Statement on Ismail Ajjawi

Amideast has received an outpouring of interest and support from across the country and around the globe concerning the denial of entry to the United States of Ismail Ajjawi, a Palestinian refugee and Harvard scholarship recipient.

After obtaining a U.S. visa, Ismail traveled from his home in Tyre, Lebanon, to Boston Logan International Airport on Friday, August 23rd. Upon his arrival to the U.S., immigration officials questioned Ismail for several hours and examined his social media before refusing him entry.

Ismail is one of the most talented students that Amideast has worked with through the Hope Fund program. He achieved one the highest scores in Lebanon on the baccalaureate exam this summer and plans to major in biology.

We are tremendously grateful for all of the sympathy and support that has been expressed for Ismail at this most difficult time for him and his family. We particularly want to thank Harvard University for giving underserved young people like Ismail a chance for a world class education. They have been fully behind efforts to have him admitted to the U.S. as soon as possible.

The Amideast fund that sponsors Ismail is called The Hope Fund for a reason. It offers Palestinian high school graduates an opportunity to access an undergraduate education in the United States, something many of them never thought was possible. Hope Fund alumni have gone on to become the first Palestinian Rhodes Scholar, a medical student at Stanford, and PhDs in science, engineering, and other challenging fields.

In addition to the Hope Fund, a U.S. Government program helped Ismail obtain this extraordinary opportunity to study at Harvard. He is just one of that program’s great success stories.

Our fervent wish is that this promising young man will be able to return to the United States in time to join his peers in Harvard’s Class of 2023 when fall semester begins. To that end, we are working in full support of his case with Harvard University and U.S. authorities to resolve the issue.


The Hope Fund is dedicated to fulfilling the dreams of deserving Palestinian youth—many from refugee backgrounds—for a higher education that will realize their academic and leadership potential. Since its establishment in 2000, it has provided higher educational opportunities in the United States for 140 exceptional Palestinian students living in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Jordan, including 54 alone this year.