Who is afraid of Lara Alqasem?

The frenzy regarding Lara Alqasem, a 22-years old American citizen with Palestinian origins, seems to be reaching new heights: the Israeli authorities are extremely busy in searching the Facebook account of the young girl in order to find evidence for their claim that she was in contact with BDS activists. They are obsessive in their compulsive attempts to find info about her throughout Google and want to vindicate their unsound accusation that Alqasem is associated with Israel’s bitter enemies. Although it is evident that the girl wasn’t connected to any terrorist organizations, and even though she was a mere sympathizer of a tiny anti-Israeli group, the Israeli government is doing the best it can to show that the innocent Humanities student constitutes a threat to the country, something bigger than Hamas and more awful than the Islamic Jihad. Beware of Alqasem, they tell the court, she is far more dangerous than the armed Islamic militias.

The sick hysteria that characterizes the response of Israel’s authorities in the Alqasem case reflects the sheer fact that Israel is threatened by the BDS campaign more than it fears the threats posed to the country by the Islamic terrorists in Gaza strip. The Israelis know that the Jewish state suffers from a serious decline in its legitimacy; they understand that in their battle to annex the Palestinian territories, undermine the Palestinian national cause and deprive the Arabs from their basic human and civil rights, there are forces like the BDS which try to fight back and convince the international community that Israel is an Apartheid state. Israel, which resembles ancient Sparta but think of itself as classical Athens, knows that the BDS campaign became a powerful voice across America and Europe. Because Israel cannot win the hearts and minds of the Western public which is being exposed by the BDS activists the war crimes, atrocities and violations of human rights committed by the IDF, the Jewish state is therefore left besieged. All it can do is preventing Israel’s criticizers from entering the country, hoping that banning the entry of these people will help the government to convince the West that the occupation and its crimes are merely a fiction made up by antisemitic leftists. In a totalitarian fashion, only supporters of Israel’s government are allowed to step on the holy Jewish soil.

The BDS campaign, with all its problems, frightens Israel because its struggle against the Jewish state is far more successful than any armed fight taken by Palestinian militants. In many senses, the BDS constitutes the voice of the oppressed Arabs against the Israeli oppressor by demonstrating that Israel can be fought without any need in weapon or bloodshed. By implementing a successful struggle of unarmed political guerilla, the campaign doesn’t only show the truth about Israel but also provide practical civil ways to fight the Israeli occupier. Thanks to the BDS, Israel is weaker than it was in terms of its foreign affairs; because of the boycott campaigns, it is evident that the Jewish state can certainly oppress, enslave and impoverish the Palestinians, but there will be a huge price for its malice and Israeli generals, businessmen and statesmen will be persecuted and isolated abroad.

For these reasons, the young Lara Alqasem is treated as an enemy. She is an innocent, principled woman whose sin is endorsing the national cause of her people. She was brutally detained and faces stupid, malevolent charges by people who know that the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian people won’t endure forever. Israel must expel people like Alqasem and deport any opponent in its battle against the truth. Although it is clear that Lara is not a BDS activist, and though everyone know that she is young lady whose only wish is to study toward MA degree in Jerusalem, Israel cannot ignore her primordial sin: her valor and courage to support the struggle of her people against decades of brutal oppression. The tiny minority of Zionists in Israel who is committed to protect the idea of liberal and democratic Jewish state must rally around Alqasem and demand to free her and let the girl study without any restrictions. Those who aim to prove that Israel has an historic right to exist should protect the young student and get her out of the nails of Israel’s authoritarian rule.

About the Author
DAVID MERHAV is a journalist and editor; Since 2008, he is working as journalist & Op-Ed columnist in Makor Rishon daily, Hebrew conservative newspaper published in Jerusalem; He also served as the Public Relations director for the Jabotinky Institute in Israel.
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