Lena Odgaard has been a regular contributor to the American independent radio station, Free Speech Radio News (FSRN) since January 2013. Additionally, she has reported for international outlets including Radio France International (RFI) and Monocle24. 

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Trump campaigners seek out American voters in Israel

October 27, 2016 | FSRN 

The U.S. presidential election is entering its final weeks and party activists are working non-stop to get voters to cast their ballots – including those who live abroad. An estimated 2.6 million eligible American voters live outside of the U.S., about 130,000 in Israel. Though that may seem like a small number,  GOP candidate Donald Trump’s supporters in Israel are certain  their votes are crucial.

Originally published on FSRN

New trade law could reverse 50 years of U.S. economic policy regarding occupied Palestinian territories

March 10, 2016 | FSRN

British private security contractor G4S announced Wednesday that the company will liquidate its operations in Israel after reporting a steep drop in annual profits. The multinational, which sells services and equipment to Israeli detention centers and West Bank checkpoints, has long been a focus of the BDS movement. But a new U.S. law, signed late last month by President Barack Obama, may complicate the economic shaming campaigns that have been gaining traction around the world.

The stated aim of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 is to remove unfair barriers to competitive U.S. trade, but the legislation also includes provisions designed to oppose boycotts and similar economic measures against Israel. While the bill passed without much controversy or coverage in the U.S., Lena Odgaard reports that its implications could mark a change in 50 years of U.S. policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jewish and Arab parents push for integrated schools for all religions, cultures in Israel

February 3, 2016 | FSRN

While tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have surged in recent months increasing ethnic cracks in Israeli society, a group of Jewish and Arab parents in Jaffa are fighting to open a school that pays equal respect to all its student’s religions and cultural traditions.

TEL AVIV - A group of around 70 Jewish, Christian and Muslim parents and children gathered in front of City Hall in Tel Aviv chanting “Hand in Hand,”  first in Hebrew, then Arabic. The children wore stickers on their jackets and sweatshirts with the words “Jaffa demands school for all: bilingual, equal and public.”

The parents want the municipality to allow them to open a public school in neighboring Jaffa under the auspices of Hand in Hand, an organization that runs bilingual, public Arab-Jewish schools throughout Israel.

“That’s what we are fighting for. We want to be able to give our kids education based on equality that is bilingual, multicultural. That will expose our kids to all types of populations, nationalities, religions and backgrounds,” explains Honey Shamy, a Palestinian Christian mother, has two young daughters, the oldest of whom is ready to start elementary school in the fall. Both girls attend a kindergarten run by Hand in Hand and this has given her hope in better future.

Find the original report here

Monocle24 : Palestinians seek resolution to raise their flag at the UN

September 2, 2015 | Monocle 24 - The Briefing

Child waves Palestinian flags in Ramallah as president Abbas addresses the UN General Assembly asking for recognition as state on November 29, 2012. PHOTO: Lena Odgaard

Child waves Palestinian flags in Ramallah as president Abbas addresses the UN General Assembly asking for recognition as state on November 29, 2012. PHOTO: Lena Odgaard

The Palestinian Mission to the UN has asked for the flags on non-member states such as that of Palestine and the Holy See be raised after the flags of member states when leaders from around the world convene. 

The Israeli ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, has formally complained to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and current president of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa of Uganda and accused the Palestinians of "attempting to swiftly change longstanding UN tradition in order to score political points."

But why is the move so important to the Palestinians and what is the likelihood of the draft resolution being accepted?

S. African Jews apologize to Palestinians displaced from their village by the Nakba

May 15, 2015 | FSRN

Each May 15th, about five million Palestinian refugees worldwide commemorate the ‘Nakba’ (Arabic for ‘the Catastrophe’) – when nearly half of the Arab population within the borders of what used to be the British Mandate of Palestine was displaced in the war following Israel’s independence. The refugees still demand the right to return but most have nothing to return to as around 400 villages were destroyed. FSRN’s Lena Odgaard joined a small group of Palestinian refugees who were invited back to the ruins of their village, Lubya, in northern Israel where they received an unexpected apology.

Israel’s Netanyahu claims decisive victory after 11th hour hard-line push

Mar. 18, 2015 | FSRN

Just before Israeli voters went to the polls yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulled out the hard-line rhetoric and it looks like it hit its mark, earning him a victory in the election. But his U-turn on a two-state solution and his overt criticism of U.S. and European negotiations with Iran may have further distanced Israel from Western allies.  FSRN’s Nell Abram spoke with correspondent Lena Odgaard from Ramallah to discuss the outcome and what people are saying about it in both Palestinian and Israeli West Bank communities.

New party could be a ‘game-changer’ in Israeli elections

Mar. 13, 2015 | FSRN

Aida Touma-Suliman (right) of the Joint List Party at a public debate in Tel Aviv hosted by the Heinrich Böll Foundation

Aida Touma-Suliman (right) of the Joint List Party at a public debate in Tel Aviv hosted by the Heinrich Böll Foundation

Ahead of the upcoming Israeli parliament election a new party has emerged – the Joint List. It merges four predominantly Arab parties into one, making it potentially the third largest in the Israeli parliament, Knesset. It has been called a ‘game changer’ in Israeli politics as it aims at not only to unite Arab voters but also reaches out to the Israeli Left. 

Israel showcases drone technology as the world’s top exporter

Dec. 19, 2014 | FSRN

Wikileaks this week published a CIA assessment of its program to assassinate so-called “high value targets.”  In the internal secret report from 2009, the CIA recognized the program could be counterproductive in that targeted killings “may increase support for the insurgents, particularly if these strikes enhance insurgent leaders’ lore, if non-combatants are killed in the attacks, if legitimate or semi-legitimate politicians aligned with the insurgents are targeted, or if the government is already seen as overly repressive or violent.” According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, within one year of the report’s internal publication, casualties attributed to  drone strikes in Pakistan reached historic highs.

The use of weaponized and surveillance drones is often associated with the no-longer-secret CIA program, but the U.S. actually restricts the sale of unmanned aerial vehicles. However, a close military ally of the U.S. has cornered the market, becoming the world’s top exporter of UAV technology.

Bus lines from West Bank to Israel criticized as move toward segregation

March 5, 2013 | FSRN

This week Israel launched two new bus lines for Palestinians from the West Bank working in Israel. According to the Israeli public transportation company, Afikim, the new buses are aimed at easing the lives of Palestinians. But International and Israeli human rights organizations have criticized the so-called “Palestinians-only” buses for being an attempt at segregating Palestinians and Israelis.