Aca­demic won’t help Is­raeli girl, 13, with project ‘un­til there’s jus­tice for Pales­tine’

Daily Mail - - Life - By Eleanor Hard­ing Ed­u­ca­tion Cor­re­spon­dent

A FOr­Mer Cam­bridge aca­demic re­fused to help a 13-year-old Is­raeli girl with a school project ‘un­til there is peace in Pales­tine’.

Dr Marsha Levine, 66, al­legedly told the young­ster she would not an­swer any ques­tions be­cause she boy­cotts Is­rael.

The girl, Shachar rabi­novitch, emailed her ask­ing ques­tions about ‘an­cient horses’.

Dr Levine, who is Jewish, spent a decade at the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge’s McDon­ald In­sti­tute for Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal re­search as a fel­low then as a se­nior re­search as­so­ciate.

But ac­cord­ing to an on­line post by the girl’s par­ents, she was dev­as­tated to be re­buffed be­cause Dr Levine re­fuses to en­gage with Is­raelis.

Dr Levine’s re­ply read: ‘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

‘I did it as a mat­ter of con­science’

If you are old enough to write to me, you are old enough to learn how Is­raeli history has im­pacted on Pales­tinian peo­ple

Dr Marsha Levine, left

how it has im­pacted on the lives of Pales­tinian peo­ple.’

Shachar’s email to Dr Levine, who is an ex­pert in the ori­gins of horse hus­bandry, said: ‘I know you are a very im­por­tant per­son and I’ve read your ar­ti­cle about horses (Do­mes­ti­ca­tion, Breed Di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and early History of the Horse).

‘I love horses and it will be an hon­our if you will an­swer my ques­tions.’

She asked how an­cient horses lived and how much mod­ern horses have in com­mon with their an­ces­tors.

Dr Levine, who did her PhD at Cam­bridge and was a re­searcher at Columbia Univer­sity and Syra­cuse Univer­sity in New York, de­fended her re­sponse yes­ter­day.

The re­tired aca­demic told the Jewish Chron­i­cle: ‘I have the choice not to waste my time on peo­ple who tread on the rights of other peo­ple.

‘I said that when there is jus­tice for Pales­tine I will an­swer her – that’s a fair an­swer. I’m a sig­na­tory to Jews for Jus­tice for Pales­tini­ans. I did it as a mat­ter of con­science. The way Is­rael treats Pales­tini­ans is to­tally dis­gust­ing. I have to stand up for what I be­lieve in.’

Shachar’s fa­ther, Shamir rabi­novitch, said chil­dren should be ‘out of the equa­tion’ when discussing the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict. The fam­ily live in a mixed Jewish and Arab area north of Tel Aviv, near a school for Jews and Arabs.

Mr rabi­novitch said: ‘I was so an­gry. We live in an area which is very mixed — the claim of racism doesn’t fit us at all. Po­lit­i­cal argu- ments should be con­ducted by adults. It was an apo­lit­i­cal and in­no­cent ques­tion from a girl. She’s not re­spon­si­ble for bad things that hap­pen around her.’

Dr Levine told the Mail she had been tar­geted be­cause of her re­sponse to Shachar, adding: ‘I have been get­ting hate mail.’

Asked if she thought it un­fair to bring a child into a po­lit­i­cal de­bate she said: ‘Chil­dren are the fu­ture, chil­dren should understand.

‘I think her par­ents set her up. They would have checked on Face­book and they would have known my po­si­tion on Is­rael.

‘It is in­sane. The real is­sue isn’t the hor­ri­ble­ness of a woman who re­fuses to talk about horses. The is­sue is why is Is­rael, on a daily ba­sis, is try­ing to de­stroy Pales­tinian so­ci­ety.’

A Cam­bridge spokesman said of Dr Levine: ‘She is no longer part of the McDon­ald In­sti­tute and is not em­ployed by the univer­sity. The views ex­pressed are her own.’

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