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Israeli Court Upholds Detention Of American Student Activist Lara Alqasem

An Israeli court on Friday upheld the barring of an American student from the country over her activities in support of an international boycott campaign by pro-Palestinian groups.

Lara Alqasem, 22, flew to Israel last week on a student visa but was refused entry. While in airport detention, she filed an appeal with Tel Aviv District Court against the ban. The court turned her down on Friday, finding for the state.

It was not immediately clear if she would be deported.

Alqasem’s case has touched off debate in Israel over whether democratic values have been compromised by a 2017 law that bars the entry of foreigners who publicly support anti-Israel boycotts, and if a hard line against the student would ultimately harm the country’s image.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said during a discussion of Alqasem’s case on Israel Radio that the law’s implementation “has not proven especially successful.”

Alqasem was accepted into a graduate program at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, which has called for her to be let in, and was issued a student’s visa by the Israeli consulate in Miami.

But she was barred by airport security officials who cited her role as president of a small local chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Florida.

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