Palestinian-owned bakery attacked for featuring a revolutionary

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The restaurant has been under attacks in the last couple of months, but community support remains strong.

The Palestinian-owned restaurant Reem’s California Bakery, located in the heart of Oakland, California, has been under fascism and bigotry attacks for having a grand mural of former Palestinian political prisoner and revolutionary Rasmea Odeh.

“Now we’re terrorists ourselves,” Cece Carpio, one of four artists who created the mural in the community-centered-and-funded bakery.

Carpio explained that Reem Assil, the owner of Reem’s, and her colaboration for Palestinian liberation, had been targeted by pro-Israel groups in the bay area.

But it wasn’t until assil opened her eatery a few months ago, with Odeh’s profile on its walls, that the forces opposed to Carpio´s work.

StandWithUs, a Zionist organization based in Los Angeles, first led the attacks against the restaurant with a rally in front of it at the end of June, and the issue was then picked up by Breitbart News Network, one of the largest conservative media outlets in the United States.

Now the attacks come from mainstream, right-wing, conservative groups and outlets from the United States to Europe, to Israel itself, said Lara Kiswani, the executive director of Arab Resource and Organizing Center, part of Reem’s grassroots defense network.

The attacks have also come in the form of hundreds of negative reviews on Yelp, a website which publishes crowd-sourced reviews of services and establishments.

“Zionist repression is global,” Kiswani declared, adding that it has always seeked to “erase and criminalize Palestinian resistance.”

The basis of the attacks, “focus on Rasmea”, and her mural inside the restaurant, send “dirty and violent” messages, added Carpio.

At 19-years-old, Odeh was arrested by Israeli authorities in 1969 in Jerusalem for her involvement in the Palestinian resistance movement. In prison she was beaten with wooden sticks, metal bars, open hands and fists and kicked with booted feet. She was also denied sanitary supplies while menstruating, prevented from using a washroom, denied regular sleep and left naked most of the time, often in front of male guards. One guard punched her repeatedly on her ears, which resulted in her hearing being impaired for two years.

Odeh was finally forced to sign a confession when guards brought in her father and ordered him to have sex with her. But according to an affidavit from clinical psychologist Mary Fabri, which detailed her PTSD, even after Odeh signed the confession, the torture did not stop.

She spent a decade in imprisonment till she was released in 1980 during a prisoner exchange with the Marxist-Leninist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Odeh now faces deportation from the United States where she has lived for more than 23 years, after she accepted a plea agreement at the end of March in her three-year battle with the U.S government over alleged “immigration fraud.”

“The attacks coming against Reem’s are part and parcel of the increased attacks we are seeing against Arab and Muslim communities, even more so under Trump,” added Assil, the restaurant owner.

But for a space that has been community-supported since the first day, the hostility have only affirmed how much Reem’s California Bakery is supported.

 

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