A federal judge in Detroit withdrew on Tuesday from a Palestinian activist’s case over his financial ties to Israel.
The US federal authorities arrested Palestinian activist Rasmieh Odeh several months ago on charges of failing to declare her detention in Israel 45 years ago when applying for her immigration papers. Odeh was arrested and tortured in Israel on charges she never confessed to relating to bombing an Israeli chain store in Jerusalem in 1969. She was released ten years later during a prisoner exchange deal.
The defence team discovered that US District Judge Paul Borman, who was appointed to try the case, and his family had financial ties to the chain store when it was bombed.
A spokesperson for Odeh’s defence team told Al-Arab Al-Yawm newspaper that Judge Borman, who is Jewish, decided on his own to resign because of the growing fears of bias. The spokesperson said the defence team also proved through public records that he had made donations to Zionist organisations in the past.
“According to the records, several years ago Judge Borman donated $6,000 of his own money to American Friends of the IDF and helped collect hundreds of thousands of dollars for other Zionist organisations, for which he received several awards from AIPAC,” the spokesperson reportedly told the newspaper.
The defence committee asked Judge Borman last month to withdraw from the case to preserve the verdict’s integrity, saying he is influenced by Zionist propaganda.
The case has now been reassigned to US District Judge Gershwin A Drain. Odeh’s trial will resume early next month and may continue for three weeks before a verdict is issued.
Odeh’s defence team has been able to collect donations to cover part of the trial’s costs, which in total could reach as much as $200,000.
The unexpected turn in Odeh’s case is seen as a victory for not only the activist, but also the growing BDS movement in the United States.