Visit our new website:

US student asks court to allow her entry into Israel

  • Fri, 12 Oct 2018 13:57
Fri, 2018-10-12 04:01

TEL AVIV: An American graduate student who has been held in detention while fighting an expulsion order over her involvement in the boycott movement against Israel appeared in court on Thursday, asking a judge to allow her to enter the country to begin her studies.

It was the first time that Lara Alqasem has appeared in public since she was stopped at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport on Oct. 2.

Alqasem, 22, appeared calm during the hearing, her hands folded on her knees. She kept quiet and stared straight ahead, at first struggling to suppress a giddy smile when swarmed by reporters and photographers.

She is to remain in detention until the court delivers its written verdict in the coming days. The judge gave no indication which way he would lean or when he would make his decision.

“I think we have a good case. The state’s argument and evidence was weak, but I’ve learned not to be optimistic,” her lawyer Yotam Ben-Hillel said, referring to a court’s rejection of Alqasem’s first appeal.

The 22-year-old American, whose father is Palestinian, arrived in Israel with a valid student visa and was registered to study human rights at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.

But she was barred from entering the country and ordered deported, based on suspicions that she is an activist in the boycott movement.

Israel has said that she is not being held against her will and is free to leave the country. It also has said it would reconsider its decision if she apologizes and renounces the boycott movement.

Israel enacted a law last year banning entry for any foreigner who “knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel.” It has come under heavy criticism for its handling of Alqasem’s case.

Alqasem, from Southwest Ranches, Florida, is a former president of the University of Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. The group is a branch of the BDS movement, whose name comes from its calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

BDS supporters say that in urging businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel, they are using nonviolent means to resist unjust policies toward Palestinians. Israel says the movement masks its motives to delegitimize or destroy the Jewish state.

Asher Fredman, a senior official in the Strategic Affairs Ministry, which oversees Israel’s anti-BDS efforts, said that Alqasem was being denied entry because of her past activities, not her opinions.

“We have clear criteria,” he said. “We believe that Miss Alqasem meets those criteria based on her actions, and the actions of the organization of which she was a senior leader over several years.”

Alqasem’s lawyers say that she is no longer engaged in BDS activity, and has promised not to promote it in the future. They claim her involvement in what they say is a small and insignificant chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine does not warrant Israel’s deportation order.

Ben-Hillel told the court that his client had come to Israel to learn Hebrew and study the Holocaust and other issues.

Former professors have described her as a curious and open-minded student. Jewish groups in the US as well as the Hebrew University, where she is registered to pursue a master’s degree in human rights, have also flocked to her defense.

A Hebrew University lawyer and two opposition lawmakers testified in her defense, saying the government’s tough stance was wrong and hurting the country’s image abroad.

Main category: 
BDS supporter fights entry ban in Israel Jewish-Arab TV star marriage in Israel draws hard-liners’ ire Middle-East


Popular Science

Related Stories

Poland may cancel visit to Israel amid new Holocaust spat
  • Mon, 18 Feb 2019 19:54

Author: APID: 1550480976757178700Mon, 2019-02-18 09:07 WARSAW: A government official says Poland is considering pulling out altogether from...

Polish PM cancels Israel visit amid new Holocaust tensions
  • Mon, 18 Feb 2019 07:25

Author: Associated PressID: 1550419106011763000Sun, 2019-02-17 15:02 WARSAW: A Polish government official says Prime Minister Mateusz Moraw...

Israel clears Palestinians from Jerusalem home claimed by settlers
  • Mon, 18 Feb 2019 05:21

Author: AFPID: 1550428613842457600Sun, 2019-02-17 17:32 JERUSALEM: Israeli police on Sunday evicted a Palestinian family from their home in...

Syrian state media says Israel artillery strikes Quneitra province
  • Tue, 12 Feb 2019 16:26

Mon, 2019-02-11 21:38 AMMAN: Israeli tank artillery hit a demolished hospital and an observation post in Syria’s southern Quneitra province near th...

Walk into Wonderland. by William Knop
  • Sat, 09 Feb 2019 10:37

Walk into Wonderland. by William Knop Rocky Mountain National Park | Colorado William Knop: Photos ...

India court hands 7 Muslim men life sentences for killings that sparked 2013 riots
  • Sat, 09 Feb 2019 02:56

Author: ReutersID: 1549631837878482300Fri, 2019-02-08 13:11 NEW DELHI: An Indian court on Friday sentenced seven Muslim men to life in pris...

US Supreme Court allows execution of Muslim inmate in Alabama to go ahead
  • Fri, 08 Feb 2019 11:57

Author: ReutersID: 1549594154926730700Fri, 2019-02-08 06:43 NEW YORK: The US Supreme Court on Thursday voted 5-4 to allow the execution of ...

US blocks UN statement on Hebron monitors ejected by Israel
  • Thu, 07 Feb 2019 11:39

Author: ReutersID: 1549503873707730000Thu, 2019-02-07 04:34 UNITED NATIONS: The United States blocked a draft United Nations Security Counc...

Indian Hindu temple board reverses opposition to entry of women
  • Thu, 07 Feb 2019 00:26

Author: ReutersID: 1549451229452144000Wed, 2019-02-06 11:02 NEW DELHI: A board that oversees an ancient Hindu hill temple in southern India...

First wave of new Ethiopian immigrants arrives in Israel
  • Tue, 05 Feb 2019 04:15

Author: APID: 1549311087899497200Mon, 2019-02-04 19:40 LOD, Israel: Nearly 100 Ethiopian Jews have landed in Israel in the first wave of ne...

Italy slides into recession, darkening outlook for Europe
  • Fri, 01 Feb 2019 06:39

Author: By COLLEEN BARRY and PAN PYLAS | APID: 1548939452306404600Thu, 2019-01-31 (All day) MILAN: Italy has fallen back into recession, in...

Amnesty urges travel sites to ban Israel settlement listings
  • Wed, 30 Jan 2019 17:16

Author: Associated PressID: 1548832495356963800Wed, 2019-01-30 (All day) JERUSALEM: Amnesty International on Wednesday urged online travel ...