October 23, 2013 – The below-signed organizations are deeply disturbed by and stand opposed to the indictment yesterday of Rasmea Yousef Odeh, a Palestinian-American community activist who has dedicated 10 years to the Chicago Arab-American community, working with women on issues ranging from promoting literacy and political education to addressing domestic violence and anti-Arab and Muslim sentiment.
Rasmea’s indictment for alleged immigration fraud comes at a time when advocates for Palestinian rights and immigration rights activists have been facing increasing pressure all over the country. Exactly three years ago, 23 anti-war and Palestinian rights activists were subpoenaed to testify before a Grand Jury, and several of their homes were raided by the FBI. There have been no indictments against the 23 activists subpoenaed in 2010, presumably because of a lack of evidence. It is no coincidence that federal prosecutors are now targeting Rasmea, who is a pillar in the same community.
The 2010 raids, the Grand Jury subpoenas that accompanied them, and this indictment against a 65 year old woman who suffered for a decade in Israeli prisons before coming to the U.S. in 1995, are a clear signal that federal authorities, along with Israel and its supporters in the U.S., are continuing to search for ways to intimidate and silence those who are effective advocates for Arab American communities, and who speak out for Palestinian rights.
In the last year alone, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, in partnership with the Center for Constitutional Rights, and in collaboration with the National Lawyers Guild and other organizations, has documented over 75 cases of intimidation and legal bullying. These include perceived surveillance, FBI contacts, and discriminatory enforcement of laws against advocates for Palestinian rights. Rasmea’s arrest and indictment must be viewed within this wider context of widespread attempts to intimidate people into silence on one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time. Rasmea’s indictment is also an illustration of increasingly draconian enforcement of immigration laws, which have left immigrant communities devastated at the hands of Obama’s Department of Homeland Security.
Rasmea is an exemplary citizen who recently finished a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice, and has a law degree from Jordan. She has overcome amazing odds after being convicted by the Israeli military court system in 1969 for her alleged association with a leftist Palestinian nationalist group that the U.S. designated a terrorist organization. The military courts operate exclusively to subjugate occupied Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. They routinely bypass all but a modicum of due process, and justify holding individuals without charge or trial for months and years, often in abusive conditions and subject to torture. Rasmea’s activism against the Israeli occupation in the 1960s resulted in her imprisonment in Israeli prisons for 10 years, and it is surely her community activism in the U.S. that has made her, and by extension, the community that relies on her, the target of this indictment.
We call for solidarity with Rasmea as she undergoes a difficult legal battle. Please support Rasmea at her November 1 appearance in federal court in Detroit, Michigan. We are also asking all supporters to call Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit, at 313.226.9501 or 313.226.9100, on Friday, October 25th, from 8 AM to 4 PM CST, to demand that she Drop the Charges Now. For further action items, please see the Arab American Action Network alert.
Al-Awda New York, Palestine right to Return Coalition
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
American Muslims for Palestine
Arab Jewish Partnership for Peace and Justice in the Middle East
AROC: Arab Resource & Organizing Center
Bay Area Committee to Stop Political Repression (BACSPR)
Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights
Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign – Vancouver
Brooklyn College Students for Justice in Palestine
Canada Palestine Association
Center for Constitutional Rights
Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights
College and University Workers United
Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine
Council on American-Islamic Relations – Chicago
CUNY Law Students for Justice in Palestine
Friends of Deir Ibzi’a
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Hampshire College Students for Justice in Palestine
International League of People’s Struggles
INCITE! Women and Trans* People of Color Against Violence
Independent Jewish Voices-Vancouver
Interdenominational Advocates for Peace (IDAP)
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
JEWS SAY NO!
Jewish Voice for Peace
Jewish Voice for Peace – Bay Area
Jewish Voice for Peace — Philadelphia
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
Labor for Palestine
Legalease Collective, CKUT, Montreal
Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign
Muslim Defense Project of the National Lawyers Guild – New York Chapter
National Lawyers Guild Free Palestine Subcommittee
National Students for Justice in Palestine
New York City Labor Against the War
NYC Queers Against Israeli Apartheid
PAWA: Palestinian American Women’s Association
Palestine Solidarity Group – Chicago
Palestine Solidarity Legal Support
Red Sparks Union – Vancouver
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
Solidarity: a socialist, feminist, anti-racist organization
Sunbula: Arab Feminists for Change
The Dream Defenders
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
US Palestinian Community Network
WBAI Justice and Unity Campaign
Women of Colour Collective at the McGill Faculty of Law
Voice of Palestine