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In support of a just sentence for Rasmea Odeh

on 27 Comments

Tomorrow morning in Detroit, the Palestinian-American community organizer Rasmea Odeh, who is in her late 60s, is to be sentenced by a federal judge for her conviction on making false statements in immigration documents. Prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence. Many are speaking out on her behalf.

Rasmea Odeh has dedicated fifty years of her life to serving her community by supporting immigrants and refugees and serving women facing painful life situations. As of this writing, Rasmea faces an extremely dire situation herself as she awaits sentencing by a Federal court on charges of immigration and naturalization fraud.

A prison sentence would most certainly deprive the Chicago community of a devoted and important leader. Though her past has been used to unfairly portray her as dangerous, her actions over many decades in this country tell another story. As Associate Director of Chicago’s Arab-American Action Network Rasmea has transformed the lives of many in our city’s Arab and Muslim community. Indeed, Chicago’s diverse communities rely upon activists like Rasmea – compassionate civic leaders who help new immigrants to find their place and comfort in their new American home.

On a deeper level, it would be a grave injustice to imprison Rasmea Odeh. As an elderly woman and a survivor of torture, the effects would be truly devastating. Having suffered sexual torture in an Israeli jail, the trauma inflicted by further imprisonment would be profound. Already Rasmea has been held in solitary confinement for almost three weeks during her trial. Further imprisonment would not in any way serve the cause of justice – it would only cause egregious pain and suffering to a treasured member of our community.

As an activist, it has been my honor to stand and work alongside Rasmea for many years. As a rabbi, a Jew and a person of conscience, I am honored to stand with her now as she awaits her sentence. Like so many others, I fervently hope she will be afforded the kind of justice to which she herself has devoted her life.

Brant Rosen
Midwest Regional Director
American Friends Service Committee

Rabbi Brant Rosen
About Rabbi Brant Rosen

Rosen is the midwest regional director of the American Friends Services Committee

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27 Responses

  1. Felipe
    March 11, 2015, 11:39 pm

    Rabbi Rosen,

    Thank you so much for standing in solidarity with Ms.Odeh. No one, specially a woman, should have to go endure such a horrific ordeal. It is extremely disturbing to know how low the Israeli repressive apparatus has sunk to intimidate and coerce those it brands its enemies. May justice ultimately prevail in what is plainly a travesty of justice itself.

  2. just
    March 11, 2015, 11:50 pm

    I am humbled by this brave woman. I wish her no more time in jail nor torture. I wish her to breathe free and to be able to enjoy the rest of her time on earth. I am grateful that she has so many supporters who do stand with her steadfastly, including the wonderful Rabbi Rosen.

    (If sentenced, I hope that President Obama will grant her a pardon)

    Your letter is profound and powerful, Rabbi. Thank you.

  3. chocopie
    March 11, 2015, 11:55 pm

    Thank you for writing in support of Rasmea Odeh.

  4. oldgeezer
    March 12, 2015, 12:18 am

    I can’t comment on the charges or whether she should be sentenced in order to uphold the principle of the law although I fail to see the justice of jailing someone of this age so long after the offense. Especially when considering the amnesties which have been granted during the period. My own personal inclination is that justice is not served by sentencing her to a period of incarceration.

    What really strikes me horrific is that a woman in her late 60’s was held in solitary confinement!?!? What was the justification for this treatment. That solitary confinement can cause mental breakdowns is well known. This amounts to torture in my mind.

    At the end of the day I hope the system delivers measured and balanced justice.

    You have a good heart and real character Rabbi Rosen. Thanks.

  5. talknic
    March 12, 2015, 1:08 am

    Meanwhile the US was LIED into murdering tens of thousands of Iraqis

  6. michelle
    March 12, 2015, 3:35 am

    make her pay time served & community service seems fair
    really though is there a reason she was locked up at all
    it’s quite doubtful she would be a flight risk
    seems like the DOJ might want to look into how the peace is kept in that area
    G-d Bless

  7. Kay24
    March 12, 2015, 4:32 am

    This is too harsh. Many, immigrants who are desperate to leave violent nations, I am sure might give false information, just to get accepted in the US. I hope they consider her age, and her history in the US, and be lenient with her. She has done a lot of good, and even gets the endorsement of Rabbi Rosen.

    What are they trying to do, make an example of her?

  8. DoubleStandard
    March 12, 2015, 5:32 am

    This is low even for MW. She murdered 2 people and then lied about it to come to this country. Bring active in your community doesn’t mean you can commit crimes.

    Her co conspirators implicated her and she confessed in vivid detail to what happened.

    • just
      March 12, 2015, 11:39 am

      Perhaps you’d like to know more, rather than less.

      She did not receive a fair trial~ here or in Israel. And from the first link:

      “Make no mistake. Rasmea came under attack by the U.S. government because she is Palestinian, and because for decades, she has organized for Palestinian liberation and self-determination, the Right of Return, and an end to U.S. funding of Israeli occupation.” – See more at:

    • eljay
      March 12, 2015, 11:57 am

      || DoubleStandardeee: This is low even for MW. She murdered 2 people and then lied about it to come to this country. ||

      This is low even for an already-low Zio-supremacist:
      – She was accused of participating in a bombing that killed two people.
      – A military court found her guilty on the basis of a confession obtained through torture and rape.
      – She was held accountable for the crime and she served a ten-year prison sentence.
      – And then she incorrectly answered a question on an immigration form.

      • DoubleStandard
        March 12, 2015, 2:33 pm

        There is no evidence of torture or rape except for her word. Her word is not too meaningful.

        She was sentenced to life in prison and was released in some ridiculous prisoner swap. The sentence for murdering two people is not 10 years.

        Her defense first argued she had PTSD which caused her to answer it wrong. Then reversed and said it was her English. The obvious answer is she lied because if she answered honestly she’d have been denied admission to the US.

      • eljay
        March 12, 2015, 2:59 pm

        || DoubleStandardeee: There is no evidence of torture or rape except for her word. Her word is not too meaningful. ||

        Says the Zio-supremacist. That’s funny. :-)

        || She was sentenced to life in prison and was released in some ridiculous prisoner swap. The sentence for murdering two people is not 10 years. ||

        If she served ten years and then was released, she served her sentence.

        || Her defense first argued she had PTSD which caused her to answer it wrong. Then reversed and said it was her English. The obvious answer is she lied because if she answered honestly she’d have been denied admission to the US. ||

        She may indeed have lied. And if a court of law can prove it, she should be held accountable.

      • just
        March 12, 2015, 3:00 pm

        That’s YOUR version. Betcha didn’t read any of the links.

        And we all know how much we can trust the Israeli “justice” system wrt any Palestinian.

    • RockyMissouri
      March 12, 2015, 4:22 pm


    • March 12, 2015, 4:43 pm

      She was tortured into a false confession.

      She was vividly tortured.

    • andrew r
      andrew r
      March 13, 2015, 9:36 am

      So, question, no one disputes Ms. Odeh’s 1969 conviction was based on her own confession. If she lied about being tortured by the Israelis, what made her so honest as to confess in the first place?

    • andrew r
      andrew r
      March 13, 2015, 9:43 am

      Also, Rasmea’s defense was based on demonstrating the immigration official who interviewed her had a faulty memory and could not reliably recall if she explicitly instructed Rasmea to report a conviction even if it was outside the US.

      She couldn’t use the PTSD defense because the judge wouldn’t let her mention being tortured. Obvious that’s not contradicted by the defense she resorted to.

  9. Rodneywatts
    March 12, 2015, 6:27 am

    Dear Rabbi Brant Rosen

    From accross the pond a heartfelt note of appreciation for this post and your solidarity with Rasmea Odeh. The importance of members of the Jewish community with conscience, actually standing up and being counted cannot be under estimated. Of course this case is only part of the whole unsatisfactory state of affairs with regard to US/I/P and affecting us in Europe. When we all love our neighbours as ourselves then all peoples benefit and Jews and Israelis can live without fear, as well as whosoever else, instead of what pertains now due to zionism.

    God bless you and all you care for.

  10. Bornajoo
    March 12, 2015, 3:59 pm

    It’s shocking that this lady is being held in solitary confinement! How can this be?
    I very much hope there is some common sense and humanity in the justice system over there and her ordeal comes to an end soon.

    Thank you very much Rabbi Brant Rosen!

  11. RockyMissouri
    March 12, 2015, 4:24 pm

    Thank you, Rabbi….for your decency and kindness.

  12. just
    March 12, 2015, 6:52 pm

    “DETROIT — Ending a case that has drawn national attention from both anti-Israel and pro-Israel supporters, a Palestinian activist was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in prison for not disclosing she had been convicted in a 1969 bombing in Israel that killed two civilians when she was applying for U.S. citizenship.

    Additionally, Drain revoked Odeh’s American citizenship; she will be deported at the conclusion of her sentence. She is now free on bond pending a planned appeal.

    U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain handed down the sentence in Detroit, calling Rasmieh Odeh a liar and a terrorist. He said the sentence was right in the middle of the recommended 15 to 21 months for her crime of not disclosing on her immigration and citizenship forms whether she had ever been arrested or convicted in a crime.

    “You lied under oath,” said Drain.

    “It was excessive,” Odeh’s attorney, Michael Deutsch said after the sentencing. “She’s not a terrorist. She was fighting for freedom” against what he called a “brutal occupation that continues today.””

    On to appeal. It ain’t over. Drain’s “terrorist” comment was gratuitous and foul, imho.

  13. DavidDaoud
    March 13, 2015, 4:48 am

    Victory as Rasmea Odeh goes home after sentencing!
    By Tom Burke |
    March 12, 2015

    Detroit, MI — Palestinian American women’s leader Rasmea Odeh was welcomed with cheers as she walked out of court on March 12 into the arms of 200 supporters. The crowd chanted “Rasmea! Rasmea! Rasmea!”

    Just an hour earlier, U.S. Prosecutor Tukel asked for five to seven years in prison for Rasmea Odeh. Tukel said, “I will talk about her terrorist background. Every single day in the U.S. was illegal, was based on fraud.” Tukel claimed, “She is an icon in the terrorist world!”

    Before sentencing, Odeh spoke eloquently explaining the cycle of her life, “Every time I try to do something good in my life, then something from outside destroys what we have and I am left with nothing.”

    She explained, “In 1967 Israel destroys everything, the worst part of my life, because it is war. I was young and had confidence in myself. I rebuilt my life, but Israel said I could not return to Lebanon to college. There were bodies in the street, houses destroyed, and one part of our house destroyed. It was war.”

    Odeh explained her part in the Palestinian struggle, “Yes I, as a woman in occupied territory–all the people struggled against the occupation.”

    Finishing her statement, Odeh said, “I will find justice. I hope to find justice with you!”

    Before announcing the sentence of Odeh to 18 months in prison, Judge Drain emphasized over and over that this was not a political case.

    Odeh will remain at liberty pending an appeal. Before driving home to Chicago, Rasmea Odeh shouted to her supporters outside, “I’m positive we will win the appeal. With you it will be easy, and we will win!”

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