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

A Zionist NGO has launched a campaign to pressure an Israeli college to drop its support for an American graduate student facing deportation from Israel over her support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

On October 2nd, 22-year-old Florida resident Lara Alqasem arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport, 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.

Alqasem, who had served as the University of Florida chapter president of the radical anti-Israel group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), was denied entry based on her support for the BDS movement, which the SJP has endorsed.

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.

On Sunday, however, the Supreme Court ordered that Alqasem’s deportation not be carried out until the court has time to consider her case.

As Alqasem pursues legal challenges to her deportation order, the Hebrew University has backed her efforts to remain in the country.

Im Tirtzu, a pro-Zionist NGO which monitors anti-Israeli rhetoric on college campuses, is lobbying donors to the Hebrew University in a bid to pressure the school to drop its support for Alqasem.

In a series of letters penned by Im Tirtzu's CEO Matan Peleg to Hebrew University donors, Peleg wrote that Hebrew University's defense of Alqasem not only harms students in Israel, "but harms every pro-Israel student in the United States and around the world who is struggling to combat the BDS movement."

"By defending Alqasem," the letter continued, "Hebrew University is sending a demoralizing message to pro-Israel students around the world and is providing a boost to the BDS movement."

The letter also called attention to Alqasem's support of Rasmea Odeh, a convicted terrorist who murdered two Hebrew University students in 1969. During Alqasem's tenure as president of "Students for Justice in Palestine" in the University of Florida, she organized a demonstration in support of Odeh.

Urging donors to bring up this matter with the university leadership, the letter concluded: "We cannot stand idly by as the great Zionist legacy of Hebrew University becomes tarnished by political agendas on behalf of those who oppose Israel's right to exist."