Israeli Supreme Court allows United States 'boycott' student to stay


A U.S. student who has been detained at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport since the start of October will be allowed into enter the country, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, according to local and worldwide media.

The court accepted Lara Alqasem's appeal, saying her desire to study in Israel undermines the premise of her alleged support for a boycott.

Wheeling a suitcase and carrying a neck pillow - reminders of the fairly simple journey she likely thought she was embarking on to Tel Aviv at the start of October - Lara Alqasem walked into the airport's cavernous arrivals hall, beaming but drained from the ordeal.

Lara Alqasem, who was born in the United States but is of Palestinian descent, entered Israel on a student visa earlier this month, but was barred from entering and has been held in Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport since.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the request to hear Alqasem's appeal.

Alqasem, 22, had been held at a facility at the airport for 15 days after arriving in Israel to study in a master's program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Bechor said the ruling set a precedent that would "ensure no one else is denied the right to enter Israel based on sloppy Google searches and dossiers by shadowy smear groups".

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Alqasem's attorneys argued that her activities in Students for Justice in Palestine did not meet the legal test for the boycott law and that, in her role as president, she did not actively promote a boycott.

"The Supreme Court's decision is a victory for free speech, academic freedom, and the rule of law. Today, the court once again trampled on the authority of the government and intervened in what is entirely its discretion", Smotrich said, explaining that "no person who is not a Jew or an Israeli citizen has a vested right to enter Israel, and the court once again invented out of whole cloth a sanctioned right for the enemies of the State of Israel to enter it and harm it from within". In the USA would she also dare to act against the state and demand to remain and study there?

The group has supported boycott campaigns against Israel.

Interior Minister Arie Deri, under whose ministry the immigration authority falls, lashed out at the court in response. "I'll examine ways to prevent the recurrence of a case like this", he wrote on Twitter.

"Since the petitioner's actions do not sufficiently warrant banning her entry to Israel, the unavoidable impression is that her political opinions were the reason behind the cancellation of the visa that was granted to her", the ruling said.

The Israeli Strategic Affairs Ministry relies on tips from informants and social media snooping to identify BDS activists.