American student denied entry to Israel

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner with the Shurat Ha Din Israel Law Center

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner with the Shurat Ha Din Israel Law Center

Tel Aviv District Court announced Friday it ruled to reject an appeal of the USA citizen who had been previously refused entry upon flying into Israel.

Lara Alqasem's lawyer, Yotam Ben-Hillel, said she has until Sunday morning to decide whether to appeal to the Supreme Court or leave the country.

The site claimed that she was involved in a 2016 event calling for the boycott of Sabra Hummus, partly an Israeli company, in which baseless accusations of Israel's "apartheid" policies and "ethnic cleansing" were made.

Alqasem has argued that she is no longer active in the boycott movement and has been supported by professors at her alma mater, the University of Florida, and Israel's Hebrew University, where she hopes to pursue a master's degree in human rights. The BDS movement calls for an global boycott of products from Israel and divestment from Israeli companies in a bid to pressure the country into compliance with worldwide law, particularly as it pertains to illegal settlements and human rights abuses. It also said it would reconsider its decision if she apologized and renounced the boycott movement.

Israel has chose to determine who will be allowed to enter Israel and the occupied territories based on the political ideology.

"The Reform Movement categorically opposes BDS", Rabbi Joshua Weinberg, the Union for Reform Judaism vice president for Israel and Reform Zionism, said in a statement Wednesday.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauertt, in turn, told reporters on Wednesday that Israel has a right to determine who should be allowed into the country, without specifying the U.S. position on the issue.

Alqasem, from the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Southwest Ranches, Florida, is a former president of the University of Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. "To her, this isn't a contradiction". Her mother, Karen Alqasem, speaking from Florida, told the Associated Press, "She is being treated like a criminal but she is not a criminal".

While waiting for her appeal to be heard, Alqasem has been spending her days in a closed area with little access to a telephone, no internet and a bed that was infested with bedbugs, according to people who have spoken to her.

"She wants to come here and learn". They claim her involvement in what they say is a small and insignificant chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine does not warrant Israel's deportation order. She has been held at an immigration facility at the airport while she sought to fight the entry ban. "We find it ironic that someone who calls on the indiscriminate boycott of Israel, as a tool to harm and destroy the State of Israel, wishes to study in the very country which they call to boycott".

The Hebrew University has called on the authorities to allow her in to study and has supported her appeal.

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