Tag Archives: Palestine
For the past week, the television has blared fierce conversations full of provocative labels that have been circling like sharks for the past year – “Extremists,” “Islamists,” “Jihadis,” “terrorists”, “anti-Semites,” ”ISIS supporters,” “murderers,” and “victims.” It was really not until last Wednesday, January 7th, when all of these words suddenly landed together, crashing into a multi-media debate on the spread of militant Islam and the virtues of freedom of speech and the extremists who seek to demolish it.
“Odeh doesn’t have ties to the Chicago community. She has apparently done good work at the Arab American Action Network, but that work is not a substantial tie to the community. She could do this in another country.” With those words, U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain wiped away Rasmea Odeh’s 20 years of work in Chicago being an advocate for Arab and Muslim women’s rights. The twenty Arab and Muslim women sitting in the front rows who had come to court as representatives of Odeh’s 600 member women’s group were erased as if they did not exist. This statement was only one of many that demonstrated Judge Drain’s disdain for Odeh’s position as a well-loved Palestinian community leader and organizer in Chicago.
A 67 year-old award-winning leader of the Arab and Palestinian immigrant community who came here 20 years ago; developed programs supporting women’s rights; has never been arrested or charged with a crime in the U.S.; is indicted for allegedly “lying” on her citizenship application about being convicted by a military court using a confession obtained through torture and sexual assault. Now try to imagine this scenario happening if this remarkable woman was from Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Russia, China, or any other country with whom the U.S. has less than friendly relations. But in this case, she is Palestinian and the country where her rights to a fair trial, as a prisoner, and as a woman to be free from abuse were violated – was Israel.
In a strange turn of events, prosecutors have accused the Rasmea Defense Committee, all of Odeh supporters, and the leader of a prominent Arab-American social services group of “jury tampering” and “almost certainly criminal” behavior by showing their support for a leader in the Chicago Palestinian community who has come under discriminatory indictment. The prosecution’s solution? Tamper with any jury that might be selected by demanding the jury remain “anonymous” so that they can be prejudiced to believe Odeh is a dangerous terrorist.
In the controversial firing of Professor Steven Salaita by the University of Illinois, the behavior of the Chancellor Phyllis Wise, Board of Trustees Chair Chris Kennedy, and others have been the subject of numerous reports in the media. Escaping notice through all of this is a member of the Board who has been involved in cases that have violated the rights of Palestinian-Americans – former U.S. Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald.
Recent articles have described NSA documents released by Edward Snowden showing that in 2009 the U.S. reached an agreement to routinely share information with Israel including the content and metadata of phone calls and emails from Palestinian-Americans. The information was shared with a secret Israeli spy organization called Unit 8200. As the Guardian points out, the agreement calls for the material to be “raw” or unredacted, meaning names and personal information have not been taken out. Much of the U.S. coverage of this story has focused on putting the relatives of the Palestinian-Americans living in Israel or the Occupied Territories in danger from the Israeli security services, but no one seems to be concerned about Palestinians living in the U.S. whose personal information is being captured and shared with U.S. security services.
In your recent op-ed titled “Arab-Jewish co-existence through a Christian military draft”, you state that rather than a dividing force, Arab Christians joining the Israeli Defense Forces would provide “an entry ticket into Israeli society”.
By Aya Nimer
In the aftermath of the Gaza war, head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is using a new strategy to put international pressure on Israel and to lift his government’s standing among Palestinians. The strategy involves a Security Council resolution that would demand an end to Israeli occupation within three years as well as acceding to the treaty that created the International Criminal Court.
Once again the supporters of Rasmea Odeh came to Detroit for a hearing on her case. This time they had to be content with chanting with confrontational DHS police outside the courthouse and filling up the hallway outside the judge’s chambers during the closed hearing.
By Aya Nimer
After 50 days of combat in which more than 2,100 Palestinians, 64 Israeli soldiers and five Israeli citizens killed, many analysts are arguing over who really won the war based on the treaty signed in Egypt on Tuesday. The problem with this analysis, however, is that it does not look at the general effects of the conflict on its participants.