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Last updated: 2003-07-02

The Board of Deputies has expressed grave concern at the actions of an Oxford professor who refused an application by an Israeli student on the grounds of his nationality. Professor Andrew Wilkie refused Israeli student Amit Duvshani’s request for PhD work at his Oxford laboratory making it abundantly clear in an email response that he was refusing his application solely on the basis of his Israeli citizenship.

In a letter sent to Oxford University last September, the Board of Deputies asked for assurances that in the face of the anti-Israel boycott, the university would continue to guarantee academic integrity at all levels. The Board now expects the university to investigate the full implications of this incident in depth to ensure an atmosphere free from harassment and intimidation for all staff and students.

In a letter to Oxford University’s Vice-Chancellor, Sir Colin Lucas, Board President Henry Grunwald wrote: “The situation in the Middle East is complex and obviously open to partial or subjective opinions. Whatever the personal views of Professor Wilkie, his attempted boycott may well be against the law and must surely be contrary to Oxford University’s own code of practice. We would anticipate that some form of disciplinary sanction would be instituted against Professor Wilkie for his discriminatory conduct. We would also expect the University authorities to review their procedures for ensuring that such discrimination by biased academics cannot occur in the future.

“Whilst Oxford University is expected to be a place where ideas are freely upheld and exchanged, this cannot happen if there remains any scope for refusing to admit or hire someone on the basis of their nationality, religion or race. The only relevant criterion should be the ability of the individual concerned.”