Letters to the Editor: Let Me Tell You About Lara Alqasem, the American Student Detained by Israel

Lara Alqasem

Let me tell you about Lara Alqasem

In response to “Israel denies entry to American student even though she had a visa," October 4.

I read the Haaretz report about a young woman who was not permitted to enter Israel, and suddenly, I understood something. She was my student, a delightful young woman, an outstanding student, curious, with an open mind, and someone who very much wanted to study international relations in Israel to develop her own opinion on the conflict.

Lara Alqasem studied with me in a first-year Hebrew course during the 2016-2017 academic year. It was impossible not to notice that she was an exceptional student – hard-working, curious and ambitious. The first-year Hebrew course met every day for the entire year, and it is impossible to teach this course without getting to know the students well. Lara studied Arabic and international relations. She was interested in a wide range of subjects, such as Japanese folklore, American history and wildlife.

She was curious about Israel and never expressed any negative sentiment or anger about Israel. Apparently the fact that she chose and was accepted by Hebrew University in Jerusalem demonstrates that she wasn’t boycotting Israel. Beyond that, in November 2017, I went with my daughter to hear a lecture at the university by a Holocaust survivor. I was pleased to find Lara in the audience. I think that gesture – which Lara made on her own – shows her open and positive attitude towards Judaism, Jews and the State of Israel.

When she told me that she was about to study in Jerusalem, I understood from her that she had simply chosen the best program in the academic field that she was in. The State of Israel, which takes pride in the academic system that it presents to the world, needs to act accordingly.

Dr. Dror Abend-David
Lecturer in Jewish language and culture, University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida

Death sentence is due

For every action there must be a reaction and the reaction to Sunday’s double murder must display strength, not weakness. To take a woman from her daughter and a man from his children is a crime beyond words, and there should be a death sentence for the perpetrator. The people demand protection by their government, not sometime in the future but now. Take a leaf out of Trump’s book, build a wall for complete separation. An “US TOO” movement for complete protection – you know it makes sense!

Stephen Vishnick
Tel Aviv

UNRWA is just a scapegoat

I am not going to tell you how UNRWA was instrumental in mitigating the sheer vulnerability of refugees, alleviating poverty and offering basic services from healthcare, education, relief, micro and macro finances to social services to millions of Palestinian refugees. I can understand long-standing Israeli insecurity and their fear that one day millions of Palestinians will flood into what is now Israel, aiming at destroy it, and that UNRWA is perpetuating the conflict by preventing refugees’ integration into their host countries and rekindling their right to return. However, Palestinians’ right to return to their ancestral homeland has nothing to do with UNRWA and a lot to do with the inviolability of divine justice, social cohesion, inclusivity, peace, fairness, equality and the will of the international community. Palestinians are not fictitious. They are proud people of rich cultural heritage and deep-rooted civilization that withstood occupation, repression and ceaseless attempts to send them into the oblivious annals of history. Last but not least, isn’t it absurd that you waited decades for a crook like Trump to declare Jerusalem as your capital and liquidate the Palestinian refugee?

Dr. Munjed Farid al Qutob
London

Oslo today

In response to “An alternative history: How Shimon Peres made peace by walking away from Oslo,” Israel Harel, Opinion, September 13.

The Palestinian problem would have been solved after Rabin’s assassination had Labor persuaded King Hussein of Jordan to take control over the one-fifth of the West Bank inhabited by 95% of the territory’s population, in Israel Harel’s opinion.

The Oslo agreements are the opposite of this colonialist approach of those like Harel who do not see the Palestinians. The agreements state: “The State of Israel and the Palestinian people agreed to recognize their mutual legitimate and political rights, to strive to live in peaceful coexistence and mutual dignity and security.” The two people, Israeli and Palestinian, agreed to see each other eye to eye, to solve conflicts in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

The division of the West Bank into areas A, B and C, with divisions of jurisdiction over land, civil powers and responsibilities, is a clause of Oslo II. So is the creation of the Palestinian Police, to assume the responsibility for public order for Palestinians. The agreements are endorsed by the U.S., Russia, Egypt, Jordan, Norway and the European Union.

Without the Oslo agreements there is no legitimacy to areas A, B, or C, or to the Palestinian Police.

The Oslo agreements are still on their way. If only our leader and the Palestinian leader would start talking to each other while remembering they were empowered to represent the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, both of which yearn to put an end to confrontation, to live in peaceful coexistence, in freedom, in dignity and security.

Dr. Ruth Sharon
Rehovot

A different kind of peace plan

The two-state solution is not a viable possibility in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as we have seen in the uproar over Jerusalem. The only solution to this conflict is to allow the immigration of persecuted Mideast Christians into the areas of the West Bank, Gaza, and Golan Heights in order to form a confederation of three religious nations where Muslims, Christians, and Jews live together and where Eastern Jerusalem is the capital of all three nations. This area would be known as the United Nations of Jerusalem (UNJ).

The Jewish nation would be known as Judea, the Islamic nation Palestine, and the Christian nation Samaria. Each nation would have a president and parliament. Each group would learn to coexist and cooperate because no one group would or could ever obtain absolute control under such a structure. The Jewish state of Israel would return to the pre-1967 borders and Israel would oversee the external defense of the UNJ.

If we can solve the conflict in these three areas, we can surely bring about true peace to the Middle East. Time is running out for the Palestinians before we have a humanitarian crisis on our hands. Hopefully, the Norwegians can lead the world in promoting peace. The United States is not capable of such task with Trump as president.

Jon Dolen
Green Valley, Illinois

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