on the permanent record in a US court of law.”
The Defense Committee is calling on people to fill the Detroit courtroom one last time on Tuesday, April 25 in support of Rasmea. You can find details and let them know you will be attending here.
Rasmea represents the Palestinian struggle and her story exemplifies how the Nakba, the forced expulsion of Palestinians during the creation of the state of Israel almost 70 years ago, continues to this day and impacts Palestinians wherever they may be. We must be inspired by Rasmea’s courage and perseverance to continue our work in support of freedom, justice, and equality until Palestine is liberated.