- Associated Press - Thursday, July 31, 2014

DETROIT (AP) - A judge with a history of service to the Jewish community said Thursday he won’t step down from a criminal case involving a Chicago Arab-American activist charged with lying about bombings in Israel when she entered the U.S.

U.S. District Judge Paul Borman, who is Jewish, sharply criticized an effort by Rasmieh Odeh’s attorneys to portray him as unsuitable for the case. She is charged with an immigration crime by failing to disclose her conviction in 1969 bombings in Jerusalem.

“Like every one of my colleagues on the bench, I have a history and a heritage, but neither interferes with my ability to administer impartial justice to Ms. Odeh or to the government,” Borman said in a 10-page decision.

Defense attorney Michael Deutsch had asked Borman to pass the case to another judge, noting that he had received a prestigious award from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

In a court filing, Deutsch said it’s “logical” to believe the judge has had contacts over the years with the Israeli military and its court system. Co-counsel James Fennerty even included public tax information from a family foundation that has made donations to Jewish groups.

But Borman pointed out it’s his cousin’s family - not him.

“These factually baseless allegations are irresponsible speculation,” Borman said.

Odeh, 67, also known as Rasmea Yousef, is associate director at the Arab American Action Network in Chicago.

She was convicted by an Israeli military court of placing two bombs at a Jerusalem market in 1969. One of them went off and killed two people. She also was convicted of a bombing at the British Consulate, which caused property damage a few days after the market attack.

Sentenced to life in prison, Odeh was released after 10 years in a prisoner swap between Israel and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.


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