Appeal of US student barred from entering Israel rejected

Appeal of US student barred from entering Israel rejected

An Israeli court on Friday rejected the appeal of a USA student who has been barred from entering Israel because of alleged involvement in a Palestinian-led boycott movement against the Jewish state, her lawyer said.

Alqasem was detained at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport on October 2.

"Alqasem made a decision to study and live in Israel against the principles of the boycott and even stated her opposition to BDS", the university said.

But she was barred from entering the country and ordered deported, based on suspicions that she's an activist in the boycott movement.

Alqasem's detention, which has lasted for more than a week, is the longest anyone has been held in a boycott-related case.

Alqasem, reportedly of Palestinian descent, is said to have been president of a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine during her undergraduate studies at the University of Florida.

"We stand by our earlier position that Israel's democracy, pluralism, and open society serve as one of the best arguments against the BDS movement", said the ADL, which has previously criticized the boycott entry ban.

J Street, a United States advocacy group working to promote a peaceful resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, published an open letter to Minister Gilad Erdan saying the action taken against Alqasem showed the "deeply counterproductive and anti-democratic nature" of the Israeli government's approach to BDS and to criticism of its policies. "We don't want to see their activists coming to Israel and trying to use our infrastructure to harm us and destroy us", he said.

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One University of Florida student tweeted his support for Alqasem, arguing that no one should be punished for fighting against any country's human rights violations.

Israel, and Erdan in particular, have come under widespread criticism for their handling of Alqasem's case.

"Our strong opposition to the boycotts and sanctions of the state of Israel is well-known", he said. "We are doing whatever we believe that is right for the security of the state of Israel and that is more important than whatever the New York Times or other newspapers around the world will say about our policy", Erdan said. Ben-Hillel lamented, adding that Alqasem had been criticised by her former connections with the movement for wanting to attend the Israeli university - which they say amounts to a de-facto recognition of Israel.

It rejected Alqasem's appeal against the ban, but did not rule on whether she should be sent home.

Israel enacted a law past year banning any foreigner who "knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel" from entering the country.

Following the court ruling Friday, Erdan praised the ruling, saying that Alqasem was an active member of a BDS group and that she had deleted her social media accounts to obscure her activism. "She is reading the verdict and considering her next steps", Ben Hillel said. When did she have time to be a central activist, as the criteria require for "consistent and long-term support" for a boycott?

"In my job, I really don't have to deal with BDS really at all", he said.

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