She’s a convicted terrorist preparing to be deported for entering the United States illegally, but Rasmea Yousef Odeh has seen her status as a leftist celebrity remain intact.
The Palestinian and feminist activist is scheduled to speak this weekend at the Jewish Voice for Peace conference in Chicago despite agreeing last week to a plea deal in which she will admit to failing to disclose her criminal record on her visa application. In exchange Odeh will be sent to Jordan and receive no jail time.
Still, Jewish Voice for Peace has remained steadfast in supporting Odeh, a featured speaker at the left-wing group’s annual three-day meeting, which starts Friday at the Hyatt Regency.
Her invitation to the event has not gone without significant criticism. Jeffery Salkin and Peggy Shapiro penned firm arguments against allowing Odeh a place at a “peace” conference. JVfP responded to these criticisms with predictable lamentations:
That Rasmea Odeh was convicted — and therefore labeled a “terrorist” — evades the awful truths and broader context of what military rule actually does to the people under its control.
To be clear: at JVP we mourn the loss of all life, and condemn all forms of violence against all civilians, as a core element of our identity as a community rooted in love and justice for all people. That also includes the lives and freedom lost to a brutally unjust military court that deploys sexual violence, torture, imprisonment, and abuse. We can decry all acts of violence against civilians, and also understand —that from Nelson Mandela to Assata Shakur — the label of terrorist is far from neutral.
Shapiro from Stand With US went on to argue:
“You can’t make her out to be some heroine for social justice,” Shapiro added. “We want social justice, but we don’t want heroes who are murderers. That’s not justice.” These feelings, she said, are not just because Odeh is Palestinian: “If there were a Ku Klux Klan convention, if they featured someone who prominently lynched people, I would feel the same abhorrence.”