Despite opposition, SJP Chicago hosts successful fundraiser for Palestinian icon

Students for Justice in Palestine’s Chicago Network hosted a fundraiser “Celebrating somoud” at DePaul University to honor Rasmea Odeh’s steadfastness and resilience, on Feb. 3. All ticket sales and donations went to Rasmea’s Defense Committee. Odeh is a 67-year-old Palestinian community organizer in the Chicagoland area.

In October 2013, Odeh was indicted for allegedly falsifying information on her immigration papers 20 years ago. Her indictment  came after a series of FBI raids on the Arab community in Chicago, that targeted Palestinian liberation organizers. She specifically did not mention that she had been previously arrested by the Israeli military in 1969 for a crime that she claims she did not commit. Odeh said she falsely confessed after she was sexual assault and tortured. She then spent approximately 10 years in jail, before being released in a prisoner swap. The conviction rate of Palestinians by the state of Israel is nearly 100 percent.

This past November, Odeh was convicted in a Detroit courtroom and taken to jail after her bail was revoked. After spending 5 weeks in jail, 3 of which were in solitary confinement, she was released on a $50,000 cash bond. Odeh’s sentencing hearing is March 12th. She is spending what may be her final few weeks of freedom in the United States with her family, friends and community.

Despite severe threats and harassment from Zionist organizations nationwide, most notably the Zionist Organization of America, the fundraiser was very successful and had over 200 attendees and raised over $5,000.

More than 200 people were at the Rasmea Odeh's fundraiser hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine Chicago Network.
More than 200 people were at Rasmea Odeh’s fundraiser hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine Chicago Network.

The program of the fundraiser consisted of speeches from Rasmea’s defense committee, a comedy performance from Arab-American comedian Amer Zahr, a spoken word performer as well as a speech from Odeh in which she honored the work of students organizers.

“You are the generation that can lead us and revive oxygen that we need to breathe and continue the struggle for justice,” Odeh said to a room filled with supporters and community members.

After the program was complete, community members locked hands and performed the Palestinian Folklore dance dabka.

The amount of unity and jubilation sparked by Odeh’s hopefulness and perseverance was inspiring. The event was a celebration of the community’s continuous resistance against worldwide attempts to silence the Palestinian narrative.

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