On Tuesday, August 12th, Judge Paul Borman recused himself from the case of Palestinian community leader, Rasmea Odeh after revealing his family’s business interests directly related to the case. When Odeh’s defense called upon Borman to step down two weeks prior, Borman refused, claiming that the motion for recusal was based on his Jewish heritage and “religious convictions.” But the call for Judge Borman to recuse himself was based all along on the fact that Borman has interests in Israel that prevent him from acting with impartiality. Borman wrote that he discovered new information relating to his financial interests, and admitted that his financial connections "could be perceived as establishing a reasonably objective inference of a lack of impartiality in the context of the issues presented in this case.” Borman revealed that his family had “passive” financial investments in SuperSol, the Jerusalem supermarket Odeh was accused of bombing in 1969. Borman said that until now, he was unaware that SuperSol was the target of the bombing.
Judge Borman’s initial refusal to recuse himself and his insistence that Odeh’s defense based their argument of impartiality on his Jewish identity reflects a recurring theme in legal repression of Palestine human rights organizers. Critiques of political support for the Israeli state are repeatedly misrepresented as critiques of Jewish people.
The case has been randomly reassigned to U.S. District Judge Gershwin A. Drain of Detroit. A status hearing is still planned for Tuesday, September 2nd, and the Rasmea Defense Committee is calling on supporters to mobilize at the courthouse and demand that prosecutors drop the charges that day. The date of the actual trial will be rescheduled.