Israeli minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan, on Tuesday, saidÂ he would reconsider his official stance on denying entry to an American student over alleged links to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement if she publicly condemned a boycott of Israel.
Last week, Lara Alqasem was barred from entering the country despite obtaining a student visa from the Israeli constulate in Miami, because Israeli authorities claim she supported and took part in campaigns boycotting Israel. Since then, according to the PNN, she has been detained at Ben-Gurion Airport, pending a final ruling on her case. Her first appeal was denied. The second appeal is expected to be heard in the coming days.
In her testimony to the appeals court last week, Alqasem said, â€śI donâ€™t support BDS. If I supported it, I wouldnâ€™t be able to come to Israel as a student.â€ť
According to Haaretz, the ministryâ€™s profile of Alqasem was composed of several Facebook posts and a profile compiled by the controversial right-wing website Canary Mission.Erdan questioned Alqasemâ€™s credibility, saying she erased her social network accounts before coming to Israel. He also criticized the â€śfar-left, Meretz members,â€ť as well as the Hebrew University, for cooperating with â€śthe campaign of lies of the boycott activist.â€ť
Speaking on Israeli army radio, Erdan said that if â€śAlqasem comes forward tomorrow morning with her own voice, not with all sorts of lawyersâ€™ wisecracking and statements that could be construed this way or another â€“ and declares that supporting BDS, she thinks today is illegitimate and she regrets what she did on this matter, we will consider our stance.â€ť
Erdan insisted that Alqasem is not incarcerated, and may travel back to the U.S. whenever she wishes. He said any other portrayal of the situation was a â€śhuge lie.â€ť
On Monday, The Hebrew University of Jerusalemâ€™s senate called on Erdan and Interior Minister Arye Dery to allow Alqasem into Israel.
In an unusual step, the university also asked to join Alqasemâ€™s appeal to the district court against the decision to deport her.
â€śBeyond that it [the Hebrew University] gave a scholarship to someone whose activity in the U.S. is to violently silence voices in U.S. campuses â€¦ the Hebrew University assists her, giving her a tuition scholarship at the expense of other students and appeals to the court,â€ť he said.
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.