Prof 'sorry' for ban on Israeli student

From the www.monabaker.com archive (legacy material)

Judy Maltz | Jewish Telegraph | 4 July 2003

AN Oxford professor has apologised for refusing an application by an Israeli student - because of his nationality. Pathology professor Andrew Wilkie issued the apology after the university announced it was launching an inquiry. Amit Duvshani, 28, who had been seeking a place in Wilkie's laboratory to work on his doctoral thesis in molecular biology, submitted a CV which included the fact that he had completed service in the Israel Defence Force. Wilkie sent an email to Duvshani on June 23, saying that he objected to Israel's "gross human rights abuses" against the Palestinians "because they wish to live in their own country." There was, he continued, "no way would I take on somebody who had served in the Israeli army". He added: "As you may be aware, I am not the only UK scientist with these views, but I'm sure you will find another lab if you look around." The message concluded: "Thank you for contacting me, but I don't think this would work." A spokesman for Oxford University said: "An immediate and thorough investigation of this matter is now being carried out." A report was due to be presented to the vice-chancellor, Sir Colin Lucas, later this week. The spokesman said: "Freedom of expression is a fundamental tenet of university life, but under no circumstances are we prepared to accept or condone conduct that appears to, or does, discriminate against anyone on grounds of ethnicity or nationality, either directly or indirectly." He also noted that "this candidate is entitled to submit an application and to have it dealt with fairly according to our normal criteria." Faced with an inquiry that could lead to his dismissal, Wilkie said: "I recognise and apologise for any distress caused by my email . . . and the wholly inappropriate expression of my personal opinions in that document." He added: "I was not speaking on behalf of Oxford University or any of its constituent parts. "I entirely accept the University of Oxford's equal opportunities and race equality policies." Wilkie, who was appointed to his post last month, said he had "learned a lesson". He insisted that while he held strong views on the Middle East, "I am not a racist or antisemitic". He added: "I just want to draw a line under the whole thing." Duvshani expressed shock at the reaction of "such a distinguished man" to his application, and said he "did not expect it from a British professor". Duvshani said he had not been dissuaded from continuing his studies in Britain, but added that he was unlikely to accept any position offered by Oxford University. Last year, Egyptian-born Professor Mona Baker, of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, provoked outrage when she fired two Israeli academics from the editorial boards of two translation journals because they were Israelis.