The Trials of Rasmea Odeh, Part One — Joining the PFLP 

Eugene, many thanks for giving me the opportunity to blog about my book. Trials of Rasmea Odeh. This is the tale of a Palestinian woman, who was subject to two painful trials over 40 years. In 1969, two Hebrew University students died in a bombing at a Jerusalem grocery. In that case she was found guilty partly due to a coerced confession and sentenced with life imprisonment. After ten years, Odeh was freed through a prisoner swap with the PFLP. After immigrating to the United States, Odeh became naturalized in 2005. Both times she falsely denied that she was ever convicted or imprisoned.

Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian woman born in 1947, was raised in Lifta near Jerusalem. The family moved to Ramallah from Lifta in 1948 shortly before fighting broke out between the Arab-Palestinian forces and the newly formed state of Israel. After a brief time as refugees, the Odehs lived in tents until they were able to afford a house in al-Birah.

Odeh was raised in West Bank under Jordanian control. In 1980, Odeh told a Lebanese journalist that she first attended Communist Party meetings as a teenager. This was illegal according to Jordanian law.

In the 1967 war, Israel took over the West Bank including Ramallah/al-Birah. Odeh became very involved in resistance activities like organizing and stone throwing almost instantly, however, she was now “convinced” that military action is more important than any social or political work as a means to liberate Palestinians. As a prelude to the PFLP, she joined the Arab National Movement and received clandestine weapons training using arms that had been abandoned by fleeing Jordanians.

However, Odeh soon realized that attending medical school in Lebanon was the best way to serve her movement. After receiving an Israeli military permit, she left Israel for Beirut in the fall. Actually, she actually had a double agenda. Her contacts within the ANM helped her arrange to meet Dr. Wadi Habash, a Palestinian doctor who was involved in the founding of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Odeh joined the PFLP as one of its early West Bank recruits. At the close of her academic year she returned home. She traveled through Jordan to meet other PFLP operatives. In Ramallah she resumed her clandestine activities. She was preparing for military operations that her compatriots would conduct in the winter 1969.

Odeh did not know that Israeli intelligence officers were aware of Haddad’s meeting in Beirut with guerrilla leaders from Amman. From the moment she arrived in Ramallah, Lebanon from her trip, she was being questioned. She became a suspect after a bomb destroyed the Jerusalem Supersol supermarket, Israel’s largest.

Following posts will discuss Odeh’s arrest in Israel and U.S. trial for Immigration Fraud, the rallies of American Progressives to defend her, as well as the defense case and prosecution at her U.S. Criminal Trial.