Minister ‘ashamed’ US Jewish group to host convicted terrorist
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Minister ‘ashamed’ US Jewish group to host convicted terrorist

Rasmea Odeh, who confessed to planting a bomb that killed 2 students in 1969, to speak at Jewish Voice for Peace conference on Sunday

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks during the "Or Yarok" conference at the Avenue Conference Center on March 28, 2017. (Roy Alima/Flash90)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks during the "Or Yarok" conference at the Avenue Conference Center on March 28, 2017. (Roy Alima/Flash90)

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan on Thursday lamented a Jewish organization’s decision to host a convicted terrorist at its weekend conference in Chicago, saying it made him feel “ashamed” as a Jew.

“As a Jew, I am ashamed that a conference filled with hatred for Israel, and that is hosting a terrorist as a central speaker, is led by a Jewish organization,” Erdan said.

The Likud minister, whose office oversees efforts to combat Israel boycott campaigns, was referring to the Jewish Voice for Peace group in a statement published by his office a day before the gathering began.

JVP, which supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, is set to host Rasmea Odeh for a closing plenary session at the conference on Sunday.

Rasmea Odeh speaking at an event for the 2016 International Working Women’s Day in Chicago. (YouTube via JTA)
Rasmea Odeh speaking at an event for the 2016 International Working Women’s Day in Chicago. (YouTube via JTA)

Odeh confessed to planting the bomb that killed two students and injured nine others in a 1969 Jerusalem supermarket attack. She claims the confession was given under torture, but Israeli officials dispute this account.

Odeh was convicted and sentenced in 1970 by an Israeli military court to life in prison for two bombing attacks on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. She spent 10 years in an Israeli prison before being released in a prisoner exchange with the PFLP in 1980.

Jewish Voice for Peace said earlier this month that it was “proud” to host Odeh, questioning the validity of her Israeli conviction.

“The accusations against Odeh stem from a context of long-standing anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim persecution by both the Israeli state and the United States, policies which are escalating under the Trump administration,” JVP said in a March 7 statement.

In 2015, Odeh was sentenced in the US to 18 months in prison for covering up her conviction and imprisonment in Israel when she entered the country in 1995 and applied for citizenship in 2004, but the conviction was later vacated.

Despite insisting that she failed to disclose her past to immigration officials because of post-traumatic stress disorder from her alleged torture while in Israeli custody, she announced on March 23 her decision to agree to a plea bargain that prevents her from serving any jail time so long as she forgoes her US citizenship and leaves the country.

Jewish Voice for Peace members at the Jewish United Fund of Chicago protesting donor-advised funds from JUF going to groups that have been deemed Islamophobic, March 24, 2017. (Inbal Palombo)
Jewish Voice for Peace members at the Jewish United Fund of Chicago protesting donor-advised funds from JUF going to groups that have been deemed Islamophobic, March 24, 2017. (Inbal Palombo)

Odeh will appear in a Detroit court on April 25 to officially accept the plea, but still is scheduled to address the JVP conference on Friday, according to its website.

Erdan called the organization’s decision to host Odeh “inexcusable” and said he would “continue to lead a determined struggle against those who seek to harm Israel and undermine its legitimacy.”

JTA contributed to this report.

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