NEW YORK – Jewish Voice for Peace’s national conference, which caused much controversy after the group announced it will be hosting convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh at the event, will open in Chicago on Friday.JVP, which “seeks an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem,” vocally supports the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement. The conference, which will run from Friday to Sunday, is aimed at crafting strategies to “resist the right-wing extremism emboldened by the leadership of President Trump and his mirror in Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and to build community for the long haul.”According to the conference schedule, Rasmea Odeh is scheduled to speak as part of the program’s “All In!” workshop, alongside three other panelists, including anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour.Odeh, who is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was sentenced to life in prison in Israel for her role in two 1969 PFLP bombings in Jerusalem, which she confessed to, and for her membership in a terrorist organization. One of the attacks targeted a supermarket where two students – Leon Kanner, 21, and Eddie Joffe, 22 – were killed and nine other people were wounded.Odeh was released in a prisoner exchange in the 1980s. She later moved to the US, but in 2014 she was convicted by a US federal jury of immigration fraud, for concealing her arrest, conviction and imprisonment for the 1969 bombings. Last week, she agreed to plead guilty to this. Odeh said she didn’t disclose her past because of post-traumatic stress disorder from being tortured in prison.Jewish Voice for Peace said in a statement responding to the outrage over Odeh’s scheduled participation: “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.”The group said it is “honored” and “proud” to feature Odeh, describing her as a “deeply respected Palestinian organizer.”Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said: “The JVP is an antisemitic organization which incites against Israel. It regularly cooperates with extremist organizations which seek Israel’s destruction. It is inexcusable that the organization chose to host at its conference a terrorist who was convicted for her involvement in murdering two Israeli students.
I will continue to lead a determined struggle against those who seek to harm Israel and undermine its legitimacy. As a Jew I am ashamed that a conference that is filled with hatred for Israel, and whose sole purpose is to harm the homeland of the Jewish people, is led by a Jewish organization.”
Anti-Israel activists, supporting the boycott or BDS movement, protest in New York, July 24, 2014 (credit: REUTERS)