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Israel detains FL student with Palestinian ancestry at border, as Rep. Wasserman Schultz affirms Israel’s right to deport BDS supporters

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A 22-year-old American student with a visa to study at Hebrew University was denied entry into Israel Tuesday night because of her activity in the boycott movement. She was to be deported but has twice appealed that ruling. The latest reports are that a stay has been granted on her deportation, subject to another hearing today.

Lara Alqasem had a visa to study for a master’s degree at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her lawyer said that Alqasem was confronted by Israeli border officials with information about her from Canary Mission, a pro-Israel website that seeks to destroy career opportunities for students who are active in Palestinian solidarity. She was also “asked about her ethnicity and the names of her father and grandfather,” both of whom are Palestinian.

An administrative court rejected Alqasem’s appeal of her deportation order yesterday but she is expected to appeal that decision today, Noa Landau of Haaretz reported.

Meanwhile, the student’s congresswoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, responded to the case by affirming Israel’s right to deport pro-BDS activists (boycott, divestment and sanctions)– “Israeli law prohibits entry of individuals involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. I support Israel’s right to do that” — while saying that Alqasem is a constituent and she will look into the case. (I’ve reached out to Wasserman Schultz’s office for the latest.)

The case is an embarrassment because Israel granted Alqasem a visa in Florida, only to reverse itself at the border, and because the Hebrew University is concerned about the precedent, and liberal Zionists are rallying to Alqasem’s side and expressing fears about Israel’s growing intolerance.

Alqasem says she once supported BDS, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, but no longer does so– or why would she be attending Hebrew University– Landau reports from the administrative hearing in the case:

The Ministry of Strategic Affairs argued in the hearing, based on its online investigation, that Alqasem is a central BDS activist who served as president of the SJP chapter of the University of Florida. Alqasem did not dispute her role there, but claimed that she was not involved in BDS campaigns, and that since April 2017, she has not been a member of the organization, and now does not support BDS at all. She also declared that during her stay in Israel, she would not call for a boycott of Israel or participation in BDS activities.

The New Israel Fund urges Israel to allow Alqasem in and decries “political and racial profiling.” IfNotNow calls the case evidence of Israel’s “discriminatory” border practices. A petition by Alqasem’s friends, including the Holy Land Trust, characterizes Alqasem’s rejection as racial profiling.

Despite receiving the A2 student visa two months before her departure from the United States, Alqasem is currently being detained by Israeli authorities and threatened with deportation at the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. She has been told the cause for her deportation is due to her public stance against oppression and her support for nonviolence…
Israel has a history of targeting both Palestinians and individuals involved in Human Rights work. We have a short time to make to mobilize politically to fend of deportation. Please contact your representatives immediately.

Noga Tarnopolsky, today:

She has visa, was admitted to study at , but State claims she once boycotted hummus.

Marian Houk reports that the denial was based on an internet search.

“The Strategic Affairs Ministry report on Alqasem is so meager that its writers mentioned it themselves: ‘It should be noted that in this case we rely on a relatively small number of sources found on the Internet’.”

972 reports that the Canary Mission dossier on Alqasem was the basis of the contention that Alqasem supports BDS.

(Canary Mission has lately been exposed by Josh Nathan-Kazis of the Forward as having gotten $100,000 of seed support from a Jewish foundation in the Bay Area through the Jewish Federations there.)

Alqasem’s dossier on Canary Mission, screenshot from Haaretz.

The Miami Herald says Hebrew University is on Alqasem’s side and warned of consequences:

The Hebrew University sent a letter of support to Alqasem’s Israeli lawyer, Haaretz reported, warning that “preventing a foreign student such as her from studying in the country would harm its ties with other universities around the world.”

Tampa Bay Times reports that Debbie Wasserman Schultz‘s first thought was for Israel.

On Thursday afternoon, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz told the [Miami] Herald: “Israeli law prohibits entry of individuals involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. I support Israel’s right to do that, as a sovereign state. Ms. Alqasem is my constituent, and her family has reached out to my office seeking assistance. We have opened a constituent case, and are gathering information regarding this situation.”

The Tampa Bay Times says that Lara Alqasem’s mother Karen Alqasem told a radio station that her daughter wanted to study languages at Hebrew University, including Arabic and Hebrew. Karen Alqasem is of European descent, the paper says. The University of Florida is quoted in the press: “Alqasem graduated cum laude in May with a B.A. in major foreign languages and Arabic literature, as well as international studies with an emphasis on the Middle East, according to a UF spokeswoman.”

Today Gilad Erdan, the minister of public security and strategic affairs in the Netanyahu government, explained why it was right that Israel deported. In tweets translated by Ofer Neiman, he characterizes SJP as a violent organization, and the Netanyahu government has moved from “defense to offense.”

The false tweets of Meretz and the extreme left regarding Lara Alqasem oblige me to set the record straight: She is a foreign boycott activist, who served as the head of a chapter of one of the BDS groups which act violently to ‘muzzle’ supporters of Israel on US campuses. By law one must prevent her entry to Israel, and the appeals tribunal which heard the case has confirmed that..

No sane country will allow entry to foreigners who arrive in order to harm citizens of the state in any way, and so does Israel. Ridiculing the campaigns in which Lara and her organization took part does not change the truth. She is a boycott activist who wants to harm Israel and companies which are active here and provide thousands of citizens with livelihood.

The Ministry of Strategic Affairs will continue to implement a policy of shifting from defense to offense so that boycott activists know there’s also a price to pay to harming Israel and boycotting it. Everyone understands these are hypocritical organizations who don’t care about human rights and would never act to help the citizens of Syria or Iran. It’s not human rights which motivate them but hatred of Israel.


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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14 Responses

  1. pgtl10 on October 5, 2018, 6:28 pm

    Only in the US will your representative not help their constituents in favor of a foreign country.

    • Kay24 on October 6, 2018, 9:16 am

      Especially when it comes to the nation they put above their own. Only in the US will the politicians defend, and support, Israel’s inhumane treatment of anyone disagreeing with Israel’s vicious policies. Case and point, no American politician condemned or criticized, the murder of Rachel Corrie. They seem to always take Israel’s version, or word, whenever a massacre is justified. I bet Wasserman-Schultz, a known tool of the zionists, will welcome any member of the IDF, or the terrorists from the illegal settlements, here in the US.

      • annie on October 6, 2018, 10:47 am

        no American politician condemned or criticized, the murder of Rachel Corrie.

        that’s not true. “On 19 March 2003, Craig and Cindy Corrie, parents of murdered peace activist Rachel Corrie, held a press conference on the terrace of Cannon House, one of the three buildings of the US House of Representatives in Washington D.C. Rep. Brian Baird (Rachel’s representative), Rep. Jim McDermott, and Rep. Adam Smith were present, all Democrats from Washington State. ”

        Rachel Corrie’s parents are not the only ones being inspired to action by her death. Baird, the congressman who represents the Olympia area, said he would introduce a House resolution calling for an investigation by the US State Department of Corrie’s death. “I am a strong supporter of Israel, but that doesn’t mean you look away,” said Baird. “It is incumbent for our State Department to conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation” of the incident, added Baird, who described the circumstances of Corrie’s death as “profoundly troubling to me” and said “I think people should be held accountable.”

        Baird ripped into conservatives who have criticized Rachel Corrie for placing herself in harm’s way as part of a political protest. “To suggest a nonviolent person should be run over by a bulldozer because she said and did things we don’t agree with, I find that morally repugnant,” argued the congressman. “This is not just about Israeli policy, this is about Israeli conduct against an unarmed American citizen engaged in nonviolent action.”

        McDermott echoed the call for an investigation and for respect of Rachel Corrie’s nonviolent activism, saying, “We must look at this event in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King. A girl took action against a policy (home demolitions) that needs to have the light of day shown upon it.”

      • Kay24 on October 6, 2018, 12:01 pm

        I stand corrected, Annie. :))

      • annie on October 6, 2018, 1:47 pm

        smile back atcha kay. i lived in seattle during part of mcdermott’s many congressional terms. he served the 7th district very well for 28 years.

      • Kay24 on October 6, 2018, 3:36 pm

        You are lucky to have such a great Representative in your district. I have to contend with one very pro Israel Senator, Menendez, who seems corrupt as well, and as for my Representative, he is Republican, and hopefully he will be voted out this time. I have written so many times to Menendez urging him to not vote favoring Israel, but he responds with a lot of BS about it being our ally and we should defend it.

    • Misterioso on October 6, 2018, 11:19 am


      “Only in the US will your representative not help their constituents in favor of a foreign country.”

      Well and truly stated!!

      U.S. Congresswoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is another disgusting Zionist puppet. Her abandonment of student and American citizen, Lara Alqasem, and her unquestioning support for the racist, expansionist, illegal/brutal occupier entity known as “Israel” bring to mind the wise words of America’s founding father, George Washington. In his Farewell Address, he admonished his fellow citizens to steer clear of a “passionate attachment” to another nation, as it could create “the illusion of a common interest…where no common interest exists.” Obviously, wisdom more relevant to America now than it has ever been!!!

    • RoHa on October 6, 2018, 7:36 pm

      Yeah, yeah. “Only in America.”

      I wouldn’t trust the Australian government to lift a finger to protect me against Israel.

      Ex-PM Abbot kicked off one of his election campaigns at a Zionist do, ex-PM Gillard’s partner was an Israeli agent, and when ex-PM Rudd protested about Mossad misusing Australian passports, ex-Foreign Secretary Bishop leapt to Israel’s defence. Rudd became ex shortly afterwards.

      (Australia presents great opportunities for a migrant to become an ex-PM.)

  2. John Douglas on October 6, 2018, 9:24 am

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz, once publicly stated that every day, as she goes to work (in the US Government, paid for by US taxpayers to do the right thing for US citizens) she prays for the well-being of … Israel.

    • Kay24 on October 6, 2018, 12:04 pm

      Ironic isn’t it? It is absolutely horrendous that we have folks like Wasserman-Schultz whose loyalty to their own country, should be questioned, when it comes to Israel.

      • John Douglas on October 8, 2018, 9:35 am

        Would it be wrong to ask of Wasserman-Schultz whether Israel was not also her “own country”? Do US citizens have the right to know whether a candidate is a citizen only of the US and, if not, what other citizenships does he or she hold?

  3. hai_bar on October 6, 2018, 11:00 am

    A fellow Palestinian (American) is getting denied to the Colony. Daughter of refugees (father’s side at least) is trying to go back and it’s not working, this is normal, isn’t it?

    Is it normal for a fellow Palestinian who grew and is growing in the diaspora as a direct consequence of the colonization (I assume, this is usually the general case) of Palestine to choose to study at specifically a University in the belly of the beast? What is she trying to achieve?

    “The Tampa Bay Times says that Lara Alqasem’s mother Karen Alqasem told a radio station that her daughter wanted to study languages at Hebrew University, including Arabic and Hebrew. Karen Alqasem is of European descent, the paper says.”

    So the mother being of European descent might overshadow her Palestinian background? Let this one pass? Will other Palestinians lacking the “advantage” of having European “blood” in their veins get this attention?

    • pgtl10 on October 10, 2018, 3:41 pm

      I don’t know. I have blue eyes. Maybe I can get a pass because Palestinians are suppose to have brown eyes and brown skin according to stereotypes.

      • gamal on October 10, 2018, 4:10 pm

        “I have blue eyes”

        According to the Leon Uris protocol that makes you Jewish, let me be the first etc…..

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