U.S. student appeals Israeli entry ban over boycott

Union For Reform Judaism Calls For Release Of Detained Pro-Palestinian Student

Her second appeal hearing was on Wednesday scheduled for Thursday morning at Tel Aviv District Court, and her lawyer's office told ABC News she would be present for it. She is to remain in detention until the court delivers its ruling; no date for the ruling has been set.

On Wednesday, the New York Times published an opinion piece by columnist Bret Stephens and editor Bari Weiss critical of Israel's handling of Alqasem's case.

United States citizen Lara Alqasem, 22, arrived at Israel's Ben-Gurion airport on October 2 to study for a master's degree at Hebrew University in the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds, but was not allowed to enter over her support for the boycott of goods from Israel.

A representative from the U.S. Embassy in Israel said it visited Alqasem in detention to ensure she had food and water.

A senior Israeli cabinet minister on Wednesday defended the government's handling of the case of an American graduate student held in detention at the country's global airport for the past week over allegations that she promotes a boycott against the Jewish state.

Alqasem, reportedly of Palestinian descent, is said to have been president of a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine while an undergraduate student at the University of Florida.

BDS supporters say that in urging businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel, they are using nonviolent means to resist unjust policies toward Palestinians.

"She chose to appeal and is being held in the facility for those refused entry", the spokeswoman said in Hebrew.

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On Tuesday, Erdan said he would be open to changing his position if Alqasem personally denounces the boycott of Israel.

"If Lara Alqasem states in her own voice, not by all kinds of evasions by lawyers, that she doesn't think now that support for BDS is something legitimate and she regrets what she has done on this subject, we shall certainly reevaluate our petition", he told army radio. Both journalists are normally strong supporters of Israel.

Those who have spoken to her say she is being detained at the airport in a room with bedbugs and no internet access.

Erdan repeated his offer to reconsider the decision against Alqasem if she apologizes and pledges not to engage in BDS activity.

"While I commend all efforts to combat anti-Semitism, I have decided not to participate in this week's UNESCO conference on anti-Semitism due to the organization's persistent and egregious bias against Israel", Netanyahu said in a statement, adding that "since 2009, UNESCO has passed 71 resolutions condemning Israel and only two resolutions condemning all other countries combined".

Jared Glosser, the Israeli engagement co-ordinator at the University of Florida Hillel, a campus Jewish group, said he had never come into contact with Alqasem.

The group has supported boycott campaigns against Israel.

"In my job, I really don't have to deal with BDS really at all", he said.

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