Friday, 19 October, 2018

Israel Defends Treatment of Detained US Student

US student detained in Israel for alleged boycott support Israel Thanks Nikki Haley for Service at UN
Deanna Wagner | 12 October, 2018, 08:38

Lara Alqasem has been at Ben Gurion Airport since October 2, when security flagged her for involvement in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement - an worldwide campaign that calls for boycotts of Israel over Palestinian and human rights.

Alqasem is registered to study human rights at Israel's Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

A hearing was being held on her case in Tel Aviv district court on Thursday.

Her "crime", according to Israeli authorities, is that while studying for her bachelor's degree Alqasem was president of a group that advocates the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Although URJ opposes BDS, it said this "blunt and short-sighted approach toward activists who pose no security threat is inconsistent with Israel's commitment to an open and free democracy". They claim her involvement in what they say is a small and insignificant chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine does not warrant Israel's deportation order.

The government said Alqasem's student group's activities included a campaign to boycott Sabra hummus, which is made and sold in the United States by a company partially owned by a firm in Israel.

"I want those boycott activists to understand that their actions come with a price", he said.

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The Hebrew University, which joined Alqasem in her petition, has said that the government is harming its anti-BDS efforts by denying her entry. "It said, more or less, that during the period of her studies in Israel she won't be involved in boycott activities". "In our opinion in this instance the law does not apply to this student", he said.

On Monday, a group of university heads in Israel sent a letter to Erdan, arguing that holding or deporting Alqasem could end up hurting Israel by giving a tailwind to critics of the country, Haaretz reported.

"Stop this circus, you are causing grave damage to Israel's image", he said.

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. Israel says the movement masks its motives to delegitimize or destroy the Jewish state.

The State Department said that the US Embassy in Jerusalem was offering consular assistance to Alqasem. "The state's argument and evidence was weak, but I've learned not to be optimistic", her lawyer Yotam Ben-Hillel said, referring to a court's rejection of Alqasem's first appeal. "Our strong opposition to boycotts and sanctions of the state of Israel is well-known".

The largest Jewish movement in American has called for the release of the American student with Palestinian grandparents who has been detained at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport for the past week. "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". Some Israeli lawmakers have called for her release, saying Israel does not detain individuals for their political beliefs, however Anya explains that such imprisonments are actually codified by Israeli law. "To her, this isn't a contradiction".