“Rasmea Odeh embodies the history of the Palestinian people: a story of
great suffering and great resilience.”—Michael Deutch, Defense Attorney
The four-day trial of Rasmea Yousef Odeh came to an end Friday with a jury verdict that may come on Monday. Rasmea is a 67-year-old Palestinian-American activist who is being prosecuted for “lying” on her 2004 application for naturalization. The accusation centers around a confession she made in 1969 as a prisoner-of-war in an Israeli military jail, following torture, sexual assault and extreme interrogation. She was arrested with hundreds of other Palestinian refugees.
Although central to the issue of her immigration application, Rasmea and her defense team cannot include any mention of her torture at the hands of the Israeli military according to the judge’s ruling.
The state apparently barred any such mention as the people of the U.S. and the world have become more and more conscious of the plight of the Palestinian people mobilizing in some of the largest and historic actions
against U.S.-funded terror against Palestine by Israel.
Dozens of supporters of Rasmea packed the court room since Nov 4, many of whom have worked with her over the years and who she has assisted and mentored in her role of as a leader in Chicago working with women refugees.
Rasmea embodies the resilience of the Palestinian people
“It would be ideal if I could sit in your living room and tell you the history of Rasmea Odeh,” Deutsch told the jury. “Rasmea Odeh embodies the history of the Palestinian people: a story of great suffering and great resilience.”
On Day 3 of the trial, Rasmea took the stand telling the judge, “It’s my life, I have a right to talk about the things that happened to me!”
Rasmea went on to give her account of her life beginning with al-Nabka—the Catastrophe—the 1948 founding of the Israeli settler state that forced the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes—among them were Rasmea’s family. After losing their home and land, her family lived in refugee tents finally making their way to Ramallah where they lived during the 1967 war, a further expansion of the Israeli settler state.
Rasmea’s family home was raided at the time and she was arrested with her father and her sisters. More than 500 Palestinians were arrested at the time. She spoke in tears of her sister’s early death from the trauma of the events during that time.
Although barred from mentioning any details during the proceedings by the judge, Rasmea did tell that she was kept in an interrogation center for 45 days. When asked by her attorney if she tried to escape, Rasmea replied “Of course, any political prisoner would try to escape.” The judge quickly barred her statement to cover up the fact that Rasmea was a political prisoner in a military interrogation camp.
Defense delivers scathing indictment of Israeli military oppression
Opening on Day 2 of the trial the defense delivered a scathing indictment of the Israeli settler state and its military expansion into Palestinian land. “Odeh was convicted by a military court that was occupying Palestinian land. [With] judges who are soldiers,” explained Michael Deutch, lead defense attorney. Rasmea’s state of mind is central for the jury to find her not guilty for “knowingly answering falsely” on her immigration application.
It was made known that Rasmea did not speak English at the time of the filing of her immigration papers and she was never tried or convicted in any civilian court. Rasmea was never asked about any kind of arrest or conviction in other countries other than in the U.S.
Rasmea and her defense team have provided the jurors with sufficient evidence that the only crime that has taken place is the establishment of the Israeli apartheid state and the decades’ long oppression of the Palestinian people. As those who are for justice await the verdict on Monday, we also prepare for the ongoing struggle to liberate the Palestinian people in occupied Palestine and in neighborhoods across the U.S.
Free Rasmea Odea!