Woman battling deportation cites judge’s Jewish ties in recusal request


WASHINGTON (JTA) — A woman convicted in Israel in connection with a 1969 terrorist bombing filed a motion to recuse the judge presiding over her deportation case because of his Jewish community ties.

The motion filed this week and first reported by Politico suggests that Rasmieh Yousef Odeh will allege at trial that she was tortured and raped while in Israeli custody.

Odeh is facing charges that she failed to note her Israeli conviction when she applied to enter the United States in 1993 and then when she became a citizen in 2004.

“Clearly, one who has been a life-long supporter and promoter of Israel and has deep ties to the State of Israel spanning over 50 years, who no doubt believes that Israel is a great democracy and protector of human rights, cannot be ‘reasonably’ said to be impartial when these claims of torture and illegality are raised by a Palestinian defendant,” Michael Deutsch, a lawyer for Odeh, wrote in the motion.

Paul Borman, a U.S. District Court judge in Detroit, and his wife have donated at least $3 million to the Detroit Jewish federation, according to the motion.

Deutsch casts Borman’s involvement with the federation as purely pro-Israel, although it is unclear from the motion how much of his donations and activism were designated for Israel-related activities.

For instance, Deutsch cites Borman’s earning the title of “Builder of Israel,” apparently unaware that the term dates from the biblical Book of Ruth and often is a rubric for an array of Jewish community activities.

Borman also has been credited by the federation for being “instrumental in bringing hundreds of Detroiters to Israel,” including state lawmakers, according to the motion.

Israel jailed Odeh for life for her involvement in a number of Jerusalem bombings in 1969, including one at a supermarket that killed two Hebrew University students, Leon Kanner and Eddie Joffe.

She was released in a prisoner exchange with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1980 and immigrated to the United States from Jordan in 1995.

Odeh was arrested last October for failing to disclose her terror attack conviction in her immigration papers. Her trial date is Oct. 21.


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