US student appeals Israel entry ban over past BDS links

US student appeals Israel entry ban over past BDS links
2 min read
17 October, 2018
An American student is appealing her ban from entering Israel, over her past support of the BDS pro-Palestine movement.
Alqasem was barred from entering Israel on 2 October [Anadolu]
An American student who was barred from entering Israel over her past support for a group linked to the Palestinian advocacy campaign Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) appealed the ban at an Israeli court on Wednesday in a final bid to avoid deportation.

Lara Alqasem appeared before Israel's top court Wednesday in a final appeal against the decision by authorities to bar her from entering the country.

She landed at Ben Gurion Airport on 2 October for master's degree studies at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, but was told by immigration she would not be allowed to enter the country.

Despite having a visa she was not allowed to enter Israel due to a 2017 law barring supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Alqasem was president of a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine - which supports the BDS campaign against Israel - when she studied a degree at the University of Florida.

Alqasem said she was no longer part of the BDS movement and would challenge the decision, although two appeals to lower courts have already been rejected.

Alqasem's lawyer told the Supreme Court that Israel should apply common sense when applying the law against BDS supporters.

"Why would she want to enter Israel to call for a boycott?" Yotam Ben Hillel asked. 

"She committed to not do so, and is aware" she would be deported if she did campaign, the lawyer added.

The Hebrew University have also said they want Alqasem to undertake her masters there and that the decision to block her entry was counter-productive. 

"We think that if people come and live here, they'll see we're not an apartheid state," the university's attorney Pepi Yakirevich said in court on Wednesday.

Israel's government said that she played a "central role" in the BDS-linked student organisation.

The panel of three judges adjourned the hearing and will announce a decision shortly, but they had already questioned the point of barring a person who was no longer active in the BDS movement.

Israel's parliament passed a law banning BDS supporters entering the country.

The movement is fashioned on the international campaign against South Africa before the fall of apartheid.