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Posts Tagged ‘Boycott’

Would Hawking Meet Paraplegic Arab Saved by Israel?

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Columnist David Suissa, the founder of OLAM magazine, has challenged theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking to visit a three-year old Gaza paraplegic who is being cared for by Israel.

Hawking shocked the entire Israel political spectrum, from left to right, by his boycotting President Shimon Peres annual “Presidential Conference’ because of the “occupation.”

Hawking who is severely handicapped by a deteriorating disease and is confined to a wheelchair, is able to communicate through a device that is run by a computer chip designed and developed in Israel.

“Instead of getting upset at Hawking, I would rather we invite him to visit the Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital, part of the Tel HaShomer complex in the Israeli city of Ramat Gan, Suissa wrote in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal.

There, he would meet a three-year-old Arab toddler with no arms and no legs, named Mohammed al-Farra.

“Mohammed was born in Gaza with a rare genetic disease. His parents abandoned him, and the Palestinian government refused to pay for his care.

“As soon as he was born, he was rushed to Israel for emergency treatment. As reported in Huffpost, his genetic disorder left him with a weakened immune system and crippled his bowels, and an infection destroyed his hands and feet, requiring them to be amputated.

“Since then, he has spent his days and nights in an Israeli hospital undergoing treatment and learning how to use prosthetic limbs. His grandfather lives with him. Mohammed has been warmly embraced and cared for by his Israeli doctors, who have arranged for him and his grandfather to live in the sunny pediatric ward.”

Suissa asked, “I wonder what kind of boycott Hawking would have in mind after meeting little Mohammed, and after learning about the thousands of other Arab children from the West Bank and Gaza who are routinely cared for in Israeli hospitals?

“Well, I can think of at least one: It would be a boycott of every country in the world that neglects to care for disabled children like Steven Hawking and Mohammed al-Farra.”

Hawking Rejects the Zionism of Einstein

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Has Stephen Hawking really left the company of Albert Einstein, an avowed Zionist who worked to create the State of Israel, and replaced him with the august company of Elvis Costello and other Israel boycotters?

I hosted Hawking for a lecture at Oxford in 1998 where I introduced him to 1000 Oxford students. He could not have been more humble and approachable. Aside from his lecture, delivered through his voice synthesizer, on string theory – little of which I understood but which my students assured me was “brilliant” – I remember his love of babies and practical jokes. Our daughter Rochel Leah had just been born and Hawking and his wife asked us if he could hold her. I can still picture in my mind how his wife took the baby, placed her on his lap, and then wrapped his enfeebled arms around the baby, which he stared at with a huge grin for minutes. He was enraptured.
After the lecture was over and as we walked Hawking to his car, he suddenly raced off in his wheelchair to Haagen-Dazs where he consumed an ice cream. His wife chuckled that he loved giving his hosts the slip as he indulged his childlike spirit.
All who heard and met him were deeply impressed with his humility and accessibility.
And now this, digging a knife publicly into Israel’s back.
Why would one of the world’s leading academic minds condemn the only democracy in the Middle East? Why would he attack a country, situated in a region of such deep misogyny, that celebrates women succeeding in every area of academic, professional, and political life? Why would Hawking pounce on a nation who, with neighbors like Hamas that routinely murder gays on false accusations of collaboration, grants homosexuals every equal right? And why would he condemn a country whose Arab citizens are the freest and least afraid in the entire Middle East?
Could it be because Israel has still not settled the status of the West Bank [Judea and Samaria -.ed]?
But if that is the case, surely Hawking knows that Israel has seen thousands of its citizens slaughtered in gruesome terror attacks ever since it granted autonomy to the Palestinian authority to control 97% of the Palestinian population?
Could it be because Israel has yet to facilitate the creation of a Palestinian state?
But then Hawking is a highly educated man and he knows that after Israel withdrew fully from Gaza – dismantling its communities and forcibly removing its settlers – that it lead to tens of thousands of rockets being fired at Israeli hospitals and schools. And besides, Israel has practically begged the Palestinians to come back to the negotiating table without any pre-conditions to discuss just that, the creation of a two-state solution, but the Palestinians have refused.
Perhaps its because Hawking believes the demonstrably false lie that Israel is an apartheid state. But then a scientist like Hawking would check facts before he would embrace such fraudulence and could easily discover that Arabs serve in the Israel Knesset – where they freely and regularly disagree with Israel – as well as the Israeli Supreme Court, the civil service, and every other area of Israeli life.
No, one must conclude that for all his academic brilliance Hawking might just be lacking in simple common sense.
In his statement embracing the boycott of the Jewish state, Hawking said, “I have received a number of emails from Palestinian academics. They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this I must withdraw from the conference.”
One would think that Hawking’s response to these academics might be a call to, say, Hamas to start using the billions channeled to the Palestinians as the world’s largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid into building universities rather than buying bombs, or educating women rather than tacitly allowing the honor killings of young Palestinian women whose only crime is to have a boyfriend. No, Hawking decided instead to condemn the country whose scholars have won ten Nobel prizes, from a population of six million, while the entire Arab world, numbering in the hundreds of millions, have won two, outside the peace prize (another four).
Clearly, a knowledge of physics is no guarantor of a knowledge of foreign affairs.

Since Hawking is so often called the Einstein of his generation, it is worth reminding him that Einstein was a committed Zionist who traveled around the United States with Chain Weizmann to raise money for the creation of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, an institution that Hawking now refuses to even visit. In a 1921 letter to his friend Friedrich Zangger, Einstein wrote, “On Saturday I’m off to America – not to speak at universities (though there will probably be that, too, on the side) but rather to help in the founding of the Jewish University in Jerusalem. I feel an intense need to do something for this cause.”

Hawking’s Boycott Falls into a Black Hole

Monday, May 13th, 2013

The Israeli Presidential Conference that Stephen Hawking is boycotting because of the “occupation” of supposed Palestinian land has drawn in the past none other than several senior Palestinian Authority officials, including one who two weeks ago said he would like to drop a nuclear bomb in Israel.

Thanks to a bit of Internet homework by Times of Israel reporters, it appears that former Palestinian Authority minister and negotiator Ziyad Abu Zayyad spoke at all three of the prior presidential conferences that have been held since 2008.

Another former speaker was former teenage terrorist Jibril Rajoub, who as an adult terrorist was head of Yasser Arafat’s “preventive security.” He also heads the central committee of Fatah, the party of Mahmoud “peace Process” Abbas, and last week he said he wished he had a nuclear weapon to destroy Israel.

So why didn’t Rajoub boycott the conference?

Because it is a lot easier to undermine Israel from within than staging a useless boycott, which is a total fake since a true boycott would mean no generic drugs from Teva Pharmaceuticals, the world’s largest generic drugs manufacturer. Everyone who has read about Hawking’s boycott probably already knows that Teva is working on a drug that could cure the brilliant physicist of the motor neuron disease that has afflicted the 71-year-old Hawking for the past 50 years.

The boycott would also include Intel chips, but who needs them? Besides the rest of the world, Hawking needs them, and probably more than anyone else. He communicates through a computer-based communications system that runs on a chip made by Intel.

And who designed the chip? Intel’s Israeli team. Intel’s factory operations in Kiryat Gat, north of Be’er Sheva, are among the largest in the world.

A handful or more of other Palestinian Authority political leaders and academics have spoken at the presidential conferences, one of President Shimon Peres’s pet projects to bring Israeli and Palestinian Authority leaders together, based on the still-to-be proven maxim that if they talk forever, someone will listen.

Of course, no one can listen if everyone boycotts.

Enter Hawking. His hearing from his left is exceptional, but he apparently filters out anything else, whether on the right or even in the center.

That is why his boycott of the  conference is one of the best things that has every happened to Israel’s “hasbara” program of trying to explain itself to the rest of the world, a policy whose main accomplishment is that it keeps a lot of people from being unemployed.

It is current history that Cambridge University stated that Hawking is boycotting the conference because of Israel’s awful policy of not letting the world dictate what is good for Israel, because who knows more about the Middle East than Westerners?

It is current history that Cambridge backtracked and said he was not attending the conference because of his poor health.

And then Hawking said, no, that’s not so. “I really am boycotting Israel,” he said, explaining that the international leftists [Read: anti-Israel], convinced him it was the right – or left – thing to do.

So Cambridge struck out.

And now comes the report that blows another hole in the Black Lie of the international community’s effort to drive Israel back to the “Auschwitz Lines” of 1949-1967, as former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Abba Ebban called the old borders.

The anti-Israel, or pro-Palestinian Authority effort, if you prefer, is talking to itself.

It camouflages its built-in hatred of Israel with a bleeding heart sympathy for the poor Palestinians.

Their do-good effort to break their boredom in life is to boycott Israel. But a funny thing happened on the way to Hawking’s boycott of the presidential conference. Palestinian Authority officials love to speak there. Why boycott an opportunity to stand on a soapbox and deliver a rant against the people that gave you the soapbox.

Only in Israel

One would think that someone like Jabril Rajoub – the former adviser to Yasser Arafat, the former 16-year-old terrorists, the head of the council of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s own Fatah party, the man who two weeks ago said he really wished he had a nuclear bomb so he could destroy Israel today – would not stoop so low as to accept an invitation by the President of Israel to speak at the conference.

Open Letter to Roger Waters: Music Is Our Shared Language

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters has declareed that a boycott of Israel is the “way to go”(“Roger Waters Calls For Boycott Of Israel,” Rolling Stone, March 20,2013). This statement is distressing not only because his numerous accusations leveled against the state are based on falsehoods, but are inflammatory as well. As members of the entertainment industry, we question Mr. Waters’ misinforming his fans in a way that only triggers further hostilities while continuing to dampen hopes for peaceful dialogue in the Middle East.

Mr. Waters blatantly condemns Israel, yet ignores the facts. Israel has never practiced or enforced racial segregation. As the sole democracy in the Middle East, Israel has always encouraged and legally enabled the integration of Arab peoples into all aspects of Israeli life. Arabs have been elected to the Knesset in every election since Israel’s founding and the Israeli Supreme Court guarantees all Arabs equal rights and full protection under the law.

The recently crowned Miss Israel was born in Ethiopia and quoted Martin Luther King in her acceptance speech! “There are many different communities of many different colors in Israel, and it’s important to show that to the world,” said the new Miss Israel.

Also consider that Israel has already elected a female prime minister, LGBT Israeli soldiers have the right to serve openly in the military, and married LGBT couples are ensured full adoption and inheritance rights. In fact, Israel’s official policies are often more advanced than America’s in promoting and supporting freedom of religion, women’s rights and gay rights, none of which exist in their neighboring nations or states.

Mr. Waters also proclaims his outspoken support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a frequently vilified organization that fundamentally questions Israel’s very right to exist. Even political author-activist Norman Finkelstein – a noted advocate of the Palestinian cause – has branded the movement “a hypocritical, dishonest cult” and said in a recent interview that BDS is “not really talking about rights. They want to destroy Israel.”

One-sided cultural embargos such as those advocated by Mr. Waters are an affront to both Palestinian and Israeli moderates who seek peace. We too wish for a resolution to the complicated Palestinian-Israeli situation, and believe that the unique connection between artist and fan is part of the solution. Music can reflect politics, but should never be disingenuous.

Mr. Waters should remember that music is our shared language, one that transcends dialects of hatred. Fans are the same everywhere in the world, and today many of Roger Waters’ fans are severely disappointed that he chose the words he did instead of those spoken on the same day by President Obama: “The United States of America stands with the State of Israel because . . . it makes us both stronger. It makes us both more prosperous. And it makes the world a better place.”

Roger Waters: ‘I Am Considering my Position’ on Anti-Israel Boycott

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Roger Waters, of Pink Floyd fame, told HuffPost Live host Josh Zepps this week that he is now rethinking his call for a boycott of Israel.

Recently, presumably because of the musician’s views, the New York City 92nd Street Y announced the cancellation of his scheduled April 30th appearance.

“I am considering my position,” Waters said of the boycott. “The letter asking my fellow musicians to boycott Israel has never appeared. I am thinking all of this through extremely carefully and I’m thinking it all through extremely carefully because I care more about the outcome, because I care about the people involved, than I do about the moment.”

That’s a lot of thinking for a rock musician, you must give him that.

Waters told HuffPost that he is being “very, very careful to avoid some kind of dramatic moment that could very easily blow up” and damage his ability influence things in the longer term.

“If you were to ask Susan Engel, who’s the director of lectures at 92Y, why she won’t speak to anybody about the cancellation of my talk…she won’t speak to you. She won’t speak to anyone,” Waters said. “I’ve asked and asked and asked, and in the end I just gave up.”

Maybe Susan Engel doesn’t want to damage her own ability to influence things in the longer term…

Still, Waters has not changed his views on who is right and who is evil in the Arab-Israeli conflict. No surprises there: “The occupation and the settlement building is an impregnable obstacle to peace,” Waters said. “There can never be peace unless the occupation ends and the settlement building ends.”

Of course, in the nearby Gaza Strip there’s no peace at all, in fact, there’s been a whole lot of extra war after the occupation and the settlements all ended. But you can’t confuse this Pink Floyd ace with the facts.

Waters said that the strategic goal for the region “should be a solution of the Palestinian refugee problem, an end to the occupation, security and the right to lead a decent life for all the citizens of Israel, both the Jewish citizens and the Palestinian citizens.”

“That’s the goal that those of us who actually care about people are attempting to encourage,” he said.

So brave. So unabashed. But only to a point. Seeing as his bookings around the civilized world, where 60s geezers – his only remaining audience – won’t buy tickets if he continues his anti-Israeli boycott drive, well, Roger is willing to compromise. Meaning, he’ll take it back.

Principled, but practical.

Scottish Council Vows to Boycott Israel

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

A county council in Scotland has expressed its support for boycotting Israel.

Clackmananshire County Council, the smallest local authority in Scotland, passed a motion in which it resolved to “resist, insofar as legislative considerations permit, any action that gives political or economic support to the State of Israel.”

The motion, passed last week without opposition and with only three abstentions, also compared Israel to apartheid South Africa and hoped that “individual and collective sanctions against the State of Israel will end apartheid and suffering in Palestine.” The move has been condemned by Britain’s Jewish community and pro-Israel groups.

A statement from the Fair Play campaign group — an organization set up in 2006 by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council — criticized the council.

“The idea of Clackmannanshire Council having its own foreign policy is ridiculous. This misguided and offensive motion will have no impact on the real world, a fact acknowledged by the motion itself when it stresses that it will only act ‘insofar as legislative considerations permit.’ We urge the Council to grow up and abandon this biased stunt of a motion,” the statement said.

Strange Bedfellows

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

If there was ever a question about whether all Orthodox Jews support settlers this should end it. Haredi media personalities last week called for a boycott of Judea and Samaria products. That’s right. They have joined the BDS movement. At least the “B” part of it.

For those unfamiliar with the term – BDS stands for Boycott, Divest, and Sanction. This is a campaign started in 2005 by Palestinians and their sympathizers who claim that Israel is an oppressive occupier of innocent Palestinians. They have called for a boycott of all products and divestment of any businesses who have dealings with Judea and Samaria. They have also called for sanctions against the State of Israel itself until they give in to all the Palestinian demands including but not limited to “returning” the territory to its “rightful owners” the Palestinian people.

Most of us thought that anyone who supports sanctions like these are either anti-Semites or seriously misguided if well intentioned people. Many of whom are Jews. Misguided because they fail to see the broader picture; do not factor in historical facts or security issues. Well intended because at least in some cases they see what appears to be injustices and want them to be corrected.

The Haredi world apparently feels the same way. They could not care less if Israel retains Judea and Samaria – as long as their Mosdos (religious institutions) get funded. That is the reason for the boycott. From JTA – here is the way some Haredi media personalities put it:

“We need to think twice about supporting those who hate us. It’s about time we stop being suckers,” commentator Avi Bloom said, according to the Times of Israel. “When Bennett cries about mothers not being able to sleep at night, you can come and ask him by what right does he not allow Tel Aviv mothers, and now ultra-Orthodox mothers as well, to sleep at night because of the need to protect some random outpost.”

Kol Baramah commentator Yaakov Rivlin echoed the sentiment. “It’s time to end all these relations with the real estate dealers in the West Bank territories,” he said.

A senior columnist for the Hamodia newspaper, Yisrael Hershkowitz, wrote, “The settlements will pay the price for the costly arrogance” of Bennett.

Hershkowitz said companies located in Jewish settlements in the West Bank or companies owned by settlers could go out of business if boycotted by haredim.

Now I am no supporter of settlements. Certainly not those “random outposts” that are there for Religious Zionist reasons about settling all of Eretz Yisroel. Although I do believe in that religious principle I do not believe now is the time for that. In fact believe that Israel should do whatever it can to avoid conflict with Palestinians or exacerbate their enmity. Israel should bend over backwards to avoid oppressive measures to the extent that it is able to do so without compromising the safety of its citizens. I believe that Israel tries to do that to the best of their ability despite accusations to the contrary by the BDS people.

I believe that Haredim are on the same page with me on the issue of West Bank settlements. But where I part company with them is when they start boycotting people – not because they think Israel is being excessively harsh on the Palestinian people. But because they think it will pressure the government into continuing its financial support at previous levels. And also because of their opposition to the political right wing (that champions the cause West Bank settlements and includes Religious Zionists) that insist Haredim have to subject themselves to the draft equally with all citizens. Haredim want them to ‘pay a price’! for all of that, it seems.

So there you have it – BDS and Haredim uniting to boycott the Jewish State – even if not in common cause. Never in a million years would I have ever predicted this unholy coalition. And yet… there it is.

There is something not quite right when religious Jews unite with enemies of the Jewish people to undermine the Jewish State. Even if one does not support the settlements, to boycott them along with our enemies because of financial considerations or as a means to punish political opponents does not become people who claim to be the most religious and God fearing among us.

Although it is off-putting to see all of this happening, one can understand why they do it. The Haredi world in Israel exists financially to a great extent because of government largess. That is why the Haredi parties always join in coalition with the governing party regardless of whether it is a right wing or left wing one. It is their way of getting the most financial support by promising to vote with them on political matters.

Haredim are not political right wingers or left wingers. They are interested only in continuity. They know that much of their community depends on those government stipends just to survive at poverty level. As do their institutions. They believe that dedication to full time Torah study and nothing less is the true Derech HaShem. They therefore see all of this as Hishtadlus – putting forth maximum effort to see that their lifestyle continues unabated.

Desperate men do desperate things. If that means destroying the livelihoods of Judea and Samaria residents via a boycott of their products – so be it.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

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