Two weeks after flying to Israel to begin her master's degree, American student Lara Alqasem sits in detention, facing expulsion from the country over her political beliefs.
Over the past two weeks, the world has watched as the Israeli government has detained and sought to deport Lara Alqasem — a 22-year old American student with a valid visa who had traveled to Israel to pursue a master’s degree in human rights at Hebrew University.
The Israeli government has refused entry to Alqasem — under a 2011 law that has been fiercely criticized by free speech advocates both in Israel and around the world — based on allegations that she supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement in the past. The fact that Alqasem says that she does not currently support BDS, (as evidenced by her decision to study at an Israeli university) underscores the absurdity of the case against her.
Alqasem’s case is part of a disturbing trend under the Netanyahu government of cracking down on dissent and intimidating and detaining critics. Coming shortly after a series of detentions and interrogations of prominent public figures like Peter Beinart and Reza Aslan, the passage of the Nation-State Law and arrests of anti-occupation activists, this incident is just the latest reminder of the perilous state of free expression and democracy in Israel today.
After temporarily freezing Alqasem’s deportation and following a lower court decision affirming the government’s ability to deport her, Israel’s Supreme Court will take a critical step this coming Wednesday, October 17, when it will determine whether to hear Alqasem’s appeal.
For more information watch our Facebook Live discussion with Alqasem’s attorney and MK Tamar Zandberg.
Dear @____: Strong democracies don’t punish their critics. Lara Alqasem wants to study in #Israel. Pro-Israel Americans say #LetHerStay.
Lara Alqasem has been in detention for two weeks. Placing a call takes less than a minute. Visit our call page to get the correct phone number and a short script.