Israeli Supreme Court overturns expulsion of US student

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Saturday, October 20, 2018

On Thursday, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of Lara Alqasem, a 22-year-old University of Florida student who appealed an expulsion order, allowing her to remain in the country. She was refused entry upon arrival in Israel on October 2 at Ben Gurion Airport and threatened with deportation; Israeli authorities alleged that Alqasem supported a pro-Palestinian boycott against the state. The student was held in custody as she appealed the order.

On entry at Ben Gurion, Alqasem had a valid student visa to enrol in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. According to reports recounted by The New York Times, the student recently served as president to a small chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Israel enacted a law in 2017 granting the state the authority to deport individuals supporting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement.

An Israeli lawyer representing the student called the allegation "egregious"; Alqasem studied Hebrew in Florida. The Hebrew University asked to join her during the appeal process, in defence of Israel's academic freedom. The director of the university, Barak Medina, stated: "To be clear, we strongly oppose the boycott campaign against Israel, and Israel has to fight it[...] But to deny entry to every person who has expressed support for a boycott is counterproductive".

Alqasem appealed to the Israeli High Court after being rejected by a lower court. The ruling allows her to pursue further education in the country.