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The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh gets prison sentence for lying on immigration papers

Rasmea Odeh, the woman at the center of debates between Palestinian and Israeli activists at DePaul, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for lying on her immigration papers about her 1969 criminal conviction of murdering two Israeli men. 

Odeh was released on bond after her sentencing hearing on March 12. She was found guilty in November for unlawful procurement of naturalization and has filed an appeal to the case with no court date set yet. Odeh’s case struck a cord with many DePaul students, who in early February held two separate rallies in support and opposition of Odeh at the DePaul Student Center.

Members of Odeh’s legal group, the Rasmea Defense Committee, said they were disappointed by the sentencing, but they remain hopeful.

“We made it impossible for the judge to justify an extended prison term, and now, we will stand with (Odeh) in the fight to appeal the conviction itself, to make sure she doesn’t serve one day of that prison sentence,” Muhammad Sankari of the Rasmea Defense Committee said in a press release.

Joe Iosbaker, a Chicago activist, attended many of the court dates for Odeh. At the sentencing last week, he said the lawyers were not surprised, but “it was still brutal.”

“(Odeh) was very tough. She told her supporters that the struggle for justice will strengthen you,” Iosbaker said. “We went outside, people cried, then we got our signs and we marched around downtown Detroit in the cold.”

Iosbaker said the case against Odeh was unjust and based upon assumptions that she was guilty of the crimes she did not commit.

“The charges against (Odeh) were produced upon evidence made from torture. She never did the act,” Iosbaker said. Odeh was imprisoned by the Israeli government in 1970 for killing two Israeli men in a bombing in 1969 and released in a prisoner swap in 1995 after confessing to the bombing.

“They brutally and sadistically tortured her into signing a confession,” Iosbaker said. “In the U.S. we do not accept confessions signed through torture.”

Iosbaker said the jury did not get to hear all of the relevant information in the case, which contributed to what Iosbaker said was Odeh’s wrongful conviction.

“She was not allowed to talk about the conditions and context in which she was convicted in 1969,” Iosbaker said. “The prosecution was allowed to present evidence that she’s a convicted bomber, that she’s a terrorist.”

DePaul student Sarah Scheinman on the other hand, felt quite differently about Odeh’s hearing.

“(Odeh) was convicted of killing people for being Jewish. The fact remains that she has the blood of two young students on her hands and it’s despicable that people can conceive it any other way,” Scheinman said. “In a perfect world (Odeh) wouldn’t have been released in the first place. She would still be rotting away in an Israeli prison.”

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), known on campus for sponsoring a referendum on the SGA ballot last year to divest university funds from corporations who do business with the Israeli government, hosted the February fundraiser for the Rasmea Defense Committee. According to reports by activist newspapers, the fundraiser brought in 200 attendees and raised $5,000.

The same night as the fundraiser, Students Supporting Israel held a peace vigil outside the Student Center for the two Israeli men who were killed in the 1969 bombing. Odeh was imprisoned by the Israeli government in 1970 and released in a prisoner swap in 1995 after confessing to the bombing.

Scheinman, a member of Students Supporting Israel at DePaul, said she felt like she was punched in the stomach when SJP organized Odeh’s fundraiser.

“I felt like I was being undervalued and attacked on my own campus,” Scheinman said.  “We haven’t been doing so well in serving justice in this country.”

That is the one thing that both sides, from their opposite perspectives, can probably agree to most.

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    BoyeeMar 23, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Rasmea Odeh can say whatever she wants, but she is still a known terrorist and a liar who deserves to be in jail and deported.