Alex Odeh and Rachel Corrie share an unfortunate thing in common: both political activists suffered tragic, violent deaths.
Odeh, a Palestinian-American activist, died in 1985 when a rigged bomb exploded as he opened the door to his work office in Santa Ana. Nearly 20 years later an Israeli army Caterpillar bulldozer crushed Palestinian solidarity activist Rachel Corrie to death in the Gaza Strip.
Their shared legacy and deaths will intertwine this Sunday when Cindy Corrie, Rachel's mother, delivers the keynote address during the annual Alex Odeh memorial banquet in Anaheim.
The event is presented by the OC chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC-OC)–the organization Odeh worked tirelessly for at the end of his life.
A number of honors are slated to be given as part of the banquet. Local Syrian-American artist and activist Sama Wareh will take home the Rachel Corrie Award. KPFK-LA 90.7FM radio host Lila Garret, author/activist Miko Peled, philanthropists Norman Tanber and George Hanna round out the rest of the recipients.
The ADC-OC also has updates for banquet attendants. The Alex Odeh statue perched in front of Santa Ana Central Library will be restored by the city from the wear and tear of chipped edges and rust. Showing that the work of the organization is as relevant today as ever, the ADC-OC will also take the occasion to celebrate the retiring of Coachella Valley High School's racist "Arab" mascot.
The cause of justice for Alex Odeh continues, as well. Last year Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez called for a congressional hearing into the terrorist bombing, which was never officially solved (although the speculation has always centered around Jewish Defense League member Irv Rubin, himself mysteriously killed in prison). The move followed civil rights organizations joining Sanchez in pressing for a probe from the Department of Justice.
Accountability remains evasive for the Corrie family as well. An Israeli army investigation into Rachel's death–surprise, surprise–absolved itself of any culpability. Corrie's parents sued the Israeli government, countering that the bulldozer driver intentionally or at least recklessly crushed her only to have a court agree with the army's internal findings. A decision on an appeal is yet to come.
Next year's memorial banquet will mark the 30th anniversary of Odeh's death.
The Alex Odeh Banquet takes place at the Anaheim Sheraton Park Hotel, 1855 South Harbor Blvd. Anaheim. Sun., 5 p.m. For ticket information visit: http://www.adc.org/
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2