American Student Wins Appeal to Enter Israel

October 19, 2018

An American student who was barred from entering Israel for her alleged past support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement will be permitted to enter the country and begin her studies as a master’s student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Haaretz reported that Lara Alqasem won her appeal with the Israel’s Supreme Court, which found that the decision to invalidate her student visa upon her arrival in Israel was unreasonable.

"Since the appellant's actions do not raise satisfactory cause to bar her to entry to Israel, the inevitable impression is that invalidating the visa given to her was due to the political opinions she holds," the verdict said. "If this is truly the case, then we are talking about an extreme and dangerous step, which could lead to the crumbling of the pillars upon which democracy in Israel stands.”

Alqasem, who has Palestinian grandparents, had been held in a detention center at the Tel Aviv airport for more than two weeks after Israeli officials denied her entry to Israel under the terms of a 2017 law barring the entry of foreign supporters of boycotts. In explaining why Alqasem was denied entry, Israeli officials cited her past presidency of the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at the University of Florida and that group’s advocacy for a boycott of an Israeli brand of hummus.

Hebrew University had supported Alqasem in her appeal. In a statement Wednesday the university said it “looks forward to welcoming our newest student, Lara Alqasem, as she begins her M.A. in human rights and transitional justice at our law school next week."

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