Today, responding to the ongoing detention of Palestinian-American student Lara Alqasem at Ben Gurion Airport and the government’s prevention of Alqasem from commencing her studies at Hebrew University, Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund, released the following statement:
“A strong democracy welcomes the free flow of information and ideas. Lara Alqasem should be sitting in her first week of classes at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem today. Instead, the government has held the 22-year-old American student in detention at Ben Gurion airport for almost two weeks, preventing her from studying justice at one of the world’s preeminent institutions of higher learning.
“When the government passed its antidemocratic Progressive Ban under the guise of a law changing the rules for entry into the country and “combating BDS,” we knew what it really was. And though the government promised it would only be used against certain well-known international leaders, we warned that this would be the outcome: a political litmus test, and a tool for witch hunts against anyone the government marks as undesirable.
“This is who the Netanyahu government is afraid of: young people and women, students and professors, those who care about democracy and justice, Palestinians and Israelis who choose to struggle together rather than against one another. Those who will not accept the status quo Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so carefully constructed will be those who lead to the end of the politics of fear and cruelty. And we stand with them.”