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Push to investigate the assassination of Alex Odeh renewed

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28 years after the assassination of Alex Odeh on October 11, 1985 at the offices of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) in Santa Ana, California, civil rights groups, along with members of Congress, are pressing the Justice Department to renew the investigate into Odeh’s murder.

Alex Odeh was a Palestinian-American civil rights leader, a peace activist and ADC’s Southern California Regional Director. A lecturer of Middle East history at Coastline College in Santa Ana, he dedicated his life to “the defense of civil liberties at home, and civil and human rights abroad,” Odeh was scheduled to speak at a Friday prayer service at a synagogue in Fountain Valley, CA the day of his murder.

His life ended and seven other people were injured when an powerful pipe bomb exploded as he opened the door to his office at ADC’s regional headquarters. Although the FBI declared the attack an act of domestic terrorism and identified suspects, saying they believed the bombing was the responsibility of the Jewish Defense League, no one was ever questioned or indicted for the crime.

Congressperson Loretta Sanchez, representing Californian’s 46th district which includes Santa Ana, wrote US attorney general Eric Holder requesting information on the investigation. AP reports Rep. John Conyers, past chairman and ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, has stated he wants the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations to convene a hearing on the bombing:

“We’re going to pursue it vigorously and we’re not going to let any more time lapse,” Conyers said. “We’re going to continue to help all of the organizations that are involved build up more and more support for us getting to where we ought to be in terms of a horrific, violent crime that has, I think, been put on the back burner for far too long.”


The Guardian Renewed push to investigate Alex Odeh murder begins 28 years after bombing:

Now the ADC and a coalition of other civil rights groups, including the NAACP and prominent members of Congress, have come together to try to kickstart what they see as a moribund investigation……..

In the aftermath of the bombing, the FBI named the Jewish Defense League, JDL, as a focus of its investigations. The league, formed in 1968 by a Brooklyn-based lawyer called Rabbi Meir Kahane, devoted itself to a violent form of anti-Arab Jewish nationalism, and advocated Jews defending themselves “by any means necessary”.

The group was linked to a wave of bombings across the US in the 1980s, and was classified by the FBI as a rightwing terrorist group in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. According to Rebecca Vilkomerson of the advocacy group Jewish Voices for Peace, some of the original suspects may now be living in Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank.


Benjamin Jealous, the president of the NAACP, likened the Odeh case to that of Medgar Evers, the civil rights activist killed in 1963 in Mississippi. It took 30 years to bring his assassin, Byron De La Beckwith of the White Citizens’ Council, to justice.

Asked why after so many years Odeh’s killers had yet to be indicted, Jealous said that often a “residue of discrimination gums up the wheels of justice in bringing cases to a close. It would be foolhardy to believe that police and prosecutors are all completely immune from the bias of discrimination that leads some people to believe that some lives are worth less than others.”

For more information on the suspects, and news report footage stating the FBI told congress the bombing suspects were Jewish extremists who “may be receiving support from Israel” I recommend the video above.

ADC, NAACP, JVP and others have launched a petition demanding Alex Odeh’s murderers be brought to justice. Demand justice, please sign the petition.

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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17 Responses

  1. dbroncos on October 15, 2013, 4:04 pm

    The same US Justice Dept. that has given Odeh’s murderers a pass have been flirting with releasing J. Pollard. When questions of Israel are involved Jewish terrorists and traitors receive special treatment or are above the law. Disgraceful. A national embarrassment courtesy of the Zionist cudgel.

  2. Citizen on October 15, 2013, 4:23 pm

    Petition signed.

  3. Amar on October 15, 2013, 5:03 pm

    The Odeh case is nothing as far as Israel is concerned. If reinvestigated, the buck would stop at a small extremist Jewish terror group. Let them reinvestigate the sinking of the U.S.S. Liberty, now that would be something.

    • OlegR on October 15, 2013, 7:59 pm

      sinking ???

      • annie on October 15, 2013, 8:13 pm

        why all the question marks? is that some kind of grand revelation to you oleg. certainly you know that’s what most people perceive to be true, despite efforts to suppress the truth.

      • Rusty Pipes on October 15, 2013, 9:11 pm

        Would you prefer “attempted sinking” of the USS Liberty and murder of many of its crewmembers by our extra-special friend, Israel?

      • pabelmont on October 15, 2013, 10:18 pm

        Right. USS Liberty was attacked, not sunk. Since bombs and torpedoes can easily sink a ship of that sort, the fact that Israel did not sink it, but merely killed many of the sailors aboard, strongly suggests that that horrible act — so typical of Israeli acts — was an act of TESTING the USA, and the USA came up short — as it has done many other times (with the notable exception when Eisenhower forced Israel to back down after the English-French-Israel attack on Egypt at Suez in 1956). Some critics of the USA’s non-response in 1967 to the USS Liberty event have suggested, rather crankily in the opinions of people tired of crabby anti-Zionism, that Johnson and the Admirals, et al., were guilty of Treason for their failure to use available USA force to stop the Israeli attack, and also for the cover-up, still in effect so many years later.

        The American electoral financing system has elevated what were once called “fifth columns” (e.g, the Zionist lobby) into legal lobbies and then elevated legal lobbies into Full And Distinguished Membership in the Establishment (than which there is no whicher).

      • Walid on October 15, 2013, 11:14 pm

        Pabelmont, 1956 wasn’t the first time Eisenhower pulled the plug on Eisenhower, it first happened in 1953 to put a stop to Israel’s thieving ways. Israel was only 5 years old when it started its thefts. More on Israel stealing half the water it consumes from Jordan, Syria and Lebanon and what’s behind its warring ways from an short essay in a ’94 Jeffrey Blankfort’s Middle East Labor Bulletin:

        “… But these facts and figures don’t address the question of equity. Arguably 50% or more of the water that Israel uses is unilaterally appropriated from water that should fairly go to its Arab neighbors. Even the New York Times used the word “theft” when quoting an “Arab” in connection with Israel’s appropriation of regional water resources. (“Hurdle to Peace: Parting the Mideast’s Waters” by Alan Cowell NYT, 10.10.93 p. 1)
        As a settler community, the Jewish state has historically taken for itself land and resources belonging to its Arab inhabitants and the neighboring Arab countries. A clear example of Israel’s appropriation of the water belonging to Arabs is Israel’s interest early on in diverting the waters of the Jordan River from the Jordan Valley to the Mediterranean and to the Negev.

        Accordingly, in 1951, contrary to the armistice agreements and over the protests of U.S. and U.N. officials, the Israelis began moving military units and bulldozers into the demilitarized zone on the Syrian border. Spurred by hostilities in the area over water, in 1953, the Eisenhower Administration prepared a unified plan for the use of the Jordan River. In September 1953, Israel, in an apparent attempt to preempt the American plan, secretly began a crash program to construct a nine-mile long pipeline in the demilitarized zone to divert Jordan River waters.

        When the Americans learned of Israel’s activities which included around the clock work crews, they protested and President Eisenhower went so far as to suspend vital economic aid to Israel. No announcement about the aid suspension was made at the time, perhaps to keep from drawing the ire of the Zionist lobby at home.

        However, soon afterward, the Israelis launched an unrelated attack on a West Bank Jordanian village, killing 53 people which came to be known as the Kibya massacre. As a result of the ensuing furor, on October 18, 1953, the Eisenhower administration made public its cutoff of aid to Israel. Eleven days later, under the pressure from the U.S. Zionist lobby and a pledge by Israel to suspend work on the diversion project, U.S. aid was resumed. (Taking Sides: America’s Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, by Stephen Green, William Morrow and Co., N.Y. 1984. “The 1953 Aid Cutoff: A Parable for Our Times,” pp. 76- 93.)

        Israeli work on diverting the water of the Jordan River was only temporarily suspended — perhaps for as long as two years. By 1960, however, the diversion project — which came to be known as the National Water Carrier — was complete and in fact was the target of the PLO’s first (and unsuccessful) attack in 1964. ”

  4. Woody Tanaka on October 15, 2013, 5:35 pm

    “some of the original suspects may now be living in Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank.”

    Interesting. And if the US makes an extradition request, are we going to see another Salomon Morel epiode or what?

  5. just on October 15, 2013, 5:51 pm

    “Asked why after so many years Odeh’s killers had yet to be indicted, Jealous said that often a “residue of discrimination gums up the wheels of justice in bringing cases to a close. It would be foolhardy to believe that police and prosecutors are all completely immune from the bias of discrimination that leads some people to believe that some lives are worth less than others.””

    Well said. He left out the dirty Congress, the media, and a few other groups that have discriminated for years.

    (good for Sanchez)

  6. Castellio on October 15, 2013, 6:30 pm

    Distressing, however, was the willingness of Conyers to immediately “correct” the comments of Benjamin Jealous which Annie quotes above. Conyers went out of his way to blame funding issues and “reductions of staff” as the reason why the Department of Justice did not pursue the case. Twenty-eight years? Oh, yeah.

    Check it out for yourself, just over half way at

    • Rusty Pipes on October 15, 2013, 9:05 pm

      We are in the midst of a government shutdown and Conyers is a Democratic politician. It is not surprising that Democrats are using this as an educable moment (or are working at scoring political points). They’re politicians — that’s what they do. Even so, it is true that Republicans have blocked Obama’s nominations to fill many government posts since his inauguration in 2009, so that some departments including Justice are still understaffed. This investigation has been delayed for so many years for many reasons — including the Israel Lobby’s power to dissuade. Even if congresscritters are not willing to name the Lobby as a prime reason that justice has been delayed, it is heartening that they are finally taking steps to initiate the investigation.

      • just on October 15, 2013, 9:45 pm

        You are both correct about Mr. Conyers. I had great hopes for him during the GW investigations, and despite all the CSPAN fanfare, I lost it. The Congress seems to work for their own prejudiced rhetoric and their own financial security — not so much for us or for any justice.

        It’s sad and true. Not one Congressperson is immune from that stench of insidious infection.

  7. biorabbi on October 16, 2013, 1:18 am

    Weren’t the audio tapes of the IDF jets released on the Liberty attack? There is such a thing as the fog of war. Not every kill is intentional. The audio tapes concerning the Liberty attack were released not too long ago on CNN.

    But this Odeh story is very interesting and compelling. Why the movement now to renew or reopen the investigation? Is the evidence still all there? Perhaps there is some forensic trace of the bomb blast that could be analyzed today by technology not available when Odeh was killed. Annie, this story is more interesting than any kind of Cold Case File I’ve watched. Another issue… would the bomb maker even be alive today?

    • tree on October 16, 2013, 3:35 am

      Nope. It was audio tapes of helicopter pilots that arrived a few hours after the jet attack and the torpedo boat attacks. The NSA claimed they had no other tapes. Others claimed that the other tapes had been destroyed because they proved the the attack had been deliberate, not an error.

    • just on October 16, 2013, 7:28 am

      What “fog of war”?

      “Not every kill is intentional”–an entirely cold-hearted statement of denial.

      “Another issue… would the bomb maker even be alive today?”

      Uh– Israel searches forever for the perpetrators of the Holocaust– even after they are dead. Chances are good, in this particular case, that the “bomb maker”(s) is/are proudly living on stolen property, protected by the IOF.

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