A thirteen year old schoolgirl, researching horses, contacted former Cambridge professor Marsha Levine to gain her expertise on the subject.
In broken English, Shachar Rabinovitch asks her questions about horses and thanks Dr Levine for her time.
The letter was not rude nor did Shachar do anything wrong in sending the letter. In fact, it is admirable that a thirteen year old girl takes so much pride in her work that she made an effort to contact an overseas professor to get more information.
It is absurd that what Shachar did wrong was be Israeli.
A thirteen year old school girl, seeking knowledge, was discriminated due to her nationality.
On facebook, Shachar’s father posted the following correspondence between Shachar and Dr Levine:
He comments in Hebrew:
“The BDS movement here…
Shachar contacted a (Jewish!) lecturer from Cambridge about horses and was told that despite being young, she must understand the lecturer in question does not help Israelis as long as there is an occupation and all the usual blah blah of these people (just say that you want us to die and that will be more elegant).
This response was unbelievably sent to a 13 year old who has not killed anyone, but rather is pretty supportive of world peace and camaraderie.”
When contacted by the Jewish Chronicle, Shachar’s father echoed his feelings from his Facebook post:
He said: “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.
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.
Political arguments are something that should be conducted by adults. Boycotting a 13-year-old girl just to prove something is no better than not treating some kid in an Israeli hospital just because his father is a terrorist. Kids for me are out of the equation.”
Dr Levine was also contacted for comment:
She said: “I didn’t ask her to email me. I don’t know how she got my email address. I can do whatever I want. 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. 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 and I sent her a link. I did it as a matter of conscience. The way Israel treats Palestinians is totally disgusting.”
After equating Jews to the Nazis she goes on to say:
“I want this girl not to worry about horses. I don’t need people emailing me. I’m not an academic anymore. My research was all in the past. I’m doing other things now. I don’t see any obligation to further her ego or make her feel better about herself. I don’t think it’s about her – I think it’s about her parents.”
Dr Levine provides a mixed message of distaste that Shachar is Israeli and therefore insinuating she would have replied if she wan’t but then goes on to say matter of factly that she doesn’t need people emailing her.
When contacted by the Telegraph, Dr Levine cements her views:
“Kids have questions, I usually answer their questions,” she said. “But I have agreed to BDS and I do want to see justice for Palestine.
In Israel the majority of Israelis support the policies of the government which abuses the rights of Palestinians, so the fact is I don’t want to help Israelis.”
It is a shame that school children are getting boycotted due to their nationality and blamed for the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Boycotting them will not build peace.
It would have been nicer for Dr Levine not to reply to Shachar’s email rather than singling her out due to her nationality.
As Shachar’s father told the Telegraph:
“She asked a very polite question about horses, something she is interested in. Why do you reply with such anger? It really crossed the boundary.
I think it’s ok to have different opinions about Israel and we make a lot of mistakes in this country, like in all countries. But it’s not ok to involve children in this stuff.
How can she make all these assumptions about what we think and who we are?”