A former member of the Harvard Club recently sued the institution over claims that she was wrongfully expelled from the club for asking a peaceful question at a Pro-Palestinian lecture.
Vanesa Levine, a Jewish member of the Harvard Club, is suing the institution over allegations that she was assaulted by a professor “during a pro-Palestinian lecture at the club and the was booted by the Ivy League institution.” Levine, 28, works as a marketing manager in Brooklyn and is suing in part to get reinstated to the Harvard Club, a prestigious organization “whose notable present and past members include Michael Bloomberg, John F. Kennedy, and Franklin D. Roosevelt,” according to the suit.
According to Levine, the alleged assault happened shortly after she became a member of the 154-year-old club. She and her mom were attending a lecture called ‘The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine,’ back in February 2019. The lecture was given by Rashid Khalidi, a former press officer for the Palestinian Liberation Organization. According to the lawsuit, Levine “peacefully asked during a question-and-answer session how Mideast peace could be achieved if Palestinians are taught to support terrorism against Jews and Israelis.” From there, the audience allegedly “erupted in a mob-like fury” over her question. To make matters worse, Faris Mousa Saah, 53, allegedly “called her a whore in Arabic and grabbed her by the arm, bruising it as he tried to take the microphone.” Saah is a Harvard finance professor.
Eventually, Levine and her mother were asked to leave by security and were followed and heckled by angry audience members as they retreated to the hall. Many of the audience members were taking photographs of her while chanting, “We’re going to get you expelled.” As soon as she cleared the building, Levine began filming herself talking about the incident and posted the video to Facebook, “where it was viewed more than 50,000 times.” When commenting on the matter, Levine said, “I’ve been to hell and back ever since the Harvard Club incident.”
When asked about the incident, Saah claimed he reacted the way he did because he was worried Levine was going to try and hurt Khalidi. He added that Levine “had been aggressively and maniacally dancing around with the microphone.” However, on another occasion, when asked about the incident he said, “I don’t remember having been at the lecture…There’s not a single word of accuracy in any of that [the charges.”
Unfortunately for Levine, things only continued to get worse after the incident. In July 2019, she was asked by the Harvard Club’s board of trustees to take down the Facebook video. Levine refused, resulting in a hearing in which the board allegedly dismissed her assault charge and ignored an “internal report from club security confirming Levine’s version of events.” At the time, the board was led by Stephen Younger, an attorney who “served on transition teams for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.”
Levine is represented by Jeffrey K. Levine. When asked about the hearing, he said it was a kangaroo court, meaning the Harvard Club “barred Levine from having a lawyer and refused to give her the names of witnesses.” He added:
“It’s Las Vegas. Anything that goes on inside those four walls stays inside those four walls. It was beyond comprehension that she would be expelled. She didn’t touch anybody. She didn’t slander anybody.”
A spokeswoman for the Harvard Club chimed in on the matter and said Levine was removed from the club according to the Club’s bylaws for disrupting a club program.