Detroit, MI – Palestinian American icon Rasmea Odeh made her final court appearance in Detroit on August 17. Odeh knew the sentence before she arrived. The defense and prosecution agreed to a sentence of removal from the U.S., and Judge Gerswhin Drain approved. Odeh was looking forward to making her public statement before the court.
Defense attorney Michael Deutsch spoke first, explaining how beloved and respected Rasmea Odeh is in Chicago, and all the good work with Palestinian immigrant women and their families. Deutsch explained, “This case should never have been brought.”
Then U.S. prosecutor Jonathan Tukel responded by talking about terrorism charges and that she was found guilty of fraud, but failing to mention Odeh’s successful appeal.
Finally Odeh was invited to speak. 150 Rasmea Odeh supporters who came to rally in pouring rain packed the courtroom and nearly filled the overflow room where they watched on large video monitors. Odeh addressed Judge Drain, saying her remarks were not directed at him personally, and she appreciated being allowed to tell her story.
In an effort to give context to why she was on trial, Odeh began to explain how her family, village, and people were forced at gunpoint from their homes and land, with many being shot and murdered by Zionists. “They turned us into a stranger in our own country. They pushed us into refugee camps in Palestine and other Arab countries.”
Judge Drain interrupted, saying the case is about false statements on applications, not about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Not missing a beat, Odeh replied by looking over at prosecutor Tukel and saying, “I am not a terrorist. My people are not terrorists. I want to prove that we are not terrorists.”
She added, “The U.S. must be held responsible for their support and financing of Israeli crimes.”
Drain interrupts again, backhandedly threatening Odeh with contempt of court, and repeating what he said, but adding “I don’t want to hear any more about this Israel-Paki…Palestine.”
There were three interruptions by Judge Drain, but when Odeh finished, the overflow room clapped and cheered for her.
Odeh now must report to ICE and work out a plan with them. Fight Back! will follow and report on this as details are revealed. Odeh will spend no time in jail, Judge Drain released her bond, and she loses her citizenship prior to being deported.
As 150 people rallied outside the Detroit court, Rasmea Odeh spoke in Arabic, saying, “I am angry the judge did not let me tell my story. This is not a case about lying on a form. It is a case of being Palestinian and our work in the community. It is political.”
She finished saying, “The U.S. is a partner in the crimes of Israel. We will continue to struggle for our cause! We will liberate our Palestine!”