Hawking joins Academic Boycott of Israel

Physicist Stephen Hawking’s decision to boycott the annual President’s Conference in Jerusalem this year has been confirmed by Cambridge University. The university initially attempted to deny a political motive and said Hawkings was not going because of his health. It acknowledged the political motive when the Guardian newspaper provided it with a copy of Hawking’s May 3 withdrawal letter:

“I accepted the invitation to the Presidential Conference with the intention that this would not only allow me to express my opinion on the prospects for a peace settlement but also because it would allow me to lecture on the West Bank. However, I have received a number of emails from Palestinian academics. They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this, I must withdraw from the conference. Had I attended, I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster.”

Phyllis Bennis at The Real News compares the impact to
the sports boycott of South Africa
in the time of Apartheid.

Israel, which daily steals Palestinian land and resources, is like a wealthy person who insists on burglarizing his neighbor, and naturally after a while the dinner invitations in polite society drop off.

17 Responses

  1. Tick..Tick…Tick…Counting the seconds until the Israeli Lobby levels anti-semitic charges against Hawkings.

    One of my favorite Hawkings quotes..

    “What was God doing before the divine creation? Was he preparing hell for people who asked such questions?” asked Hawking, clearly not afraid of meeting a reddish man with a fork and a tail.

  2. When writing about Stephen Hawking, you might want to learn to spell his name.

  3. Hawkings may have done a lot for science, he also showed he could contribute to the eventual demise of apartheid in the land of Palestine. Kudos! Stephen.

  4. It does not take a moral philosopher of the level of Kant to understand that if “Israel” (within the Green Line) is boycotted then supporters of Greater Israel can rightly point to hypocrisy in the treatment of Israel. Likewise, it should be obvious that a boycott of the occupied territories should be supported.

    A boycott of settler products is supported by prominent Israelis and the Palestinian Authority. An effective boycott won’t challenge Israel’s legitimacy within the green line; rather, it will enable many Jews and non-Jews to work together. BDS is a tactic for justice; it is not a categorical imperative. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

    • That other similar injustices may exist, unaddressed by those in favor of boycotting Israeli products, does not make their actions and ideas hypocritical; arguing that it does is part of the time-tested strategy of “deny, deflect, distract, and defame.”

      So little is made on the West Bank that a boycott of those products is a trivial distraction, a tool whose only value lies in taking our eyes off the ball and preventing effective wider action.

  5. This will be remembered as a watershed event in the history of the struggle against Israeli Apartheid. The world’s most renowned scientist takes a moral stand and refuses to help Israel whitewash its Apartheid and crimes against humanity.

  6. Phyllis Bennis is spot-on regarding the effect of the sports boycott on South Africa. It also opened up the debate in the UK and elsewhere in a way that commercial boycotts could not. And let’s not forget, once apartheid was gone, South African sport had a renaissance, with its crowning moment when Nelson Mandela inspired the national rugby team (still almost entirely white) to win the 1995 World Cup.

  7. -
    well, look at that
    an educated man with a little sway
    speaks for everyone, bothered by this

    forget about apartheid
    they are, as we speak, courting
    their own destruction
    -

  8. Given that Americans don’t really know what’s going on over there, the academic boycott could simply strengthen support for Israel.

  9. Perhaps Hawking would like to return his communication device that was developed for him by an Israel team with Intel.

    When the Israelis’ researching ASL find a cure, will he continue his boycott?

    • Science is science and Israelis are good at it. I’ve met a number of Israeli scientists, including recipients of the Israel Prize, and doubt they’d be anywhere near as snarky as this comment.

    • Because everybody knows an Arab will never invent anything of sufficient value to earn him the basic human right to not be run off his land by Jewish colonists, right?

      Let’s see Israeli scientists refuse to use Arabic numerals.

  10. The Church of England has previously issued a boycott call, as have many British celebrities and groups.

    In the U.S. the State of Washington has led the call for boycotting Israeli goods – largely due to sympathy of Olympia’s Rachel Corrie.

    The current battle for boycott endorsements against Israel have been in the student governments of the University of California campuses, including San Diego and Berkeley.

  11. I have replied and it was not complimentary of Professor Hawking. And it seems you have chosen not to publish it. Now what does that say?

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