An anti-Semitism watchdog organization in the United Kingdom has filed a complaint with the police against Marsha Levine, the British-American former Cambridge University professor who rebuffed a request for information from an Israeli schoolgirl, citing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism filed the complaint with the Cambridgeshire Constabulary following the recent media storm that erupted when the mother of 13-year-old Shachar Rabinovitch posted a message on Facebook detailing Levine’s response to an email from her daughter.
Shachar, a horse enthusiast, had contacted Levine, an expert on the domestication and history of the animal, asking for information about breeding patterns and the use of horses by humans in ancient times.
According to Shachar’s mother, Levine responded to her daughter by saying, “I’ll answer your questions when there is peace and justice for Palestinians in Palestine.”
When interviewed by The Jewish Chronicle on the matter, Levine defended her response to the Israeli girl. She identified herself as a member of the pro-BDS Jewish for Justice for Palestinians and characterized Israelis as “monsters.”
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“Benjamin Netanyahu wants ethnic cleansing. The Jews have become the Nazis,” she said.
“I don’t see any obligation to further her ego or make her feel better about herself,” Levine said of the girl who had merely sent her the inquiry about horses.
Jonathan Sacerdoti, director of communications for Campaign Against Antisemitism, refused to comment further on the complaint lodged with the police.
“At this time we can’t say anything that might prejudice the investigation that the police have undertaken,” Sacerdoti told The Times of Israel on Friday.
Campaign Against Antisemitism is a year-old charity organization founded to research and monitor anti-Semitism in the UK. It also engages in raising awareness and strengthening education about anti-Semitism. The organization, which is independent of other UK Jewish community organizations, says it relies entirely on a large network of expert volunteers in a variety of fields, all of whom who work pro-bono.
According to Sacerdoti, the organization seeks legal counsel when it suspects that the law may have been broken, and it takes action if advised to do so.
“We are pushing for a zero tolerance policy under British law with regard to anti-Semitism,” he said.
Unlike Levine, who has refused to help Shachar Rabinovitch, several other experts on horses have offered to provide her with the information she seeks.
Professor James Russell, a member of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, contacted The Times of Israel saying, “I have done some research in this subject, have published a bit on ancient horsemanship, and would be delighted and honored to be of service to the student.”
Russell told The Times of Israel that he found Levine’s “politicization of schoolchildren” to be “beyond belief.”
“Prof. Levine’s conduct is unprofessional and beneath human contempt. It makes one ashamed to be a member of the same academic profession. But it does reflect very accurately the character of the BDS movement and of those who support it,” he said.
Russell said he has regretfully seen politics come into play and professors shame students in university classrooms.
“This, however, is a first. This really crossed a line,” he said of Levine’s response to the child.
Russell, who has been a visiting professor at the Hebrew University and regularly returns to Jerusalem, plans on bringing a book for Shachar when he makes a trip to Israel later this month.
“It’s titled, ‘The Horse, The Wheel, and Language.’ It’s very big and very scholarly and it’s in English. I don’t know whether Shachar will be able to absorb it all right now, but if I bring it and give it to her she can live with it and read it as she grows up. In the meantime I’d be happy to answer her questions as best I can,” he said.