US student challenges Israeli entry ban in court

US student challenges Israeli entry ban in court”

A 22-year-old American graduate student has appealed against her detention at Israel's global airport over her alleged support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

During her appeal, Alqasem argued that she never actively participated in anti-Israeli campaigns.

It is the latest in a series of cases drawing criticism of an Israeli law barring boycott supporters that opponents say violates freedom of expression. However, upon arrival at the airport, she was withheld and denied entry "because of.boycott activity", according to Israeli media.

"We believe that Miss Alqasem meets those criteria based on her actions, and the actions of the organization of which she was a senior leader over several years".

On Thursday, the Florida resident appeared in Tel Aviv District Court to appeal the decision to block her entry into Israel, where she had been accepted into a master's degree program. Israel says the movement masks its motives to delegitimize or destroy the Jewish state.

"The state's argument and evidence was weak, but I've learned not to be optimistic", her lawyer Yotam Ben-Hillel said, referring to a court's rejection of Alqasem's first appeal.

The hearing was adjourned with the judge saying he would inform the lawyers of his decision later. BDS gets its name from its calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel for what it calls its poor treatment of the Palestinians.

Alqasem, from the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, suburb of Southwest Ranches, is a former president of the University of Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

BDS campaigners promote boycotts against Israel in response to the oppression of the Palestinian people.

An assistant to Gilad Erdan, Israel's minister of strategic affairs who ordered border control officers to place Alqasem in detention, was present at the hearing this morning and told journalists that the student's alleged "actions" disqualified her from entering Israel. Her telephone privileges are also limited. But its use to ban foreign students for political activism has now come under fire from both United States and Israeli academics, including the Hebrew University staff. The official would not comment on whether U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman would visit her.

"I have said this in the past and I will repeat it again: The policy that is being implemented now is clearly causing us political damage, so the officials responsible for its enforcement must carefully examine whether Lara Alqasem really does support BDS", Oren said in a statement.

On Wednesday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that "we value freedom of expression ... also in cases where people don't agree with local policies or even United States policies".

"Our strong opposition to the boycotts and sanctions of the state of Israel is well-known", he said, but nevertheless added that "Israel is a sovereign nation that can determine who enters".

It pursues equal rights for Palestinians by exerting pressure on the Israeli regime via economic and cultural boycotts. That case is still ongoing.

"It's not a question of opinions", Asher Friedman said.

"Israel is an open society which welcomes all - critics and supporters alike", Netanyahu said.

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