“I’ve been to hell and back ever since the Harvard Club incident,” Harvard graduate Vanesa Levine said.
A Jewish member of the Harvard Club, Vanesa Levine, 28, is suing the institution after she was allegedly assaulted by Harvard Professor Faris Mousa Saah, 53, during a pro-Palestinian lecture after asking a “peaceful’ question. She is also suing to get reinstated into the club after her expulsion. The alleged incident occurred February 6, 2019.
The Harvard Club, located in New York, pegs itself as a “warm and friendly place; an oasis of calm in hectic midtown Manhattan,” on its website. It also says that it is a “hub of an extraordinary array of programming and events.”
However, this particular event, titled, “The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine,” turned offensive and violent. Levine, whose mother is Israeli, heard the speaker, Rashid Khalidi, a former press officer for the Palestinian Liberation Organization, “spreading such lies and hatred of people.”
Handed the microphone during the Q&A following the presentation, according to a video Levine posted on Facebook, she said, “I believe that peace comes from education. How are you influencing or trying to pave the road for peace when you teach the next generation hatred, to kills Jews. You strap bombs on children. How are you doing this? How are you expecting the next generation to have peace?”
The audience allegedly “erupted in a mob-like fury.” Levine says Saah grabbed her, tried to take the microphone out of her hand, pushed her and repeatedly called her “slut” in Arabic.
The Harvard graduate says no one came to her rescue and it took seven minutes of struggle until she completed her question before being removed from the room.
A woman in the audience called for Levine to be expelled from the Harvard Club.
The day after the altercation, a visibly shocked and shaken Levine posted her video on Facebook, describing what happened. The caption reads:
Last night, a Palestinian man physically and verbally assaulted me because he was threatened by my words.
The people in the room tried SILENCING ME. They FOUGHT to take my microphone away, but I wouldn’t let them. A GROWN MAN laid his hands on me while viciously and repeatedly calling me a SLUT. The WOMEN in the room took HIS side. They eventually shut off my microphone, got security, and kicked me out. All the heat and outrage simply because they couldn’t tolerate other opinions, or facts for that matter.
These people are now trying to STRIP ME of my Harvard club membership that I EARNED. Freedom of speech is ingrained in our constitution, it’s the bedrock of our democracy. These days it’s more like freedom to silence. I’m shocked by what happened but we can NOT let them get away this. Please share this, I will not be silenced.
“I said no, I earned my way here, I got my master’s degree at Harvard, you are not going to kick me out for simply asking a question,” Levine said in the video. “The entire room tried to silence me. Everyone was against me, and all I had was a simple question.”
In July 2019, the Harvard Club’s board of trustees asked Levine to remove the Facebook video. She refused. As of this writing, the video has received 57,000 views.
Harvard Club members are graduates of the Ivy League university. Belonging to the club is considered “a vital part of life in New York City,” according to its website. “From professional and social networking to athletics, philanthropy – and a place to meet friends for happy hour – the Harvard Club of NYC is the place for young professionals in the city.”
According to court papers, “the board allegedly dismissed her assault claim, even ignoring an internal report from club security confirming Levine’s version of events,” reported The New York Post,.
Levine is seeking unspecified damages and reinstatement to the club. “I’ve been to hell and back ever since the Harvard Club incident,” Levine told The Post.