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Rasmea Odeh and Arab Women's Committee release book ‘Towards the Sun’

By Danya Zituni |
July 18, 2017
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Rasmea Odeh Nehad Khader (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Chicago, IL - On July 13, over 75 Palestinian and Arab women gathered at Jerusalem Banquets to celebrate the release of Towards the Sun, a book written by members of the Arab Women's Committee (AWC).

In 2008, the Arab Women's Committee devised a writing project to help develop their ability to express the struggles they have faced as immigrant Arab women in the U.S. Towards the Sun includes 19 stories in both Arabic and English, and will be used to guide the committee in its organizing campaigns.

Rasmea Odeh founded the Arab Women's Committee under the umbrella of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) to organize and serve the needs of immigrant and refugee Arab women from primarily working-class backgrounds. Odeh recruited the now over 800 members of the committee by going door to door in the community, and speaking on the phone with every Arab name in the phone book. The Arab Women's Committee is a critical institution built by and embedded in the Arab community, providing services such as English and citizenship classes, counseling on domestic violence, and a welcoming space for Arab women to share intimate stories from within their homes and beyond.

Odeh is being forced out of the country by the U.S. government on bogus immigration charges. Odeh, her supporters, and her legal team say that the immigration charge was nothing but a pretext to attack this icon of the Palestine liberation movement.

Members of the Rasmea Defense Committee, led by the US Palestinian Community Network and the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, are promoting a farewell event for Rasmea Odeh on Aug. 12.

Rasmea Odeh told Fight Back!, "The experiences and stories of the members of the Arab Women’s Committee convey all of the contradictions and challenges they had in the U.S. At the beginning, it was difficult because they considered these to be private matters that should not be discussed, even in front of each other!"

Odeh continued, "But over time, through workshops that trained them in writing, political education and a variety of other subjects, this project focused on empowering the participants to share their experiences. Because every immigrant Arab woman has similar experiences, I believed it would be very important to publish them in a book - it might inspire other women to overcome these challenges."