Israel’s Supreme Court heard pro-BDS graduate student Lara Alqasem’s appeal on Thursday to study at Hebrew University, after initially being denied entry into the county earlier this month, and granted her that right.
“Since the appellant’s actions do not raise satisfactory cause to bar her to entry to Israel, the inevitable impression is that invalidating the visa given to her was due to the political opinions she holds,” read the verdict. “If this is truly the case, then we are talking about an extreme and dangerous step, which could lead to the crumbling of the pillars upon which democracy in Israel stands.”
“The Law of Entry to Israel is intended to protect the state’s sovereignty, and the public’s safety and security. It does not have a component of penalty, or revenge for previous bad behavior,” said Justice Neal Hendel.
“Despite the obstacles in her way, the appellant insists on her right to study at the Hebrew University. This conduct is not in keeping, in an understatement, with the thesis that the she’s an undercover boycott activist,” he continued.
“This ruling will not weaken our determination to combat the anti-Semitic BDS campaign,” said Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs and Public Security Gilad Erdan. “We will continue to fight for the principle that whoever acts to harm the State of Israel and its citizens should be refused entry.”
“The court minimized the extremist and anti-Semitic nature of SJP, the organization of which Alqasem served as president,” said Erdan. “Furthermore, the justices essentially ignored the fact that she erased her social-media networks to hide her activities before arriving in Israel.”
Erdan added, “And while the court recognized that ‘The state is entitled, in fact obliged, to defend itself. It may take steps against the boycott organizations and their activists. Protecting democracy is a fundamental part of what is democracy,’ their ruling opens the door for BDS activists to enter the country simply by enrolling in an academic program and declaring that they do not support boycotts at the present moment.”