Oxford University lecturer ‘discriminated against’ after converting to Christianity
A lecturer at Oxford University’s centre for Jewish studies claims colleagues discriminated against her after she converted to Christianity.
Dr Tali Argov says she was overlooked for promotion, stripped of her privileges and cold-shouldered at social gatherings.
She says staff wanted to vet her lectures to make sure that, as a Christian, she would not criticise Israel.
Eventually she claims she was made redundant from her post at the prestigious Oxford Centre for Hebrew & Jewish Studies, despite offering to take on new roles.
Dr Argov is claiming unfair dismissal and discrimination on grounds of religion or belief at Reading Employment tribunal.
I only know what the news report says. Naturally I am opposed to discrimination against Christians, because I am one. But I have mixed feelings about all this.
My first response is to wonder why someone following a religion founded by a Jew cannot hold a post at a centre dedicated to Jewish studies. Presumably the idea is that anyone who becomes a Christian ceases to be a Jew, and that only Jews can hold posts at the centre. This seems a little extreme, unless the centre is really dedicated to studying Judaism, rather like a theological college. It would be quite understandable in the last case that staff should share a certain ethos.
On the other hand, I can’t help feeling that people should be able to employ who they want to. In particular Jewish groups which support Israel are unpopular with the political establishment in the UK, and need to organise themselves to rebut a great deal of obstruction. Shouldn’t they be able to ensure that they’re all singing from the same songsheet?
And there is yet another aspect to this. This is Britain. English Christians are a mild lot, even the most evangelical of us. We do not wear suicide belts. Christianity has been part of the University of Oxford since its beginning (despite various expulsions and harassment in periods of moral decay). Is having a CofE member in the centre really that radical?
In the pyramid of privileged groups that the establishment has erected in modern Britain, Christians are plankton. They really do get targetted by the nastier sort of bureaucrat. But Jewish groups, which have been more privileged, are sliding down the chain and starting to get the same treatment. Most Christians are pro-Israel, for obvious reasons. Is there no way that Christians and Jews can work together?
I have no answers. I have a feeling that no-one will come out of this well. And … I am quite sure that the full story is not in the newspaper article. But well done to the Daily Telegraph for reporting this story.