Israel Detains Florida Graduate Student
On Wednesday, Israel detained a 22-year-old Florida graduate student that the government suspected to be supporting the BDS boycott movement.
Specifically, the law she violated is said to be one enacted by Israeli government last year, which states that any foreigner who knowingly issues a public call to boycott Israel shall be denied entry into the country. The woman, Lara Alqasem, has Palestinian grandparents. When Alqasem entered the Ben-Gurion Airport with a valid student visa, she was denied entry into the country and ordered deported. She is spending this week, the longest recorded detainment time for a boycott-related case, in a cruel environment with little to no access to the outside world. Lara will be forced to stay in this limbo-like state until Tuesday, when the final decision of the Israeli court will be revealed.
Because of these allegations that she supports the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement, Alqasem is seen as a threat to the Israeli government. Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan has announced that he will reconsider the Florida graduates deportation if she apologizes and renounces her support for BDS.
These accusations stem from the knowledge that Alqasem is part of a club called Students for Justice in Palestine. This is because the club advocated to boycott Sabra hummus, an Israeli-owned brand of chickpea dip.
Although this dispute might seem silly, it sadly represents something bigger. This something is Israel’s paranoia towards the BDS movement’s mission to delegitimize and destroy the Jewish state. For now, we can only speculate on what the verdict will be for Tuesday.