Israeli Girl Snubbed by Anti-Israel British Professor: ‘I Was Shocked and Confused’
An Israeli schoolgirl was left shocked and confused when a Jewish professor in the UK not only refused to help her with a homework assignment, but issued her a political rebuke, according to an interview in The Jewish Chronicle Wednesday.
Shachar Rabinovitch, 13, last week emailed Dr. Marsha Levine — a retired Cambridge University professor — asking for help on a project about horses. Rabinovitch, who lives on a kibbutz, told the JC she had been excited to contact Levine, an expert on horses with more than 40 years of experience working with the animals.
Levine’s reply to Rabinovitch was that she would only answer her questions “when there is peace and justice for Palestinians in Palestine.” The academic — a member of the Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP ) and a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement — then added:
“You might be a child, but if you are old enough to write to me, you are old enough to learn about Israeli history and how it has impacted on the lives of Palestinian people. Maybe your family has the same views as I do, but I doubt it.”
Levine concluded by suggesting Rabinovitch read a JfJfP article about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Rabinovitch said Levine’s response confused her and she was surprised to learn “that Jewish people could hate Jews in Israel.” She told the JC, “It was new to me. I was kind of shocked and a bit angry. She could have answered differently or not responded at all.”
The Israeli teen said she believes everyone is entitled to his own opinion but “there is a line you should not cross” when talking with a young girl who is only asking questions about horses. She added: “I did not know what Jews for Justice for Palestinians was. She told me she was a member and supported BDS. I did not want to get into that with her. I did not argue with her. I just said thank you.”
Rabinovitch told the JC she had no idea her email exchange with Levine was making headlines around the world. She said she did not want to draw attention to it, and feels sorry if Levine is receiving “bad emails” from those criticizing her behavior.
Levine on Tuesday said she was not embarrassed by her response and believed she gave the Israeli pupil a “fair answer.” She said Jews had “turned themselves into monsters” in their treatment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. She also claimed, “The Jews have become the Nazis,” and said she would not help Rabinovitch because she came from a country whose prime minister “wants ethnic cleansing.”
“I can do whatever I want,” Levine said about her decision not to help Rabinovitch. “I didn’t invite her to email me. If she wanted to read anything I had written she could find it on the internet. I made the decision that I have the choice not to waste my time on people who tread on the rights of other people. I didn’t do anything to her.”
Shamir Rabinovitch, Shachar’s father, said he believed children were “out of the equation” when discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He told the JC political arguments should be conducted by adults only, and that “boycotting” a 13-year-old to make a point is “no better than not treating some kid in an Israeli hospital just because his father is a terrorist.”
“For me, as long as a kid is not holding a knife, a rock, or justifying violence, they are just a kid and I need to help him regardless of what his parents do or think,” Shamir explained. “This is why I was so angry from this response to the mail my girl sent. I never pushed extreme ideas to her head and I will never do that to anyone else.”
Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said Levine meets the description of a “typical boycotter: blinkered, bigoted and thoroughly unattractive and unpleasant.”
JfJfP released a statement saying it does not approve of Levine’s “awful response” to the Israeli girl. The group said it did not support a “blanket boycott” of Israel, but rather a “smart boycott” against institutions and organizations “undermining” the Palestinian people, according to the JC.
“We believe strongly that children — Jewish and Palestinian — should be treated as children,” a JfJfP spokeswoman said. “Certainly, no child is responsible for the actions of the state in which it lives.”