Oxford Don Suspended over Rejection of Ex-Israeli Soldier
From the www.monabaker.com archive (legacy material)
Danny Kemp | The Scotsman/PA | 27 October 2003
Oxford University today suspended a professor who rejected an Israeli student’s application because of the country’s alleged mistreatment of Palestinians.
Professor Andrew Wilkie, Nuffield professor of pathology, was suspended without pay for two months and ordered to undergo equal opportunities training.
The academic also resigned as a fellow of Pembroke College after telling Amit Duvshani there was “no way” he would accept someone who had served in the Israeli army.
An Oxford University spokesman said the vice-chancellor, Sir Colin Lucas, had approved the punishment meted out by its disciplinary body, the Visitatorial Board.
“This ruling reflects that there can be no place for any form of discrimination within the University of Oxford other than on the grounds of merit,” the spokesman said.
”Professor Wilkie fully accepts the gravity of the situation and is determined to make full use of training to ensure that his actions and those of his staff reflect best practice in future.
“He particularly wishes to make it clear that he greatly values the diverse backgrounds of the staff and students with whom he works and looks forward to applications from able candidates, whatever their background.”
The spokesman added: “Suspension is the most serious penalty that the university can impose, short of dismissal or removal from office.
“The decision follows an investigation by the board of matters surrounding an e-mail which Professor Wilkie sent in response to an enquiry from an Israeli student regarding the possibility of graduate study in his research group.
“The board has made other recommendations, including that Professor Wilkie is required to undergo further equal opportunities training.”
The university would now be looking at whether it could improve staff training on equality and diversity issues, the spokesman said.
A Pembroke College spokesman said: “In the light of the ruling by the University of Oxford announced today, Professor Wilkie offered his resignation as a fellow of the College and as a member of its Governing Body.
“This has been accepted by the Governing Body of the College. Professor Wilkie’s resignation takes immediate effect.”
Mr Duvshani, 26, a masters student at Tel Aviv University, applied to work towards a PhD thesis in Prof Wilkie’s laboratory.
The professor responded by e-mail on June 23, outlining his reasons for rejecting the student.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, he wrote: “I have a huge problem with the way that the Israelis take the moral high ground from their appalling treatment in the Holocaust, and then inflict gross human rights abuses on the Palestinians because they (the Palestinians) wish to live in their own country.
“No way would I take on somebody who had served in the Israeli army.” Mr Duvshani told the newspaper he was “appalled”.
Professor Wilkie was appointed Nuffield professor of pathology in May 2003 and has been “instrumental” in developing the Oxford Craniofacial Unit into a world-class centre for genetic research.