USA student in boycott case allowed to stay in Israel: court

Larry Hoffman
October 22, 2018

The lawyers of a US student who was barred entry into Israel under a law against foreign pro-Palestinian activists who call for boycotts of Israel, claimed "victory" after the Supreme Court weighed in on the case.

On Sunday, the Supreme Court agreed to halt Alqasem's deportation in order to review her case.

Lara Alqasem, the American student detained in Israel's airport, will be allowed to stay and study in the country, Israel's Supreme Court ruled.

The Supreme Court decided Thursday that Lara Alqasem, a student facing deportation for BDS activism, can remain in Israel, where she is registered to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

On Thursday, a day after Alqasem's hearing at the Israeli Supreme Court, the justices ruled she could enter the country, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. "If that is indeed the case, this is an extreme and unsafe step that is likely to lead to the crumbling of the pillars on which Israel's democracy is built".

During her testimony in the lower court, Alqasem said she left the SJP in 2017 and no longer supports the BDS.

The student declared that her decision to study at an Israeli university was proof that she was not a boycott supporter.

She issued the following statement through her lawyers: "I'm relieved at the court's decision and am incredibly grateful for the work of my incredible and tireless well as the support of my family and friends", adding that she "will be happy to say more when I've had a chance to rest and process".

State lawyers argued that Alqasem's deletion of her social media aroused suspicion and that she remains a threat. Many chapters of the group support BDS campaigns.

Leora Bechor, one of Alqasem's lawyers, told NPR's Daniel Estrin the court ruling is "a victory for free speech, academic freedom, and the rule of law".

The University of Florida graduate who was originally denied entry into Israel because of her pro-Palestinian activism can stay in the country and enroll in a graduate program at a Jerusalem university, Israel's Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Interior Minister Arie Deri, under whose ministry the immigration authority falls, lashed out at the court in response. "And as Jimmy Carter - former U.S. President Jimmy Carter's called, he said what's happening in Israel in terms of the unequal treatment of Palestinians is no different than the Apartheid that was enacted in South Africa".

"Look, I think this whole incident has been a wake-up call for the hypocrisy in how Israel treats Palestinian-Americans and how it treats American citizens. Israel has the right to control its borders, but that right does not give the Interior Ministry unchecked power to turn away anyone it deems unwanted", Ben Hillel and Bechor said in a statement. "Lara's case proves that thought-policing has no absolutely place in a democracy".

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