(JNS.org) World-renowned theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking has joined has bowed to anti-Israel pressure and will not be attending the fifth annual Presidential Conference in Jerusalem in June, The Guardian reported Wednesday. Hawking’s intention to boycott Israel was initially denied but subsequently confirmed by the University of Cambridge, where Hawking is the emeritus Lucasian professor of mathematics.
While Hawking had not publicly announced his decision, The Guardian cited a statement published by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine “with Hawking’s approval” that described the move as Hawking’s “independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there.”
Presidential Conference Steering Committee Chairman Israel Maimon slammed what he called Hawking’s “outrageous, wrongful decision.”
“The academic boycott of Israel is outrageous, especially by someone who preaches freedom of thought,” Maimon said, according to Israel Hayom. “Israel is a democracy, where anyone can state his case, whatever it may be. Imposing a boycott goes against the principles of holding an open and democratic discourse.”
Roz Rothstein, CEO of the pro-Israel education group StandWithUs, told JNS.org, “It’s too bad that physicist Stephen Hawking only has room in his heart for the one side in an ongoing conflict, and is unable to recognize the suffering of Israeli civilians who are bombarded by acts of terrorism by Palestinian groups like Hamas. It is shocking that such an intelligent person didn’t take the time to learn more about the aspirations of the BDS movement; namely, the elimination of the state of Israel. Memo to Stephen Hawking: boycotting one side in an on-going conflict will never lead to peace.”
The Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center noted that Hawking is boycotting Israel despite the fact that the computer-based system he uses to speak “runs on a chip designed by Israel’s Intel team.” Hawking has ALS, known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
“I suggest that if [Hawking] truly wants to pull out of Israel he should also pull out his Intel Core i7 from his tablet,” Shurat HaDin Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said in a statement.