An Open Letter to Those in Support of Rasmieh Odeh
WAJ Note: This is a GUEST POST by the niece of Edward Joffe, who was killed in the supermarket bombing for which Rasmea Odeh was convicted and served 10 years in Israeli prison before being released in a prisoner exchange. Odeh was convicted on Monday of immigration fraud for failing to disclose her conviction and imprisonment on her visa and naturalization applications. You can follow our coverage of the case at the Rasmieh Odeh tag.
On Friday, February 21st 1969, my father’s brother, Edward Joffe, and his best friend, Leon Kanner, went to the supermarket Supersol at the intersection of Agron and Hamelech George in Jerusalem, to make some purchases for a botany department excursion in which they were to participate.
As they approached the meat counter, an explosive device, a biscuit can filled with 5 Kgm of dynamite, which had been placed by Rasmieh Odeh and Ayesha Oudeh, was detonated and Eddie and Leon were both instantly killed.
It is with much sadness, disappointment, and frustration that I write to you today.
I spent last week attending the Immigration Fraud Trial in Detroit of Rasmieh Odeh. I sat in that courtroom with my father (alone in our row) surrounded by supporters of Odeh. We endured days of hateful looks and the rehashing of a traumatic event that changed my family forever.
While I find a great sense of relief in knowing that a unanimous jury found her guilty in less than two hours, I still remain troubled by her numerous supporters.
As I stated in my piece on Huffington Post, “That she has resurfaced after years of hiding her true person and now with hundreds of blind followers and supporters unaware (or worse, who don’t care) of what she did is sheer agony.
That she only served 10 years of her life sentence before being part of a prisoner swap was always painful for us, but that she moved to the US and became Associate Director of the Arab American Action Network, a group which does many things including trying to combat stereotypes of Arabs and is being called an “icon” and “pillar of her community” while hiding her past is awful.”
I want to ask you this: Can you not pick a hero who has not killed two people by placing a bomb in a supermarket (with the intent to kill many more)? One who did not then place another bomb at the British consulate on the same day (said bomb was found and defused). And one who didn’t go back (alone) to the British Consulate again 4 days later placing another bomb which caused structural damage?
Have you seen the documentary, “Women in Struggle”, in which Odeh and her accomplice sit on a couch together years after the bombing and talk in detail about their gruesome acts? That it was their idea to have a second bomb go off 5 minutes after the first to kill the first responders?
That her accomplice, Ayesha, names her as the ringleader and says she drew her into “military work”?
In saying that “the Israeli occupation did it” in this documentary, Odeh is in fact admitting what she did, and merely trying to blame “the Israeli occupation” for her own actions. Are you aware that an international Red Cross worker assigned to her case did not validate the alleged torture charges and also claimed Odeh had had a fair trial? Do you know that explosives were found at her home matching those used in the bombings?
It was troubling to hear Odeh say, while on the stand in court, that she was the happiest she’d ever been in her life when she lived in Amman (after the prisoner swap). That she had a car, house, job, and bank account. Happiest she’d ever been? After killing my father’s brother and his best friend?
While the situation between Israelis and Palestinians is complicated and multi-faceted, the horrendous acts performed by Odeh and her deliberate lying about it afterward have no gray areas. They are black and white. What she was on trial for was a clear-cut case of immigration fraud.
I can’t help but see your support for Odeh as condoning the murders that she perpetrated. I understand that Odeh may have done good work with the Arab American Action Network. I can see she is a charismatic person. But she is also a woman full of hate and one who told repeated lies to our Immigration Services. And one whose actions resulted in the death of two young people. If it is true that she was tortured while in prison in Israel, that is horrific. I would never condone such action. I don’t want her to suffer further.
If I’m being totally honest with you, I don’t really know that I care if she stays here or goes back to Jordan. The damage she did has already been done. The lives already taken.
But one thing I can still do is stand up and speak out. Please reconsider your public support for a woman who is not deserving of it.
Terry Joffe Benaryeh is the niece of Edward Joffe, who was killed by the bomb at the Supersol in Jerursalem. She is a reading specialist and a mother living with her family in Austin, TX.