Chicago Activist Who Helped Organize Women’s March Loses US Citizenship and Will Be Deported

She failed to disclose convictions for her role in bombings that killed 2 in Jerusalem
August 18, 2017 Updated: August 20, 2017    

A prominent Chicago activist has lost her U.S. citizenship and will be deported after failing to disclose her convictions for bombings in Jerusalem years ago.

U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain told Rasmea Odeh during her court appearance in Detroit, which she used to criticize the United States and Israel, “This is not a political forum for you to fan the flames of Israeli-Palestinian disputes,” The Associated Press reported, “It’s about the application you filled out.” 

The 70-year-old activist, who is known for helping Arab women around the Chicago area, pleaded guilty in April for concealing her previous convictions. Her case became a political flashpoint when she joined the anti-President Donald Trump Women’s March and later helped organize the Day Without Women strike

He “praised [Odeh] for her years of service to Palestinian women in the Chicago area. But he [said] the immigration system relies on honesty,” as AP reported.

Drain said she should get no prison time, and now, Odeh will wait for the federal government to deport her—likely to Jordan.

In 1970, she was convicted of two bombings, including one that killed two at a supermarket in Jerusalem.

But Odeh has said that she was tortured into confessing. She claims she was tried in a military court and was sexually assault by interrogators.

She was released in 1979 as part of a swap with the Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine.

Judge Gershwin A. Drain, who made the ruling. (United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan)
Judge Gershwin A. Drain, who made the ruling. (United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan)

“In 1969, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine conducted two bombings in Jerusalem, Israel,” acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch said, ClickonDetroit.com reported. “One was at a Supersol supermarket, in which two individuals were killed and many more wounded. The second bombing was at the British Consulate. Defendant Odeh was arrested and charged with participation in the bombings.”

Lemisch said that during interviews, other participants named her as the person who selected the Jerusalem supermarket as the bombing target. He said that Odeh scouted the location and planted the bomb.

As the Jerusalem Post noted, the bomb blast killed Hebrew University students and roommates Leon “Arie” Kanner, 21, and Edward Jaffe, 22.

“For 20 years, she lived here peacefully, honorably and gave more than many U.S. citizens,” said her attorney Michael Deutsch, it was reported. She works for the Arab American Action Network, which provides services and education. He also cited her relatively advanced age as a reason not to deport.

Odeh got a visa to the United States in 1994 and obtained her citizenship in 2004. In both applications, she didn’t disclose her arrest and convictions, officials said.

She was convicted in 2014 of unlawful procurement of citizenship and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. However, the conviction was overturned, and she chose to make a deal with the government instead of face another trial.