A Life Remembered and a Photo Never Seen
Rasmea Odeh is the Chicago resident who was convicted of a supermarket bombing in Jerusalem in 1969 that killed Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner, two university students.
Despite claims from Rasmea’s supporters, the evidence of her guilt was overwhelming, as set forth in my post, Rasmea Odeh rightly convicted of Israeli supermarket bombing and U.S. immigration fraud.
That evidence was bolstered even further with additional bombing evidence revealed in the Sentencing Memorandum filed by prosecutors in a criminal case in Detroit, in which Rasmea was found guilty in November 2014 of immigration fraud for concealing her Israeli conviction and imprisonment. Sentencing is March 12, 2015.
Claims that Rasmea only confessed after several weeks of sexual torture are belied by the fact that she gave a detailed confession just one day after arrest in 1969. That confession was further confirmed decades later in pro-Palestinian documentaries in which Rasmea’s co-conspirators confirmed Rasmea’s leadership role in the bombing.
Nonetheless, Rasmea has been turned into a hero of the American anti-Israel activist community. A Justice4Rasmea shirt even was worn by a protester at the anti-AIPAC protest led by Code Pink and others.
In court proceedings, Rasmea remains defiant, alleging a conspiracy against her, acknowledging responsibility for nothing. Rasmea’s mendacity on the witness stand, in which she not only lied but defied the Judge’s orders, forms part of the basis why the government is seeking a 5-7 year sentence, almost three times the sentencing guidelines.
The focus on Edward was not meant to slight the memory of Leon Kanner; it’s just that Edward has relatives in the United States who attended the Detroit trial and are more accessible.
But Leon was not forgotten. We always made sure to highlight the death of both young men.With a heavy heart, I now can fill in the blanks on the life and death of Leon Kanner.
Leon’s sisters, having read my reports about the trial, reached out to me recently, to provide me with the letter they sent to the Court in Detroit requesting a lengthy sentence for Rasmea. The text of that letter is reprinted at the bottom of this post.
But first, Leon’s story needs to be told.
Leon’s Sisters provided this family history at my request, and the captioned photos which I have integrated into their text:
Aryeh Leon Kanner (1948-1969)
Aryeh Leon Kanner , son of Clara and Marcos, was born in Uruguay on 15.06.1948.He was the youngest in his family, brother of Miriam, Irit and Rachel.
Leon’s parents immigrated to Uruguay from Europe in the early 1930s and settled in Las Piedras, the town where he was born, raised and educated.Leon studied at “Artigas” school and graduated from the local high school with honors. From an early age he was looking for other ways to enrich his education. He taught himself English and drawing, and participated in several national exhibitions of children’s drawings. As a high school student Leon undertook journalism as a hobby. He edited the school newspaper and radio, and created humorous papers written and illustrated by him. Later on he expanded his interest to the Plastic Arts, engaging in sculpture, chalk painting and the art of maskmaking.
Leon devoted a lot of time and energy to photography, took part in several exhibitions, and began to experiment with film making. He also developed interest In Botany, and started a small laboratory at home for experimenting.
At the age of 15 he bought a guitar, which has faithfully accompanied him since until his last day. Leon loved to sing, especially folk songs, often playing at his friends’ reunions.
He went to
Brighton Britton in Michigan, where he lived for six months with a local family and studied agriculture at a local school. This period of time made a deep impression on him.
Upon finishing his studies Leon too boarded a ship sailed to Israel. On his arrival he joined Kibbutz “Hamapil” and began studying the Hebrew language.
He did not abandon his interest in arts and managed to create a cartoon short called “First Rain”, which won him the national film contest for youth. His camera gained him a reputation among friends and acquaintances. With his camera he documented many family occasions as well as the special puppet shows he produced for the pleasure of the younger generation in the family. His puppet shows have since become a family tradition which the family carried on.In November 1968 Leon started Agriculture Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. There he met his friend and classmate, Eddie Joffe. Together they made it a habit to explore the city of Jerusalem while photographing its life and residents. On the afternoon of Friday, the 21st of February, 1969, Leon and Eddie were at a supermarket in Jerusalem getting some groceries for a trip they had planned in the city.
A bomb, which was transferred to Israel by a priest and placed in a cookie’s box in the store by an Arab terrorist, a teacher by profession, exploded. The explosion injured nine people, and caused the immediate death of Leon and his friend Eddie.
Leon was 20 years old at his death, leaving parents and three sisters. He was buried in the cemetery of Givat Shaul in Jerusalem.
Letter to the Court Seeking “the maximal sentence possible”
Here is the letter Leon’s sisters sent to the court:
February 18th 2015.
The Honorable Judge Gershwin A. Drain
Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse
231 W. Lafayette Blvd., Room 123
Detroit, MI 48226
Honorable Judge Drain,
We feel we must address this letter to you concerning the upcoming hearing for Rasmieh Odeh, who was convicted in your court on November 10th 2014 on Immigration Fraud charges and is facing a sentencing hearing on March 12th. Although we are writing these words from many kilometers away in our home in Israel, we have closely and continuously followed the trial and its consequences have a significant impact on us.
We, who are signed below, are the older sisters of Leon Kanner, one of the two young students murdered by Ms. Odeh on February 21st 1969, when she detonated a bomb at the Supersol supermarket in Jerusalem. Together with him was murdered his close friend Edward Joffe. They were Agronomy students and were planning to devote their best efforts to the development of processes that would improve people’s lives, wherever they were.
We clearly understand that the present hearing concerns the Immigration Fraud charges exclusively, but we strongly feel the judgment of Ms. Odeh’s basic human standards and her deliberate concealment concerning her past crimes to be relevant for the present charges as well. We hope our words may be heard and considered especially in resonance to Ms. Odeh’s active and loud supporters’ lobby.
Rasmieh Odeh carried out a terrorist act in the midst of a meeting point of civilian life and has never expressed repent since. Two families’ worlds fell apart that day. Our parents, Clara and Marcos Kanner, struggled to their last day with their loss. They kept their mourning to themselves allowing our family to grow and hold on to life. Our mother lived to the age of 92, our father to the age of 93. After their death we found in the house a box with excerpts from the press they have kept away through the years. The pain has accompanied them on a daily basis and will be carried on in our family to present and onwards.
During the months after Leon’s death, the family’s young granddaughter repeatedly asked “where is the woman who set down the bomb?”. In the first years we would answer she’s in jail. Later on this answer was not accurate anymore. Ms. Odeh served only a part sentence due to an exchange agreement and was able to resume a normative life. However, in her ongoing fraud opposite the U.S. Immigration Authorities she deliberately tried to erase her past crimes and to carry on a life bearing no witness to her devastating actions.
In light of the testified above, we, Leon Kanner’s family, hope this case will be seen in the severest of contexts and urge you to impose on Rasmieh Odeh the maximal sentence possible.
Miriam Waniel, Irit Kanner, and Rachel Segal