United States student detained in Israel for alleged boycott support

  • United States student detained in Israel for alleged boycott support

United States student detained in Israel for alleged boycott support

Lara Alqasem, a 22-year-old of Palestinian descent who has a valid student visa to enter Israel, is expected to remain in detention while the appeal is considered.

But Lara was stopped at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport and asked about the origin of her surname and her father's place of birth, her mother said.

The Jerusalem Post has reported that during her undergraduate studies at the University of Florida "she was president of a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, which often leads boycott campaigns against Israel". "So far I didn't get this kind of commitment", he said.

Its activities, the government said, included a campaign to boycott Sabra hummus, made and sold in the United States by a company partially owned by a firm in Israel. But its use to ban foreign students for political activism has now come under fire from both USA and Israeli academics, including the Hebrew University staff.

"Israel is a sovereign nation that can determine who enters".

Her second appeal hearing was on Wednesday scheduled for Thursday morning at Tel Aviv District Court, and her lawyer's office told ABC News she would be present for it.

Students for Justice in Palestine cause disruption at pro-Israel event at UCLA. It's come under heavy criticism for its handling of Alqasem's case.

Jerusalem's Hebrew University has thrown its support behind Alqasem, announcing Monday it would join her appeal.

Israel insists that Alqasem headed "one of the most extreme and hate-filled BDS groups in the U.S.", according to Erdan.

Erdan alleged that the letter's text "reveals the fact that she backs the ideology of the boycott and isolation of the State of Israel". It said that a better goal would be for foreign students to return to their homes after time in Israel and help fight against the boycott movement.

Israel is defending its treatment of a US student detained at an airport on suspicion of supporting a pro-Palestinian boycott of the Jewish state.

BDS supporters say that in urging businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel, they are using nonviolent means to resist unjust policies toward Palestinians. The group is a branch of the BDS movement, whose name comes from its calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Israel says the movement masks its motives to delegitimize or destroy the Jewish state. Last year Israel passed an amendment to its Entry Law, barring entry into the country for non-residents who publicly call for or support a boycott of Israel or its settlements in the West Bank.

"As a general principle, we value freedom of expression even in cases where we don't agree with the political views expressed and this is such a case", US State Department deputy spokesman, Robert Palladino, told reporters on Wednesday.

"Visa cancellation should be done only in exceptional circumstances and this is not such a case", attorney Yotam Ben-Hillel said, according to Reuters. "We believe that Miss Alqasem meets those criteria based on her actions, and the actions of the organization of which she was a senior leader over several years".

Alqasem's family said Israel was exaggerating her involvement in SJP, saying she only belonged to the campus group for a semester.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge said he would make a final decision on the case in the coming days, yet chose to leave Alqasem in Israeli custody. "To her, this isn't a contradiction".