US supports Israeli detention of pro-BDS activist

October 14, 2018 Agencies
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The United States expressed its support on Wednesday for Israel denying a University of Florida graduate from entering Israel due to her pro-BDS activism.

Lara Alqasem, 22, a graduate of the University of Florida, was detained at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Oct. 2, 2018. She is awaiting an order to be deported for “pro-boycott” activities against Israel as a student. Credit: Screenshot.

A State Department spokesperson told AFP that Israel is free to determine who enters the country.

“As a general principle, we value freedom of expression even in cases where we don’t agree with the political views expressed and this is such a case,” State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters.

Lara Alqasem was denied entry into Israel on Oct. 2 to study for work on a master’s degree at Hebrew University in Jerusalem because of her anti-Israel advocacy as president of the University of Florida’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter. She has since been detained at Ben-Gurion International Airport as her case is ongoing.

The State Department said the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem has been offering consular services to Alqasem.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has stated it regrets the court’s decision to bar entry to  Lara Alqasem.

The University spokesperson said: “Alqasem came to Israel to pursue a master’s degree at Hebrew University.   Further, she has openly declared her opposition to the BDS movement.

We believe the Ministry of Strategic Affairs’ and the Interior Ministry ‘s decision to expel Alqasem is a wrong one.  This course of action does not contribute to the battle against BDS and harms efforts by the academic community to encourage students and scholars from around the world to visit Israel and to study here.

The State of Israel has invested much money and effort to promote international academic collaboration and scholarly exchanges.  The decision to expel Alqasem undermines these very efforts.”

JNS/J-Wire

 

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