Court Accepts Hebrew University's Request to Join Appeal of U.S. Student Held in Israel

The university made the rare request to join the appeal against the deportation of Lara Alqasem who has been held in Israel for over a week over her alleged BDS ties

Lara Alqasem. Three of her former lecturers at the University of Florida have called on Israel to allow her to enter the country and study at the Hebrew University.
,AP

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem's request to join the appeal against the deportation of Lara Alqasem, the Palestinian-American student barred from entering Israel, has been approved.

Following the court's decision to accept the university's request,  representatives will attend court hearings. Alqasem, who has been held at Ben-Gurion International Airport for over a week over alleged boycott, sanctions and divestment activism, is set to have a hearing Thursday at 10 A.M.

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The 22-year-old Alqasem was accepted as a graduate student at the Hebrew University but has been barred from entering the country and detained at Ben-Gurion Airport on October 2 because the Israeli authorities claim she supports a boycott of Israel. 

Alqasem is being held in the airport despite obtaining a student visa from the Israeli constulate in Miami.

Professors from the University of Florida on Tuesday urged Israel to release alumnus Alqasem as well.

The Hebrew University's senate called on Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan and Interior Minister Arye Dery to allow her into Israel. The Association of University Heads of Israel, a voluntary body comprising the presidents of Israel's eight research universities, also sent on Monday a strongly-worded letter to Erdan warning of damage caused to Israel by the decision to prevent Alqasem's entry into Israel.

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The Tel Aviv District Court ruled on Monday that Alqasem will remain in detention until a final ruling is made on her appeal. Judge Kobi Vardi noted in his ruling that he did not see a reason to order Alqasem’s release from detention at the airport “until the claims against her regarding the risk and possible harm to the State of Israel are clarified.”

The senate’s statement says that the university is “a place for the exchange of ideas and the acquisition and creation of knowledge. It is a place that does not shrink from disagreement and is pleased with a multiplicity of opinions. [Erdan’s] decision not to allow the student into the country merely because of her opinions constitutes a threat against what the university represents.” 

The statement also said that an “extreme step” like banning Alqasem from entering the country “could deter foreign scholars and students from coming to Israel,” and “should be taken only for the strongest and clearest reasons – preventing violence and lawbreaking. In Alqasem’s case no such claims were presented.”

The statement also mentions the claim that Alqasem was denied entry because of her support of an academic boycott against Israel. “The student’s decision to come to Israel and study at the Hebrew University attests more than anything else to her objection to the boycott,” the statement reads, adding that scholars who know Alqasem also testified in her favor.