Getting To Know The Muscle Behind The Women’s Strike
By Evan Lips | March 7, 2017, 20:31 EDT
If it all goes according to plan on Wednesday, women will be teaming up in droves to celebrate the “day without women” by refusing to shop (except at women or minority-owned businesses) and by, above all, refusing to work.
The intent is to send a message, organizers say, to show solidarity in the name of a host of issues, ranging from raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and ensuring reproductive freedom with “full access and no coercion” to halting “racist and sexual assaults, and all forms of bigotry.”
In Boston, activists and organizers have scheduled a 4 p.m. rally to be held at Downtown Crossing, in the name of opposing President Donald Trump’s “aggressively misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic and racist policies.”
— Women’s March (@womensmarch) March 2, 2017
The date coincides with International Women’s Day, and comes on the heels of the massive women’s marches that immediately followed Trump’s inauguration. So who are the national organizers behind this movement? A closer look reveals that efforts are being spearheaded by a group featuring a distinctly pro-Palestine bent.
A major player in the movement is Rasmeah Yousef Odeh, whose background includes a 1970 conviction in an Israeli military court over her involvement in a series of terrorist bombings, resulting in the deaths of two Israeli college students. Odeh earned a life sentence for her role in the 1969 attacks in Jerusalem but was released in 1980 following a prisoner exchange agreement.
Odeh has claimed that she made her confession while being tortured by Israeli interrogators. She later again ran afoul of the law in 2014, when she was found guilty of lying when she applied for American citizenship. Prosecutors proved that Odeh failed to disclose her involvement and subsequent conviction in the Jerusalem bomb plot.
In a 2004 documentary titled “Women in Struggle” and produced by a Palestinian filmmaker named Buthina Canaan Koury, an accomplice of Odeh’s openly recounts her role in the plot.
“What I had attempted doing in placing the bomb was part of my motivation, in doing effective work,” Ayesha Odeh, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine at the time, recalled at one point during the hour-long documentary. “I did not get involved in studying the location, but the others who I had worked with had done so.
“My role was implementing rather than planning.”
Ayesha Odeh later implicated Rasmeah Odeh in a grocery store bombing.
“Rasmeah Odeh was more involved than I was, I only got involved during the preparation of explosives,” Ayesha Odeh says at one point. “We wanted to place two bombs to blow up consecutively. I suggested to have the second bomb go off five or six minutes after the first bomb so that those who get killed in it would be members of the army and secret service, but it did not explode. They diffused it 20 seconds before it exploded.”
Prosecutors discovered that in 2004, the same year Koury’s documentary detailed the history of the bomb plot, Rasmeah Odeh answered “no” when asked on a citizenship application as to whether she had any prior criminal convictions.
Odeh was sentenced in March 2015 by a federal judge to serve 18 months in a federal prison. The sentence included stripping her U.S. citizenship and an order to deport her. Odeh, however, currently remains free as her appeal is still winding its way through the legal system.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel, according to an Associated Press report on Odeh’s sentencing, said Odeh is viewed by Islamic terrorists as “an icon.”
Meanwhile, one of the major organizers behind January’s march in Washington D.C., was Linda Sarsour. Sarsour, born to Palestinian immigrants and raised in Brooklyn, serves as director of the Arab American Association in New York and has been the subject of glowing profiles in publications such as the New York Times, which dubbed her as a “Brooklyn homegirl in a hijab.”
— Women’s March (@womensmarch) January 23, 2017
Sarsour’s public comments suggest, however, that she did not exactly embrace a call by former President Barack Obama asking American Muslims to help root out extremism. In an interview with National Public Radio, Sarsour claimed the Muslim community was being singled-out.
“We would never ask any other faith community to stand up and condemn acts of violence committed by people within their groups,” Sarsour said. “The fact that this is only directed at the Muslim community is something that I personally can’t accept.”
Sarsour, who has been an active supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, is also active on social media. Her public comments on feminism, however, appear to conflict with several key tenets of Islam and Sharia law in particular.
In one instance, Sarsour attempted to downplay Saudi laws that ban women from being allowed to drive a car:
10 weeks of PAID maternity leave in Saudi Arabia. Yes PAID. And ur worrying about women driving. Puts us to shame. http://t.co/xZAwgg6HXL
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) November 16, 2014
Sarsour also appears to support Sharia law, despite her frequent haranguing of the Trump presidency as being sexist and misogynist.
You’ll know when you’re living under Sharia Law if suddenly all your loans & credit cards become interest free. Sound nice, doesn’t it?
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) May 13, 2015
In another instance, Sarsour took aim at fellow feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali:
Ali, a Somali-born research fellow at the Hoover Institution, is known as a vocal critic of Islam. During an interview with Fox News, Ali described Sarsour as “hostile to me not because she knows me, but because she’s a fake feminist.”
“Ms. Sarsour is not interested in universal human rights — she’s a defender Sharia law, and the principle of Sharia law — there’s no principle that demeans and dehumanizes women more than the principle of Sharia law,” Ali added. “Linda Sarsour is a defender of that.
“She hates me because of that.”
Sarsour has also made several public statements notable for demeaning the plight of African-American slaves:
The Obama administration, nevertheless, praised Sarsour as a “Champion of Change.”
Wednesday’s 4 p.m. women’s rally in Boston will take place at the staircase between the department stores TJ Maxx and Old Navy, steps away from the Downtown Crossing MBTA station.