Israel’s history of blocking entry to anti-Israel activists and others

In October 2018, BDS activist Isabel Phiri, a member of the World Council of Churches, was denied entry a second time, after being denied entry in 2016.

August 15, 2019 21:05
2 minute read.
Lara Alqasem

Florida student Lara Alqasem was detained at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, allegedly for her ties to the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement.. (photo credit: CODY O'ROURKE/COURTESY/TNS)

In July 2019, a Spanish politician of Palestinian descent was denied entry at Ben-Gurion Airport. Lebanese-born Fouad Ahmad Assadi was kept from entering Israel to take part in a socialist conference, and deported.

In October 2018, Lara Alqasem was detained at Ben-Gurion Airport, but then allowed in. Alqasem, an American student hoping to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was accused of having been a member of a student group that backed a boycott of Israel. She had a student visa, but authorities wanted to deport her. A lower court ruled she could be sent back, but the Supreme Court allowed her entry.

In October 2018, BDS activist Isabel Phiri, a member of the World Council of Churches, was denied entry a second time, after being denied entry in 2016.

In July 2018, pro-Palestinian activist Ariel Gold was deported after landing at Ben-Gurion Airport. Reports indicated she was barred due to connections with Code Pink, one of many organizations that Israel seeks to bar activists from because of their support for BDS.

In 2017, Israel stopped Amnesty International USA staff member Raed Jarrar, when he sought to enter the West Bank. Amnesty condemned Israel for preventing him.

In 2015, Israel barred Makarim Wibisono, a UN special rapporteur on human rights who is from Indonesia, from entering the Palestinian territories. Israel said that his mandate was anti-Israel in nature.

In 2014, UK activist Garry Spedding was denied entry and banned from the country for five years. He said at the time he was coming to meet peace activists.

In 2012, at least 56 “Flytilla” activists, who came to Israel to protest for Palestinians in the wake of various sea-based flotillas being stopped, were refused entry at Ben-Gurion Airport.

In 2010, Noam Chomsky, the celebrated US professor, was supposed to speak at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah but was detained at the Allenby Bridge for several hours and then turned away. There was some discussion in Israel at the time about whether the decision was made against security services recommendations. Palestinian supporters of the boycott of Israel and others who were hoping to hear his lecture deplored the decision.

In 2008, US academic Norman Finkelstein was deported after arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport after being denied entry for “security” reasons. At the time, reports noted that he could be banned for up to 10 years. Left-leaning activists condemned the decision.

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