An Arab-American community activist was found guilty by a federal jury in Detroit Monday of immigration fraud for hiding that she was once convicted for a deadly terrorist bombing in Israel.
Pro-Palestinian activists decried the conviction of Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, 67, calling it a “travesty of justice” and a “sham trial.”
After the verdict, Odeh spoke in English and Arabic to several dozen of her supporters gathered outside the courthouse.
“We can find the justice in some place, maybe not in this court, maybe in other place. There’s a justice in this world. We will find it,” Odeh said through a megaphone. “Don’t worry. We will find it. We will find the justice.”
Her supporters – some who traveled from Chicago to be at her trial - began chanting in unison, along with Odeh, the slogan of President Barack Obama’s 2009 campaign: “Yes we can! Yes we can!”
The Chicago Tribune reported that the jury deliberated only two hours before convicting Odeh on one count of unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization. The charge carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence and possible deportation.
Odeh was in the news earlier this year when National Review Online revealed that she had worked briefly as an Obamacare navigator for the Illinois Department of Insurance.
Last November, the department “quietly revoked” her certification to help people sign up for insurance under President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, NRO reported. The decision was based on the discovery that she had been convicted in Israel for her role in the 1969 bombing of the British Consulate and a supermarket in Jerusalem, killing two students from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, one of whom was a U.S. citizen.
Rasmieh Odeh, center with red collar, stands among supporters outside federal court in Detroit on the opening day of her trial on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. . Odeh, associate director at Chicago's Arab American Action Network, is charged with failing to tell U.S. immigration about her conviction for bombings in Israel in 1969 that killed two people at a supermarket. (AP Photo/Ed White)
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel said during closing arguments Friday that it was “ridiculous” to believe that Odeh didn’t think she had to disclose the bombing convictions when she applied for U.S. citizenship in 2004, the Associated Press reported.
“How does someone misunderstand the word ‘ever?,’” Tukel asked.
Odeh claimed she had been tortured into confessing in Israel, but U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain said that what happened in Israel was not relevant to what she wrote on her citizenship application.
Pro-Palestinian activists and Occupy Chicago offered their comments on the conviction:
"The U.S. attorney's office is nothing but a tool for the U.S government and its support of Israel." #Justice4Rasmeahttp://t.co/eRQpphjzUC— Occupy Chicago (@OccupyChicago) November 10, 2014
The cost of being Palestinian in USA? Unfair trial devoid of due process. #Justice4Rasmeahttp://t.co/VWwtw5TfOhpic.twitter.com/jtEbhvAr94— AMP (@AMPalestine) November 10, 2014
We learn time and again that the criminalization of being Palestinian extends far beyond the borders of occupation. #Justice4Rasmea— Nour Sdoud (@nsdoud) November 10, 2014
The U.S. legal system has broken another home. Today is a sad day for Palestinians in America. #Justice4Rasmea— SMPalestine (@SMPalestine) November 10, 2014
The Conviction of Rasmea Odeh Is Another Example of the Political Biases of the US Courts http://t.co/aN5jeh4N1I#Justice4Rasmea— Maryam Jamshidi (@MsJamshidi) November 10, 2014