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.
Ernst Benjamin, Zachary J. Braiterman, Susana Cavallo, Peter Dreier, Steve Eichel, Peter Eisenstadt, Gary Gilbert, Todd Gitlin, Karla Goldman, Henry Greenspan, Ulle V. Holt, Robert D. Johnston, David Kader, Wayne Karlin, Rebecca Lesses, Joe Lockard, Steven Lubet, Frances Malino, Jonathan Malino, Daniel Mandell, Tony Michels, Deborah Dash Moore, Cary Nelson, Nigel Paneth, Sharrona H. Peal, Jeff Rice, Chaim Seidler-Feller, Irwin Sandler, David Schraub, Kenneth Stern, Paula A. Treichler, Irene Tucker, Michael Walzer,Alan Dowty, Jack Kugelmass,Joan S. Friedman, Jeffry Mallow, Sharon Ann Musher, Robert W. Snyder, David Abraham, Deborah Achtenberg, Yael Aronoff, Atina Grossmann, Susannah Heschel, Marion Kaplan, Samuel D. Kassow, Rebecca A. Kobrin. Shulamit Magnus, Judith Vichniac, Janet Freedman, Yonathan Shapir, Alice Kessler-Harris and Alan J. Weisbard.
About the Alliance for Academic Freedom:
The Alliance for Academic Freedom consists of liberal and progressive scholars dedicated to combating academic boycotts and blacklists, defending freedom of expression and promoting empathy in the debate over Israelis and Palestinians. It operates under the umbrella of The Third Narrative, an Ameinu initiative that engages with the left around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a progressive perspective. When it comes to this conflict, the truth is rarely black or white; it resides in a gray area where advocates on either side typically don’t like to venture. That is where we try to go with The Third Narrative.