The Tel Aviv District Court is scheduled to set a date on which to rule on a final appeal by BDS activist Lara Alqasem, 22, against a deportation order barring her from entering Israel after her arrival last Tuesday (Oct 2) at Ben Gurion International Airport.
She was ordered deported to London last Tuesday (Oct. 2) because she “promoted a boycott of Israeli companies and worked to harm Israel through a cultural boycott” according to the Strategic Affairs Ministry.
Alqasem, 22, is an American university student who holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Florida. Her paternal grandparents were born in British Mandate Palestine, and left in 1948; her mother’s parents are Welsh. She was granted a one-year student visa from the Israeli Consulate in Miami, according to a report by Haaretz. She has appealed the deportation order twice so far, most recently this past Friday.
The young student has plenty of support in her campaign: leftist Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg and Knesset lawmakers Mossi Raz and Essawi Freige all arrived at the detention facility to visit her while she is being held, but were denied entry by the authorities who said according to a new regulation, only members of the Knesset State Control Committee are allowed to enter detention facilities. The three opposition MKs said they were drafting a letter to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, requesting permission to enter anyway.
Alqasem’s anti-Israel activities with the Students for Justice in Palestine student group (SJP) – a branch of the international ant-Israel Boycott, Divest & Sanctions campaign — carried out at school since 2014, were what landed her in hot water with Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry.
She hoped to earn a Masters Degree at Hebrew University in human rights and international law, according to an interview with her mother published by WMNF Radio News.
Speaking to the Miami Herald, Israel’s Consul General in Miami, Lior Haiat said in a statement:
“Every country has the sovereign right to decide who is admitted to enter its borders. Once we realized that Ms. Alqasem is involved in anti-Israel (and anti-Semitic) activities through the BDS movement, she was denied entry… 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.”
According to a listing on Canary Mission, Alqasem was the 2016-2017 president and primary contact of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the University of Florida (UF), “has been a member of SJP UP since 2014, and has previously served as the group’s vice president.”
During those years, SJP UF accused Israel Police of killing a Palestinian Authority teen “in cold blood” and an “Israeli mob” of “rejoicing as Palestinian teen is executed.” That same month an image was posted by the group with a misleading caption claiming an Israeli settler “shoots, kills teenage Palestinian boy in Hebron” without bothering to explain the 18-year-old Arab was a terrorist trying to stab to death an Israeli citizen on the Jewish Sabbath.
And on, and on. Prior to Alqasem’s reign as president of SJP, she was involved in an event promoting the BDS boycott of Sabra Hummus, during which the previous president – Amanda Nelson – claimed that those who purchase the product were contributing “to the oppression of the Palestinians,” and that Israelis are committing an “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians.
Alqasem’s mother told WMNF News that she feels Israel is guilty of “racism” in the deportation of her daughter is due to prejudice.
“I just feel like there’s some prejudice when it comes to certain people trying to get into Israel – for visits, for studying, whatever it is they’re trying to do,” she said.
“The reason she was initially even questioned was because of her name,” she added.
“You know, if she had gone in with my second name, original, or if she’d been called ‘Jones’ or ‘Walker’ they would not have even questioned her. She would have walked right through. So there seems to be some racism, some prejudice going on.”