[Pnews] Rasmea Odeh - the court statement Judge Drain didn't want you to hear

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Aug 21 11:39:23 EDT 2017


*This is the court statement Judge Drain didn't want you to hear - *
*Rasmea's statement to the court*

On this court’s platform, I’m standing today to raise my voice on behalf 
of myself as a Palestinian woman and on behalf of all Palestinian 
people, whether under occupation, in refugee camps, or scattered in 
exile across the world.

Honorable Judge Drain: First, I would like to clarify that my following 
message is not directed at you personally.

I am a Palestinian woman who was born into a family that had simple 
dreams and desires to live in peace and tranquility, far away from 
bombs, explosions, murder, and displacement.

But those dreams turned into a nightmare at the hands of the Zionist 
Haganah gangs whose crimes are hard to imagine. The Zionists committed 
massacres, killing children and the elderly without any consideration of 
human values. *They displaced hundreds of thousands of my people, and 
killed thousands more, in 1947 and 1948, upon the establishment of the 
state of Israel*. They turned us into strangers in our own country, and 
pushed us into the inhumane conditions of refugee camps inside Palestine 
and other Arab countries.

The Israeli goals were not satisfied in 1948, so they pursued the 
ambitions of Zionism and launched another war in 1967, illegally 
occupying the rest of Palestine and parts of surrounding Arab countries.

International law prohibits the following practices, and considers them 
punishable offences:

The Israeli occupation of Palestine is a crime; its use of biological 
and chemical weapons is a terrorist crime; demolishing schools, homes, 
hospitals, clinics, and places of worship is a crime; imprisoning 
hundreds of political organizers and resisters (including dozens of 
children) without charge is a crime; putting up the Apartheid Wall is a 
crime; killing people is a crime; and collective punishment is a crime!

Many countries in this world have struggled to win their independence. 
  International law and all the United Nations conventions state that 
people have the right to fight for their independence, and to expel the 
colonizer and the occupier.

People in the U.S. struggled against British colonialism for their 
independence, and that is the reason the 4th of July is celebrated. *Why 
are the Palestinians prohibited from**struggling for our independence?*

When Palestinians have fought for our rights over the years, all U.S. 
administrations have responded by supporting Israeli crimes and brutal 
aggression, falsely describing Israel’s acts as “self-defense.” At the 
same time, the U.S. government calls us terrorists by placing all of our 
legitimate resistance organizations on its terrorist list!

I wonder how the U.S. or any other country would respond if they were 
invaded by a foreign force?  If people in the U.S. were to defend 
themselves, would they be considered terrorists, and would their 
resistance organizations be placed on a terrorist list?

I am sure that they would have the full right to protect their country, 
just as *my people should have the right to protect our country*.

The Arms Export Control Act of 1976 prohibits the U.S. from exporting 
arms in situations where such arms would “…aid in the development of 
weapons of mass destruction… [or] increase the possibility of outbreak 
or escalation of conflict…,” and also prohibits use of such arms against 
civilians and innocents.

Thus, the U.S. government or any U.S. company violates the law if it 
exports weapons to a state or group that uses them in this way.  The 
reality is that the U.S., as Israel’s patron, violates its own laws by 
supporting Zionist aggression. *That means the U.S. is also guilty of 
crimes against the Palestinians*.

This country’s military, political, economic, and diplomatic support 
allows Israel to continue its colonization and military occupation of 
Palestine, and to commit crimes prohibited by international law and U.S. 
law.  That is why we organize for Palestinian rights in the U.S., 
because it is this government that must also be held responsible for 
Israel’s state terrorism against my people.

We, the Palestinians, have been struggling against oppression for one 
hundred years, ever since the British Balfour Declaration promised the 
world that it would support the colonization of our country. And for 
almost 70 years, the manufactured state of Israel has been doing the 
bidding of the powerful British and U.S. empires. *This Israel has no 
right to exist as a racist state of white settler colonialists*, just 
like South Africa had no right to exist as the racist, Apartheid state 
it was.

This Israel represents nothing but violence and ethnic cleansing against 
my people. Many years of negotiations for a political settlement have 
been a huge failure, because Israel continuously demands recognition as 
a Jewish state, which goes against all notions of equality and 
democracy; and because it wants to liquidate all the rights of the 
Palestinians, including our rights to return, self-determination, 
equality, and political independence.

Each Israeli government moves more and more to the extreme right, and 
Netanyahu’s is the worst of them, launching three horrible wars on Gaza. 
He destroyed homes, schools, health clinics, and our infrastructure as a 
whole, killing thousands, and finally imposing a siege on the entire 
Gaza Strip.

Recently, Israel installed metal detectors and security cameras at the 
entrance to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, prompting weeks of massive 
protests. Three Palestinians were killed, and a thousand injured, before 
Israel was forced by our mass movement to remove the barriers.

At the same time, Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinians in 
Jerusalem, as well as settler violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem 
and the West Bank, are official policies meant to force more and more 
Palestinians out of our country, and to consolidate Israeli control over 
Greater Jerusalem. *It is quite clear that many, if not most, Israelis 
do not want Palestinians around at all*.

I personally experienced a harsh, unstable, and terror-filled life in 
Palestine, like all my people under occupation. I was pushed off my land 
two separate times, my family home was destroyed twice, and my young 
sister was killed by the trauma of war. *I was a political prisoner who 
was brutally tortured and raped by Israeli soldiers and prison 
authorities, and was almost killed more than once*.

I continue to be terrified of the future for myself and my people. I can 
still almost feel the accelerated pounding of the people’s hearts while 
they are running to find shelter, the horrific screaming of the 
children, the moans of the people under the rubble of their homes, and 
the sounds of them dying from bombs, missiles, and bullets.

My people have the right to struggle to rid ourselves of the Israeli 
occupation of our country.   The U.S. government must stop disavowing 
our rights, and stop working with the Israelis to prosecute activists 
and organizers here. Most of the people and governments in the rest of 
the world are with us. Millions of people are supporting the Boycott 
Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

*Black-Palestinian unity and solidarity is at its absolute height in the 
U.S., because both peoples recognize that the racist nature of the U.S. 
government and the racist nature of Israel are the same*. When I saw 
those white racists marching in Virginia, all I could think of was the 
white settlers in Israel burning Palestinian children to death or 
marching to attack my people in Jerusalem.

Many of the social justice forces—from the Women’s March, the Movement 
for Black Lives, and anti-occupation and anti-Zionist American Jews, to 
immigrant rights, anti-torture, and civil liberties organizations—that 
supported my defense campaign did it not only because they support me as 
a survivor of torture and injustice, but also because *they support the 
much more important cause of the liberation of all of Palestine—a 
democratic, secular Palestine for all*.
____________________________________________________________
On Thursday, August 17th, Judge Gershwin Drain again violated the rights 
of Palestinian-American icon Rasmea Odeh, this time by not allowing her 
to read her entire statement to the court.

Close to 150 supporters joined Rasmea in Detroit for what was supposed 
to be a routine sentencing hearing. The defense, prosecution, and judge 
had already agreed to a plea agreement 
<http://justice4rasmea.org/news/2017/03/23/rasmea-accepts-plea-deal/> 
finalized in April, and Rasmea was looking forward to finally being able 
to tell her entire story, but Drain interrupted her three separate 
times, the last with a threat to jail her for contempt of court.

Prior to Rasmea's statement, her lead attorney, Michael Deutsch, 
chastised the prosecution for bringing the indictment in the first place.

Although the Rasmea Defense Committee has insisted for almost four years 
that the immigration case brought against her in October of 2013 was 
nothing but a pretext to attack the Palestine support movement in the 
U.S., Drain tried to protect Israel and the U.S. government from 
Rasmea's brutal description of their crimes against her, her family, and 
the Palestinian people as a whole.

Forced to stop reading her statement, Rasmea ad-libbed: "I'm not a 
terrorist and my people are not terrorists. [The Israeli military] 
tortured me. They raped me. They destroyed my house...I will raise my 
voice to say this: we have the right to struggle for our country."  And 
at a post-hearing press conference 
<https://www.facebook.com/USPCN/videos/1655589981142504/>, she added, 
"Really, I feel angry because the judge didn't allow me to [tell] my 
story...but we will continue to struggle for our cause. We will liberate 
our Palestine, all [of] Palestine."

Drain ended the proceedings by restating the agreed-upon sentence, which 
includes no further jail time, the revocation of Rasmea's U.S. 
citizenship, and deportation. He also fined her $1,000. Rasmea and her 
attorneys met after the hearing with Immigration and Customs 
Enforcement, but did not yet agree upon a departure date.

A number of solidarity messages 
<https://www.facebook.com/USPCN/videos/1655602134474622/> followed 
Rasmea's address to the media, and the supporters were loud and 
passionate in their defense of her and of Palestine.

Kristian Bailey of Black4Palestine said, "We all know it was a political 
case. Palestine was on trial. But we...put Israel on trial. Rasmea put 
Israel on trial."

And Joe Iosbaker, a leader of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression 
(CSFR), concluded by asking, "Is Rasmea the bravest person you've ever 
seen in your life?...If you ever doubt that you can be brave, we have 
our icon, we have Rasmea Odeh [as an example]!"

*Historic #HonorRasmea event in Chicago*

Beautiful photos by Sarah-Ji 
<https://www.flickr.com/photos/sierraromeo/sets/72157687614352175>

Video recap by teleSUR / Tom Callahan 
<https://twitter.com/telesurenglish/status/898263398693163010>

A few days before the hearing, a standing room only crowd of over 1,200 
supporters attended an event to #HonorRasmea on Saturday, August 12th.

The powerful event, hosted by the defense committee, USPCN, CSFR, and 
the Chicago Coalition to Protect People's Rights, featured a keynote 
address by Dr. Angela Davis, the scholar and Black Liberation Movement 
legend who cut short her vacation to stand in support of Rasmea.

In her speech, Davis commended Rasmea for linking justice in her own 
case to justice for political prisoners all across the world, and added, 
"We follow the example of Rasmea Odeh when we stand up and fight back!"

The hosts gave awards to Rasmea's incredible legal defense team, as well 
as to the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, 
which mobilized members for every hearing and the trial in Detroit. 
Frank Chapman accepted on behalf of the Alliance, and explained the 
importance of unity between the Black and Palestine liberation movements.

A statement from CSFR leader Meredith Aby, and electrifying performances 
from Rebel Diaz, KoStar, and Shadia Mansour, rounded out the evening, 
which was described by long-time solidarity activist Reverend Don Wagner 
as a "brilliant, inspirational, and utterly fantastic sendoff for dear 
Rasmea...it was one of the finest evenings the Palestine support 
community has witnessed in my 40 years of involvement."

*Media reports on the hearing and the #HonorRasmea event*

Rasmea Odeh unbowed as judge passes sentence - Electronic Intifada 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/rasmea-odeh-unbowed-judge-passes-sentence>

'Palestine was on trial': Rasmea Odeh defiant in final court appearance 
- Middle East Eye 
<http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/palestine-was-trial-rasmea-odeh-defiant-final-court-appearance-335680485>

Rasmea Odeh at Detroit sentencing: 'We will continue to struggle for our 
cause! We will liberate our Palestine - Fight Back! News 
<http://www.fightbacknews.org/2017/8/17/rasmea-odeh-detroit-sentencing-we-will-continue-struggle-our-cause-we-will-liberate-our-pa>

Farewell rally for Rasmea Odeh, Palestinian icon - Fight Back! News 
<https://www.fightbacknews.org/2017/8/16/farewell-rally-rasmea-odeh-palestinian-icon>

-- 
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