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1ST LEAD Israel's top court hears US student's appeal on entry ban By Eliyahu Kamisher, dpa

Israel
17.10.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Tel Aviv (dpa) - A panel of three Supreme Court judges on Wednesday heard the appeal of a US student barred from entering Israel over her past affiliation with a group that supports boycotts of Israel.

The case of Lara Alqasem, 22, is a major legal test of the right-wing Israeli government‘s attempt to ban activists affiliated with the international movement to boycott Israel, known as BDS.

"Today‘s hearing will address the question of whether Ms Alqasem is a BDS activist or simply an intellectually curious student who has found herself the target of politicized thought-policing," Alqasem lawyer Leora Bechor said in a statement on Wednesday.

The judges are set to rule on whether Alqasem‘s student visa, which was revoked over her affiliation with a pro-boycott group, should be reinstated. If they rule against Alqasem she will be removed from the country.

Alqasem, who is of Palestinian descent, has remained in an Israeli holding centre for over two weeks as she appealed the government‘s decision to bar her.

She attempted to enter Israel to start a graduate programme at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem but her student visa was revoked at the airport. The government cited her activity at the University of Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, which advocates boycotts of Israel.

While she is free to return to the US, Alqasem wants to start her graduate programme in Jerusalem on time, her lawyer said.

Israel says that BDS is anti-Semitic by unduly singling out the Jewish-majority country and it accuses the group of seeking the destruction of the state by promoting the return of Palestinian refugees.

While the movement has had little economic impact, they have gained a number of largely symbolic wins, including pressuring well-known musicians to cancel their concerts in Israel.

Last year the Israeli parliament passed a law allowing the Interior Ministry to ban those who issue a "public call" to boycott Israel, including Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

"Israel, like every democracy, has the right to prevent the entry of foreign nationals, especially those working to harm the country," Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, whose ministry was key to barring Alqasem‘s entry, said last week.

Yotam Ben-Hillel, who also represents Alqasem, argued before the judges on Wednesday that his client has not been affiliated or active in Students for Justice (SJP) in Palestine for over a year and thus should not have her visa revoked on those grounds.

Her defence also states that she is not a boycott supporter, illustrated by her choice to study at an Israeli university.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where Alqasem is due to study human rights law, has come out against the government‘s decision to ban her, along with left-wing politicians and American Jewish groups.

"This course of actions does not contribute to the battle against BDS and harms efforts by the academic community to encourage students and scholars from around the world to visit Israel and to study here," the university said in a statement last week.  

 

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Tel Aviv (dpa) - A panel of three Israeli Supreme Court judges on Wednesday will discuss the case of a US student barred from entering Israel over her past affiliation with a group that supports boycotts of Israel.The case of Lara Alqasem, 22, is a
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"Israel" (Hebrew: מדינת ישראל "Medinat Yisra-el"; Arabic دولَة إِسرائيل "Dawlat Isrā"īl") is a small yet diverse Middle Eastern country with a long coastline on the eastern
"Israel" (; , "Yisrā"el"; , "), officially the "State of Israel" (Hebrew: , "Mīnat Yisrā"el"; , "), is a parliamentary republic in the Middle East locat on the eastern shore of the
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