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Monday, May 13, 2013 

Time allows for criticism of Stephen Hawking for boycotting Israel

In the past week or two, the UK professor Stephen Hawking announced he was going to snub Israel, and Noam Chomsky had some influence there.

Fortunately, Time has provided rabbi David Wolpe the chance to explain why Hawking's new position is only a terrible one:
Hawking has written about multiple universe theory and it is possible that in some alternate world his action makes sense. But in this world it is a new example of an enduring, egregious hypocrisy. When the odd musician or writer ostracizes Israel, it is contemptible enough. But someone of Hawking’s stature and intellect should know that boycotts are antithetical to the ideal of open inquiry that animates the scientific enterprise.

Not that there aren’t times when ethics override the free exchange of ideas. Or perhaps Stephen Hawking just doesn’t believe in talking to people with whom he disagrees. Where then is his condemnatory statement about the treatment of the Maya people in Guatemala, the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Kashmiris in India, the Kurds in Turkey, The Bahai of Iran, The Shia of Pakistan, the Chechens in Russia, or perhaps about the Tibetans in China, where Hawking recently paid a celebrated visit? Rather than actually confront the difficulties of the region, he is deploying his considerable prestige to say that one country, among all the nations of the world, is uniquely deserving of obloquy.

Then there is the question of what, exactly, standing up the Israeli Presidential Congress is going to achieve. As Hawking must know, he is boycotting precisely those most likely to agree with his political stance, the left wing academic community in Israel. It’s hard to believe that he endorses a theory that if he can make some academic conferences a tad less prestigious that peace will bloom.
It's also hard to believe he doesn't know anything about what Islam is built on, and that by abolishing its indoctrination, peace could bloom a lot better. Likewise, abolish the whole notion of a palestinian people and two-state solution nonsense.

The UK Guardian also gave a writer named Steve Caplan the opportunity to disagree with Hawking. Unfortunately, this writer does something galling:
The decision by Hawking to join the boycotters of Israel and Israeli academics is particularly ironic in light of the fact that the conference is being hosted in honor of the 90th birthday of Israel's president, Shimon Peres. More than any other Israeli leader, Peres has been committed to negotiations and comprehensive peace with the Palestinians, and he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. At 90, despite his figurehead position, Peres remains steadfastly optimistic in his relentless goal of a fair two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians.
"Fair"? All that's doing is denying the legitimacy of Judea/Samaria as Jewish land. But for a UK paper to opine and slip that propaganda in there is no surprise.

In any case, I'm not too bothered about Hawking deciding he doesn't want to come here. If he did, he'd probably only use his visit as a platform for the very delegitimization the Guardian advocates. We could do without that.

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