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Retribution Against Activists

Posted in Action at 6:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An example of how authority in the US deals with people whom it wants to silence

IT IS no secret that political dissent is seen as some kind of terrorism now (often referred to as “domestic”), but there are no formal laws against such activities. After all, democracy is designed to facilitate and encourage political dissent; to crush political dissent would be an overt act of crushing democracy.

All sorts of methods — ranging from intimidation to punishment (e.g. forbidding access to one’s own children, deporting, suspension from a job) — are being used to weaken (if not to further radicalise) people who commit the act of political dissent. By political dissent we refer not to choosing one political party over another (especially when both parties promote more or less the same policies which favour the rich and the powerful). By political dissent we refer to what the rich and the powerful perceive as unruly conduct — something which jeopardises one type of authority (usually theirs).

“By political dissent we refer to what the rich and the powerful perceive as unruly conduct — something which jeopardises one type of authority (usually theirs).”It has been interesting to read the story of Rasmieh Odeh [1]. She is apparently being silenced, intimidated, and potentially jailed for something which was dug in from about a decade ago (AP tries to label her “terrorist” and a lot of the corporate press does the same). Why the sudden fishing? Well, putting aside work for women’s rights in the Arab world (which according to [2-4] from the news is a truly important cause) she was also promoting the Palestinian cause, which Facebook likes to censor (the US as a whole is exceptionally sensitive to this subject). Of course, the US has other enemies whose political dissent got them a file (dossier) in the CIA, as revealed earlier this year. That would be another supporter of the Palestinian cause, Noam Chomsky, who ‘dares’ to criticise other US policies, even this week [5].

The civil discourse and the remnant of democracy which we have left very much defends on our ability to defend political dissent. If we let our dogma win and we start labeling opposing views as “trolls” or “terrorists” (trying to get them in trouble), then we lose democracy as well as civility. We let brutes take charge of what’s a “permissible” point of view. Odeh is not being punished for what she was already punished for; she faces a sort of exile, using bureaucracy as a tool.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Political Case Brought Against Palestinian Organizer in Chicago for Immigration Fraud

    A Palestinian woman and well-respected organizer in Chicago has been charged with lying to immigration authorities about her background when she applied for citizenship in the United States. If convicted, she faces the possibility of being imprisoned for up to ten years and being deported.

    Rasmieh Odeh, who is sixty-six years-old, was arrested by Department of Homeland Security agents during the morning of October 22. She was brought before US Magistrate Judge Mason. Mason released her on $15,000 cash bond. She was ordered to appear in federal court by November 1 in Detroit, where she first lived.


    “We have been aware that the US Attorney in Chicago has not dropped the case against the 23 antiwar activists,” Iosbaker told Firedoglake. “This has been confirmed, reconfirmed and reconfirmed for us throughout the three years since we were subpoenaed and refused to appear before the grand jury.”

    “Here is a woman, a longtime activist in the Palestinian community, who has been living in the United States for twenty years. She’s been a model citizen contributing and serving her community. And, suddenly, ten years after she received citizenship, they scrutinize her,” Iosbaker stated. “They never would have looked at her at all had it not been for their investigation of the 23 antiwar activists, including Hatem Abudayyeh, who is her co-worker.”


    Like Iosbaker, he sees a connection between the investigation against him and 22 other activists. Assistant US Attorney Barry Jonas, who has been in charge of the investigation into the activists, was present in the courtroom when Odeh came before the judge.

    “She’s a prominent Palestinian organizer and activist,” Abudayyeh declared. “She’s being targeted because she’s a Palestinian. She’s being targeted because she’s an Arab. She’s being targeted because of who she is and what she represents,” which is years of organizing and activism on behalf of social justice and the rights of Palestinians.

  2. Saudi women’s driving kicks off without arrests

    Saudi activists said more than 60 women claimed to have answered their call on Saturday to get behind the wheel in a rare show of defiance against a ban on female driving in the ultraconservative kingdom.

  3. Saudi Government Versus Women
  4. Some Saudi women defy driving ban in day of protest

    A handful of Saudi women have taken to the streets in their cars on a day of collective protest against the ban on female drivers.

  5. Noam Chomsky: How the U.S.-Mexico Border Is Cruel by Design

    “The US-Mexican border, like most borders, was established by violence — and its architecture is the architecture of violence.”

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