Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Boycott that, Hawkings!

Boycott that, Hawkings!

Stephen Hawkings decided to join an academic boycott of Israel uniquely at the same time as Israeli scientists, together with colleagues from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, discovered a planet outside of the solar system. The astronomers at Tel Aviv University named it the ‘Einstein Planet.’ Such is the meaning of scientific cooperation to which Stephen Hawkings, it seems, has lost the plot.
He turned down an invitation to be a special guest at the Presidents Conference in Jerusalem hosted by President Shimon Peres, a tireless worker for peace and reconciliation with the Palestinians.
Hawkings chose to cave into pressure from Palestinian academics and to boycott an event which, perversely, will have the presence of leading members of the Palestinian Authority. In other words, Hawkings has decided to boycott an Israeli event in support of Palestinian activists in which Palestinian leaders will participate. You couldn’t make that up.

When people like Hawkings choose to end all contacts with their Israeli academic counterparts it is the time when academia becomes dogma. When scholars and teachers choose to close their ears and their minds they are no longer academia. They have adopted dogma.

For Israelis, such a boycott that turns the Jewish State, and only Israel, into an international pariah has echoes in the dark days of Nazi Germany when Jews, and only Jews, were targeted for such academic boycotts on trumped up charges as a prelude to worse events that lay in wait for them. The Holocaust did not start with death camps. It began with academic boycotts and the banning and burning of Jewish books.
So it is today. Can anyone doubt that the ultimate aim of the boycotters, the BDS Movement,  the ‘Free Palestine’ activists, and the Palestinian leadership itself, is not the ultimate destruction of Israel? This is the camp into which Stephen Hawkings finds himself.

If Hawkings has studied the issue in any depth, and compared Israeli and Palestinian academia, he will find one filled with wondrous discoveries giving universal benefits to the world, and the other filled with study books crammed with denial of Israel’s right to exist, incitement, Anti-Semitism, hate, and a fictional drafting of a false history. Is this the type of academia that Hawkings really advocate? Does he genuinely support that kind of Palestinian teaching over sound and beneficial Israeli research?  

Is he not aware of the ongoing cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians in medicine, water, agriculture, and many other fields? Probably not. It has been kept from him, as it is kept from the attention of the general public, by the false narrative of an isolated Palestinian society blocked off by a brutal Israeli blockage.
At the time of Hawkings’ boycott announcement, the Palestinian Minister of Health was leading a delegation to Israel’s Hadassah Hospital to promote the increased employment of Palestinian medical staff and to examine further cooperation between the hospital and the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

If Hawkings was truly devoted to the anti-Israel boycott cause he should take a leaf out of a chapter in my book ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative’. The chapter is aptly called ‘If You Are Going To Boycott Israel, Do It Properly.’ As many have already suggested, Hawkings should dispense with the Intel chip that is the main source of his ability to communicate with the world. It was developed in Israel.
Boycott that, Hawkings, or be considered a hypocrite. You are certainly no longer an academic, for when academics adopt dogma instead of open minded dialogue it is the closing of the academic mind. It harms the academic boycotter more than the academic boycotted.


Barry Shaw is the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative’ and is the Special Consultant on Delegitimization Issues to the Strategic Dialogue Center of the Netanya Academic College in Israel.


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