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Ex-Cambridge academic justifies boycotting Israeli schoolgirl by claiming ‘Jews have become Nazis'

    Dr Marsha Levine
    Dr Marsha Levine

    A former Cambridge academic who told a 13-year-old Israeli girl she would answer her questions about horses when there is peace in Palestine has claimed “the Jews have become the Nazis”.

    Marsha Levine, an expert on horses with more than 40 years of experience, said she could not help the teenager because she came from a country whose prime minister “wanted ethnic cleansing”.

    Dr Levine said she was not embarrassed by her response to the girl and had believed it was “fair” not to help her.

    She said Jews had “turned themselves into monsters” in their treatment of Palestinians in Gaza.

    The archaeozoologist had received an email from Shachar Rabinovitch last week in which the schoolgirl asked for information about horses.

    Miss Rabinovitch wrote: “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) and I love horses very much and it will be an honour if you will answer my questions.”

    She went on to ask about breeding patterns and the use of horses by humans in ancient times.

    But Dr Levine replied: “I'll answer your questions when there is peace and justice for Palestinians in Palestine.

    “I am a member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians. I support boycott, divestment, sanctions. 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.”

    Shachar Rabinovitch riding a horse
    Shachar Rabinovitch riding a horse

    Dr Levine concluded by suggesting the schoolgirl read a JfJfP piece about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Contacted by the JC on Tuesday, the American former academic defended her response.

    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.”

    Dr Levine said she wanted Miss Rabinovitch to stand up to violence when she grows up.

    “The violence against Palestinians never stops”, the Cambridge-based former academic said. “The people who live in Gaza cannot get education, health, water. What does it say about Jews that they support that? Jews have turned themselves into monsters.

    “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.

    “I gave her useful information which might help her for the rest of her life. I have to stand up for what I believe in.

    “Benjamin Netanyahu wants ethnic cleansing. The Jews have become the Nazis. Jews are behaving just like the people who treated them. It’s not all Israelis or all Jews.

    “It’s really fascinating that the JC and the people behind it claim they speak for Jews. You don’t speak for me. Never once was I quoted correctly in the past, not even about the bloody horses. I want justice for Palestine.”

    Miss Rabinovitch’s family live in Zichron Yaakov. Her father, Shamir Rabinovitch, said he believed children were “out of the equation” when discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    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.”

    A Cambridge University spokesman said: "She is no longer part of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and is not employed by the university. The views expressed are her own."

    A Jews for Justice for Palestinians spokeswoman said: "The refusal of Dr Levine to engage with this individual Israeli does not represent JfJfP policy. We believe strongly that children - Jewish and Palestinian - should be treated as children. Certainly, no child is responsible for the actions of the state in which it lives."

    The group said it did not support a "blanket boycott" of Israel, but a "smart boycott" of against institutions and organisations "undermining" the Palestinian people.

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