Stephen Hawking is someone we all admire. His research and writings have changed the way we understand our universe. And all his adult life he has had to cope with the devastating motor neurone disease, which has consigned him to a wheelchair and deprives him of even the use of his own voice.
Professor Hawking’s determination to overcome this as well as his unquestioned scientific brilliance make him admirable beyond words. But as though to show that even the brightest people can make fools of themselves, he has done something which is beyond stupid.
Professor Hawking, has decided to boycott Israel’s annual conference because of its occupation of Palestine.
Perhaps for fear of a backlash against this overtly political decision, Cambridge University — where Professor Hawking held a chair in mathematics — claimed initially that the 71-year-old scientist was not attending on ‘health grounds’.
It was a classic cover-up. For a letter has now come to light in which Professor Hawking wrote to the office of the Israeli President, saying he decided not to attend ‘based on advice from Palestinian academics that he should respect the boycott’.
Let us be clear. Such a boycott is an on-going attempt to demonise, delegitimise and ultimately destroy the world’s only Jewish state and our closest cultural and security ally in the region. That Hawking should add his name to the boycott is shameful.
If Professor Hawking gives up on Israeli technology, “boycotting Israel” would be his last words.
For with supreme irony, the speech device which enables Hawking to communicate with the world and relate his fascinating thoughts to us is a computer Intel Core i7-based communication system. Which runs on a chip designed by Israel.
Perhaps Professor Hawking should reflect on what it would mean if he truly committed himself to a boycott of Israel.