The Palestinian Youth Movement in the United States condemns the charges drawn against Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh. Odeh is a distinguished and highly respected leader of our community in Chicago, and we see her arrest as part of a larger systematic aggression against our people in the diaspora and our homeland in Palestine.
We know that this arrest is politically motivated, and like other charges and harassment of our community members, this lawsuit only attempts to silence and intimidate our mobilization efforts and any form of civic engagement for our communities. This arrest directly threatens our communities by attempting to stigmatize Odeh’s legacy along with the legacy of many of our elders in order to move us away from continuing our struggle for justice and liberation. The perceived threat that Odeh poses has been manufactured in such a way that bears resemblance to the McCarthyist trials of the 1950s. Rasmea Odeh is and has been a principled activist, role model and educator to generations of Palestinian and Arab American youth in the U.S. That her name and work is now being subject to such a smear campaign should only lead us to question why she is being targeted, and more specifically, why did the Department of Homeland Security choose to single her out now when she has been a naturalized citizen for more than two decades?
Moreover, the fact that our plea, as Palestinians, for liberation, self-determination and a better life can pose such a threat to the US establishment is entirely contradictory since US officials have wasted no occasion to emphasize the need for democracy, freedom, and transparency in the Arab World and other regions in the most recent uprisings over the last three years. How can this administration then justify the arrest of a community leader who dedicated her life to freeing her people and working to better the conditions of our communities in the diaspora, especially for women?
While the government cuts spending in public education and other basic services due to “financial crisis,” the spending on National Security and defense only continues to increase. These increases only serve to further criminalize our communities and more generally, divert spending from much needed areas thus pushing the entire American society deeper into recession on all levels — politically, economically, and socially. Such actions by the government should seriously call into question the values of our society overall, and we should see this moment as an opportunity to shift our priorities so that we can see progress and improvement for us and our future generations.
The continued racial subjugation of our communities and activists calls for an occasion to unite and come together with other historically oppressed communities in the U.S and worldwide to stand up against injustice wherever it may be present. Secret spying, surveillance, entrapment and all other forms of repression and criminalization must be stopped as they are encroachments on civil liberties and based in no moral or legal merit. The targeting and othering of community leaders is a historical tactic to repress our movement and progress and only perpetuates the injustice that we are working to end; moreover such tactics only work against the freedom of the society overall – injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We as youth come together to say we will not be intimidated, censored and silenced into subjugation. We will not stand idle, and we will continue to contest all forms of oppression and subjugation wherever it exists.
Committed to justice and freedom from Chicago to Palestine,
The Palestinian Youth Movement – USA Chapter