We the undersigned faculty members of the Alliance for Academic Freedom (AAF) stand in solidarity with the presidents of all Israeli universities in urging the Israeli authorities to permit the American student Lara Alqasem to enter the country to pursue her studies at Hebrew University. We join with the many faculty members and organizations throughout the US that have endorsed her right to study at any university to which she gains admission. As a last resort, we urge the Israeli Supreme Court to intervene and reverse the government’s decision.
We recognize that Israel has the independent right and responsibility to apply its security concerns in evaluating any individual’s entry into the country. We do not, however, believe that support of the BDS movement in itself poses a security threat. Though we condemn many of the statements and actions of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), we do not believe student activism in SJP rises to that level of threat either.
Undergraduate student political opinion is often very much in flux and typically lacks the documentary evidence available in evaluating the views of older persons. We are also very much concerned with the government’s reported reliance on the Canary Mission website to inform itself about this case. Canary Mission routinely condemns students without a sound basis for judging where students stand.
We also understand that, unlike colleges and universities, governments are not obligated to honor academic freedom. While not, therefore, technically a violation of Alqasem’s academic freedom, the decision to deport her and prevent her from studying in the program to which Hebrew University has admitted her clearly abridges her academic freedom. It also undermines the right a university has to admit students of its choice.
The AAF has consistently opposed academic boycotts of Israeli universities. We are also dedicated to supporting Israeli democracy. Democracies benefit from supporting freedom of speech and the right to dissent. Universities cannot thrive without those freedoms. We believe those rights mandate permitting Lara Alqasem to enter Israel and attend Hebrew University.
David Abraham, Deborah Achtenberg, Yael Aronoff, Ernst Benjamin, Zachary J. Braiterman, Susana Cavallo, Alan Dowty, Peter Dreier, Steve Eichel, Peter Eisenstadt, Sam Fleischacker, Janet Freedman, Joan S. Friedman, Gary Gilbert, Todd Gitlin, Karla Goldman, Henry Greenspan, Atina Grossmann, Susannah Heschel, Ulle V. Holt, Robert D. Johnston, David Kader, Marion Kaplan, Wayne Karlin, Samuel D. Kassow, Alice Kessler-Harris, Rebecca A. Kobrin, Jack Kugelmass, Rebecca Lesses, Joe Lockard, Steven Lubet, Shulamit Magnus, Frances Malino, Jonathan Malino, Jeffry V. Mallow, Daniel Mandell, Tony Michels, Deborah Dash Moore, Sharon Musher, Cary Nelson, Nigel Paneth, Sharrona H. Peal, Jeff Rice, Chaim Seidler-Feller, Irwin Sandler, Paul Scham, David Schraub, Yonathan Shapir, Robert W. Snyder, Kenneth Stern, Paula A. Treichler, Irene Tucker, Judith Vichniac, Michael Walzer, Alan J. Weisbard, and Jeff Weintraub.