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Israel denies entry to Palestinian American over alleged BDS support

Israeli border authorities stopped 22-year-old Lara Alqasem from entering the country, despite the fact that she has a one-year student visa.

A general view of the security check-in area at Ben Gurion International Airport, August 24, 2006. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

A general view of the security check-in area at Ben Gurion International Airport, August 24, 2006. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

An American woman with a valid student visa was denied entry to Israel upon landing on Tuesday at Ben Gurion Airport.

Lara Alqasem, the 22-year-old granddaughter of Palestinian refugees from Haifa and a recent graduate from the University of Florida, was issued a one-year A2 student visa by the Israeli Consulate in Miami in early August. She was traveling to Jerusalem in order to complete her Master’s degree in Human Rights and Transitional Justice at the Hebrew University.

According to the Population, Immigration and Border Authority, Alqasem was denied entry to prevent “illegal immigration” and for public security considerations. But the border agents told Alqasem that she would be deported due to boycott activity and support for the BDS movement. According to Haaretz, the Authority claimed the visa had been issued due to a “lack of coordination” with missions around the world.

The deportation order is based on Israel’s “boycott travel ban,” a 2017 amendment to Israel’s Entry Law, which authorizes the interior minister to deny entry to any non-resident who has publicly called for or pledged support for a boycott of Israel or its West Bank settlements.

Upon arriving at Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday evening, Alqasem was detained and taken aside by four border agents who questioned her for an hour and a half; they asked her about her plans in Israel, whether she had visited the country before, her father’s name, and where he was born.

Alqasem told +972 she believes the agents based at least some their questions on information obtained from Canary Mission — a far-right American watchdog group that publishes publicly accessible dossiers on college students whom they consider to be anti-Israel. The Canary Mission website includes a dossier on Alqasem, listing her as the president of the University of Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) between 2016-2017, although nothing in her file actually ties Alqasem directly to any statements that support a boycott of Israel.

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Alqasem said one of the agents was “on his phone the entire time, telling the other to ask questions that were made up of information you can only find on that website.” At a certain point, Alqasem was able to see the border agent’s phone and saw that the browser was opened to the Canary Mission website.

After the interrogation was over, the agents told Alqasem that she was being deported but would have to wait until 7 a.m. on Wednesday for her return flight. After appealing the decision, Alqasem, represented by Attorney Yotam Ben-Hillel, appeared Wednesday afternoon before an appeals tribunal in Tel Aviv. The tribunal froze the deportation, citing the fact that Alqasem no longer belongs to organizations that support boycotts of Israel and the fact that she had a valid visa; they gave the state until Thursday morning to come to a decision.

Palestinians, Arabs, and non-Jews have been systematically denied entry to Israel for their political activities and identity for years. In recent months, a number of high-profile Jewish Americans have also been interrogated, and in some cases deported, for their political affiliations. Ariel Gold, a Jewish American activist who was planning to study at the Hebrew University, was deported in early July due to her public support for the boycott movement. Like Alqasem, Gold was issued a student visa, but Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan urged Interior Minister Aryeh Deri deny her entry to Israel.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Bruce Gould

      https://www.britannica.com/topic/banning-South-African-law

      Banning, in South Africa, an administrative action by which publications, organizations, or assemblies could be outlawed and suppressed and individual persons could be placed under severe restrictions of their freedom of travel, association, and speech. Banning was an important tool in the South African government’s suppression of those opposed to its policy of apartheid.

      Reply to Comment
        • Ido

          Why should the Israelis be upset with you and other ‘Useful Idiots’ who apparently have no idea what ‘Apartheid’ is ? if you want to call occupation “Apartheid”, sorry, a *form* of Apartheid since I already refuted your nonsense about this, be my guest.
          It won’t somehow make it the truth or stop me from pointing how it’s incorrect:
          https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/31/opinion/why-israel-is-nothing-like-apartheid-south-africa.html

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            As Hass says, Israel’s “unique regime of separation (apartheid, in Afrikaans).” South Africa and Israel had/have apartheid, but apartheid in their own ways. Unique. Not a hard concept to grasp, is it?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            Well if you ignore reason, context, reality and what SA Apartheid was actually about, then yes, sure why not.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Hass and I are sensibly using the general definition of the crime (ICC, Rome Statue, 2002).
            You’re trying to say that because apples and oranges have unique qualities that therefore they are not both fruit.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            You’re right, there is a separation. For example the West Bank wall separate two regions, it also stopped the wave of Palestinian terrorism from the West Bank to basically zero. So you just want to use the Afrikaans word for it without any reason, nothing to do with the historic implications of the term. Who cares about reason, context, reality and what SA Apartheid was actually about. You just like the sound of the word in Afrikaans. Makes sense.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            No, I say “fruit” when I mean fruit and I say “orange” or “apple” when I want to differentiate. So I say “Israeli apartheid” not “South African apartheid” when I am talking about the entity comprising Israel and the territories it occupies. Both the similarities and the uniquenesses are instructive and so the term is apropos.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            But as I explained to you about 1,562 times, it’s not Apartheid. Not similar in reason, context, reality and what SA Apartheid was actually about.
            “not “South African apartheid”” – ah so you just like to say separation in Afrikaans without any relation to SA Apartheid. OK.
            “territories it occupies” – exactly, Occupation, not Apartheid.
            “similarities and the uniquenesses are instructive” – so it’s similar to all those other non-SA Apartheids ? it’s most definitely similar to an occupation because that’s what it is. It’s not similar to Apartheid, which is a word with specific connotations and background. Not similar in reason, context, reality and what it was about.

            https://www.algemeiner.com/2017/11/06/no-israel-is-not-an-apartheid-state/

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            See the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It fits.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            Sure if you ignore the reasons, context, reality and what Apartheid was actually about. See the links I provided.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            You’re trying doggedly to equate apartheid with South African apartheid and to studiously ignore the distinctions being made, and the very past tense (“was”) that you use betrays that (“what Apartheid was actually about”). It’s as if you want to say “there only has ever been or can be one fruit on earth, the apple, and what you call an orange is not a fruit because it is not an apple.”

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Or, if you like, you are saying the equivalent of:
            “What you call a Fuji apple is not an apple because it is not a Gala apple. And you are just saying ‘Gala apple’ because you know no one likes Gala apples.”
            Meanwhile the Gala apple is sitting right there on the table, an embarrassing fact. You can pick it up and eat it and it certainly looks, smells and tastes like an apple, although of a somewhat different flavor than the old Fuji apples.
            But…”it is not an apple because it is not a Fuji apple”?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Let’s try that again.

            …Meanwhile the Fuji apple is sitting right there on the table, an embarrassing fact. You can pick it up and eat it and it certainly looks, smells and tastes like an apple, although of a somewhat different flavor than the old Gala apples.
            But…”it is not an apple because it is not a Gala apple” ?

            The very fact I mixed this up by not paying attention shows how it is that it is you who want to indelibly brand all apartheid as South African apartheid and South African apartheid as the only apartheid, but if you use neutral terms you realize apples are apples and apartheid is apartheid. Or ICC Rome statue-violating separation regimes are ICC Rome statute-violating separation regimes and forms of apartheid, and the differences between the two are interesting but not definitive.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            (part 1): Nope, I’m simply saying it’s not Apartheid, a term with very specific history and connotation. As I explain now for a 4th time.
            “the distinctions being made” – the distinctions I listed and linked to, which you of course ignored, show that it isn’t Apartheid no matter how hard you want it to be.
            “that you use betrays that” – again, nope. I explained this very clearly, linked to 2 sites explaining this very clearly.
            If you like to say “separation” in Afrikaans without any relation to SA Apartheid, be my guest. It won’t somehow make it Apartheid.
            “It’s as if you want to say” – again, nope. You’re dodging and distorting what I said. You ignore the reasons, context, reality and what Apartheid was actually about.
            I understand of course why you insist on using this specific word. Just like your other lies, it won’t somehow change reality.

            more to follow.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            (part 2): “What you call a Fuji apple is not an apple because it is not a Gala apple” – Again: nope. 5th time: you’re ignoring the reasons, context, reality and what Apartheid was actually about.
            The West Bank wall exists, yes it separates two areas. But it exists due to a wave of deadly terrorism from the West Bank and it stopped it to basically zero. So you’re saying reason, context and reality is irrelevant ? well then, every court in the civilized world would like to have a word with you. Everything is explained in detail in the links I provided, which you ignored of course.
            “And you are just saying” – keep twisting and distorting what I’m saying without actually addressing the facts I provided. Let’s see if reality will change.
            “Gala apple is sitting right there on the table” – so if the Gala apple was busy slaughtering Jews so we had to put it on the table away is exactly the same as we didn’t like the apple because of it’s taste so we put it away. Exactly the same.
            “it is not an apple because it is not a Fuji apple” – your idiotic analogy which has nothing to do with this is very amusing.

            more to follow.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            (part 3): “Meanwhile the Fuji apple is sitting right there on the table” – so it doesn’t make any difference that it’s there because it decided Jews should be slaughtered, it’s just exactly like deciding to put it there because it has a different flavor.
            Who cares about reason, context and reality ? right ?
            “The very fact I mixed this up by not paying attention” – that’s an interesting “rephrasing” for ignoring the evidence I provided proving how you have no idea what you’re talking about.
            ” brand all apartheid as South African apartheid” – no, no, Israel is an Apartheid just like some of the others. Which are not actually Apartheid. A *form* of Apartheid. Try not to bang your head with all the squirming.
            “but if you use neutral terms you realize apples are apples and apartheid is apartheid” – clinging to this nonsense, when I showed you in detail how you’re wrong (which you ignored of course), explaining to you how reason, context, history and actual facts
            makes you very wrong, won’t somehow make it the truth. Keep trying though, let’s see if this will change.

            “ICC Rome statue” – already explained why you are wrong. keep trying.
            “the differences between the two are interesting but not definitive” – right. ‘they are different in reason, context, reality and facts but I like the word Apartheid so I’ll use it, it’s not “definitive” different for me’.

            Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        “…The German ministers already ignore that an important part of Israeli technological, military and intelligence development is linked to maintaining the occupation and keeping the permanent conflict on a low flame that occasionally flares up. They must ignore this, mentally and emotionally, to continue cultivating partnerships with Israel. They can also ignore Israel’s use of its military capabilities during their visit.

        Each day that has passed since May 1999 (when the final-status agreement with the Palestinians was to go into effect), Israel has crossed another red line in shaping its unique regime of separation (apartheid, in Afrikaans). None of these crossings or violations of international resolutions led European countries to put genuine political pressure on Israel.

        Each day that has passed since May 1999, Europe in general and Germany in particular have crossed another red line in the normalization of Israeli apartheid. They make a complete separation between their partner in technological, scientific and intellectual progress and the Israel that plans to erase in the near future the small village and other communities, and that for 10 years has imprisoned 2 million people in the biggest concentration facility in the world.

        And the umbrella of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust is used to excuse and explain this intolerable ability to repress and compartmentalize.”

        https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-the-germans-will-ignore-israeli-apartheid-again-1.6515798

        Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Neither we nor the Germans said that Israel is apartheid. We say that the entity comprising Israel and the territories it occupies constitutes an apartheid system according to the ICC 2002 Rome Statute definition of the crime. Apparently I’m not the only person who thinks this and many Israelis agree with me.
            (Between you and me, it’s sort of like it’s a Fuji apple not a Gala apple. But it’s an apple.)

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            “Neither we nor the Germans” – so the post above was written by someone other than you ? and I quote: “Israel has crossed another red line in shaping its unique regime of separation (apartheid, in Afrikaans). None of these crossings or violations of international resolutions led European countries to put genuine political pressure on Israel”. Read my post again.
            “constitutes an apartheid system according to the ICC 2002 Rome” – sure, if you ignore reason, context, reality and the facts which I linked to, which you of course ignore, that show it is not.
            “not the only person who thinks this” – what a shocking surprise.
            “many Israelis agree with me” – many Israelis agree that turning Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, into another failed Arab state is a great idea. Many Israelis are ‘Useful Idiots’ or idiots in general.
            “it’s sort of like it’s a Fuji apple” – addressed your hilarious stupid analogy in detail above.

            Reply to Comment
      • Ido

        So Israel should accept with open arms the former President of the University of Florida chapter of SJP, an organization which maintains affiliations with Arab and Islamic terror groups, is overtly anti-Semitic, incites hatred and violence against Jewish students and rejects the existence of the state of Israel in any borders by their own admission. Makes sense.
        So if the US prevents the entry of the former President and supporter of the Al-Qaeda students branch it’s also “apartheid” ? Your comparison to South Africa is ridiculous.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Baladi Akka 1948

      I don’t know Lara Alqasem and whether she’s a supporter of BDS but if she is (as any decent human being) it would be utter hypocrisy to study at Hebrew University, if she were a Palestinian citizen of Israel the matter is different but as an outsider, of all the universities in the world why chose one partly built on stolen Palestinian land ?

      Reply to Comment
    3. john

      the jewish state cannot place a political litmus test on entry to jews without politicizing judaism. but in ms. alqasem’s case, it appears israel also issues visas solely to humiliate people.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ido

        Right, it had nothing to do with her relations to SJP, an organization which maintains affiliations with Arab and Islamic terror groups, is overtly anti-Semitic, incites hatred and violence against Jewish students and rejects the existence of the state of Israel in any borders by their own admission.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Bruce Gould

      Examine the work of this human rights organization carefully:

      https://www.adalah.org/en

      Apartheid flavored with Occupation.

      Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          You can disseminate NGO Monitor and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Information propaganda here as if you are Gilad Erdan’s personal assistant if you like but no one who knows better (a lot of people here) is going to take it seriously. The ironies multiply. NGO Monitor is plainly demonizing Adalah while mindlessly calling critiques of flagrant human rights violations “demonizing” and is preposterously chalking all of these human rights violations up to necessary measures against, you guessed it, “terrorists,” and is preposterously engaging in guilt by chains of separation/association techniques and in the usual anti-Semitizing techniques (which as Hass notes, works especially well against the Germans but has efficacy against all Europeans too). And preposterously divorcing human rights from the “political.” As if the occupation itself and what is being done to the Negev Bedouin were not “political.” Or “legal.”

          Here’s the scoop on NGO Monitor:
          https://972mag.com/how-i-stopped-ignoring-ngo-monitor-and-started-fighting-back/129492/

          Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            So you had no clue about Adalah’s “extra-curricular” activities ? this is my shocked face.
            So will you address any of the facts in the evidence I provided ?
            “demonizing Adalah” – Adalah’s actions demonize Adalah. Their rejection of Israel’s existence demonizes them.
            “critiques of flagrant human rights violations “demonizing”” – not what I said, liar. Some of Adalah’s activities accord with the mandate it publicly espouses. Many others, particularly political and legal campaigning in Israel and internationally (including at the UN) demonstrate its clear political agenda. Adalah rejects the legitimacy of the State of Israel.
            many examples and details. Now I know you can read them:
            https://bit.ly/2DVN8rW

            “Here’s the scoop on NGO Monitor” – it’s very amusing how you don’t get the irony of bringing a link to an opinion piece from a pro-Palestinian propaganda site as your source.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            We in turn have to chuckle if not chortle at your cheap use of “pro-Palestinian,” and inferring that NGO Monitor is some kind of bias-free organization that is not rabidly and deviously “anti-Palestinian” and rabidly “pro-Israel,” indeed single-mindedly dedicated to these twin pursuits. And calling Michael Sfard, the extremely knowledgeable-by-direct-experience target of NGO Monitor’s antics, a mere “opinion piece” monger. It is always the last refuge of the “pro-Israel” scoundrel to dismiss anything he wants to dismiss as “from a pro-Palestinian site.” Michael Sfard of all people, the un-clueless un-liar who has every idea what he is talking about.

            I understand that you don’t like the fact that Adalah is a serious and competent human rights organization, not toothless, and not toothlessly “apolitical” (what an absurdity) and passive, and you can’t tame it and co-opt it to put a fake Good Housekeeping (“We Israelis allow actual human rights inspection, because we are a democracy and we care”) Seal of approval on the occupation.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            Why have you ignored the evidence I provided corroborating everything I said ?
            “It is always the last refuge of the “pro-Israel” scoundrel to dismiss anything he wants to dismiss” – Again: why are you ignoring the evidence ? proving in detail that you’re wrong ? proving in detail the organization’s political agenda ? how Adalah rejects the legitimacy of the State of Israel ? here’s the link again, maybe you missed it:
            https://bit.ly/2DVN8rW

            “Adalah is a serious and competent human rights organization” – oh yes very. Very serious about their agenda regarding Israel as the evidence I just linked suggest. Also very non-political and in favor of Israel’s existence.
            Again: Although some of Adalah’s activities accord with the mandate it publicly espouses, many others, particularly political and legal campaigning in Israel and internationally (including at the UN) demonstrate its clear political agenda. Adalah rejects the legitimacy of the State of Israel.
            “I understand that you don’t like” – I Understand that you ignored the detailed information showing the side of the organization that you don’t seem to be familiar with.
            “Seal of approval on the occupation.” – what ? where did you pull this gem from ? which part of what I said has anything to do with this ?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            I wish I had a penny for every time you whined that you felt “ignored” because someone disagrees with you and does not think you have the goods (so-called “evidence”).

            Sorry to break you heart and tell you that we disagree with the assessment of “The Institute for Zionist Strategies” (LoL) founded by right wing settler fanatic Israel Harel and author of the infamous “Trojan Horse” report, and do not feel that “denying the legitimacy of the state of Israel” is anything but a Stalinist show trial accusation made against a perfectly fine human rights organization. Please stop trying to sneak by us the inference that being “political” is a crime.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            “felt “ignored” because someone disagrees”: why are you lying about this as well ? the evidence is right there. Link with many examples of the distortion and lies made by Adalah.
            This is nothing about “feelings”, this is you again refusing to address the evidence proving my point. What you are doing is also known as ‘ignoring’.
            “so-called “evidence”” – right, the detailed list of the distortions and lies made by Adalah, which you refuse to touch with a ten foot pole, is “so-called evidence”.
            Please, by all means, which section or claim is incorrect ? go right ahead.

            “disagree with the assessment of “The Institute for Zionist Strategies” (LoL)” – Again: which section is incorrect ? misleading in any way ? the list literally cites Adalah themselves and explains backed by proof how it’s a lie or a distortion.
            I ask again: Please, by all means, which section or claim is incorrect ? why is this so difficult for you ?
            “anything but a Stalinist show” – the only show I see here is you refusing to touch the evidence you know proves how I’m right. Evidence you can easily corroborate yourself as it lists the claims made by Adalah and provided the fact why it’s a distortion or a lie, very clearly so.
            It’s not an opinion piece. I ask again: which section or claim is incorrect ? go right ahead.

            “perfectly fine human rights organization” – maybe some of the time, when they are not actively working to delegitimize Israel with their lies and distortions.
            “being “political” is a crime” – I said their political agenda is rejecting the legitimacy of the State of Israel. I never said being political is a crime, liar.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “Please, by all means, which section or claim is incorrect ? go right ahead.”

            Sorry, you have the rules of discourse and proof backwards. You and “the Institute of Zionist Strategies” (I would think of a more artful name if I were trying to tout my “research” as objective — LoL) make a fantastic and implausible claim with sneaky strung together insinuations masquerading as “proof.” It is up to YOU to lay out “the evidence” FOR it, not up to ME to lay out the case AGAINST it. No more than I need to lay out the case against the truth of alien abduction of humans to the asteroid belt for secret gonad operations to return alien humanoid zombies to earth in a 500 year plan of conquest by the galactic warlord Xenu.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            “Sorry, you have the rules of discourse and proof backwards” – I made a claim and provided evidence for it, very clear evidence which you refuse to address. Clearly I’m the one who has the rules backwards..
            “I would think of a more artful name if I were trying to tout my “research” as objective — LoL” – So you dislike the name ? I understand why you have a problem with ‘Zionism’, which literally means the validity of Israel’s existence in its historic homeland, so you refuse to address it because it has the word ‘Zionism’ at the research organization’s title ?
            do you understand how big of a joke this makes you ? forget the actual proof backed by evidence that you refuse to address, which proves my point very clearly, because it has the word ‘Zionism’ in its title. This is beyond ridiculous. you mentioned ‘objective’ ? and what is Adalah exactly after you look at the proof you refuse to address because it proves what I said about them ?
            If the evidence is wrong, inaccurate, made-up, etc wouldn’t it be very easy for you to point that out ? why is this so difficult for you, that you are making leaps and jumps around it to avoid addressing it ? how many times have you provided evidence that I proved was nonsense ? here’s your chance. Go right ahead.

            “sneaky strung together insinuations masquerading as “proof.”” – by all means, which ones ? which section ? go ahead. You made a claim, back it up. Why is this so difficult for you ?
            “up to YOU to lay out “the evidence” FOR it, not up to ME” – and I DID. very clearly SO. You refuse to touch it because you know you’ll have to face reality.
            “lay out the case AGAINST it” – Again: I made a claim and provided proof for it. Why are you pathetically squirming all around it with your pathetic excuses to avoid addressing it ? it’s not an opinion piece, it’s facts based on what Adalah claim themselves, which is very easy to corroborate.

            “truth of alien abduction of humans to the asteroid belt for secret gonad operations to return alien humanoid zombies to earth” – always enjoy your ridiculous unrelated crazy analogies. The evidence is right there. Pathetically squirming around it to avoid addressing it adds a lot to the validity of your “argument”.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Glad we disagree.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            “Glad we disagree” – I was wondering which hilarious way you’ll choose again to squirm and flail around the post where I explain how you’re being ridiculous, how you “re-invented” the burden of proof and argument logic and how you’re making up pathetic excuses not to address my evidence or answer any of my questions.How you can’t refute my claim about Adalah.
            Well, you didn’t disappoint, I’ll give you that.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Get a life.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            I see you ran out of creative juice to come up with hilarious pathetic excuses not to address the evidence I provided, proving my claim about Adallah. I really liked your “re-invention” the burden of proof and argument logic. I rarely laugh out loud from reading a post but you did it. Bravo sir.

            Reply to Comment
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