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‘Incredibly grateful’ Lara Alqasem leaves Israeli airport after 16 days in detention

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The Israeli High Court ruled on Thursday to overturn the state’s decision to deny entry to Lara Alqasem, the 22-year-old Palestinian-American Graduate student who has been in Israeli detention for 16 days at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

Alqasem was released from the detention facility around 9 pm, and she was greeted by lawyer Yotam Ben-Hillel.

She issued the following statement through her lawyers: “I’m relieved at the court’s decision and am incredibly grateful for the work of my amazing and tireless lawyers…as well as the support of my family and friends,” adding that she “will be happy to say more when I’ve had a chance to rest and process.”

Following the High Court’s decision to allow Alqasem into the country on Thursday, her lawyers reported that the state had decided not to appeal the decision.

Alqasem’s case drew international attention after she was denied entry by Israel to participate in a Master’s program at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, on the grounds that she was previously active in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Following two weeks of failed appeals in Israeli district courts, Alqasem’s lawyers Leora Bechor and Ben-Hillel celebrated their win on Thursday.

“The Supreme Court’s decision is a victory for free speech, academic freedom, and the rule of law,” Bechor and Ben-Hillel said in a statement. “Israel has the right to control its borders, but that right does not give the Ministry of Interior unchecked power to turn away anyone it deems unwanted.”

“By taking a principled and brave stand against a wildly escalating power play by the Ministry of Interior, Lara has ensured that no one else should be denied the right to enter Israel based on sloppy Google searches and dossiers by shadowy smear groups,” they said.

“Lara’s case proves that thought-policing has no place in a democracy,” they continued.

The legal basis for barring Alqasem from Israel, is the government’s 2017 anti-BDS law which gives authorities the right to prohibit entry to foreigners who publicly act to boycott Israel or its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The government argued that Alqasem previously participated in groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) which support BDS, and took part in BDS activities in 2018 — a claim which they could not support with evidence, as Alqasem had deleted her Facebook profile.

During the initial High Court hearing on Wednesday, the state said that because Alqasem deleted her Facebook profile, it proved she was a BDS activist because “that is what BDS activists do.”

Her lawyers, however, argued that Alqasem “does not meet the evidentiary test of what it means to be an activist,” adding that there is “no paper or digital trail” that she is a BDS activist, and that she has made no public statements in support of the movement.

They also argued that the current anti-BDS law in place gives the government the permission to deny entry to “leading activists” working in a “consistent and continuous” manner, a criterion that does not apply to Alqasem.


Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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26 Responses

  1. Jackdaw on October 19, 2018, 12:32 pm


    Didn’t you get the memo?

    BDS turns thumbs down on Lara!

    She dared to deviate from the party line, and now she’s being rejected.

    • on October 19, 2018, 8:01 pm

      That’s the best you can do?

      Let’s look at a couple of facts that make you look like a flaming hypocrite:

      1. Peter Beinart was detained at the airport for deviating from the party line. We know how Israel treats Jews who deviate from the form of Zionism that the yahoo has defined and approved.

      2. If there ever there was an ideology that has behaved like a tight knit cult it’s Zionism.

      How’s the view from that glass house you’re sitting in?

      • Jackdaw on October 21, 2018, 12:54 am

        Beinert was foolishly questioned, and released. Prime Minister Netanyahu apologised and called the detention, ‘ a mistake’.

        The return of Jews to Zion is an integral part of Judaism.
        Half of world Jewry now call Israel home. One half of all Jews.

        BDS is a cult (Finkelstein), and so is Mondoweiss.

        The view from my glass house is quite clear.

      • eljay on October 21, 2018, 8:07 am

        || Jackdaw: … BDS is a cult (Finkelstein), and so is Mondoweiss. … ||

        Jewish supremacism (Zionism) is easily the worst cult of the bunch. Despite being blatantly unjust and immoral it has managed to seduce…
        – the majority of people in the world who choose to identify as Jews; and
        – millions of non-Jews,
        …into advocating, engaging in, justifying and defending its particular brand of evil.

    • Misterioso on October 20, 2018, 11:11 am


      On the other hand:

      “Big BDS Legal Win in Germany” Electronic Intifada, 17 Oct., 2018

      • Jackdaw on October 21, 2018, 1:05 am


        Now get a life.

      • Mooser on October 21, 2018, 12:55 pm

        “Now get a life.” “Jackdaw”

        I strongly suggest you familiarize yourself with the Comments Policy

      • Jackdaw on October 21, 2018, 1:34 pm


        “I strongly suggest you familiarize yourself with the Comments Policy”

        Go. Get me banned.
        Prove once and for all that you’re a ‘griefer’.

      • Mooser on October 21, 2018, 5:30 pm

        “Go. Get me banned.” “Jackdaw”

        Take it easy, “Jack”, it’s not like it’s all that bad. You can probably plead that capital ban down to a life sentence. And since you are going to be here anyway, what could be better?

      • Jackdaw on October 22, 2018, 12:42 am


  2. paul on October 19, 2018, 8:56 pm

    It’s so unfair. Israel was her third choice for a Human Rights course after Saudi Arabia and North Korea.

  3. Mayhem on October 19, 2018, 10:52 pm

    She clearly squirmed her way out of this one. The Israeli authorities no doubt concluded that fighting her was pointless as she is just a small fish.
    Remember that Omar Barghouti, the head of the BDS movement, has attended an Israeli university. When asked about his attendance at an Israeli university in a 2015 interview with the Associated Press, Barghouti said Palestinians “cannot possibly observe the same boycott guidelines as asked of internationals” and that “indigenous population” is entitled to all services they can get from the system.
    Yes, the rationalisation of another hypocrite.

    • eljay on October 20, 2018, 3:46 pm

      || Mayhem: Remember that Omar Barghouti, the head of the BDS movement, has attended an Israeli university. When asked about his attendance at an Israeli university in a 2015 interview with the Associated Press, Barghouti said Palestinians “cannot possibly observe the same boycott guidelines as asked of internationals” and that “indigenous population” is entitled to all services they can get from the system.
      Yes, the rationalisation of another hypocrite. ||

      Are Jews in Iran entitled to “all the services they can get from the system”?
      – If ‘yes’, why hypocritically condemn Barghouti?
      – If ‘no’, why do you hate Iranian Jews?

      • Mayhem on October 21, 2018, 8:59 pm

        @eljay Iranian Jews are not boycotting the Iranian regime – your analogy has nothing to do with the issue of BDS (another eljay red herring).
        Someone who takes advantage of what Israel offers and then on the other hand damns others who have a connection with Israel is a HYPOCRITE – plain and simple.
        For those in denial mode like Eljay
        Baroness Ruth Deech explains BDS hypocrisy

      • DaBakr on October 22, 2018, 5:55 am


        No, the less then 20,000 jews left in Iran are not entitled to the same systemas most other Muslim citizens are entitled to. Ba’hai also face severe restrictions. Even so, your tautology makse absoluteley zero sense.

      • eljay on October 22, 2018, 9:46 am

        || Mayhem: @eljay Iranian Jews are not boycotting the Iranian regime … ||

        I didn’t ask you whether or not Jewish Iranians are boycotting Iran (another Mayhem red herring), but you seem to be saying that Jewish Iranians are not entitled to “all the services they can get from the system”. Go figure.

        || @r: @e

        No, the less then 20,000 jews left in Iran are not entitled to the same systemas most other Muslim citizens are entitled to. … ||

        I think that’s shameful. Perhaps you do, too. Mayhem appears to be of a different mind.

    • Jackdaw on October 21, 2018, 1:07 am

      Hypocrite and alleged income tax fraudster.

  4. DaBakr on October 20, 2018, 12:18 am

    Liars. Detention means not free to leave, detained. She chose to stay and fight in a designated holding area for any foreign not immediately authorized to enter Israel. Pretty much standard for most civilized and developed nations. Most mains in general. But who cares if MW lies as there is nobody in the Western media to point it out except monitor media like camera, pmw, and other outlets you deem to be hate sites just like you are also deemed an official hate site.
    Just keep milking her so-called “detention” for as much as its worth because it’s all your getting as of late. Things not find to well otherwise. Hillel Naurers speech at theUN had shut a lot of mouths of the usual suspects in his absolute destruction of the myth of a Jewish nation being the big problem in the me.

    • Misterioso on October 20, 2018, 11:31 am


      “Pretty much standard for most civilized and developed nations.”

      However, to state the screaming obvious, the entity known as “Israel” (i.e., west of the green line) is most certainly not “civilized.” Indeed, it is and always has been undeniably racist.

      To wit:
      Hendrik Verwoerd, then prime minister of South Africa and the architect of South Africa’s apartheid policies, 1961: “Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.” (Rand Daily Mail, November 23, 1961)

      Jacobus Johannes Fouché, South African Minister of Defence during the apartheid era, compared the two states and said that Israel also practiced apartheid. (Gideon Shimoni (1980). Jews and Zionism: The South African Experience 1910-1967. Cape Town: Oxford UP. pp. 310–336. ISBN 0195701798.

      “Former Foreign Ministry director-general invokes South Africa comparisons. ‘Joint Israel-West Bank’ reality is an apartheid state”
      EXCERPT: “Similarities between the ‘original apartheid’ as it was practiced in South Africa and the situation in ISRAEL [my emphasis] and the West Bank today ‘scream to the heavens,’ added [Alon] Liel, who was Israel’s ambassador in Pretoria from 1992 to 1994. There can be little doubt that the suffering of Palestinians is not less intense than that of blacks during apartheid-era South Africa, he asserted.” (Times of Israel, February 21, 2013)

      In its 2015 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, published in 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor acknowledges the “institutional and societal discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel.” (U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor)

      “Construction, Not Destruction”
      “While Israeli Arabs constitute 20 percent of the population, Arab communities’ jurisdictions occupy just 2.5 percent of the state’s land area, and the process of approving new construction in Arab towns takes decades.” (Haaretz Editorial, April 4, 2017)

      Eminent Jewish journalist, Bradley Burston, aptly sums up the horrors Israel inflicts on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem:
      “Occupation is Slavery”
      “In the name of occupation, generation after generation of Palestinians have been treated as property. They can be moved at will, shackled at will, tortured at will, have their families separated at will. They can be denied the right to vote, to own property, to meet or speak to family and friends. They can be hounded or even shot dead by their masters, who claim their position by biblical right, and also use them to build and work on the plantations the toilers cannot themselves ever hope to own. The masters dehumanize them, call them by the names of beasts.” (Haaretz, Feb. 26/13)

      Regarding Gaza:
      The International Committee of the Red Cross: “The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility. The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, ratified by Israel, bans collective punishment of a civilian population.”

      “In practice, Gaza has become a huge, let me be blunt, concentration camp for right now 1,800,000 people” – Amira Hass, 2015 correspondent for Haaretz, speaking at the Forum for Scholars and Publics at Duke University.

      For your further enlightenment:

      “Israel Palestine International Law Symposium: Is Israel an Apartheid State?” Sept. 24/18

      “The Israel, Palestine and International Law symposium was held in Winnipeg September 7-9, 2018 to explore the rights and responsibilities under international law of Palestine, Israel and Canada in the ongoing occupation of Palestinian territory.

      “In this video, Virginia Tilley argues that Israel is an apartheid state.

      “Virginia Tilley is Professor of Political Science at Southern Illinois University. She co-authored Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid, together with Richard Falk (UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, 2017). From 2006 to 2011, Tilley served as Chief Research Specialist in the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa. She is the author of The One-State Solution (University of Michigan Press) and editor of Beyond Occupation: Apartheid, Colonialism and International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Pluto Press, 2012)

      “The symposium was sponsored by (alphabetical order): Independent Jewish Voices Canada, Mennonite Church Manitoba Working Group on Palestine-Israel, Palestinian Canadian Congress, Peace Alliance Winnipeg, United Jewish People’s Order (Winnipeg) and the Winnipeg Centre Federal Green Party Association. Additional information, including Power Point presentations and other documents will be made available at the conference web site:” https://www.israelpalestinelawsymposi

      • Mayhem on October 20, 2018, 5:24 pm

        Abbas has the true formula for an apartheid state in mind.

    • eljay on October 20, 2018, 5:40 pm

      || @Daak: Liars. Detention means not free to leave, detained. … ||

      Detain: … 1.1 Keep (someone) in official custody, typically for questioning about a crime or in a politically sensitive situation.

      Pending the outcome of her trial (a politically sensitive situation), she was being kept in official custody (detained).

      Even “Jewish State” media referred to her as detained:

      Are all “Jewish State” media liars or do you prefer to “single out” jpost?

      • DaBakr on October 25, 2018, 3:19 pm

        there are definitely A LOT of idiots working at the jpost. just go on their website for 30 seconds.

  5. Joshua Laskin on October 20, 2018, 1:13 pm

    Mayhem – He made perfect sense; it’s just weird that he doesn’t extend the same to her. Maybe he doesn’t consider a
    Palestinian-American to be a Palestinian?

    • echinococcus on October 21, 2018, 4:10 am

      A Palestinian who lives in Palestine under the most brutal military occupation since 1945 and must satisfy all one’s material needs through the occupier, by the force of arms,
      is not the same thing as
      an American citizen with Palestinian (or Patagonian, or Paphlagonian…) ancestry, living in the United States (who, by the way, volunteers to collaborate with the most brutal military occupation since 1945.)

      Laskin, I wonder what your score would be in any simple apples-and-oranges test. Probably equal to Mayhem’s. Or then, you’re both equally clueless in hoping to get read by people as clueless as yourselves.

      • Joshua Laskin on November 3, 2018, 11:52 am

        echinococcus – She’s engaging with the culture that’s occupying her ancestral homeland. I don’t see that as collaboration; but rather as confrontation. I think it takes a lot of guts, on her part; entering the belly of the beast. You’d seriously prefer that she attend another American university? How is that going to help the cause of Palestine? And, yes, she’s been disadvantaged, by the Zionist takeover of Palestine, even though she ended up in America. Therefor, she too deserves access to whichever resources she wants to get her to where she’s going, which is to effectively serve her people, however she sees the need. Seriously, where do you think the future leaders of Palestine are going to come from? You think it’s irrelevant, that the Israeli Prime Minister is an American? No, it makes perfect sense, that he is; because the USA is the superpower that decides what happens in Palestine. He comes here, and talks American; and our pathetic excuses for leaders, feel comfortable. How comfortable do you think they felt with Arafat? Not much. She’s the woman, who can say it, so our idiots can understand. And this is definitely part of the vision, of the purpose of Hebrew University, as foreseen by its founder: Judah L. Magnes, American. He endured decades of Zio-fascist crap, for what? So we could feel all righteous, giving grief to a determined young Palestinian-American pursuing her destiny as she sees it? Wrong. He had a vision of Palestine that would transcend mere Zionism, and become a model of peace and cooperation for the world. He laid this stepping-stone for her; and she is his legacy. Which is how Human rolls; and how Earth is redeemed.

  6. Maghlawatan on October 24, 2018, 2:03 pm

    The Israel brand is shit today. They cannot sell apartheid to the goys. This Alqasem décision shows how afraid of western public opinion they are.
    I think the 2014 Gaza war will be seen as a turning point.

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