The Lara Alqasem Affair

Rethinking the Entry into Israel Law

By Michal Hatuel-Radoshitzky, Amir Prager, and Shahar Eilam

*courtesy of INSS

The amendment to the ‘Entry into Israel Law’ enacted in March 2017 prohibits issuing an entry visa or residency permit to foreigners actively involved in promoting the boycott of Israel. The amended legislation was intended to equip the State of Israel with an effective tool for fighting the BDS movement, and after it was passed, Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority issued criteria for its enforcement. The ‘Lara Alqasem affair’ offers a test case for assessing the cost benefit ratio of the amended legislation and provides a window to assess the overall policy and potential constructive adjustments to the law and its implementation.

The benefits of the amendment to the ‘Entry into Israel Law’ appear to be largely local tactical benefits, whereas the potential damage is more significant and extensive. As the amendment falls short of aiding the struggle against the delegitimization of Israel, and arguably might even intensify it, measures should be taken to prevent further damage resulting from additional legislative measures or the flawed use of existing tools. The amendment to the ‘Entry into Israel Law’ enacted in March 2017 prohibits issuing an entry visa or residency permit to foreigners actively involved in promoting the boycott of Israel.

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An About Face. Lara Alqasem denied any current connection with BDS and two pro-BDS organizations,

The amended legislation was intended to equip the State of Israel with an effective tool for fighting the BDS movement, and after it was passed, Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority issued criteria for its enforcement. Thus far, the BDS movement has failed in most of its efforts to harm Israel through the promotion of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. However, the primary provocation posed by the movement is its challenge to the legitimacy of Israel’s existence as the nation state of the Jewish people and its negative impact on Israel’s international standing. More than a year and a half after the amendment was put into effect, the ‘Lara Alqasem’ affair offers a test case for assessing the cost-benefit ratio of the amended legislation and provides a window to assess the overall policy and potential constructive adjustments to the law and its implementation. The case of Lara Alqasem in August 2018, US citizen Lara Alqasem, who had registered at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was issued an entry visa to Israel and a student residency permit for a period of one year. However, upon arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport in October, the Ministry of Interior, based on the recommendation of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, denied Alqasem entry on the grounds that she had held leadership positions within the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organization, where she had worked to promote boycotts of Israel. Two weeks later, however, after Alqasem’s appeal to enter was refused twice, the Supreme Court ruled in Alqasem’s favor and stipulated that denying her entry does not serve the purpose of the law and does not meet the criteria defined by the law. The Court explained that despite the importance to the struggle against BDS, there is no evidence in the case at hand of activity by Alqasem to promote boycotts against Israel since she had left SJP in April of 2017. Also deemed important were her declaration that she is no longer active in promoting the boycott of Israel and her commitment to refrain from doing so during her stay in the country. Her very enrollment in the Hebrew University strengthened this legal position.

Innocent Student or Boycott Activist

The legal proceedings sparked an Israeli public debate on whether Alqasem was an innocent student or a boycott activist who had managed to manipulate the Israeli legal system. Also debated was the issue of “national honor,” as reflected in the state’s sovereign right to deny entry to particular individuals. Coverage of the affair quickly focused on familiar friction between the political system and the legal system in Israel. The affair also received extensive coverage outside of Israel, with an emphasis on Israel’s flawed conduct vis-à-vis BDS supporters. Jerry Silverman, President of the Jewish Federations of North America, maintained that Israel was adding fuel to the fire of delegitimization, and attorney Alan Dershowitz, who is known to defend Israel in international forums, said that “Israel should have never detained” Alqasem.

The Significance of the Legislative Amendment

The amendment and the criteria for its enforcement, which define Israel’s authority to prevent the entry or residency of boycott activists, are intended to withstand a judicial challenge. Since the amendment was passed, only a few activists have been denied entry into the country, rendering the law’s direct impact on keeping BDS activists outside of Israel minimal. The amendment is likely to have a deterring effect on activists, and presumably some have chosen or will choose to not try to enter Israel. Still, it is difficult to assess the overall impact of the law and its role in curtailing the efforts of those seeking to boycott Israel, as the actions of the delegitimization organizations around the world – though fueled by events occurring in Israel – are not dependent on the physical presence of activists in the country or in the Palestinian territories. It can also be argued that the legislative amendment prevents foreign activists from taking part in violent demonstrations and disorderly conduct in Israel or the territories, although such actions are not unique to boycott activists, and other tools exist to deal with them.

Rhetoric vs Resilience

In the global campaign against the legitimacy, image, and international standing of the State of Israel, both pro-Israel and anti-Israel activists strive to influence the consciousness and perceptions of large audiences, with an emphasis on liberal target groups in the West. In this campaign, Israel’s most significant asset is the fact that it is a democratic state that champions individual rights and freedom of expression. However, the amendment of the ‘Entry into Israel Law’ is one in a series of recent legislative measures and government decisions perceived by progressive audiences around the Western world as anti-democratic and anti-liberal, and in turn, arouses antagonism toward Israel. In such a battle over hearts and minds, the polarized public debate within Israel regarding the law, as manifested in the Lara Alqasem case, is more likely to have showcased examples of extreme rhetoric voiced within Israeli society, than it is to have communicated the strength and resilience of Israel’s democracy.

Furthermore, the 2017 legislative amendment triggered controversy among Jews in the United States, who are at the forefront of the struggle against delegitimization and the BDS movement, even though many of them oppose Israeli policy in the territories. Opponents of the 2017 amendment included first tier Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC). Such controversy could affect this important constituency’s overall relationship with Israel and its willingness to defend the state over different platforms. This concern has likely grown since the amendment was enacted, marked by some problematic security encounters of individuals attempting to enter Israel – even if these are unrelated to the amendment. A case in point, which made major headlines, is the interrogation at Ben-Gurion Airport of well-known Jewish American journalist Peter Beinart, a strong opponent of current Israeli government policy. Beyond the concern among supporters of Israel who oppose current government policy that they will not be able to enter Israel, in the cognitive battle for image and awareness, Israel is perceived as a state that is motivated by fear of the media and civil political organization. This image strengthens the perception that Israel has something to hide, and thereby bolsters the narrative that BDS activists seek to promote in the international arena.

Back to School. After her initial appeal was rejected, Alqasem appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court where her appeal was accepted and was granted entry into Israel.

Impact on Conferences

Another downfall is the law’s impact on Israel’s academic institutions, which raised concerns that it would prevent scientific conferences from being held in Israel on the grounds that not all potential participants would be eligible to enter the country. In line with this logic, the Hebrew University denounced the state’s decision to deny Alqasem’s entry into Israel, arguing that it would significantly damage Israeli efforts to establish cooperative academic efforts around the world. A similar message was voiced by the international Association for Israel Studies (AIS), whose members are a counterweight to the hostile narrative on Israel on international campuses.

Finally, the original ‘Entry into Israel Law’ provided the Minister of Interior with extensive powers to prevent entry into Israel, including supporters of the boycott, even without the amendment in question. Although the amendment is likely to bolster the state’s ability to withstand judicial review, it narrows the Minister’s discretion on this issue, and it draws unnecessary and damaging public attention to a controversial subject.

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All Smiles. Lara Alqasem after Israel’s Supreme Court overturned her deportation at Ben-Gurion International Airport, October 18, 2018.(Credit. Dudu Bachar)


The benefits of the amendment to the ‘Entry into Israel Law’ thus appear to be largely local tactical benefits, whereas the potential damage is more significant and extensive. As the amendment falls short of aiding the struggle against the delegitimization of Israel, and arguably might even intensify it, measures should be taken to prevent further damage resulting from additional legislative measures or the flawed use of existing tools. First, legislation is a showcase of the Israeli democracy. Therefore, in processes of legislation, including in domestic areas, it is imperative to examine possible implications for the international status of Israel and for Israel’s relations with Diaspora Jewry on the frontlines of the struggle against Israel’s delegitimization.

Second, legislation should be accompanied by written opinions of relevant professionals prior to its completion, and by subsequent supervision to determine whether the law and its implementation suit the purpose for which the law was enacted.

Third, as seen from the Alqasem affair, it is necessary to improve the coordination between all involved parties: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the consulates, which issue residency permits to foreigners in Israel; academic institutions, which accept foreign students into study programs; the Population and Immigration Authority, which is responsible for the entry gates of Israel; the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which formulates recommendations regarding boycott activists; and various security bodies.

And fourth, amendment or annulment of the March 2017 legislative amendment should be considered. In any event, Israel would be wise to limit the invocation of this legislation, and to deny entry and residency in Israel only in extreme cases that fully meet the requirements and criteria of the law.

Such measures should only be taken after considering the potential broad implications for Israel’s international status and relations with its friends and supporters around the world.

INSS Insight No. 1105, November 13, 2018


A Week of Infamy

DARK DAY for South Africa as it rolls out RED CARPET for Hamas Murderers

By David E. Kaplan

What a difference a weekend makes!

On the Friday, the 30th November, a delegation of Hamas members of the Palestinian Legislative Council met and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the ANC caucus in Parliament, while on the Monday, a Hamas-controlled military court sentences six Palestinians to death for allegedly collaborating with Israel.

All that remains to be decided for the “hapless six” is whether they will be executed by hanging or firing squad!

Parliament or Prison. Hamas parliamentary delegation meeting with heads of ANC bloc in SA parliament in Cape Town.

South Africans should know all about Hamas’ atrocious record when it comes to the rule of law as they may recall their compatriot, the South African jurist, Navi Pillay who during her tenure as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 to 2014, appealed to Hamas “to halt all executions because they are imposed without fair trial” and “must follow international human rights law when seeking to impose the death penalty.” She expressed concerns about allegations of “ill-treatment and torture during interrogations” of people who were sentenced to death.

The South African jurist’s appeal fell on deaf ears as Hamas’ sole aim is to bring down the state of Israel and will kill all who stand in its way. Now South Africa is complicit in murder.

Those who support murderers are guilty as accessories!

The same HAMAS with whom they were proudly signing a MOU that states South Africa “will work towards the full boycott of ALL Israeli products and the support of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) against Israel; and will ensure that ANC leaders and government officials do not visit Israel,” only weeks earlier fired nearly 500 missiles into Israel in under 24 hours – one of which blew up a bus.

These missiles were fired not at military but civilian targets; one a direct hit on a home in Beersheba in which a mother and her three children had evacuated moments before to the home’s bomb shelter. Had they not, they would have been killed as many more innocents will likely be killed because of South Africa recklessly and shamefully providing blanket ‘legitimacy’ to terrorism and murder.

With South Africa having one of the highest incidences of rape in the world, its mollycoddling of Hamas is kin to supporting the rapist and punishing the victim!

How else do you explain the ANC’s deathly silence to Hamas’ deadly behavior, but plenty to say when it comes to Israel, as evident at its December 2017 Congress, when rather focusing on its country’s enormous challenges – called for a highly publicised downgrade of the South African embassy in Tel Aviv. This resolution too was included in the MOU signed by the ANC’s Chief Whip in Parliament, Jackson Mthembu, and Hamas’ cofounder Mahmoud Al-Zahar which promises that “the ANC Parliamentary Caucus will use the oversight powers of South Africa’s parliament to ensure that resolution to downgrade the South African embassy in Tel Aviv to a liaison office, is implemented by the South African government.”

Shaming Mandela

While on their one week visit to South Africa where they also met with the SACP (South African Communist Party), COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions), and the MRN (Media Review Network), these Hamas murderers committed the ultimate desecration when they were escorted by their ANC hosts to one of South Africa’s most iconic sites for commemorating the Apartheid era – the prison cell on Robben Island where Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison.

How contrived to choreograph to a global audience of linking prisoners in Israeli jails for crimes of murder and attempted murder to one of the 20th century’s greatest icons, Nelson Mandela.

How foolish and debasing of the Mandela legacy for the ANC to be part of this diabolical charade!

South Africans of any moral standing should cringe at the desecration of hearing Hamas’ al-Zahar standing inside Mandela’s cell, saying of his fellow murders in Israeli jails:

 “Allah willing, you will get out of your prisons and rule the country, just like Mandela got out of prison and ruled this country.”

How much more frightening can it get when he declared that that this was his message “to every mujahid who wages jihad for the sake of his land and his country.”

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A Call To Arms. Hamas cofounder Mahmoud Al-Zahaar calls for Jihad from Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island.

While Mandela supported a Palestinian state, he did so with the proviso that it was to be alongside a secure Jewish state. Hamas on the other hand, believes in destroying the Jewish state. It is about time South Africans and notably the ANC face the facts and read what Hamas leaders themselves say:

  • Ismail Haniyah and Khaled Meshaal, both of whom have in the past been welcomed in South Africa, have stated repeatedly that “Palestine – from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, from its north to its south – is our land, our right, and our homeland. There will be no relinquishing or forsaking even an inch or small part of it,” and that “we shall not relinquish the Islamic waqf on the land of Palestine, and Jerusalem shall not be divided into Western and Eastern Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a single united [city], and Palestine stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, and from Naqoura [Rosh Ha-Nikra] to Umm Al-Rashrash [Eilat] in the south.”
  • And the very man with whom they signed the MOU, Mahmoud al-Zahar stated that any talk of the 1967 lines is “just a phase until Hamas has a chance to regain the land…even if we [Hamas] have to do so inch by inch.”

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    Ominous Signs. Khaled Meshal stands during the singing of the National Anthem at a rally in his honor on October 21, 2015.

This is the same man who from Mandela’s cell has called for a violent Jihad “to regain the land inch by inch”.

This is the same week that the Johannesburg municipality has recommended renaming one of the city’s prominent roads, Sandton Drive, after the Palestinian airplane hijacker Leila Khaled sending shivers to South Africa’s Jewish community.

This will surely go down in South African history for Jews, as ‘A Week of Infamy’.


Feature picture credit: Afro-Palestine Newswire Service


‘Sign’ of the Times

Is this how South Africa wants to brand itself by naming a street after a Palestinian airplane hijacker?

By David E. Kaplan

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The Plane Truth. The perpetrator of this South Africa wants to name a street after!

With South Africa facing immense challenges from a shaky economy, declining and unequal education, major unemployment, inadequate infrastructure, marginalization of the poor, ailing public health system, embedded corruption undermining state legitimacy and public service, failing management of its water resources and rampant crime, it does spend an inordinately lot of time – to an overseas observer – of diverting attention from the real to the fantasy with “Hey, our problem is Israel.”

Sound familiar?

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The bombing of TWA Flight 840 from Rome to Tel Aviv on the runway at Damascus Airport

Anti-Semites in the Middle Ages blamed the Jews for the Black Plague that decimated over half the population of Europe.

In newspapers abroad, we read this last week of November 2018:

  • A South African Academic Conference at Stellenbosch University Disinvites Israelis After Boycott Pressure
  • City of Johannesburg debates changing the name of one of its main streets, Sandton Drive, to Leila Khaled Street.”
Tage, die die Welt bewegten: Schwarzer September und Lockerbie
Portrait of a Killer. Leila Khaled the world’s first female hijacker. After her first hijacking this photograph of her carrying a rifle and a knife in front of the map of Israel. She underwent six plastic surgery operations on her nose and chin to conceal her identity and allow her to take part in a future hijacking.

This is the same Leila Khaled who, holding two hand-grenades in her hands in 1970, terrified a planeload of passengers on an EL AL Flight from Amsterdam to New York City.

This was not a once-off for the Palestinian poster girl of the 1970s!

The previous year, in 1969, she had hijacked a TWA Flight from Rome to Tel Aviv diverting it to Damascus International Airport, where together with her partner, blew up the nose section of the Boeing 707.

Is this who South Africa wants to brand as an inspiring figure for future generations of South Africans to aspire and to encourage foreign business?

South Africa does not need lunatic ‘hijackers’ to ‘nosedive’ – they have them in the guise of politicians!

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Leila Khaled (2nd from the Lt), South Africa, February 2015

A Bad ‘Sign’

The proposed change of a ‘street sign’ is also an indication of the ‘direction’ South Africa is moving. At a time where the recent CNN investigation based on a survey  across seven European countries reveals that “anti-Semitism is alive and well across Europe”, South Africa wants to send a message that a Jew-killing supporter is the best person to name a street after!

What message does this send to the Jewish community in South Africa?

The grandparents of Jews of today in South Africa, may well remember earlier ‘messages’ like the 1930 Quota Act of the National Party under Prime Minister J.B.M. Hertzog which effectively curtailed the influx of eastern European Jewry.

Every nation has the right to “maintain its own particular type of civilisation,” said Hertzog’s Minister of the Interior, Dr. Malan. In defense of his bill before a crowded chamber, Dr. Malan explained its aim in stemming the “increasing stream of alien immigration, mainly from Lithuania, Poland, Latvia and Russia”, in other words – Jews!

Naming a street today in a suburb heavily populated with Jews by one who had her sights set on killing Jews, is sending a message – a sure ‘sign’ of concern.

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 Leila Khaled female terrorist and hijacker. holding an AK-47 rifle and wearing a kaffiyeh


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A ‘Nobel’ Man. Prof. Aaron Klug receiving the 1982 Nobel Prize for Chemistry in Stockholm.

If Johannesburg City is so gung-ho of renaming a street, why not after Sir Aaron Klug, who passed away last week in the UK.  A recipient of the 1982 Nobel Laurette for Chemistry and former President of the Royal Society, Klug, who grew up in Durban began his university studies at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). He received the award for his “development of crystallographic electron microscopy and his structural elucidation of biological important nucleric acid-protein complexes.” His research laid the foundation for the computerized tomography (CT) scanners that have become standard hospital equipment.


Is this not what befits South Africans every day?


Is it not preferable to name a street after an individual that enriches rather than destroys humanity – one who saves rather than supports taking lives?