January 29, 2015
BY EMAIL AND FIRST CLASS MAIL
Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider
President, DePaul University
Office of the President
1 East Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604-2287
Dear Reverend Holtschneider:
On behalf of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the U.S., I write to urge you to publicly and unequivocally condemn the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) Chicago Network and their fundraiser for Rasmea Odeh. The fundraiser is scheduled to take place on your campus on February 3, 2015.
As you surely know, Odeh and other members of the U.S-designated foreign terrorist organization called the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) were responsible for the 1969 bombing of a crowded supermarket in Jerusalem, Israel, killing two innocent Hebrew University students who were shopping in preparation for the Jewish Sabbath, and harming many other innocent civilians. Four days later, Odeh and other PFLP terrorists attempted to blow up the British Consulate in Israel. Odeh was prosecuted and convicted for her crimes and imprisoned in Israel. In 1979, she was released in a prisoner swap with the PFLP. Eventually, she made her way to the United States, where she was convicted last November by a federal jury in Detroit of the crime of immigration fraud, after she repeatedly lied on her application for naturalization as a U.S. citizen about her criminal history and her history of imprisonment. Odeh plans to appeal the jury verdict, and the SJP is raising money for her legal defense, shamefully touting the fundraiser at DePaul as a “celebration” of Odeh’s “resilience.”
We question the legality of the SJP’s fundraiser – and the use of DePaul University resources to carry it out – since federal law clearly prohibits providing material support to terrorists, and Odeh is a convicted terrorist. Even if the SJP has the right to proceed with this fundraiser, you have the right – and indeed the moral obligation – to speak out and condemn the SJP for lauding and fundraising for a convicted terrorist murderer in Israel who now has a separate criminal conviction here in the U.S. based on her lies about her criminal history.
The moral imperative to speak out about the SJP’s repugnant conduct is especially great for you and DePaul University, given that you are a religious leader and DePaul is the largest Catholic university in the country. DePaul’s website emphasizes the university’s Catholic character, noting that the university community “is above all characterized by ennobling the God-given dignity of each person.” How is that mission being served when the university will be the venue for extolling and financially supporting a terrorist who deliberately murdered and harmed innocent civilians in Israel, showing zero regard for their dignity and their lives?
You no doubt are aware that last spring, Jewish students at DePaul came forward to say that they were feeling unsafe on campus, based on the SJP’s intimidating conduct. We can only imagine how Jewish students on your campus must be feeling right now, when the SJP is celebrating and fundraising for a Jew-killing terrorist, and the DePaul administration is not speaking out against it. In addition to your moral obligations, DePaul has a legal obligation, under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, to provide Jewish students with a campus environment that is free from anti-Semitic hostility, and to take steps to remedy a hostile environment.
You cannot remain silent. Your silence sends the wrong message to the DePaul community – that the SJP fundraiser is tolerable and acceptable, and that it is just another routine student group event “where diverse perspectives can be exchanged and discussed,” which is the language that a DePaul University representative used in a shamefully indifferent statement about the fundraiser. There is nothing routine about this fundraiser; it is reprehensible and immoral. We urge you to exercise your First Amendment rights and your moral leadership by making it crystal clear that DePaul University condemns the SJP and its actions, which violate the values and mission of your university.
We look forward to your response.
Very truly yours,
Susan B. Tuchman