During two successive press briefings last week, U.S. State Department spokespersons made it clear that “it’s ultimately up to the Government of Israel, or any country for that matter, to decide which individuals, which Americans, it wants to let in” (Oct. 9), and “Israel is a sovereign nation that can determine who enters” the country. (Oct. 10).
That is exactly right. Countries have the sovereign right to open or close their borders as they see fit. And countries surely have the right to exclude those who seek to harm them.
It was thus appropriate and well warranted for Israel to refuse entry to Lara Alqasem, the recent president (2016-2017), lead contact, vice president and member (since 2014) of the University of Florida’s (UF) chapter of the virulent anti-Israel “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” (BDS) hate group, “Students for Justice in Palestine” (“SJP”).
(These facts, and those that follow, are documented at Canary Mission’s website page on Alqasem, which includes screenshots of UF SJP social media postings.)
During Alqasem’s leadership and tenure, her SJP chapter held a “national day of action” supporting terrorist murderer Rasmea Odeh – the convicted terrorist who masterminded the murder of two Jewish college students in Israel, and a key military operative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a designated foreign terrorist group.
Under Alqasem’s leadership, UF SJP also engaged in boycott actions against Sabra hummus; viciously falsely demonized Israel as “colonialist,” and as engaged in “ethnic cleansing”; refused to “normalize” or have anything to do with Jewish groups; brought in virulent anti-Israel speakers; and staged disruptive protests at pro-Israel events.
Alqasem’s SJP chapter also posted vicious defamatory articles falsely claiming that Israel was executing Palestinian-Arabs “in cold blood.” Alaqasem thus falsely portrayed as “victims” Palestinian-Arab terrorists who were shot while committing murderous terrorist attacks on innocent Israeli civilians, including an innocent 15-year-old-Israeli boy.
Alqasem and SJP also persuaded UF’s Pride student LGBTQ group to boycott, retract its co-sponsorship of, and demonize an event featuring gay Israeli self-described leftist Hen Mazzig, as “supporting a political agenda plagued with racism and violence.” Alqasem and SJP further demanded that the event be completely canceled.
Mazzig wrote: “She [Alqasem] tried to boycott and cancel my event, an Israeli LGBTQ speaker, only because I was Israeli. So no, she shouldn’t be allowed in to a country, to study here, when she actively tried to boycott Israelis and the country itself. Funny how it works both ways.”
Incredibly, despite Alqasem’s venomous anti-Israel record, Israel offered Alqasem the opportunity to enter Israel if she merely renounced her prior actions.
Israel’s strategic affairs minister, Gilad Erdan, wrote: “if Lara Alqasem declares in a clear and explicit manner that she erred in the past and she believes today that support for a boycott on Israel and the BDS [movement] is a mistake and illegitimate, and that she regrets having served in the past as head of the branch of a boycott group, we will reconsider our stance regarding her entry into Israel.”
Yet Alqasem refused. We thus have to ask: Why is pro-terror anti-Israel SJP hate group leader Lara Alqasem refusing to renounce BDS?
The only logical conclusion is that Alqasem has no remorse about her prior support for anti-Israel terror and BDS, and still wants to harm the Jewish state. The only logical conclusion is that she would use any time she spends at Hebrew University to harm Israel “from the inside.”
Instead of straightforwardly renouncing terror and BDS, Alqasem’s lawyer reportedly tried to argue that Alqasem could not be a BDS supporter if she wants to attend Hebrew University.
It is an absurd argument, because the BDS movement is infamous for its hypocrisy. Top BDS leaders have already enjoyed Israel’s nondiscriminatory premier educational institutions, while traveling around the world falsely accusing Israel of apartheid, and working to destroy the Jewish State.
Egyptian-raised BDS co-founder and leader Omar Barghouti, for example, who also co-founded the BDS movement’s academic and cultural subdivision, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), obtained his masters’ degree from Tel Aviv University and has been pursuing a PhD at Tel Aviv University – all while traveling throughout the world demonizing and economically damaging Israel.
No country should be required to admit individuals who seek to destroy that country. And destroying Israel “from the river to the sea” is the goal of the anti-Israel, pro-BDS hate group SJP. The detailed Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs study, “Students for Justice in Palestine Unmasked,” documented how SJP “undertak[es] initiatives to isolate, demonize, and ultimately destroy the state of Israel,” and is “affiliate[ed] with Arab and Islamic terror groups, is overtly anti-Semitic, incites hatred and violence against Jewish students, and rejects the existence of the state of Israel in any borders.”
In addition, former U.S. Treasury official Jonathan Schnauzer alleged in Congressional testimony in 2016 that there are links between SJP’s sponsors and past funders of the Hamas terrorist group.
Officials of American “charities” that were implicated in funneling money to Hamas (in the Holy Land Foundation cases) now lead and support American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), he said. Furthermore, AMP is both “a leading driver of the BDS campaign,” and SJP’s major sponsor and organizer, Schanzer said.
He explained that “at least seven individuals who work for or on behalf of AMP have worked for or on behalf of organizations previously shut down or held civilly liable in the United States for providing financial support to Hamas: the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), and KindHearts.”
Yet, the left-wing media, Palestinian-Arab groups, and misguided Jewish groups are raising a ruckus because Israel refused to admit Israel hater/basher Alqasem, and are screaming that Alqasem is being “detained.”
It is much ado about nothing. Alqasem’s “detention” is a self-imposed. Alqasem is free to return to the U.S. at any time. And she can obtain entry into Israel if she renounces her anti-Israel activities.
The real question is, why does she refuse to do so?
When Israel is under constant assault and demonization in the United Nations; by countries and its political leaders around the world; and continuously by the Palestinian Authority and other Arab/Muslim nations, whose goal is to do grievous harm and even destroy the Jewish State, it is most appropriate and reasonable for Israel to keep out political enemy combatants from entering the country and harming it from within.
And giving any hostile enemy the status of “Hebrew University student” would only give such a person greater credibility with which to attack Israel.
Finally, it should also be asked: Why are the same groups that are screaming about Alqasem silent about the two innocent Jews murdered last week by a Palestinian Arab terrorist?
That is what we should all be upset about – not an unrepentant anti-Israel SJP leader who wants to infiltrate into Israel.
Morton A Klein is president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). A national Jewish weekly named him one of the top five Jewish leaders in America. Another named him one of the top Jewish activists of the century. Follow him on twitter @mortonaklein7 and ZOA.org.