Supreme Court freezes deportation of US student

22-year-old Florida student accused of backing anti-Israel BDS movement turns to Israeli Supreme Court to block deportation.

David Rosenberg ,

Lara Alqasem in court
Lara Alqasem in court
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

An American student denied entry into Israel over her alleged support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has turned to Israel’s Supreme Court in a bid to remain in the country.

Lara Alqasem, a 22-year-old Florida college student arrived in Israel on October 2nd, with plans to study in a master’s degree program at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Upon her arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport, however, Interior Ministry officials refused to grant Alqasem entry, despite the fact that she had already been issued a student visa prior to her arrival.

Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said Alqasem was an anti-Israel activist who had previously headed a branch of an organization affiliated with the BDS movement. During her undergraduate studies, Alqasem led the University of Florida chapter of the radical Students for Justice in Palestine organization (SJP).

Israeli law prohibits border authorities from permitting foreign nationals who have openly supported the BDS movement to enter the country.

Despite her past affiliation with SJP, which has endorsed the BDS agenda against Israel, Alqasem denied backing boycotts of Israel.

Alqasem appealed the decision to bar her from entering the country, but the Tel Aviv district court upheld the ban in a ruling on Friday.

"Any self-respecting state defends its own interests and those of its citizens, and has the right to fight against the actions of a boycott,” the court said, “as well as any attacks on its image."

On Sunday, lawyers working on Alqasem’s behalf filed an appeal with the Israeli Supreme Court in a bid to block her deportation and overrule the lower court’s ruling allowing border control and immigration authorities to deny Alqasem entry.

Later on Sunday, the Supreme Court ordered that Alqasem’s deportation order not be implemented before the court has a chance to respond to the petition this Wednesday.