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July 02, 2003

Creepy antisemitic British academics, part II

Some updates on the Andrew Wilkie case, which I reported on last week:

So far, the best letter to Oxford about the case. States all the issues succinctly and thoroughly. Thank you, Andrew.

Excellent update at Jewsweek (via Buzz Machine), which interviews Duvshani and reiterates the point made by several blog thread habitues:

. . . the viral nature of the Internet proved all too troublesome. By Sunday, the e-mail had been forwarded to thousands of individuals and was posted on several Jewish and pro-Israel Weblogs. . . . Wilkie says he has gotten more than 3,000 e-mails in response to his comments. "The power of the Internet is awesome!" he told Jewsweek.
Yup. We don't just factcheck your ass, we hand it to you in a sling when necessary.
Andrew McMichael, the director of the Weaterhall Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford University and Wilkie's direct supervisor, said his division does not discriminate and houses more than 350 scientists from more than 30 countries, including Israel. "We foster a strongly interactive scientific environment and are proud of our international links," he told Jewsweek. "I am deeply distressed by this affair."
As another prescient LGF commenter pointed out last week, what planet is this guy on that he doesn't realize he is obligated to uphold the policies of the institution he works for? I know scientists can be a little wifty about life in the real world, but did Wilkie really have no idea what his own supervisor would think of his actions? Has he ever been employed before? Or did McMichael also make breezy off-the-cuff antisemitic statements and naive Wilkie confused them with Oxford policy and never thought he would be hung out to dry? The mind boggles.

Schmuley Boteach, who was Oxford campus rabbi for 11 years, was not surprised.

"This is par for the course. What cannot be debated is that Israel is loathed and hated in the highest echelons in British academia." Boteach went on to point out that the Arab community wields incredible influence at British universities, and at Oxford in particular. The Said Business School at Oxford University was funded by an initial grant of nearly $25 million by the billionaire Syrian arms brokers Wafic Rida Said.
Boteach describes repeatedly inviting Oxford bigwigs to lectures by Israeli officials, and getting turned down:
Lest you believe that it was only the right-wing [Israeli] Prime Ministers who were snubbed, the same happened with Shimon Peres. Not only did a paucity of academics agree to dinner with him. Worse, when we took Mr. Peres to speak at our Cambridge branch of the L'Chaim Society, a coalition of Arab and British students tried to have the police arrest him -- I kid you not -- on charges of war crimes. And a huge protest rally was organized against Mr. Peres with bullhorns blaring. Even with Yitzhak Rabin, whose lecture at Oxford had to be cancelled on the day that he was to deliver it as he rushed from England to Israel in response to a deadly bus bombing in October 1994, was opposed by leading Oxford academics. And this was well after the Oslo accords were signed and he had won the Nobel Peace Prize.
So when you hear rants about "the right-wing warmonger Sharon," remember they said the same thing about Peres and Rabin.

An LGFer points out some Jewish benefactors of Oxford.

More: The rot goes deep, and more great comments and anecdotes at Roger Simon's blog.

Steve Rittenberg follows up with a survey from January '03 of the attempted global academic boycott of Israel, which has some amusing anecdotes about the knots people can tie themselves into when they try to fit science into ideology:

The most paradoxical example of the boycott's effect was Oren Yiftachel, a political geographer from Ben-Gurion University, described by Ha'aretz as "hold[ing] extreme leftist political views." Yiftachel had co-authored a paper with an Arab Israeli political scientist from Haifa University named As'ad Ghanem, dealing with the attitude of Israeli authorities to Arabs within Israel proper and the disputed territories. They submitted it to the English periodical Political Geography, whose editor, David Slater, returned it with a note saying it had been rejected because its authors were Israelis.

Here was a case to test the mettle of a boycotter - a mischling article, half-Jewish, half-Arab, wholly the product of people carrying Israeli passports and working for Israeli institutions, yet expressing opinions on Israel as the devil's own experiment station indistinguishable from Slater's. . . .

. . . Since Yiftachel is one of those academics who adheres to the motto "the other country, right or wrong," it is hard to believe he would balk at describing Israel as an apartheid state. He had in the past denounced Israeli governments as racist or dictatorial . . . now he had become the classic instance of somebody "hoist with his own petard," caught in his own trap. At one point he complained to Slater "that rejecting a person because of his [national] origin, from an academic point of view, is very problematic." Not only did it interfere with the progress of Yiftachel's career, it hurt the anti-Israel cause.

Funny how that works.

UPDATE: Wilkie, apparently, doesn't know when to stop digging.

My stance was based on [Duvshani's] service in the Israeli army and the violence that potentially entails. I would feel uncomfortable working closely with someone who had been through that, which you may not respect but I hope you can understand. The same would apply (to a greater extent, actually) for a palestinian terrorist (although I haven't heard of one applying for a PhD).
I'm not surprised when humanities professors produce this kind of crap, but this guy is supposed to be a scientist. What is he saying - anyone who has done service in his country's military is equivalent to a terrorist? Or does this just apply to IDF soldiers? (How about British soldiers?) What is Wilkie afraid of - that Duvshani will suddenly go wiggy and start smashing lab equipment and carving up lab assistants with a Bowie knife? Has Wilkie seen Apocalypse Now too many times? Does he have any statistics on the percentage of violent crimes in Israel committed by former IDF soldiers? I don't, but I know violent crime in Israel is pretty low (probably much lower than London), and virtually every adult citizen is a former soldier. You're supposedly a scientist, Professor Wilkie, use your logical faculties.

(Gasp! He may even be working alongside former soldiers now! Ticking time bombs, every one of them!)

McMichael has to fire this dope for the good of his lab. First, because you cannot afford to leave in a responsible position someone so immature and tonedeaf to his social environment that he is incapable of representing the stated policies of his organization, and second, because a man who cannot reason has no business running a science lab.

Allison also has some scathing comments. So does Daddy Warblogs.

Shark points out that Wilkie is coming to LA for a conference in January.

If I were in L.A. I would . . . thank Wilkie for his important research and remind him that keeping qualified scientists out of his laboratory for stupid reasons won't lead to any new discoveries.
Others have already noticed that boycotting Jewish scientists may be hazardous to your health.

UPDATE: Allison notes that the Wilkie story has made the AP wire, and Charles notes that Oxford has summoned Wilkie before a disciplinary board. Meryl thinks he'll get a slap on the wrist.

Judith | 07/02/03 at 10:32 PM | Categories: - Israel vs. the world

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Remember clueless creepy British antisemite academic Andrew Wilkie? He's the one who got caught. If you don't think this will affect you personally, think about what the world will lose if Israelis are excluded from global intellectual endeavor. Rememb... [Read More]

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