Published: Sun, October 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Israeli Supreme Courtroom permits US ‘boycott’ scholar to remain

Israeli Supreme Courtroom permits US ‘boycott’ scholar to remain

Security officials cited her role as president of a small local chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Florida.

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.

By Wednesday, Alqasem had almost exhausted her legal options, finally turning to the country's high court after a lower court rejected her appeal.

Alqasem, 22, of Southwest Ranches, a former boycott activist at the University of Florida, had been held in detention at Israel's global airport since arriving in the country on October 2 with a valid student visa.

Israel's Supreme Court on Thursday overturned an entry ban imposed on a United States student over past support for a pro-Palestinian boycott campaign, court documents said.

A US student's court victory against the Israeli government's attempt to bar her from the country may prove only a short reprieve in the "battle" over a law targeting some pro-Palestinian activists, one of her lawyers said on Friday.

However one justice wrote that if Alqasem "returns to her old ways" and promoted a boycott while she is in Israel, her stay could be canceled and she could be expelled.

Alqasem reportedly said in a statement that she was "relieved at the court's decision" and thanked her lawyers, family and friends.

Her lawyers, however, argued that Alqasem "does not meet the evidentiary test of what it means to be an activist", adding that there is "no paper or digital trail" that she is a BDS activist, and that she has made no public statements in support of the movement.

"I'm deeply disappointed", Gilad Erdan, head of Israel's Strategic Affairs Ministry, said. She is enrolled as a student in a graduate program in human rights at Hebrew University.

She said Israel should reconsider how it applies its entry ban.

The court cited in its decision the Hebrew University's contention that barring the entry, at the airport, of a foreign student accepted into an worldwide programme damaged the university's global ties. "The principle that whoever acts to harm the State of Israel and its citizens should be refused entry must be preserved".

Three major American Jewish groups declared their support for Alqasem last week: The Reform movement, the Anti-Defamation League and J Street, the liberal Israel lobby.

Bechor said the ruling set a precedent that would "ensure no one else is denied the right to enter Israel based on sloppy Google searches and dossiers by shadowy smear groups".

"Lara's case proves that thought-policing has no place in a democracy", they continued.

Interior Minister Arie Deri, under whose ministry the immigration authority falls, lashed out at the court in response. In the U.S. would she also dare to act against the state and demand to remain and study there?

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