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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Over two dozen university professors authored a letter to the editor Wednesday, slamming Israel for denying entrance to UF alumna Lara Alqasem, who was accepted into graduate school at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Although you would expect the highest degree of intellectual honesty from university professors, the piece is neither fair nor honest.  

The authors suggest Israel denied entry to Alqasem simply because of her Palestinian heritage — a practice the authors assert is common in Israel. The authors deliberately leave out the most essential fact of the story: In her time at UF, Alqasem was president of Students for Justice in Palestine, an organization which often supports, encourages and enables the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. I would find explaining the hypocrisy of seeking an education from the very country one sought to damage to be insulting to the reader’s intelligence, but that irony was apparently lost on all 26 professors who attached their name to that intellectually dishonest piece. The authors surely knew of Alqasem’s proximity to the BDS movement — and of a 2017 Israeli law banning the entrance of any BDS supporters — yet chose to withhold that from the piece. 

Such a guilty conscience implies the professors not only knew Israel was within its rights, but they knowingly attempted to deceive the public despite their roles as educators. 

This letter does not intend to stifle any criticisms of Israel, nor of its conduct in this specific situation. Authors of any critical piece — particularly those confident in their position — should shine a light on all the facts and not cast shadows on the most important ones.

Ethan Katz is a UF journalism and political science junior.


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