A leading oncologist is one of several doctors who have called for a Melbourne cardiologist to be stood down for making antisemitic comments.
Media reports have highlighted offensive comments made in a personal email by Associate Professor Arthur Nasis to his sister, in which he told her that a Jewish tenant should “pack his Jew bags” and leave her property following a request for rent reduction during the coronavirus pandemic.
Associate Professor Nasis, director of acute cardiac services at Monash Heart and other cardiology clinics in Melbourne, sent the email by mistake to the tenants, Paul and Susannah Swiatlo, who said they were shocked and hurt by the comments.
Ms Swiatlo, told the Herald Sun that she burst into tears when she read the email.
She welcomed an apology from Associate Professor Nasis who said: “I misused a term to a family member that has been conceived as racism, which was in absolutely no way my intention. I am truly sorry … There is not a single fibre of my being that is racist.”
For people reading along I think medical students (all of us) need teaching in:
How to apologise.
How to be anti-racist (we all have bias & will be racist at times). How to be an ally.
— Jane Munro (@DrJaneMunro) November 8, 2020
However some clinicians at Monash Health have called for Associate Professor Nasis’s dismissal, and said they wanted to see a formal response from Monash Heart.
“This needs to be dealt with publicly and according to the icare values of the organisation,” said Professor Eva Segalov, Director of Oncology at Monash Health, on Twitter.
“No excuse. If he wrote the email he must go immediately. This would not be tolerated if about any other racial or religious group.”
Professor Segalov’s comments were backed by several other doctors, who said his employers should investigate.
In a statement Monash Health told the limbic that it was following up the reports of “a number of deeply disturbing issues referring to a Monash Health employee”.
“While the matter referred to did not occur at Monash Health, it does raise a number of issues for our organisation. Yesterday our Chief Executive commissioned an immediate investigation into the matters raised which will follow due process and procedural fairness. Any and all employees affected will be supported through our employee assistance program.”
“At Monash Health, we are proud of, uphold and celebrate our diverse organisation and community. We will always work to ensure racism or abuse is never tolerated in or outside our workplace.”
Victoria Heart, where Associate Professor Nasis works in private practice, said the comments were unacceptable and did not align with its values of providing holistic care to individuals of all religions, ethnicities, genders and sexualities.
“Victoria Heart expects its employees to lead by example in our society, including denouncing any form of racism, hatred or marginalisation,” it said.
“Victoria Heart’s position has been clearly expressed to Associate Professor Nasis and he has apologised for his comments and conveyed his sincere regret for the offence caused to our Jewish community. He has articulated his intent to better understand the challenges faced by Jewish Australians and to offer further formal means of apology.”
A similar statement was made by Cabrini Hospital, which said it had zero tolerance for offensive and inappropriate racial comments.