US Student Denied Entry into Israel Unless Condemns BDS
Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activism is the most effective initiative challenging Israeli ruthlessness.
Resisting tyranny is a universal right. BDS activists demand Israel be held accountable for its high crimes too grievous and longstanding to be ignored.
Its tactics involve “calls for boycott and divestment initiatives in the academic, cultural, economic and sports fields and for pressuring states to implement meaningful sanctions against Israel until it fully complies with its obligations under international law.”
Groups and individuals supporting BDS are banned from entering Israel – part of its war on free expression activism against its vicious mistreatment of Palestinians.
Lara Alqasem is a 22-year-old Palestinian/American student. Israel granted her visa permission to pursue graduate work at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.
On arrival at Ben Gurion airport October 2, she was detained and ordered deported for alleged past membership in a student organization supporting BDS.
Over 100 academics and Jewish professionals demanded her release and permission to enter Israel for graduate work, saying the following:
“As academics from multiple disciplines at universities across the United States and across the globe, we are dismayed at the decision of the Ministry of Interior to deny entry to American citizen Lara Alqasem.”
“Alqasem was accepted and planned to matriculate into a Masters program in Transitional Justice at Hebrew University.”
“Despite her having received a student visa from the Israeli consulate in Miami, Alqasem was nonetheless denied entry at the airport on October 2, where, according to reliable media sources, she was questioned about her political activities…and her ethnic heritage. (Alqasem’s grandparents are Palestinian).”
“Denying entry to foreign students based on political beliefs or ethnic heritage is an attack on academic freedom.”
“As professors who are committed to academic freedom, and as humans who reject all forms of racial profiling, we are calling on the Israeli authorities to permit Lara Alqasem to enter Israel and pursue her studies.”
Separately, over 500 Hebrew University academics made a similar appeal, urging her entry into Israel, saying “(t)he decision to bar entry to a student simply because of her views certainly threatens us, and threatens everything the university represents.”
Alqasem appealed her deportation order after a Tel Aviv court approved it, delaying action against her.
On Monday, Hebrew University joined her appeal to prevent deportation. Israeli law enacted last year bars entry to non-residents for supporting BDS or opposing (unlawful) settlements.
A number of high-profile Jewish American academics and others were detained, harshly interrogated, and deported for criticizing Israeli actions.
On Tuesday, Israeli strategic affairs minister Gilad Erdan said if Alqasem renounces her past activities and publicly calls BDS activism illegitimate, her case will be reconsidered.
Publicly she said “I don’t support BDS. If I supported it, I wouldn’t be able to come to Israel as a student,” adding she has no intention of advocating boycott or participating in BDS activities.
She remains detained pending resolution of her appeal. Unacceptable actions against individuals for their political or other views violate speech and academic freedoms.
Just societies reject this harshness. Israel features it and much more, disdainful of what just societies most cherish.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."