Dear Lara Alqasem

11 10 2018

See the source image

Dear Lara Alqasem,

Thanks so much for just sitting there with your dignity intact in Israeli detention at the airport for the past week, refusing to be bullied and badgered as is their style. Though you never imagined this, having obtained your student Visa planning to study law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, you’ve already gotten a special education and whatever happens now you are the winner and they — the racists and bigots and increasingly out-of-control Zionist extremists — are the loser.

Obviously you are not a total or major BDS supporter or you wouldn’t have chosen to study at an Israeli University!    But even if you were — as many of us are being pushed to be, partly to atone for the mistakes of our past — so what.  Your heritage is Palestinian and if you just wanted to go there for a visit that should be your right without question, much more than mine as an American Jew from Minnesota who has been to Israel probably 50 times…but will be going no longer.

But anyway, at this point, the whole world is watching you and learning from you while BDS is being further known and supported as a result of what is happening to you.   Just sit there quietly in detention at the airport and force the issue.  Do not denounce anything, do not play their game.  Sure it’s uncomfortable and they will find more and difficult ways to pressure you.   But you now have a kind of protection through notoriety, unlike what the Palestinians in Gaza and occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank face all the time with being harassed, beaten, tortured, imprisoned, maimed, and killed.

If they deport you they will have handed you a big megaphone which you can use for law and human rights and justice much more now than you could have before.  If they deport you there are many law schools that will want you. I’ll be the first to suggest to NYU Law where I studied international law and human rights that they should give you a Root-Tilden Public Service Fellowship like they did for me.

Let the Israelis squirm and twist among themselves for as long as they like. As they do they are demonstrating even more reasons why supporting BDS is in fact a reasonable and thoughtful thing to do under the worse-than-apartheid circumstances they have created.   If they don’t deport you and you do what you had planned, go to school at Hebrew University, remember others who dignified that university in the past, Chancellor Judah Magnes at the top of that list, along with Professors Israel Shahak and Yeshayahu Liebowitz, who for sure would be standing at your side today.

Over the years there have been many dignified and principled Israelis who bravely supported international law and justice and human rights not only for themselves but for the Palestinian people as well.  I knew all of these people personally and they had a great impact on me.  So if you do stay in Israel studying human rights issues ask about them for they would all be applauding you and probably supporting BDS in one way or another these days:

  • General Matti Peled,
  • Poet Laureate Natan Zach,
  • Labor Party Secretary-General Lova Eliva,
  • Playwright and TV host Dan Almagor,
  • journalist and author Simha Flapan,
  • novelist and artist Amos Kenan,
  • my special mentor Nahum Goldman for whom the Diaspora Museum at Tel Aviv University is named

…just to name a few of the big ones whom many Israelis even today will remember; and though you may not know of them they prepared the way for you and me and so many others struggling today.

Mark Bruzonsky