| BDS: Stephen Hawking joins academic boycott of Israel!

Stephen Hawking joins academic boycott of Israel ~ Matthew Kalman in Jerusalem, The Guardian.

Physicist pulls out of conference hosted by president Shimon Peres in protest at treatment of Palestinians.

Professor Stephen Hawking is backing the academic boycott of Israel by pulling out of a conference hosted by Israeli president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem as a protest at Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

Hawking, 71, the world-renowned theoretical physicist and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, had accepted an invitation to headline the fifth annual president’s conference, Facing Tomorrow, in June, which features major international personalities, attracts thousands of participants and this year will celebrate Peres’s 90th birthday.

Hawking is in very poor health, but last week he wrote a brief letter to the Israeli president to say he had changed his mind. He has not announced his decision publicly, but a statement published by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine with Hawking’s approval described it as “his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there”.

Hawking’s decision marks another victory in the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions targeting Israeli academic institutions.

In April the Teachers’ Union of Ireland became the first lecturers’ association in Europe to call for an academic boycott of Israel, and in the United States members of the Association for Asian American Studies voted to support a boycott, the first national academic group to do so.

In the four weeks since Hawking’s participation in the Jerusalem event was announced, he has been bombarded with messages from Britain and abroad as part of an intense campaign by boycott supporters trying to persuade him to change his mind. In the end, Hawking told friends, he decided to follow the advice of Palestinian colleagues who unanimously agreed that he should not attend.

By participating in the boycott, Hawking joins a small but growing list of British personalities who have turned down invitations to visit Israel, including Elvis Costello, Roger Waters, Brian Eno, Annie Lennox and Mike Leigh.

However, many artists, writers and academics have defied and even denounced the boycott, calling it ineffective and selective. Ian McEwan, who was awarded the Jerusalem Prize in 2011, responded to critics by saying: “If I only went to countries that I approve of, I probably would never get out of bed … It’s not great if everyone stops talking.”

Hawking has visited Israel four times in the past. Most recently, in 2006, he delivered public lectures at Israeli and Palestinian universities as the guest of the British Embassy in Tel Aviv. At the time, he said he was “looking forward to coming out to Israel and the Palestinian territories and excited about meeting both Israeli and Palestinian scientists”.

Since then, his attitude to Israel appears to have hardened. In 2009, Hawking denounced Israel’s three-week attack on Gaza, telling Riz Khan on Al-Jazeera that Israel’s response to rocket fire from Gaza was “plain out of proportion … The situation is like that of South Africa before 1990 and cannot continue.”

The office of President Peres, which has not yet announced Hawking’s withdrawal, did not respond to requests for comment. Hawking’s name has been removed from the speakers listed on the official website.

Stephen Hawking

A statement published with Stephen Hawking’s approval said his withdrawal was based on advice from academic contacts in Palestine. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA
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6 thoughts on “| BDS: Stephen Hawking joins academic boycott of Israel!

  1. Pingback: | Five reasons why Hawking is right to boycott Israel! | | truthaholics

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  3. Pingback: | BDS: Stephen Hawking’s support for the boycott of Israel is a turning point! | | truthaholics

  4. Only in the United States has Israel enjoyed any support for its treatment of Palestinians. To me, it’s pitifully ironic that the grandchildren of those who died in Nazi ovens could treat other human beings as callously as Israelis have treated Palestinians in the occupied territories. For the last 46 years, Israel has defied United Nations Resolution 242 by refusing to return to its 1967 borders, always, course, in the name of security. Instead, year after year it builds new housing on increasingly large swaths of territory that should have surrendered to the Palestinians decades ago. For all its self-lamentation about being victims on Islamofascist terrorism, Human Rights Watch statistics demonstrate that IDF terrorists kill 10 Arabs for every Israeli who dies in as a result of an Arab act of terrorism. Israel’s ruthless acts have been condemned by the votes of about 200 of the 204 nations that comprise the UN on at least 30 occasions, with the US drumming up support from 1 or 2 Pacific Islander nations to throw their hats in with Israel/US to form a 3-4 member voting bloc that is overwhelmingly outvoted by the rest of the nations of the world. That’s why Israel calls the UN an anti-Semitic legislative body whose edicts it refuses to obey. Israel showed its contempt for human rights for all the world to see on TV when it bombed apartment houses in Beirut in 2006, killing some 1300 people, 25% of whom were children under the age of 15 years, justifying this slaughter as necessary because those people were “shields for Hezbollah,” an utter violation of the and then by dropping hundreds of thousands of cluster bombs throughout southern Lebanon to be picked up by Lebanese people of all political stripes, not just Hezbollah, for decades to come, blowing up thousands of innocent people. These were war crimes in violation of the Geneva Conventions, yet Israel escaped sanctions. Israel itself was created by a campaign of village-clearing terror inflicted against resident Palestinians by Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. Two of its later Prime Ministers were also military terrorists. The only difference between Israeli bombing campaigns that target civilians and jihadists who bomb Israeli buses and pizza parlors is the altitude of delivery and the greater size of the airborne bomb. For every death inflicted by Arab terrorists, IDF kills 10 Arabs using its brand of terrorism.

    Israel is the main force urging higher scrutiny of and possible attack on Iran before it can get its first atomic weapon, while itself holding urging . What utter hypocrisy: Israel is a rogue atomic nation that, with US help, exempted itself from inspections under from the Nuclear Arms Non-Proliferation Treaty and has developed a nuclear arsenal of 200-300 missiles with a nuclear site in the Negev desert. What Israel demands, with complete US support, is a nuclear-free Middle East with only one nation having nuclear weapons: Israel. And this shameful hypocrisy is never discussed in the US mainstream press. Bush and Cheney brought water-boarding from Mossad to American interrogations after water-boarding had been considered torture by American military authorities for more than 50 years. Where do you think America got the idea for “renditions,” the charming word attached to kidnappings and secretly moving citizens to dungeons for torture (Hint–it wasn’t North Korea)?

    Israel is considered the most likely provocateur of World War III by citizens of the world. There’s a reason: Israel is a moral and ethical monster masquerading as a victim of anti-Semitism. I’m glad great minds like Chomsky and Hawking are calling attention to the cruelty, dishonesty and duplicity of Israeli politicians. I’m tired of the double standard the United States uses to justify Israeli acts of tyranny of the Middle East, of which everyone except Americans are aware. I’m tired of AIPAC’s bribery of every US Congressmember to support cockamamie Israeli policies with some of the $4 billion dollars Israel is given annually by US taxpayers. I’m tired of the intellectual terrorism Zionists practice by hauling out the “Jew card” and labeling anyone who disagrees with their self-absorbed contentions as anti-Semites. I’m a Jew (not a self-hating one either, as I’m sure responders to this comment will label me) who’s very upset that Israelis daily besmirch the great Jewish history of honesty, decency, and charity that have lasted more than 5000 years, all in the name of “never again.”

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