Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 28, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

NO ISRAELIS ALLOWED AT OXFORD?....Last night I saw this appalling email from a British scientist to an Israeli citizen applying for a lab position:

From: "Andrew Wilkie"
To: "Amit Duvshani"
Sent: Monday, June 23, 2003 9:58 AM
Subject: Re: PhD application

Dear Amit Duvshani,

Thank you for contacting me, but I don't think this would work. 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.

I am sure that you are perfectly nice at a personal level, but no way would I take on somebody who had served in the Israeli army. As you may be aware, I am not the only UK scientist with these views but I'm sure you will find another suitable lab if you look around.

Yours sincerely,
Andrew Wilkie

Nuffield Professor of Pathology,
Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine,

I wondered for a bit whether this was real, since these things have a tendency to turn out to be hoaxes, but this morning I found that Eugene Volokh (among others) had written to Professor Wilkie and confirmed that it was indeed genuine. Here is Wilkie's reply:

27 June 2003

Comments by Professor Andrew Wilkie

A spokesperson for the University of Oxford said:

"Our staff may hold strongly felt personal opinions. 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, whether directly or indirectly. This candidate is entitled to submit an application and to have it dealt with fairly according to our normal criteria.

"Professor Wilkie has issued a personal apology regarding remarks he made by e mail to an applicant for a research degree in Oxford. An immediate and thorough investigation of this matter is now being carried out in accordance with the University's procedures and a report will be presented to the Vice-Chancellor next week"

Note to editors:

The full text of Professor Wilkie's apology is:

"I recognise and apologise for any distress caused by my email of 23 June and the wholly inappropriate expression of my personal opinions in that document. 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"

"I am not the only UK scientist with these views "? No doubt, but aren't they supposed to at least pretend otherwise? I shall be interested to hear the result of Oxford's investigation next week.

Kevin Drum 9:16 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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