Cave of the Patriarchs, Rachel's Tomb Part of "Occupied Palestine" — UNESCO

13 October, 2018, 22:38 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio Cortez campaigning in NYC. She says she views the Middle East “through a human rights lens.” Getty Images

American Lara Alqasem sits in a courtroom prior to a hearing at the district court in Tel Aviv, Israel on Thursday.

A 22-year-old American graduate student has appealed against her detention at Israel's global airport over her alleged support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Alqasem appealed the deportation order issued last week when she tried to enter Israel and has remained in custody at a Ben-Gurion Airport holding facility for foreigners denied entry.

In an affidavit filed Thursday, Alqasem said that her thinking has changed in recent years and that she has moved away from espousing an anti-Israeli ideology. Granted the proper visa in the US, Alqasem arrived in Tel Aviv on October 2 with plans to pursue a master's degree at Hebrew University in Jerusalem but was ordered deported.

The government argues that groups such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that want to isolate Israel over its occupation of territory which Palestinians seek for a state are anti-Semitic and aimed at its destruction.

BDS campaigners promote boycotts against Israel in response to the oppression of the Palestinian people.

Alqasem has reportedly said she has since distanced herself from the movement, and supporters point to her willingness to enter Israel to study as proof.

Her mother, Karen Alqasem, told WMNF that "when she went through the gate to try to enter the country they asked where her father - you know she has the Alqasem name - so they asked where does that name come from, where was her father born?"

At an earlier hearing, Alqasem pledged not to take part in boycott activities while in Israel and said she did not intend to visit the West Bank, her attorneys said.


United States student Lara Alqasem sits for a hearing at the Tel Aviv District Court on October 11, 2018.

Erdan, Israel's minister for strategic affairs, described Students for Justice in Palestine as an extremist organization.

Israel passed a law in 2017 preventing foreign nationals who knowingly issue a public call advocating a boycott - be it economic, cultural or academic - from entering the country.

"Now she is barred on the basis of searches in Google in which they found scraps of information she may or may not have said and an organisation she may or may not be linked to". Jewish groups in the United States as well as the Hebrew University, where she is registered to pursue a master's degree in human rights, have also flocked to her defense.

"This kind of legislation might actually enhance the tendency to boycott Israel, instead of mitigating it", Medina was reported to have said.

"As a general principle, we value freedom of expression even in cases where we don't agree with the political views expressed and this is such a case", State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters.

"Our strong opposition to the boycotts and sanctions of the state of Israel is well-known", he said, but nevertheless added that "Israel is a sovereign nation that can determine who enters".

"There is a real question here for the Americans and especially for the Israelis to see what conclusions they draw from this decision", the source said.

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