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JDL Protests Statue Honoring Slain Palestinian Activist

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The controversial national chairman of the Jewish Defense League said Tuesday he will complain to the City Council about a commemorative statue in Santa Ana of slain Palestinian-American activist Alex Odeh that portrays him as a man of peace.

Irv Rubin said he will bring a contingent of JDL supporters to next Monday’s council meeting to protest the nine-foot bronze statue, unveiled Sunday as a crowd of more than 500 supporters eulogized Odeh.

Odeh was killed in the 1985 booby-trap bombing of the Santa Ana offices of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, where he was head of the group’s western region. He had participated in dialogues with the Jewish community as an advocate for peace in the Middle East.

Rubin, however, disputes characterizing Odeh as peace-loving.

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“We’re going to make quite a dramatic protest because we feel in our hearts that to paint Alex Odeh as a man of peace is not the truth,” Rubin said. “This man was pro-(Palestinian Liberation Organization) 100%, and bottom line, he was a PLO propagandist. The PLO has their hands covered in Jewish blood.”

Odeh’s brother, Sami Odeh, of Orange said he respects Rubin’s right to free speech. But he said that Alex Odeh never endorsed violence and his reputation will stand up against Rubin’s attack.

“I know my brother. The world knows my brother, and his record speaks for itself,” Sami Odeh said.

“What Mr. Rubin thinks of my brother is not important to me. We had over 500 people at the ceremony who came from all across the United Sates, including congressmen, a mayor, a rabbi, priests and other figures who knew Alex well, not just heard about him. All had testified in public to his being a man of peace and to the good effort that Alex left behind.”

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Rubin said Tuesday that in a TV appearance the night before his death, Odeh expressed support for the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985, when passenger Leon Klinghoffer was killed by PLO-linked terrorists. He said he will ask Santa Ana officials to balance the Odeh statue by mounting one in Klinghoffer’s honor.

But Sami Odeh said Alex Odeh never supported the hijacking, and in fact condemned it in the television appearance.

“He expressed horror at the death of Mr. Klinghoffer and expressed hope that the perpetrators be brought to justice,” Odeh said.

After Odeh was killed in 1985, Rubin said: ‘I have no tears for Mr. Odeh. He got exactly what he deserved.” He later said he regretted the statement.

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