Lies about her allegedly torture-induced confession to a supermarket bombing, her terrorist past and her immigration fraud.
As readers know, we have covered the case of Rasmea Odeh more closely than any other website, with almost 100 posts since our October 6, 2014 post, Palestinian activist groups accused of attempting to influence jury.
This coming Thursday, August 17, 2017, Rasmea will be sentenced in federal court in Detroit after a guilty plea to immigration fraud. By her plea agreement, Rasmea will be deported and will lose her U.S. citizenship, but will not serve any further jail time.
Rasmea’s immigration plea resulted from her lies on immigration and naturalization forms in which she concealed a prior conviction and prison term for a 1969 supermarket bombing in Jerusalem that killed two Hebrew University students, Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner. Rasmea also concealed her conviction for the attempted bombing of the British Consulate that same year. Rasmea was released in a 1979 prisoner exchange for an Israeli soldier captured in Lebanon.
Rasmea and her supporters have thrown up phony defense after defense to both the underlying bombing and the immigration charges, all designed to portray Rasmea as a victim. A summary of these false claims and the truth rebutting the claims was in my December 2012 Op-Ed in the Detroit News, Rasmea Odeh is no victim.
The following posts at Legal Insurrection, among others, methodically rebut the propaganda put out by Rasmea and her supporters:
- Rasmea Odeh rightly convicted of Israeli supermarket bombing and U.S. immigration fraud
- Prosecutors seek testimony of Rasmea Odeh bombing co-conspirators
- Rasmea Odeh prosecutors: At new trial, we’ll prove Rasmea was a terrorist
- New VIDEO surfaces implicating Rasmea Odeh in deadly supermarket bombing
- Rasmea Odeh’s victims – then and now
While I’ve had a chance to tell the story of Rasmea and her supporters through various posts, I finally had a chance to tell the whole story on video in an interview with the Investigative Project on Terrorism. IPT also has done groundbreaking work on Rasmea, including a video series about the case.
My interview is 26 minutes long. Below the video in this post I break down the segments by topic, including screenshots and partial transcription.
(video also available at IPT website)
1. William Jacobson’s Personal Back-Story
I describe how I learned of the case, and how the tactics used by Rasmea supporters in trying to racialize the dispute are similar to tactics I witnessed by anti-Israel activists at Harvard Law School in the early 1980s. Legal Insurrection’s goal has been “to get the truth out there” in the face of a massive propaganda campaign by Rasmea supporters.
“There has been so much propaganda from the anti-Israel side about this case, at so many levels, and so many lies that get repeated by supposedly respectable people, people in academia and elsewhere, that our goal is to get the truth out there. And because of that, we’ve done independent research, both legal and factual research, we’ve dug into records, and we’ve been able to put forward the evidence showing that virtually every talking point of the Rasmea side is either outright false or highly questionable.”
2. Rasmieh Odeh Case Back-Story
I describe the legal charges against Rasmea, her lies on immigration forms about prior convictions and imprisonment. “As a result of those lies, she became a U.S. citizen.” I also discuss how Rasmea’s guilt for the bombings was legally irrelevant, since the facts of the convictions and imprisonment had to be disclosed in response to questions as to whether she “EVER” (caps and bold on original form) has been convicted of any crime or imprisoned:
“She could have checked the box Yes on the immigration forms, and then given an explanation. ‘I didn’t do it, I was tortured, I falsely confessed.’ That’s what she should have done. That would have been honest and lawful. But instead she lied. We know of course, why she lied. Because she wouldn’t have become a citizen. Because U.S. Immigration would have looked into the case and they would have realized not only was she convicted, but she was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization. In and of itself a ground to preclude her from coming into the country.”
3. The Notion that Odeh Was A “Low-Level” Activist and Other Myths
Rasmea is portrayed as a low-level political activist swept up in an Israeli dragnet after the bombing, and wrongly charged and convicted because Israel needed to convict someone. At every level this is false. Rasmea in fact was a military member of the PFLP and so important that famed hijacker Leila Khalid formed the “Rasmea Odeh Brigade” to try to free her, and the Black September 1972 Olympic terrorists included Rasmea on a list of prisoners they wanted released.
“They found bomb-making material in her room at her father’s house. And interestingly, the Israelis didn’t prosecute the father [for the bombing]. They reached the determination that he was unaware of what his daughter had in her bedroom. Now if the Israelis were so unfair, why wouldn’t they have prosecuted the father? If all they wanted to do was prosecute innocent Palestinians, why didn’t they prosecute the father? ….
This whole history of Rasmea portrayed by her supporters is a complete fabrication.”
4. Odeh’s Legal Maneuvers and Why She Pled Guilty on April 25, 2017
I discuss the November 2014 conviction on immigration fraud, and how the Appeals Court sent the case back down to the trial court, requiring a hearing on whether Rasmea could call an expert to assert that Rasmea’s lies were not “knowing” because of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The PTSD theory was unusual, that while she didn’t block out memories, she “filtered” the questions to not understand what “EVER” meant. But everything changed after Rasmea was granted a new trial. The prosecution issued a Superseding Indictment which put Rasmea’s terrorist membership in the PFLP and terrorist acts directly in issue. That meant that unlike the first trial, which focused merely on the fact of conviction, the prosecution was going to prove in open court that Rasmea was a member of a terrorist group and committed the terrorist acts for which she was convicted in Israel.
In the Plea Agreement [image immediately above], Rasmea admitted to her fraud, and also that her false statements were not due to PTSD. Her entire PTSD defense, which drove her victim narrative and her supporters rallying cry, was a fraud.
[Note, comments below speak in future tense because interview prior to guilty plea court hearing.]
“That, I believe, is why she is pleading guilty. Because unlike the first when the prosecution didn’t really get in very much about what she had done, other than the fact that she was convicted, the second trial, because she asserted this ludicrous Post-Traumatic Stress Defense, was going to be much broader. The prosecution was actually going to prove that she was a terrorist, that she was a member of a terrorist organization, and that she had in fact committed acts of terrorism, including but not limited to, the supermarket bombing. So this new, upcoming trial, was going to be very different than the first one. In the second one, the new trial coming up, the prosecution was going to prove that she was what they’ve always claimed, a terrorist who hid her terrorist past.
And that new trial, therefore was a much greater threat to her because she’s built her entire life narrative, her entire narrative as a social justice warrior, around having been innocent and wrongly convicted in Israel of engaging in terrorism. She presents herself and her supporters do, as simply being a political activist swept up by the Israelis and made a scapegoat for the bombing. In fact, the prosecution was going to prove that she was guilty as charged in Israel, that she was a terrorist, that she was a member of a terrorist organization.
And once that got laid bare in court, public court in the United States, all of her supporters were going to look like the fools that they are. They were going to be exposed, and she was going to be exposed, as being a fraud…. She’s pleading guilty because she understood what was going to happen at the trial.
Whatever else she is, I think she’s a very smart woman. And I think she correctly assessed the risks to her. She did not believe the BS that her supporters spout. She understood that she was guilty, she understood she was going to get convicted, she understood that she was going to get at least 18 months, probably longer, and she took the deal. So I think she’s a very smart woman. She’s a smart women, though, who lied to get into the country.”
5. Odeh’s Victims
You can read of my visit to the siblings of Edward and Leon in Israel in my June 2015 post, Rasmea Odeh’s victims – then and now. You can view the video of Edward’s mother, mentioned below, in my post, Heartbreaking Video: Mother of Rasmea Odeh victim leaves dying message.
I discussed that visit in the interview.
“I met the family in Israel, and it was absolutely heartbreaking. You’d think the death took place last week, not over 40 years ago…. The one thing that became very clear to me is that those deaths never went away, they were there every single day…. It’s difficult because they know that what is being claimed is not true, by the Rasmea supporters, and it’s very hard for them to hear it. And they see a court system which bends over backwards, as it should, to protect her rights, but nobody protected their brothers’ rights.
Edward’s mother produced a video when she thought she was going to die, and she did die two weeks later, and she said that all of the joys in her life have been overshadowed by the death of Edward. I mean, how can you not get emotional about that?”
I also discussed the Legal Insurrection readership:
“I do think that this, for the readership, has also become a bigger issue than just the conviction of Rasmea Odeh. Because they see how the system can be manipulated, and how false narratives can be portrayed by people who are, frankly, their political opponents. And they appreciate the fact that somebody is coming forward and contesting that. So I think for the readership, this is a bigger issue too of whether the truth can prevail over this propaganda machine that has been built up around Rasmea Odeh.”
6. Odeh’s Supporters
I discussed Rasmea’s supporters, how they use her as an “intersectional” tool to link the anti-Israel movement to Black Lives Matter and other social justice groups, and how they have tried to mobilize to intimidate the judiciary and jurors.
“The anti-Israel movement in the U.S. has made Rasmea into a figure around whom they are organizing…. She becomes the organizing tool…. This is her political moment. She also is using this to ingratiate the anti-Israel movement into the Black Lives Matter movement…. It’s a narrative for which Rasmea is something of a perfect fit…. She has become a useful tool for a lot of people who have anti-Israel agendas. And so those people I think understand very well that what they are saying about her is not true, but it doesn’t matter because she’s useful to them.”
7. Why Odeh Needed To Say She Was Tortured And For So Long
This section goes to the heart of Rasmea’s victim narrative, the claim that she only was convicted in Israel because she falsely confessed after 25 days of horrific sexual torture. This issue was litigated at the Israeli trial where she sought to prevent use of her confession, and rejected after Israel produced witnesses to contradict her claims. Rasmea had defense counsel, and the trial was observed by a representative of the International Red Cross, who termed the trial “fair” after the conviction.
Her story is that she was arrested, and she was tortured for 25 days. And very horrific torture, if it happened. And that it was only at the end of that 25 days of torture that she finally confessed, and it was a false confession, and that was the sole basis upon which she was convicted. In fact, what the records show is that she confessed the day after she was arrested. And that she had multiple confessions in that first 10 days.
And she also, I’ve learned through the government briefs filed in the case, led investigators to the scene and to other places that first week or 10 days. She turned in other people, allowed the Israelis to essentially sweep up the whole operation based on what she said in the first week to 10 days. That, just historically, factually, puts the lie to her claim of 25 days of torture.
Now I’ve never taken a position, and I still don’t, whether she was tortured or not. But I do take the position that the historical record shows that her story of only confessing after 25 days of torture is not true.
I’ve always had a theory of why she said that. Again, I’m not taking a position on whether she was tortured. But she was the first or one of the first female military of the PFLP, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. It would have looked very bad for her if she confessed within a day. If she turned in other people. If she led the police to various locations where they got more evidence. If she had just done that under normal police questioning.
And if you look back at the trial record from Israel, the investigator, one of the investigators, and I’ve put this on my website, said that she was “an easy nut to crack.” As soon as she realized other people were confessing, she confessed. So-called Prisoner’s Dilemma, that a lot of people talk about; do you hold out if you think somebody else is going to spill the beans before you…. So it’s always been my view that she had to tell the story of the 25 days to maintain her credibility within the terrorist organization.
And in fact we see that playing out today, the reason she’s held out to be so credible is that she did suffer for so long. And so I think there is a reason for her to become this victim, this public victim, so that when she does get sent back [to the Middle East], if she does get sent back. She [will be] treated as a returning hero, not as somebody who after 24 hours turned in all her compatriots.”
8. Odeh’s Soon Anticipated Deportation
Rasmea will be deported after the August 17 sentencing. It’s not clear how long that will take. Is it Justice for Rasmea? Well, it’s some measure of justice. True justice would be for her to serve out the remainder of her Israeli life sentences.
“I think she legitimately is upset that she’s going to have to leave the United States, that the fruit of her lies on her immigration forms is being taken away, her U.S. citizenship. So I believe she really is upset. But just because she’s upset doesn’t mean she’s been wronged. She was not wronged by the U.S. government in prosecuting her. She committed a wrong. Rather than acknowledging what she did, and acknowledging how she lied to come into the country, she presents herself as the victim.
Once she admits what she did, which she probably will do once she leaves the United States, then I think we’ll see the real Rasmea come out.
The Twitter hashtag that Rasmea’s supporters use is #Justice4Rasmea…. When she’s deported and stripped of her citizenship, I think Justice will have been done for Rasmea.
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.