“Nearly four decades after Mr. Odeh’s death, no one has yet been brought to justice for this act of terrorism on American soil.”
“The full pursuit of justice under the law is every American’s underlying right.”
Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | October 11, 2022 – On the anniversary of Alex Odeh’s assassination, Members of Congress and allies joined the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) in calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to bring those responsible for Alex Odeh’s murder to justice. Following Alex’s assassination in 1985, the FBI classified the bombing as an act of domestic terrorism and designated the investigation as one of the highest national priority. Despite solid leads, no arrests have been made.
ADC, in a correspondence to Attorney General Merrick Garland, laid out specific questions regarding the case that remain unanswered and requested that he take immediate action to bring justice. The letter closes, “The American ideal of justice is dependent upon individuals being held to account for their actions. The friends, the family, and the legacy of Mr. Odeh deserve that justice.”
Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI, 13) and three of her colleagues in the House of Representatives, requested answers to many of the same questions raised by ADC. The Congressional letter notes that it was during a Congressional hearing in 1986 that the case was last publicly updated. The Members of Congress that joined Rep. Tlaib were Reps. James McGovern (D-MA, 2), Betty McCollum (D-MN, 4), and Danny Davis (D-IL, 7).
Nearly two dozen of ADC’s allies also communicated to the Attorney General expressing their solidarity in the pursuit of justice for Alex. The groups specifically highlight that “nearly four decades after Mr. Odeh’s death, no one has yet been brought to justice for this act of terrorism on American soil.” The allies who joined are (in alphabetical order):
· American Muslims for Palestine
· Arab American Civic Council
· Center for Disability Rights
· Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism
· Council on American-Islamic Relations
· Defending Rights & Dissent
· Emgage Action
· Episcopal Peace Fellowship – Palestine Israel Network
· Friends of Sabeel, North America (FOSNA)
· Friends of Sabeel – LA/OC Chapter
· Muslim Advocates
· Muslim Public Affairs Council
· National Network for Arab American Communities
· PFLAG National
· Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)
· South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
· The Sikh Coalition
After joining ADC in 1982, Alex Odeh quickly rose to the forefront of combatting stereotyping of Arabs and biased reporting. He fought tirelessly to build unity between Jews, Muslims and Christians in southern California. On the day of his assassination, Alex was scheduled to give a speech at Congregation B’nai Tzadek, a synagogue in Fountain Valley.
Prior to his murder, Alex had been the victim of numerous hate-filled threats to his life and safety simply because of his advocacy for Arab-American and Palestinian-American rights. An exemplary and dynamic civil rights activist, he never let the threats deter him from his important work. As his wife, Norma Odeh, described him during the 1986 House Judiciary Committee hearing about the case, “he was a support organizer with a unique talent for bringing people of all races and religions together to work side by side for the common good of all mankind.”
Born in the Palestinian village of Jifna in 1944, Alex was a firsthand witness to the dispossession and disenfranchisement of the Palestinian people. In 1972, he brought those experiences to America. Like thousands of his Palestinian Arab brethren, Alex used art to speak about the Palestinian struggle for human rights, once publishing a volume of poetry dedicated to that cause. Today, he continues to stand as a model of perseverance and dedication to all Arab Americans and Palestinian Americans.
It is important to remember the context of the terrorist bombing that took Alex’s life. It was not simply a hate crime, it was part of a series of attacks that targeted ADC offices across the country, including in Boston and Washington, D.C. This was a concerted effort by Israeli terrorist organization(s) to silence ADC. One suspected group behind the attack is the Jewish Defense League (JDL). The JDL, and other Israeli extremists adhere to the teachings of radical Rabbi Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the JDL. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the JDL has orchestrated countless terrorist attacks in the U.S. and abroad, and has engaged in intense harassment of foreign diplomats, Muslims, Jewish scholars and community leaders, and officials.
In 1986, the FBI stated during a Congressional hearing that the “Jewish extremist elements” were responsible for the attack. Subsequent reporting by investigative journalists over the years has indicated that the FBI specifically identified three members of the JDL as those responsible for the targeted terror attack. Two of those suspects currently live on an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. As of today no members of the JDL have ever been publicly named as suspects in the attack, nor have any members of the JDL ever been charged or prosecuted in connection with Alex’s assassination.
The other primary suspect in the case, Robert Manning, is currently in prison for the 1980 mail bombing of the Prowest Computer Corp. in which an employee, Patricia Wilkerson, was killed. Manning, who fled to Israel after Alex’s assassination, was extradited to the U.S. to stand trial for the Wilkerson killing. In 1993, he was found guilty of the bombing death of Wilkerson, and in 2014, ADC and the Odeh family were recognized as victims of Manning. ADC has vigorously pushed back against Manning in his parole hearings – it is imperative that he remain in custody so he does not flee to Israel where he would be allowed to live freely under the protection of the occupying Government of Israel.