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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Stephen Hawking Boycotting Company Working on his Cure

Israel’s BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics has invented a process that completely reverses ALS, but, sadly, Prof. Hawking, now shuns Israeli science.
Prof. Stephen Hawking participated in a conference with Israeli soldiers and students at the Bloomfield Museum of Science in Jerusalem, December 10, 2006.

Prof. Stephen Hawking participated in a conference with Israeli soldiers and students at the Bloomfield Museum of Science in Jerusalem, December 10, 2006.
Photo Credit: Orel Cohen/Flash90

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Professor Stephen Hawking now supports the academic boycott of Israel, because of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, the Guardian reported Wednesday, and to show it, he pulled out of the conference that will be hosted in June by Israeli president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem..

Hawking, 71, “the guy who invented time,” as the Big Bang Theory character Penny calls him, is a mega-famous theoretical physicist and the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University. He had initially accepted an invitation to speak at the fifth annual president’s “Facing Tomorrow” conference (possibly the last one, too, since the next president might not be up to it).

Hawking is in very poor health, according to the Guardian. He suffers from a motor neuron disease related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS – also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), a condition that has progressed over the years. He is almost entirely paralyzed and communicates through a speech generating device.

Last week, the author of “A Brief History of Time” wrote President Peres a brief letter ignoring a good 50% of History, saying he had changed his mind and won’t appear at the much touted conference.

A statement published with Hawking’s approval by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, said the reason for the insult to Peres and to Israel is “his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there.”

The Guardian reports that in the four weeks since Hawking’s participation in the Jerusalem event was announced, the great man 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.”

It worked. Finally Hawking broke down, and told friends he decided “to follow the advice of Palestinian colleagues who unanimously agreed that he should not attend.”

Here’s the catch: almost a year ago, The Jewish Press ran a story about Israeli scientific advancements in the use of stem cells to treat a variety of serious and debilitating illnesses, resulting in the miraculous recovery of the dean of the Mir yeshiva, Rabbi Refael Shmuelevich, from ALS.

A clinical trial of ALS patients conducted by Israel’s BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics shows their therapy, NurOwn, is safe and well-tolerated by patients, and not only capable of halting the progress of the illness, but can actually reverse the course of the disease, improving the breathing, muscle strength, and speech capabilities of sufferers with nerve damage in the brain and spine.

At the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Rabbi Shmuelevitz was given just 2-4 years to live, until he succumbed to the most severe form of the neuromuscular diseases. Soon his speech became difficult to understand, and he was confined to a wheelchair.

But just one month after beginning an experimental treatment spearheaded at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, Rabbi Shmuelevitz was back on his feet, teaching again at the 7,000-student yeshiva, as he has done for the last 30 years. His recovery was not only touted as a miracle and a joy for the students of the Mir yeshiva, but is being called the first ever recovery from ALS.

The Mayo Clinic is participating in clinical trials of the BrainStorm drug.

It’s possible that next time Professor Hawking comes to Jerusalem, it would be to receive treatment rather than to rebuke the local scientific community.

Except, as a Jewish Press manager commented online: Maybe Hawking just prefers the innovations and gifts the Palestinians have brought to the world… big bangs.

Hawking has visited Israel four times, most recently, in 2006, when he said he was “looking forward to coming out to Israel and the Palestinian territories and excited about meeting both Israeli and Palestinian scientists.”

But as of now, it’s down to just Palestinian scientists.

Both of them.

Israeli Presidential Conference Chairman Israel Maimon responded to Hawking’s announcement saying that his decision was unjustifiable and wrong:

“The academic boycott against Israel is in our view outrageous and improper, certainly for someone for whom the spirit of liberty lies at the basis of his human and academic mission. Israel is a democracy in which all individuals are free to express their opinions, whatever they may be. The imposition of a boycott is incompatible with open, democratic dialogue.”

Malka Fleischer contributed to this report.

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About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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104 Responses to “Stephen Hawking Boycotting Company Working on his Cure”

  1. Do you know if it is true or is something manipulated by mass media because I don't now what Hawking said at first hand.

  2. Yael Berman says:

    Esther Mas Roman These people are NOT pro-palestinians, pro-peace or pro-dialogue (obviously). They are just jew haters. And this stupid, blind and hateful cruzade is not gonna help the palestinians or the conflict in the Middle East AT ALL.

  3. Yael Berman says:

    Esther Mas Roman These people are NOT pro-palestinians, pro-peace or pro-dialogue (obviously). They are just jew haters. And this stupid, blind and hateful cruzade is not gonna help the palestinians or the conflict in the Middle East AT ALL.

  4. Yael Berman I don't defend what Israel haters say or do. But I ask you how people is so sure about what a person can think and don't refer to radicals who calls themselves pro peace, but to Hawkiing. I think that someone like him is too intelligent to ignore idiots.

  5. Graham Milne says:

    There is no proven relationship between intelligence and moral courage – and Professor Hawking has just proved it. I think I'll write a book about it – 'A Brief History of Slime'.

  6. I agree that his boycott is unnecessary, but this man has done so much for science and humanity. this article does nothing to address the actual issues by sidestepping them and focusing on his terrible illness.

    his boycott of israel may be off base, but not nearly as off base as this ridiculous article and many of the heartless comments below. some of you should be ashamed.

  7. John Winter says:

    Hawking is entitled to his opinions and to his feelings. If this Israeli company has created a cure for his disease, then they are equally entitled to withhold the cure from Hawking and let him live with his ALS.

  8. Too bad, a genius brain has gone senile and gullible! He has been a captive audience to virulent academics bent on bashing Israel to death.

  9. Adina Zidon says:

    you don't support israel if you don't think she has a right to exist

  10. "A Jew who dislikes the Zionist state is pro-Torah. A gentile who dislikes the Zionist state is anti-Semitic" -R. Yoel of Satmar.

  11. This doesn't bother me. I believe we live our lives as we should and don't pay attention to the small ignorant people who are so jealous of the JEWS. Hatred is a waste of time and thought. Let them wallow in it and the mud. The Jews will go on and achieve wonders for the world.

  12. Niall Lynch says:

    What a sad, spiteful little article. It's very title is a lie, since there is no evidence Hawking is boycotting the company in question. Hawking made very clear that his decision to withdraw from the conference was in support of Palestinian universities. Not a boycott against Isaeli science or industry.

    And his withdrawal was not an "insult". It was very politely done, and Hawking has never in his attacked or reviled Israel.

    This just shows how nervous you guys are that overreact like this. Sad.

  13. Tudor Luncean says:

    Esther Mas Roman maybe you are in denial?

  14. Adina Zidon When did I said that Istrael hasn't right to exist?

  15. Tudor Luncean In denial? What is what I'm denying?

  16. Uh…when you are a huge figurehead in science and stuck crippled in a wheelchair to suffer your whole life im sure its pretty hard to believe in god

  17. This is the most honest, non-biased comment on the page.

  18. Also didnt the jews kill jesus? just funny how I see all this god stuff being brought up but they slew his only son lol

  19. Labiba Guide says:

    He don't have nothing to do with Jews. he Have Many Thing to Do with the Terror israeli For Palestinians Children And Civilians.

  20. Jesus in the bible actually stated that no man takes my life, but i offer it up willingly

  21. His mind has been.

  22. Hello Arie´s Pragmatic Politics, I want to know about you

  23. Rick Street says:

    Hawkins is an useful idiot.

  24. Rick Street says:

    Hawkins is an useful idiot.

  25. Ted Salmons says:

    Isn't that like saying we're not pediphiles, but we're for the people that are.

  26. Anthony Horn says:

    What is wrong with anyone expressing their opinion.

  27. Ayub Nuri says:

    Lets just say Hawking doesn't really deserve to set foot in Israel no matter what his science or theory.

  28. Jeff Sklar says:

    Jenel Cohen. Yes, that makes you antisemitic. Hawking is antisemitic. This proves that outside of his expertise in science he is stupid.

  29. Jeff Sklar says:

    If you supports anti-semites that makes you an anti-semite.

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