Palestinian UF graduate Lara Alqasem detained at Israeli airport

On Oct. 2, Lara Alqasem, 22, a former University of Florida graduate was detained at Ben Gurion Airport and ordered deported after Israeli security looked her up on Canary Mission, a right-wing blacklist site.

Alqasem was going to study for an MA at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and had received a visa valid for a year for that purpose. She remains in detention. Her detention and possible deportation raises major concerns about study abroad programs in Israel which might well deny entry to students of Palestinian origin or anyone who does not pass the right-wing litmus test. Unfortunately such tests are also being used to deny entry to people engaged in social justice work. Recently, Professor Katherine Frank who arrived in Israel to lead a delegation of human rights activists, was detained and deported. In light of these concerns, faculty from UF and around the country have signed the statement below for the release of Lara Alqasem.

We the undersigned faculty call for the immediate release from detention at Ben Gurion Airport of Lara Alqasem, a US citizen of Palestinian heritage who was traveling to the region to continue studies in Jerusalem. Lara, who graduated from the University of Florida this year with a degree in International Studies and Arabic and had a valid visa, was detained several days ago after being profiled by Israeli immigration officers at Ben Gurion airport and continues to remain in detention. She has been interrogated, threatened with a denial of the right to enter, and according to Cody O’Rourke, Communications Director of the Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem, was at times denied food, water, and access to the bathroom when she was first detained.

This kind of surveillance and treatment of US students by Israel is unacceptable. It is a violation of her human rights, her academic freedom and freedom of movement. The detention unfortunately suggests that Israel discriminates against Arab American students, who because of their cultural and familial connections to Palestine (Lara has Palestinian grandparents) are regularly turned back when they seek to enter Israel.

Adrian Roitberg, Professor, UF

Anastasia Ulanowitz, Associate Professor, UF

Bill V Mullen, Professor, Purdue University

Cynthia Franklin, Professor, University of Hawaii

David Klein, Professor, CSU, Northridge

David Lloyd, Professor, UC, Riverside

David Palumbo-liu, Professor, Stanford University

Dror Abend-David, Professor, UF

John Carlos Rowe, Professor, USC

John David Zuern, Professor, University of Hawaii

John K Schueller, Professor, UF

Kenneth B. Kidd, Professor, UF

Laurel Mei-Singh, Assistant Professor, University of Hawaii

Malini Johar Schueller, Professor, UF

Michael Leslie, Professor, UF

Monisha Das Gupta, Professor, University of Hawaii

Pamela Gilbert, Professor, UF

Paul Ortiz, Professor, UF

Peter J. Hirschfield, Professor UF

Rajini Srikanth, Professor, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Richard Burt, Professor, UF

Sankar Subramaniam, Professor, University of Hawaii

Saree Makdisi, Professor, UCLA

Sunaina Maira, Professor, UC Davis

Valeria Kleiman, Associate Professor, UF

Zoharah Simmons, Associate Professor, UF

Comments are closed.