If you’ve ever visited the the Santa Ana Public Library in the Civic Center you probably have noticed a statue of a man holding a dove in front of the main entrance and asked yourself “who is he”? Is it a statue honoring one of Santa Ana’s or Orange County’s forefathers? Is it a statue honoring a historical figure from literature? An author perhaps? No this statue is none of these.
The nine-foot bronze statue that was erected in 1994 honors Alex Odeh, the west-coast regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, who was murdered October 11, 1985 in a terrorist attack right here in Santa Ana at 1905 E. 17th Street. Odeh was killed when a bomb triggered as he put the key into his office door exploded. The FBI classified the bombing as a terrorist attack and believed that Jewish militants from the Jewish Defense League (JDL) were probably responsible for the murder.
Odeh, who on the day of his murder had been scheduled to speak at Friday prayer services at a synagogue in Fountain Valley, was believed targeted because of his support for the Palestinian people and for what some claimed were anti-semetic statements. Odeh, shortly before his murder, had appeared on Nightline with Ted Koppel and debated with a member of the JDL. He was killed by cowardly terrorists simply because of something he said.
The late Irv Rubin (pictured above) who was a leader of the JDL sated, “I have no tears for Mr. Odeh. He got exactly what he deserved.” Rubin also gleefully exclaimed after the statue was twice vandalized, “I think the guy is a war criminal.”
Let me remind everyone that if we forget history, we are bound to repeat it. This brings me back to the here and now in Santa Ana. We are all now aware of the unfortunate choice of words by Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez in regards to the PBID debate and Irv and Ryan Chase. It is never wise to invoke the name of Adolf Hitler into any debate. While comments and actions by the Chase’s appear to demonstrate an anti-Latino/immigrant bias, bringing Hitler’s name into the debate is wrong.
Some bloggers, local media types and others in Santa Ana have seized upon this and whipped up an angry frenzy. One of our regular readers/commenters, “Cook”, has even used the term “lynch mob” to describe those atacking Alvarez. The screams of “anti-semitism” are being used to create a toxic atmosphere of hate with Mayor Pro Tem Alvarez as their target. This is quite scary and can have dire consequences.
Those fanning the flames of hate against Alvarez don’t know exactly who is listening, nor do they care. All they are concerned with is their agenda and their opposition to Alvarez and her allies. All of this hysteria can very well awaken the demons inside of some extremist and the next thing you know we have what happened to Alex Odeh all over again.
Just as Mayor Pro Tem Alvarez’s words spoke in anger and frustration were irresponsible, so too are the words being written and spoken by those attacking Alvarez. Alvarez has apologized for her words, when will the Chase’s apologize for their words and actions? Once they do perhaps we can put this whole unfortunate incident behind us.
We must stop throwing gasoline on the fire and fanning the flames of hate. God save any other family from suffering the same despair that the Odeh family has had to deal with for the past 25 years.