From Hatem Abudayyeh
In a major development, attorneys for Palestinian community leader Rasmea Odeh filed a motion July 14th, calling for Judge Paul D. Borman to recuse himself from the case. The supporting brief argues that Borman, as a life-long and dedicated supporter of Israel, cannot play the â€œneutral and detachedâ€ role that the law requires.
A spurious report from the Associated Press irresponsibly presumes that the defense is bringing this motion because Judge Borman is an American Jew. Â Odeh and her attorneys, including Michael Deutsch, who is an American Jew himself, deny this, noting that the motion and supporting brief extensively document Bormanâ€™s close ties to the State of Israel, never once mentioning his religion.Â The AP article has been picked up across the country, and the national Rasmea Defense Committee demands a retraction.
Odeh has pled not guilty to Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, a charge alleging that she failed to mention, in her 2004 application for U.S. citizenship, that she was arrested in Palestine 45 years ago, and tried in an Israeli military court that â€œconvictsâ€ 99.74% of Palestinians who come before it. Â Odeh was physically and sexually tortured into a confession by Israeli prison authorities in 1969.
The motion describes how this is important to her defense: â€œThe defendantâ€™s case directly raises issues about the legality of the continuing 47 year belligerent occupation of the West Bank by the State of Israel and the Stateâ€™s policy of sanctioning the systematic torture of Palestinian detainees by the Israeli military and security police.â€
In the papers filed with the court this week, attorneys Deutsch and James Fennerty describe Judge Bormanâ€™s long history of support for Israel, including fund raising for, and donating millions of dollars of his own money to the state.Â They argue: â€œClearly, one who has been a life-long supporter and promoter of Israel and has deep ties to the State of Israel spanning over 50 years, who no doubts believes that Israel is a great democracy and protector of human rights, cannot be â€˜reasonablyâ€™ said to be impartial when these claims of torture and illegality are raised by a Palestinian defendant.
â€œFurther, it is reasonable to conclude that as a result of this Courtâ€™s many trips to Israel, and its active support and substantial efforts in fund raising for the State of Israel, that this Court has â€˜personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning this case.â€™â€
According to one of the defense committeeâ€™s spokespeople, Hatem Abudayyeh, â€œThis motion is about trying to get Rasmea a fair trial. Â Bormanâ€™s bias is clear.Â Heâ€™s had a life-long association with explicitly pro-Israel organizations, but we also uncovered that he has donated thousands of dollars to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.Â It is exactly the conduct and truthfulness of the IDF that is at issue in this case.Â A â€˜Friendâ€™ of the IDF can hardly be seen as unbiased.
â€œWinning this case is not limited to a legal strategy,â€ Abudayyeh continued.Â â€œThousands of people from across the country are supporting and fighting for Rasmea Odeh. We are urging the government to drop the charges against her. Â If they donâ€™t, we are mobilizing to fill the courtroom every day of the trial.â€
The trial is set for September 8 in Detroit.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this Letters to Editors are those of the writer and not CopyLine Magazine.