Supporters of an Unrepentant Palestinian Terrorist Would Have Admired Her No Less Had They Known She Was a Killer

March 18 2022

In a new book, Steven Lubet forensically examines the legal cases against Rasmea Odeh, a former Palestinian terrorist who has recently been touted as a guest speaker and activist hero by such anti-Israel groups as Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). Jonathan Marks sums up her story in his review:

Odeh was on trial [in 2017] for immigration fraud, having omitted from her 2004 [citizenship] application, among other things, a ten-year stint in an Israeli prison. Before she got sprung in a 1979 prisoner exchange, Odeh had been serving two life sentences and then some for her role in two 1969 bombings, one of which took the lives of the Hebrew University students Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner. That bombing took place at a Jerusalem supermarket packed with shoppers preparing for Shabbat.

JVP, the Women’s March, and other activist groups that embraced Odeh [claim that] Odeh got a bum rap. She was framed by the Israelis, who tortured a false confession out of her, and then was mistreated by the racist, Zionist, American justice system.

Lubet, a legal scholar, reaches the same conclusion as U.S. courts: she was guilty of both terrorism and immigration fraud. Marks writes of the latter charge:

Gershwin Drain was . . . assigned to Odeh’s case. Judge Drain, “an African American native of Detroit,” “a lifelong Democrat,” and an Obama appointee, had been “a public defender for twelve years” before he became a judge. This did not stop Odeh and her supporters from invoking racism to explain their team’s losses in court. Never mind that a three-judge panel, including two Republican appointees, actually overturned an initial verdict against Odeh. And never mind that Judge Drain ordered a new trial. . . . Never mind that the plea deal she eventually took, after lying repeatedly to the court, was the same deal she had been offered before she went to trial. Her prosecutors, said one prominent supporter, “were doing the bidding of Israel,” which is why Odeh found it necessary to take a plea rather than telling her story and “putting Israel on trial” in court.

It’s hard to say, Lubet reflects, who among Odeh’s cheerleaders knew or suspected that she was lying about her innocence. Her “closest comrades,” he thinks, were aware, at least, of “Odeh’s participation in armed struggle.” Others “accepted her at her word, perhaps having willingly suspended disbelief out of antagonism toward Israel.” What Lubet’s book makes clear is that they all should have known.

In any case, the embrace of Odeh by advocates of “nonviolence” is less paradoxical than it seems. To embrace nonviolence as a strategy for winning favor in one context in no way precludes embracing violence in others. Even outside her close circle, some of Odeh’s supporters, one suspects, would have admired her no less had they known she was a killer.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: American law, Anti-Semitism, Jewish Voice for Peace, Palestinian terror

Iran, America, and the Future of Democracy in the Middle East

Nov. 23 2022

Sixty-two days after the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s police, the regime has failed to quash the protest movement. But it is impossible to know if the tide will turn, and what the outcome of the government’s collapse might be. Reuel Marc Gerecht considers the very real possibility that a democratic Iran will emerge, and considers the aftershocks that might follow. (Free registration required.)

American political and intellectual elites remain uneasy with democracy promotion everywhere primarily because it has failed so far in the Middle East, the epicenter of our attention the last twenty years. (Iraq’s democracy isn’t dead, but it didn’t meet American expectations.) Might our dictatorial exception for Middle Eastern Muslims change if Iran were to set in motion insurrections elsewhere in the Islamic world, in much the same way that America’s response to 9/11 probably helped to produce the rebellions against dictatorship that started in Tunisia in 2010? The failure of the so-called Arab Spring to establish one functioning democracy, the retreat of secular democracy in Turkey, and the implosion of large parts of the Arab world have left many wondering whether Middle Eastern Muslims can sustain representative government.

In 1979 the Islamic revolution shook the Middle East, putting religious militancy into overdrive and tempting Saddam Hussein to unleash his bloodiest war. The collapse of Iran’s theocracy might be similarly seismic. Washington’s dictatorial preference could fade as the contradictions between Arab tyranny and Persian democracy grow.

Washington isn’t yet invested in democracy in Iran. Yet, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has often noted, American hostility toward the Islamic Republic has been damaging. If the theocracy falls, Iranians will surely give America credit—vastly more credit that they will give to the European political class, who have been trying to make nice, and make money, with the clerical regime since the early 1990s—for this lasting enmity. We may well get more credit than we deserve. Both Democrats and Republicans who have dismissed the possibilities of democratic revolutions among the Muslim peoples of the Middle East will still, surely, claim it eagerly.

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Arab democracy, Democracy, Iran, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy