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.