AAI Letter Challenges mistreatment of Lara Alqasem

Posted by Anastasia Horn on October 12, 2018 in Blog

On Friday, October 12, AAI sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a letter explaining the Institute’s concerns about the treatment of Lara Alqasem and other Arab Americans at Israeli-controlled border crossings. 

On October 2, Alqasem traveled to Israel on a valid student visa to study human rights at Hebrew University.  She was denied entry based on her past involvement with the BDS Movement, which calls for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel as a means of pressure to uphold Palestinian rights.  In 2017, Israel passed a law barring entry of any foreigner who publicly supports boycotts targeting Israel.  Instead of returning to the United States, Alqasem decided to appeal the decision; she was detained for 10 days while the Tel Aviv District Court made a ruling.  On Friday, October 12, the court denied Lara’s appeal to remain in the country.  On Monday, October 15, the Israeli Supreme Court stayed her order of deportation pending the outcome of her appeal.  If her appeal is denied, Alqasem faces imminent deportation and will be unable to earn her Master’s Degree at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Alqasem’s experience is only the latest example of discrimination against Arab Americans at Israeli-controlled border crossings.  Our letter asks the Secretary of State to ensure the Israeli government treats all Americans entering Israel equally, as required by the 1951 Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation Between the United States of America and Israel.

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