Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Stephen Hawking joins academic boycott of Israel

The Guardian (UK)
and Matthew Kalman
May 8, 2013.
Physicist pulls out of conference hosted by President Shimon Peres in protest at treatment of Palestinians

A statement published with Stephen Hawking's approval said his withdrawal was based on advice from academic contacts in Palestine. (Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA)
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.

Hawking's decision met with abusive responses on Facebook, with many commentators focusing on his physical condition, and some accusing him of antisemitism.
Read the rest here.
Comment: Excellent decision by Professor Hawking.  The article states that there has been a barrage of ugly criticism leveled at him on FB - a lot of it focuses on his physical condition.

Shameful.  But why am I not surprised?  These are some of the same bigots who can rationalize what Israel does to innocents on a daily basis.

That said, if you reading anywhere on the web these days you must be aware that Israel employs folks to troll comment sections where Israel is discussed.  These trolls 'disturb' the flow of comments in the favor of Israel and its murderous policies.

Here at blog central I have from time to time been bombarded by trolls who come out of the woodwork when Israel is criticized.  These folks go for the jugular - they attack Islam, Muslims, and anything they can gather about my personal life here on the blog.

It is best to ignore these bigots and press on for what is right and just.

Palestine must be freed from the clutches of Israel and those in the Zionist lobby in the West who care very little for the lives that are being destroyed.

It is for this reason that Stephen Hawkings decision to boycott Israel must be applauded and used as an example of right thinking.


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