New push to find Alex Odeh’s assassins

Sami Odeh stands with a photo of his slain brother in 2005, 20 years after Alex Odeh’s assassination.

Erik Skindrud

In 1985, Palestinian-American civil rights leader Alex Odeh was killed in a terrorist bomb attack on the California offices of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

ADC announced earlier this month that Alex’s brother passed away on 6 June after a long illness.

“We regret that Sami Odeh never lived to see justice served for Alex’s death, but are hopeful that this case will be solved soon,” ADC wrote in a press release.

The next day Congressperson Loretta Sanchez, who represents Santa Ana where the bombing took place, sent a letter [PDF] to the attorney general requesting an update on the status of the case:

Close to 28 years have passed since the death of Alex Odeh … To this day, no arrests have been made and no one has been held accountable for the attack. The FBI’s case into Alex Odeh’s murder remains open, and is classified as a “priority investigation.”

The FBI is still offering a reward of up to $1 million “for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.”

Sami spoke to The Electronic Intifada in 2006 on his surprising optimism about the case:

We remain hopeful that eventually, justice will prevail … You have to understand that the FBI is up to their ears in cases. I know that the Israelis are making it tremendously difficult for them to do their job, but given enough time, I think they can finish it. And even if they aren’t brought to justice here — God will mete out justice eventually. And when he does, He won’t be under anyone’s political influence.

New efforts

Jewish Defense League suspects in the case fled to Israeli-occupied Palestine and were last reported to be living in the extremist Jewish colony Kiryat Arba near Hebron.

ADC communications director Raed Jarrar told me in a Skype interview about new efforts being made to pressure the US government and law enforcement to find the killers.

Marking 27 years after the bombing, ADC in October had sent a similar letter to Attorney General Eric Holder — but Holder never replied, Jarrar confirmed.

Jarrar said that getting members of Congress to put pressure on Eric Holder for an update made it harder for him to ignore, and ADC is encouraging people to write to their elected officials about the case via their website.

At ADC’s recent national convention, Jarrar said, four campaigning priorities were set, one of which was bringing closure to Odeh’s case.

Sheila Jackson Lee, one of the members of Congress who spoke at the convention, compared the case to Medgar Evers, a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People activist who was murdered by a white supremacist in 1963.

It took more than 30 years, but eventually Evers’ killer was jailed for the remainder of his life.

The NAACP’s president Benjamin Jealous gave the keynote address at the convention and promised to send out an action alert to the NAACP’s 670,000 subscribers on the 28th anniversary of Odeh’s murder in October, asking members to request an update on the case from the FBI.

Alex Odeh

The Jewish Defense League is a Zionist terrorist group that was founded in 1968 by the notorious racist Meir Kahane in New York. Kahane later moved to Israel and founded Kach, which was banned as a terrorist group even by Israel and the US. One of Kahane’s slogans was “every Jew a .22” (a reference to .22 caliber rifle).

"Today everybody know that Kahane was right"

Hebrew stickers in Jerusalem: “Today everybody knows that Kahane was right”.


Kahane, who was once elected to the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, openly called for all Palestinians to be expelled from the West Bank. To this day, many Israeli settlers and racists maintain the slogan “Kahane was right.” JDL has spawned imitators in Europe and Canada.

Irv Rubin, JDL chair at the time of the bombing, said “Odeh got what he deserved,” but denied responsibility. In 2002 he died in jail while awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy to bomb a mosque and an Arab American politician (for which his JDL comrade Earl Krugel eventually received 20 years).

According to the LA Times, former JDL members Keith Fuchs, Andy Green and Robert Manning were privately named by Rubin to Krugel as being part of the plot against Odeh.

Manning was extradited back to the US in the early 1990s and is serving a life term over a different bomb plot. But Fuchs and Green are said to be living comfortably in an illegal Israeli settlement in Hebron.

Why is the US government not requesting their extradition? Why is little or nothing being done to advance this supposedly “priority investigation” while at the same time the FBI chases whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, (who revealed the NSA’s secret PRISM internet snooping system)?




This article makes me cautiously optimistic. It would be wonderful if the NAACP could indeed mobilize is members


I voluntered with ADC in Alex's program in the 80's. He led an incredbly active chapter, bringing Tahys Rheinhart to CA along with several others, doing outreach to local Synogogues, and media. The JDL constantly made threats of violence, esp fo Rheinhardt, and we were trained by our labor union allies on how to fight with rolled newspapers in real fear of an attack. They showed us how to use rolled newspapers to strike back, you cannot hurt anyone but it is pretty offputting. Then on the day, the unions found us Pacific Islanders to man the doors, dock workers with thighs and biceps feet around, and noone of JDL even tried. My young son would come with me to that office, ahd ALex would alway take us to lunch at Roy Rogers so my son could get an Indian headress to wear. We could have been there that morning. I loved woking with Alex and Sami, dyhamic, imganitive, bold, o how bold. And so they killed him. If there is anything I can do to bring these killers to justice, please let me know


For this touching testimony. I first heard about Oudeh when archiving the literary remains of the Texan writer Patricia Highsmith in Switzerland. She had saved a cutting on the story that indicated that the culprits were to be found in the Jewish Defense League corner, but that no arrests had been made.
It's this kind of interest that has Highsmith routinely listed as an antisemite, by her biographers and Wikipedia etc. It's all rubbish of course, fanned by Islamophobes, the same ones who are blocking progress in this case

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and co-host of our podcast.

He is author of the bestselling book Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn (OR Books, 2023).