Appeal of US student barred from entering Israel rejected

Elias Hubbard
October 15, 2018

According to the Jerusalem Post, Alqasem - who is of Palestinian descent - was offered entry to Israel if she renounced the BDS movement but Yotam Ben-Hillel, Alqasem's lawyer, is said to have stridently refused the offer.

An Israeli court on Friday upheld the barring of an American student from the country over her alleged activities in support of an worldwide boycott campaign by pro-Palestinian groups.

Israel enacted a law a year ago banning entry for any foreigner who "knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel". She may ask the Israeli Supreme Court to hear her appeal before her scheduled deportation on Sunday. "The judge emphasized that the decision was not made to deter visiting students because not every student serves as the president of a branch of a prominent boycott organization and tries to hide such by erasing their social media accounts". "She is reading the verdict and considering her next steps", Ben Hillel said.

Alqasem's family charged Israel with exaggerating her involvement in SJP, saying she only belonged to the campus group for a semester.

Israeli officials didn't allow her to enter the country, however, despite the fact that she holds a student visa to study in Israel.

Hebrew University, which joined Alqasem in her appeal, said that denying her entry was only causing more damage to the anti-boycott cause.

J Street, a USA advocacy group working to promote a peaceful resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, published an open letter to Minister Gilad Erdan saying the action taken against Alqasem showed the "deeply counterproductive and anti-democratic nature" of the Israeli government's approach to BDS and to criticism of its policies. When did she have time to be a central activist, as the criteria require for "consistent and long-term support" for a boycott? Asher Cohen, said. "That activity of hers is against BDS".

Commenting on the case, Strategic Affairs Minister of Israel Gilad Erdan stated that his country has the right to protect itself and decide who can or cannot cross its borders.

Lior Haiat, the consul general of Israel in Miami, told the Miami Herald that he couldn't understand why someone seeking the boycott of Israel would wish to study in the country.

"We believe that enabling people to see and experience Israel for themselves is the best antidote to those who seek to de-legitimize and demonize it". Her mother, Karen Alqasem, speaking from Florida, told the Associated Press, "She is being treated like a criminal but she is not a criminal". Her lawyer says she is determined to go through the procedure and would rather spend a few more days incarcerated if it would give her a better chance to enter Israel.

Earlier this week, hundreds of academics signed a letter calling on Israel to allow Alqasem to enter the country.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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