If Saturday's fundraising dinner for the group American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) is any indication, role models for their cause include an unrepentant killer, a woman directly responsible for two people's deaths in a grocery store bombing. Prosecutors say she is in America only because she kept that crime a secret from immigration officials.
In addition to its praise for Rasmieh Odeh, the dinner at a banquet hall outside of Chicago offered further insight into AMP's radical ideology. Other speakers included a man identified as a Muslim Brotherhood leader in Jordan who previously led a Hamas-propaganda arm in America and a man listed as a member of the Palestine Committee, the Muslim Brotherhood's umbrella organization of American-based Hamas-support groups.
And it is especially relevant if claims that AMP is working with the U.S. Department of Education and is developing a curriculum about the Palestinian cause for high school students prove to be true. While AMP members have a right to their beliefs, public officials should be wary of the group's consistent support for terrorists.
As we reported previously, AMP does not advocate for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it openly endorses "resistance," a euphemism for violence, and speakers demand rejecting Israel's legitimacy.
It is in that context that Odeh received a hero's welcome. She was singled out as "a great community member, a great member for the Palestinian cause" by master of ceremonies Rami Bleibel.
Odeh was indicted in October and charged with naturalization fraud. She failed to disclose her arrest, and 10 years in an Israeli prison, for her role in 1969 bombings by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Two people were killed when one of the bombs went off in a grocery store.
The case is "politically motivated and its intent is to hurt the active Palestinian solidarity movement and to hurt all strong Palestinian activists that are standing up for the just cause of Palestine," said Bleibel, AMP's chapter coordinator. Speaking for AMP, he said that "Rasmieh's case is our case, as activists for this just cause of Palestine and supporters of human rights and supporters of justice for all over the world."
Politically motivated. That's the standard Islamist reply to virtually all prosecutions of terrorists and their supporters. It has been trotted out to minimize the conviction of five men in a Hamas-financing trial - the largest terror finance trial in U.S. history. It continues to be invoked in the case of a former Palestinian Islamic Jihad board member. And now, prosecuting a terrorist who lied on her applications to get into this country and obtain citizenship is politically motivated.
"We will not be intimidated," Bleibel said Saturday evening about Odeh. "We will continue to work day-in, day-out, night and day, to serve this beloved cause, until we see a free Palestine. I want to take this moment to ask all of you to get up, stand up, and give Rasmieh Odeh a round of applause and to applause to show the community is behind her and we will continue to support her."
The bombing was never mentioned. Odeh received several ovations.
Flyers available at the dinner urged supporters to sign a petition and call Illinois U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, "to demand that she DROP THE CHARGES NOW!"
It's a message consistent with previous AMP gatherings, including a 2011 conference which cast Palestinians convicted on terror-related charges in America as heroes.
The AMP is no fringe outlier among Islamist groups. It is a founding member of the new U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations, joining the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).