50 Years Ago Today, Rasmea Odeh Murdered Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner

On September 15, 1963, a Birmingham church was bombed, killing four African-American girls attending Sunday school.

On February 21, 1969, a Jerusalem supermarket was bombed, killing two Hebrew University students.

There’s one striking difference: Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh, convicted of murdering Leon Kanner and Edward Joffe in the Jerusalem bombing, would go on to become a left-wing icon, a feminist leader, and an ally of prominent Democrats including newly elected superstar Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

Released by Israel in a prisoner exchange, Odeh moved to the U.S in 1995 and ended up working as a community activist in Chicago. Yet it was not until 2017, when the election of Trump seemed to push Democrats over the edge, that she was catapulted to a new role as a prominent mainstream figure with whom Democratic leaders and feminists were eager to stand in solidarity.

When Odeh faced deportation that year for immigration fraud, Tlaib tweeted her support, expressing excitement that the antisemitic hate group Black Lives Matter was rallying behind the killer of Joffe and Kanner.

Tlaib was not Odeh’s only powerful ally. Early in 2017, Rep. Jan Schakowsky stood alongside the convicted double murderer at a rally opposing President Trump’s travel ban. In stark contrast, Schakowsky had refused to be in the same room with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, boycotting his 2015 speech to a joint session of Congress.

Shortly after teaming up with Schakowsky, Odeh served as an organizer of the March 2017 “Day without a Woman” strike. In an opinion piece for the Huffington Post, Terry Joffe Benaryeh wrote that she supported the strike but expressed bewilderment and outrage that it was being led by the terrorist who had slain her uncle and his friend.

In a 2014 National Review article, Jillian Kay Melchior recalled the Joffe family’s nightmare:

Eddie’s little brother, Harold, 19, had to accompany his shocked parents and Israeli officials to identify the body, says Basil, the eldest Joffe son. “I remember him telling me the body was so badly burned and blackened from the explosion that they could barely recognize it,” Basil tells me. “It was a pretty devastating thing for Harold to have to endure….The grief that my family, and especially my parents, experienced was immense….When I arrived in Jerusalem, we all just held each other and wept. There’s nothing that anybody could say….My parents’ lives were also devastated, definitely, and they never recovered until they died.”

Not surprisingly, one of Odeh’s biggest fans is Democratic activist Linda Sarsour, who dramatically embraced her at a rally in her honor before her deportation. (Sarsour, seemingly the face of the Democratic-Islamist-feminist alliance, seems to show up everywhere her brand of hatred is promoted: campaigning alongside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, sharing a stage with Louis Farrakhan, standing alongside Tlaib at her congressional swearing-in ceremony.)

What would be the reaction by media and Democrats if Republican members of Congress gave mainstream legitimacy to, teamed up with, and tweeted support for, a killer of students, with last year’s Florida school slaughter still fresh in our minds; a murderer of Jews, in the wake of the Pittsburgh massacre?

In Britain, where the same bigotry and callousness has hijacked the mainstream, J.K. Rowling tweeted a memorable response to a fellow novelist’s disdainful dismissal of Jewish outrage over Jeremy Corbyn’s latest anti-Jewish insult: “What other minority would you speak to this way?”

Rowling’s defense of British Jews inspires a similar question to Tlaib and Schakowsky, and to the Democratic congressional leadership that desecrates the memory of Kanner and Joffe by not demanding the resignation of its members who brazenly stand in solidarity with the murderer: Would you treat any other minority this way?

Edward B. Davis is an American freelance writer and aspiring novelist.


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