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October 2014

Defense Confirms: Rasmea Odeh Targeted for Palestine Activism

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Photo by Bill Chambers

By Bill Chambers

The defense team for Chicago Palestinian community leader, Rasmea Odeh, have uncovered new evidence that confirms her alleged immigration fraud case is based on her being targeted for Palestine activism. Yesterday, they filled a motion to dismiss the indictment against her.

Rasmea Odeh was arrested on October 22, 2013 by agents of the Department of Homeland Security and charged with immigration fraud. Allegedly, in her application for citizenship made 20 years ago, she didn’t mention that she was arrested in Palestine 45 years ago by an Israeli military court that had tortured her to confess to bombings in Jerusalem. (For additional background on Odeh’s case, see Rasmea Odeh: Repression of a Palestinian Community Leader.)

In the Chicago courtroom on the day of her arrest, Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas was seen conferring with the prosecutors. At the time, that was the first clue Odeh’s indictment was related to the case of the well-known Palestinian and anti-war Midwest activists whose homes were raided by the FBI when the U.S. attorney alleged that they had provided material support to foreign terrorist organizations in Palestine.  Eventually a total of 23 activists were subpoenaed, but all refused to testify and were never charged assuming because of a lack of evidence.  Members of multiple organizations were also targeted including the Anti-War Committee in Minneapolis, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Arab American Action Network (AAAN), Palestine Solidarity Group – Chicago, and others. Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas continues to lead this ongoing investigation. Odeh’s supporters could easily presume that Odeh and the case of the 23 were related. Hatem Abudayyeh, Executive Director of the AAAN and one of the activists whose home was raided by the FBI, is also a colleague of Odeh, Assistant Director of the AAAN.

It’s important to note that this ongoing investigation involves activists from multiple struggles including the anti-war movement, Colombia, Cuba, and immigration rights, but it’s primary focus is support for Palestine. Echoing what’s happening to Odeh now, Carlos Montez, a veteran Chicano, anti-war, and immigrant rights activist, whose name appeared on a search warrant of the Anti-War Committee office in Minneapolis, was indicted in May of 2011 on unrelated charges related to a protest 45 years ago. The charges were eventually thrown out of court. This multi-year investigation that involves targeting social justice movements, in this case Palestine activism, by criminalizing their activity and suppressing any coalition building among different groups has been a trend throughout U.S. Justice Department and FBI history. More on this trend later.

On Wednesday, the Rasmea Odeh defense team confirmed a direct relationship between the investigation targeting Palestine activists in 2010 and the records that led to the indictment of Odeh in 2013. The press release states “Attorneys representing Chicago’s long-time Palestinian community leader, Rasmea Odeh, have filed a motion and brief in Detroit’s U.S. District Court to dismiss the indictment against her. They are doing so on the grounds that the charges are the product of an illegal investigation targeting both Palestine solidarity efforts and organizing in the Palestinian community.”

In the motion to dismiss, Odeh’s attorneys describe the indictment as “the product of an illegal investigation into the First Amendment activities of the Arab-American Action Network (AAAN) and intended to suppress the work of the defendant in support of the Arab community of Chicago.” The motion goes on to describe how in January of 2010 the Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox “initiated a request through the office of International Affairs Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice from the State of Israel for records of the defendant.” In July 2011, the Israelis sent a set of documents to Assistant U.S. Attorney Fox, supporting the claim that Odeh “had been arrested, convicted and imprisoned by the military legal system imposed by Israeli in the West Bank…Over two years later, with nothing to show for its raids in 2010, Ms. Odeh was indicted for falsely answering questions in 2004 in her naturalization application.”  The defense attorneys also speculate, not without reason, that “the United States Attorney in Illinois, which was the office that initiated the request for the Israeli documents and was carrying out the investigation, apparently passed the case to the office in Michigan, to divert attention from its failed efforts to criminaliize the work of the AAAN in Chicago.”

These are dots that are not difficult to connect. The initial investigation in 2010 broadly targeted activists throughout the Midwest, but primarily focused on Palestinians and Palestine activists in Chicago. During the last four years, the Palestine solidarity movement has grown in numbers and impact particularly through the growth of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement directed at Israel and the proliferation of Students for Justice in Palestine groups on college campuses. With the growth of the movement came the attention of the FBI.

As mentioned above, the FBI has a history of targeting growing social justice movements in the U.S., criminalizing those movements, and preventing coalitions they might form with other communities or organizations. Examples from Church Senate Committee Report on FBI Counterintelligence (COINTELPRO) Programs and other studies of  FBI history include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) accused of being communists and the undermining of attempted coalition building with unions and anti-Vietnam war groups; the Black Panther Party prevented from building coalitions with the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and politicized gangs like the Blackstone Rangers in Chicago; and the targeting of the Sanctuary Movement that supported Central American refugees in the 1980s accusing activists of supporting terrorists as a way of undermining the movement’s broad support of faith-based, human rights, and socialist groups.

Several hundred statements of support from unions, human rights, civil rights, and faith-based groups and thousands of supporters from across the country  for the 23 anti-war and Palestine activists seem to have prevented indictments in that case so far. It is not hard to imagine the prosecutors reviewing the evidence they had collected that had failed to convince a grand jury for an indictment, finding Odeh’s file from the Israelis, and deciding to build a case for indicting another leader of Chicago’s Palestinian community. There are few other reasonable explanations for why Odeh would be charged for an alleged offense that occurred 20 years ago on the basis of a prison term resulting from a confession obtained through torture 45 years ago.

“Rasmea is facing up to ten years in jail and deportation. She is a Palestinian who has stood up for the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim community in Chicago, and to end the occupation of Palestine as well. Rasmea suffered vicious torture and sexual abuse in Israeli prisons, and the U.S. government is trying to victimize her again,” states Hatem Abudayyeh of the national Rasmea Defense Committee.

Odeh’s defense team will be discussing this motion to dismiss at her next court hearing on September 2 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, at 231 W Lafayette Boulevard, in Detroit, Michigan. The Rasmea Defense Committee and the Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR) – CAIR-Chicago is a member of both coalitions – are organizing a picket line outside the court building at 2:00 p.m. and filling the courtroom for the hearing beginning at 3:00 p.m.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Chicago Monitor’s editorial policy.

2 Responses to Defense Confirms: Rasmea Odeh Targeted for Palestine Activism

  1. sudhama says:

    This article reminds me of something. Jewish American scholar, Norman Finkelstein, made a comment during the recent conflict. He said, “As to how we got to where we are, the general context is perfectly obvious for anyone who wants to see it. A unity government was formed between the PA and Hamas. Netanyahu was enraged at this unity government. (Israel) called on the (U.S. And the EU), to break relations with the Palestinian Authority. Surprisingly, the United States said, ‘No, we’re going to give this unity government time. We’ll see whether it works or not.’ Then the EU came in and said it will also give the unity government time. […]
    At this point, Netanyahu virtually went berserk, and he was determined to break up the unity government. When there was the abduction of the three Israeli teenagers, he found his pretext. […] This is what Israel always does. Anybody who knows the history, it’s what the Israeli political scientist, […] Avner Yaniv (said,) it’s these Palestinian ‘peace offensives.’ Whenever the Palestinians seem like they are trying to reach a settlement of the conflict, […] Israel does everything it can to provoke a violent reaction […] break up the unity government, and Israel has its pretext. ‘We can’t negotiate with the Palestinian Authority because they only represent some of the Palestinian people; they don’t represent all of the Palestinian people.’ And so Netanyahu does what […] Israeli governments always do: You keep pounding the Palestinians, […] trying to evoke a reaction, and when the reaction comes[…] he said, ‘We can’t deal with these people. They’re terrorists.’”
    You’re not anti-Semitic, racist or a self-hating Jew for disagreeing with Israel, just a person of conscience, morals and a good heart.

  2. Jan Boudart says:

    Bill, thank you so much for working on this story, following it and especially for educating all interested people. This is valuable and I hope you feel appreciated. Jan Boudart

Cities on Speed: Bogota Change / The Inspiring Story Antanas Mockus

Inside ‘Ayn al-Islam: Islamic State Hostage John Cantlie Reports from the Ground in Kobane

LeakSource

Inside 'Ayn al-Islam

10/27/2014

In a new video published today, British journalist John Cantlie, who is being held hostage by the Islamic State after being kidnapped in Syria in 2012, appears to be reporting from the city of Kobane on the Syrian-Turkish border, which has been the stage of an ongoing battle between the militants and Kurdish forces.

The video, which features aerial views of the war-ravaged city filmed from a drone, is the latest featuring Cantlie, who said in his most recent “Lend Me Your Ears” video that the Islamic State treats its captives “well” and that US and UK governments had abandoned their citizens.

In the new five-minute video titled “Inside ‘Ayn al-Islam” (the name given by the Islamic State to Kobane) and mimicking the style of a traditional newscast, Cantlie claims to be standing in an area known as a Kurdish “safe zone, which is now controlled entirely by the Islamic State,” despite US strikes…

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Who’s afraid of Klinghoffer?

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The Death of Klinghoffer, John Adams’s 1991 opera about the hijacking of the Achille Lauro by the Palestine Liberation Front in 1985, has achieved a rare distinction in contemporary classical music: it’s considered so dangerous by its critics that they’d like to have it banned. For its opponents – the Klinghoffer family, Daniel Pearl’s father, conservative Jewish organisations, and now the former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and former New York governor George Pataki, who took part in a noisy demonstration outside the Met last night  Klinghoffer is no less a sacrilege than The Satanic Verses was to Khomeini and his followers. They haven’t issued a fatwa, but they have done their best to sabotage the production ever since the Met announced it.

Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, capitulated in the summer to pressure from the Anti-Defamation League (and, according to the New York Times, from ‘three or four’ major Jewish donors), cancelling a live broadcast to cinemas around the world. The rationale for the decision, made against the backdrop of the Gaza offensive, was that the opera might be exploited by anti-semites. How, they didn’t say. For some reason the opera’s enemies don’t seem concerned that its unflinching portrayal of the murder of an elderly Jew in a wheelchair might be ‘used’ to foment anti-Muslim sentiment.

The notion that Adams and his librettist, Alice Goodman, are justifying terrorism is absurd. The hijacking is depicted in all its horror, chaos and fear. The scene that raised accusations of anti-semitism, a dinner table conversation among ‘the Rumors’, an American-Jewish family, was excised from the libretto long ago. The Klinghoffers come off as typical American tourists, and are drawn with wry affection. In a particularly tense scene, Leon Klinghoffer baits his attackers, reciting a litany of attacks by Palestinian commandos. His version of Middle Eastern history could have been lifted from Leon Uris’s Exodus, but in the circumstances it’s a nervy speech: from his wheelchair, he isn’t afraid to confront the men who end up killing him.

Another complaint against Klinghoffer – one that Giuliani, the self-styled saviour of New York after 9/11, has predictably raised – is that it ‘humanises’ the hijackers. But the hijackers were human, and one of the opera’s chief strengths is its refusal to portray them as a collection of monsters. They are certainly not ‘glorified’ – another charge that’s been levelled at the opera. One is a brute who relishes the job, gleefully humiliating the passengers. But another takes pains to tell the ship’s captain about his family’s expulsion from Palestine. And then there is Omar, the reluctant hijacker who – as a British dancer on board describes in a hilarious aria – socialises with the passengers and always ‘kept us in ciggies’. Omar is given the task of killing Klinghoffer: part of the drama of the opera turns on his silent, anguished attempt to steel himself for this act. He dances, he writhes, he imagines himself lying in his mother’s arms, a Palestinian pietà, before finally pulling the trigger. In the words of the journalist Elizabeth Rubin, with whom I saw the dress rehearsal, he’s the Michael Corleone of the opera, who to prove himself in the eyes of tougher men has to transform himself into a ‘soldier’.

Still, you could make the case that if The Death of Klinghoffer caricatures anyone, it’s Palestinians, not Jews. The ‘Chorus of Exiled Palestinians’ that opens the opera features a group in Afghan-style clothes, evoking the vanished paradise of pre-1948 Palestine and the Nakba that robbed them of their land and future. Dressed in black and virtually indistinguishable, they’re designated mourners of Palestine, an undifferentiated mass united in suffering and thirsty for revenge. The women are all covered in full abayas, which is unusual among Palestinian women today, and was even more unusual in 1985. The men wear Afghan-style beards that, outside the Gaza Strip, are rare in Palestine. They wave the green flag of Islam, not the Palestinian red green, white and black flag that even Hamas prefers. The effect of the set design is to frame the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an episode in a larger clash of civilisations between Islam and the West. The libretto, too, accentuates the ‘civilisational’ dimensions of the conflict. With their incantatory talk about Islam and their love of martyrdom, the hijackers sound more like members of Hamas (which emerged only in 1988) than of Abu Abbas’s secular nationalist PLF.

The ‘Chorus of Exiled Jews’ which follows is a much sweeter, more intimate piece of music. Their suffering has not been poisoned by anger, but is suffused with sorrow and the hope of renewal. The Jews wear different kinds of clothing; one lyric refers to Hassidim protesting against a cinema opening in Israel, a reminder that Jews aren’t a monolith. Perhaps Goodman’s implication is that after 1948 – when, for those who follow the Zionist narrative, their ‘exile’ ended – Jews could be individuals rather than history’s victims; Palestinians, still under occupation or in exile, have no such luxury. Still, the collective depiction of Palestinians in the opera looks like a failure of imagination.

In 2001, Richard Taruskin accused The Death of Klinghoffer of ‘romantically idealising criminals’: the Palestinian hijackers, he said, are moved by higher ideals than their victims, ideas of collective struggle and sacrifice. It’s a fair description of the libretto, but it also misses the point: it’s precisely those noble ideals that lead the hijackers to murder an unarmed civilian. I suspect that what disturbs the opera’s critics is that Palestinian suffering is expressed with such eloquence and compassion, not only in the libretto but in the score. Taruskin and others have complained that some of the most stirring music occurs in the ‘Chorus of Exiled Palestinians’. It’s a telling criticism, an example of what Talking Heads called the ‘fear of music’: the anxiety that musical beauty might act on its listeners in transgressive ways, and lead to forbidden forms of pleasure or sympathy. What appears to trouble Klinghoffer’s enemies most is that, through the force of his music, Adams has put Western listeners in the shoes of Israel’s victims.

Yet there’s also something unsettling about the chorus, something that causes us to stop short of identification. (The character it’s easiest to identify with is the reasonable and ineffectual ship’s captain, who is neither Jewish nor Palestinian.) The beauty of the Palestinian chorus is stark, brooding and threatening; in Klinghoffer, Palestinians appear condemned to inhabit a realm of perpetual struggle, where life is a battlefield and mundane pleasures are but a memory. And because life is a battlefield, the hijackers see themselves as ‘soldiers’, not terrorists, when they storm the ship – and when they execute Klinghoffer. The comparative superficiality of the passengers on the Achille Lauro – which, in the case of the Klinghoffers, has been misconstrued as anti-semitic caricature – is a mark of their innocence, their freedom and their privilege. Oblivious to the history that connects them to their tormentors, they naturally see the attack by these ‘meshugganah’ (as Marilyn Klinghoffer calls them) as an inexplicable accident: their reaction makes them more recognisable, and more believable. The contrast is perhaps too neatly drawn, but it captures a clash in perception that is arguably a strong feature of the encounter between kidnapper and captive.

Those who are afraid of The Death of Klinghoffer because Palestinians have been awarded some of its most beautiful music haven’t listened very carefully – or haven’t stayed in their seats until the end. The heartbreaking aria that closes the opera belongs to Marilyn Klinghoffer, mourning her husband with controlled anguish. The loss that The Death of Klinghofferinvites us to experience most acutely is personal, not political.

source

 

see also : The Met’s “Klinghoffer” Problem

 

Yehuda Shaul Breaking the Silence

Noam Chomsky and Glenn Greenwald (2014) “No Place to Hide”

Death at sea: Syrian migrants film their perilous voyage to Europe – video

This is the story of five friends – Moaaz, Majd, Rasha, Kinan and Khalid – who fled war-torn Syria to embark on a perilous trip to reach Europe. So far this year an estimated 3,000 migrants have died attempting this same journey. On 16 August 2014 they set off from Syria to Lebanon, where they caught a flight to Algeria, to begin their journey 

 All mobile phone footage in this film was filmed by Majd 
 ‘I feel for those who were with me. They got asylum in the sea’

 

see the video here

Professor Chomsky’s Solidarity With Palestine at UN

ALSO WATCH https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJh5m…
PRESS CONFERENCE BY CHOMSKY AT THE UNITED NATION.

If this version is hacked try this ; much better because you see the speakers close up : http://entermint.com/watch/1eGlgOnHOJE

SHORT FILM “JAFAR” (by Nancy Spetsioti)

CAST

NATALIA DRAGOUMI – VLADIMIROS KIRIAKIDIS – NIKOS PSARRAS 
CHARA TSIONGA – WASEEM AKTAR – GEORGIA KATSIKONOURI

PRODUCER: DIMITRIS GALANOPOULOS 

DIRECTOR: NANCY SPETSIOTI – SCRIPT: KATERINA KOUTSOMITI

CINEMATOGRAPHY: MICHALIS GERANIOS – EDITING: YIANNIS PARASKEVOPOULOS – MUSIC: CONSTANTINOS ZACHAROPOULOS – SOUND: DIMITRIS IOSIFELIS – COSTUMES: TASOS DIMAS, SOFIA KOTSIKOU, CATERINA CHALIOTI – MAKE-UP: SOFIA MICHA – PRODUCTION MANAGER: IOANNA PAKA 

PRODUCTION: http://www.iconastudioathens.gr

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