10 March 2017
Our Reply to the Chicago Tribune
This piece is a response to a hatchet job on Rasmea published by the Chicago Tribune in commentary this past Sunday. The Trib stated today that it would not publish our letter, so we are publishing a slightly edited version ourselves.
Rasmea Defense Committee
March 10, 2017
In commentary for the Chicago Tribune March 5th, Peggy Shapiro, who is simply described as a retired professor from the Chicago City Colleges, attacks Rasmea Odeh, an activist from Chicago’s Palestinian community.
Shapiro is a one-time Breitbart contributor and the Chicago coordinator of Stand With Us, a famously right-wing, pro-Israel advocacy group that is also anti-Palestinian and a defender of acts of violence by the Israeli military. Stand With Us has embraced Donald Trump, as his attacks on Arabs and Muslims have made Israeli President Netanyahu a supporter.
In short, Israel can do no wrong. Stand With Us didn’t blink an eye when the Israeli military bombed Gaza in 2014, killing over 2200 Palestinians, including 504 children. But Shapiro writes to attack Jewish Voice for Peace for supporting justice for Rasmea.
Rasmea was convicted of a 1970 bombing by an Israeli military court, which has military officers, and not civilians, as prosecutors and judges; and which convicts over 99% of its Palestinian prisoners. Its main evidence was a confession by Rasmea.
Shapiro dismisses Rasmea’s claim that she signed this confession after brutal torture that included sexual assault, even though this has been documented for decades, including in testimony to the United Nations. Then Shapiro writes that Rasmea was found guilty in 2014 in a trial in Detroit for lying on an application for U.S. citizenship, intentionally omitting that the jury in that trial was not allowed to hear any of the evidence about torture, and only the evidence from Israel. In fact, Rasmea won an appeal and a new trial expressly based on the excluded torture evidence.
Shapiro ignores that Mary Fabri, a world renowned expert on torture, evaluated Rasmea and diagnosed her with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from being tortured by Israeli prison guards; that the government’s own expert concluded she had been tortured; and that the judge in the case also believed she had been tortured.
Shapiro exposes herself. Rasmea is not guilty. She was tortured into a forced confession and unjustly convicted by the Israelis, and then the U.S. government used evidence gained through torture to convict her of a violation of immigration law.
Shapiro doesn’t care, because she accepts any crimes by Israel in the defense of its occupation of Palestine. She is not just a “retired professor”; she is also a purveyor of Israeli hasbara (propaganda).
Rasmea Defense Committee
March 6, 2017