Israeli high court stops Fla. student deportation
Israel’s High Court of Justice stopped Sunday’s scheduled deportation of former University of Florida student Lara Alqasem, according to reports from Israel.
The Jerusalem Post said Justice Uzi Vogelman told the Israeli government and Alqasem to file responses in writing within 24 hours of a hearing scheduled for Wednesday on her appeal against her deportation. At that hearing, the court will determine whether it will hear Alqasem’s appeal.
Alqasem has been frozen at Ben Gurion Airport just outside Tel Aviv, refusing to return to the United States but not allowed into Israel to study in a Hebrew University master’s program. She obtained a student visa before Israel learned that she was president of UF’s Students for Justice in Palestine. Israel considers that group part of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) Movement, which calls for one or all of those measures against Israel for its treatment of Palestinians.
The Consul General of Israel in Miami, Lior Hiat, said, “Once we realized that Ms. Alqasem is involved in anti-Israel (and anti-Semitic) activities through the BDS movement, she was denied entry.”
Alqasem has said she left the BDS Movement in 2017. The Jerusalem Post said lawyers for Israel argued in the Tel Aviv District Court that she made Facebook posts in 2018 stating she would attend BDS events, and then erased them.
The Post said Alqasem’s attorney, Yotam Ben-Hillel, argued that many people post things on Facebook, and then don’t follow through or erase them for reasons beyond concealment. Alqasem is from the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Southwest Ranches.
The Times of Israel said Alqasem had been scheduled to be deported at 5 p.m. Israel time (10 a.m. EST) after a Tel Aviv District Court on Friday upheld the government’s refusal to allow Alqasem entry.
Lara Alqasem has been in limbo in Israel since being denied entry for master’s study. She led a proPalestine group at UF.