Israel appeals court rejects Lara Alqasem's entry request - Kogonuso


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Oct 12, 2018

Israel appeals court rejects Lara Alqasem's entry request

Does this end the saga or will she appeal to High Court?
The saga of Lara Alqasem, who has been detained at Ben-Gurion Airport since last week for allegedly supporting a boycott of Israel, exploded again on Thursday with her appeal to be allowed to enter the country — a request that was rejected by an appeals court on Friday afternoon.

After the lower court confirmed the state’s right to prevent her from entering due to support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign against Israel, Alqasem’s lawyer Yotam Ben-Hillel appealed to the Tel Aviv District Court.Alqasem, a US citizen and Florida University student, could return to the US at anytime. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that he would let her into the country if she publicly renounced BDS.

But Ben-Hillel stridently rejected Erdan’s offer on Thursday and slammed the state for preventing Alqasem from entering the country.

“How can she be a BDS supporter if she wants to attend Hebrew University?” he asked. Generally, BDS supporters not only criticize Israel, but refuse to have any dialogue or connection with Israeli institutions.

Ben-Hillel has said that Alqasem has faced criticism from her old connections in the BDS movement for being ready to attend Hebrew University – de facto recognizing Israel.

A Hebrew University lawyer even appeared in court on Thursday and told the court that preventing Alqasem from coming into the country and attending class would aid the BDS movement.In contrast, she said that allowing Alqasem to attend class at Hebrew University would send a message that “Israel is a democracy and not an apartheid” state – as the BDS movement would like to portray the country.

Alqasem attended the hearing but did not make any comments.

Much of the hearing also revolved around when, if ever, Alqasem ceased her BDS activity.

While Ben-Hillel said that she ceased BDS activity in April 2017, state prosecutor Yossi Zadok said they had information that she continued involvement with BDS into 2018.

When pressed about what the evidence was, Zadok said they had information that she had previously posted her intent to attend BDS events in 2018 and later erased the posts.

Zadok implied that her erasing posts also showed dishonesty and a cover-up.

It appeared that a ministry official was continually passing notes to the state lawyer throughout the hearing as arguments got more heated about what kind of evidence existed regarding Alqasem’s alleged support for BDS.

“Is this what we have come to?” Ben-Hillel responded. He said that many people post on Facebook that they might attend an event without attending and that many also erase prior activism posts for a variety of reasons.

According to Ben-Hillel, a 2017 law allowing the state to block BDS supporters from entering Israel only applies to current BDS leaders. Since Alqasem ceased being president of the Society for Justice of Palestine at her university – where, he said, there were only eight members and the group had little impact – around 18 months ago, the state had no basis to prevent her entry now.

But Zadok responded that the state has wide discretion to prevent people from entering the country and has previously used that discretion to deny entry to people for their activities even decades before, let alone only 18 months ago. He was also adamant that the state disputed Alqasem’s story about when she had stopped her BDS activity.

Moreover, Zadok said that the court should not intervene as a lower court had already heard all of the evidence in far more detail and supported the state’s view.

The sides also disputed whether Google searches or people who knew Alqasem should serve as the basis of the court’s decision.

While Ben-Hillel pressed for a quick decision by the district court, the judge indicated that the decision would be issued in the coming days.

On Friday, the verdict was announced: Lara Alqasem's motion to gain entry into Israel was rejected by an Israeli appeals court.

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