Activists held an interfaith memorial service for the victims of a female Palestinian terrorist, scheduled to coincide with her speech before a gathering of an anti-Israel Jewish organization, one of the organizers told The Algemeiner on Sunday.
Peggy Shapiro, Midwest director of Israel education group Stand With Us (SWU), said that she rented out a private suite at Chicago’s Hyatt Hotel to hold the event during convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh’s appearance at the closing plenary session of the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) National Member Meeting (NMM) at the same venue, because Shapiro believed JVP’s “unconscionable” decision to “honor the killer and erase the victims” could not go uncontested.
“It really can’t get any worse than honoring a murderer, alongside other speakers who are proponents of more genocide,” she said, referring to the panelists featured with Odeh, including Linda Sarsour, who has called Zionism a form of racism.
In the JVP NMM program, Odeh and Sarsour are touted as among “the most dynamic, powerful, and visionary community and faith leaders of our time.”
Shapiro said her program was held in a guest room, because JVP directed the Hyatt to refuse to rent space to SWU at the hotel’s large convention center. The service featured religious exercises led by local rabbis and pastors, and letters from the families of Odeh’s victims, Leon Kanner and Edward Joffe, read by SWU representatives.
“I’m a really strong proponent of free speech, even stupid speech, even hate speech. So, we aren’t using JVP’s tactics; we didn’t disturb their event, and shout down their speakers, like they do to ours,” Shapiro said. “We are respectful and mature, and we are calmly responding to something just so inherently wrong.”
In 1970, Odeh was sentenced to life in prison by an Israeli military court for her membership in the terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and for confessing to involvement in two 1969 Jerusalem bombings. The first attack, on a supermarket, killed Kanner and Joffe, both Hebrew University students, and wounded nine others. The second bombing, which occurred four days later, targeted the British Consulate. Odeh was released after 10 years in prison as part of a prisoner swap with the PFLP in 1980.
Late last month, Odeh reportedly took a plea deal to settle an immigration fraud case with the US, after she was indicted in 2013 for concealing her terror conviction on her naturalization forms. The deal reportedly states that she will be deported to Jordan.
“If truth mattered at all to JVP, they wouldn’t be hosting Odeh and promulgating her extremely inaccurate story of being raped and tortured into confessing [to the terror attack],” Shapiro said. “But the facts are inconvenient for JVP, so they ignore them, and they buy into her story of being some human rights icon.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, JVP executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson has hit back against criticism of the group’s decision to host Odeh.
“We push, we challenge, we are willing and able to keep evolving. We are willing to be uncomfortable, and to make others uncomfortable, in ways that stretch and push the limits of our thinking, and encourage ourselves and others to challenge assumptions we have learned and move closer to embodying the vision we have for the world,” Vilkomerson said, according to the report.
SWU’s memorial program was live-streamed on the SWU Facebook page.
(C) 2017 The Algemeiner . Rachel Frommer