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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Professor Stephen Hawking’

Noam Chomsky Pushed Stephen Hawking to Boycott Israeli Conference

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Professor Noam Chomsky of the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT was the force behind a group of 20 academics who lobbied Professor Stephen Hawking to boycott an Israeli conference where he was expected to be a keynote speaker, the Guardian reported. (See: Stephen Hawking Boycotting Company Working on his Cure and Resolved: Cambridge U ‘Misunderstood,’ Hawking Actually Hates Israel.)

Chomsky, a veteran supporter of anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian causes, joined British academics from the universities of Cambridge, London, Leeds, Southampton, Warwick, Newcastle, York and the Open University to who all shared with Hawking how “surprised and deeply disappointed” they were that he had accepted the invitation to speak at next month’s presidential conference in Jerusalem, which will chaired by Shimon Peres and attended by Tony Blair and Bill Clinton.

On Friday the liberal academic David Newman, dean of the faculty of humanities and social sciences at Ben Gurion University in Israel, warned that the academic boycott “just destroys one of the very few spaces left where Israelis and Palestinians actually do come together.”

Incidentally, the boycott on Israeli goods hurts thousands of Palestinian farm workers, and the boycott on Israeli tourism hurts thousands of Arabs working in that industry. But they make leftist Europeans and Americans feel better, and, after all, that’s what really counts.

But Chomsky, an old-time backer of “boycott and divestment of firms that are carrying out operations in the occupied territories,” was not concerned with gray shades, and to prove just how righteous he is, he added his considerable weight to the pressure on Hawking, according to Jonathan Rosenhead, chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine campaign group (BRICUP).

The letter to Hawking was in the ancient spirit of “It all started after Israel retaliated. It pointed out that Israel’s “treatment of the people of Gaza amounts to ‘collective punishment,’” meaning that should an Arab terrorist shoot a rocket at your children’s kindergarten, but he does it from the midst of his housing project, you are not permitted to fire back, lest you be guilty of collective punishment.

Just lie back and enjoy it, seems to be the BRICUP general attitude.

The letter also repeated the age old lie that “the construction of Jewish settlements breaches the Geneva convention” – it doesn’t, since the GC deals with areas occupied from a sovereign owner and no power had a recognized sovereignty over Judea, Samaria, or Gaza.

Finally, the letter accused Israel of placing “multiple roadblocks, physical, financial and legal, in the way of higher education, both for its own Palestinian citizens and those under occupation.” That may be the most terrible lie of them all, since no other Arab country even comes close to the number of institutions of higher education in the territories, as well as the percentage of academics among Arab citizens of Israel.

It is stunning that while in the rest of the region half the population, namely women, can’t walk freely in public, much less attain higher education, the one country those bizarre little men and women are attacking is the Israeli democracy.

Their letter had something to say about all that positive hogwash, too: “Israel has a name for the promotion of its cultural and scientific standing: ‘Brand Israel.’ This is a deliberate policy of camouflaging its oppressive acts behind a cultured veneer.”

In other words, don’t confuse us with all those “facts” about Israeli achievements, and Arab progress within the Israeli system – we all know it’s nothing but a lie.

Many of us have experienced the dubious pleasure of arguing with these characters and their hordes of disciples. You can’t reason with them because they’re not interested in reason. They are intellectually violent leftists.

Tom Hickey, a member of the UCU’s executive committee who put forward the draft motion, told the Guardian: “It is brave of Hawking for the straightforward reason that someone who has his prominence will be targeted for vilification. If he can do that then all of us should think of doing it. This isn’t about targeting Israeli scholars but targeting the institutions.”

Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the BDS who studies philosophy at Tel Aviv University, told the Guardian that Hawking’s decision to withdraw from the conference in the country that facilitates Barghouti’s career “is one of the starkest indicators yet that the tide is changing in the western mainstream against Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid, and that the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement is fast reaching its South Africa moment of maturity and impact.”

Resolved: Cambridge U ‘Misunderstood,’ Hawking Actually Hates Israel

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Here’s the most recent statement from Tim Holt, Acting Director of Communications at Cambridge and Hawking’s spokesperson:

“We have now received confirmation from Professor Hawking’s office that a letter was sent on Friday to the Israeli President’s office regarding his decision not to attend the Presidential Conference, based on advice from Palestinian academics that he should respect the boycott.

“We had understood previously that his decision was based purely on health grounds having been advised by doctors not to fly.”

Now you can enjoy the prequel:

According to The Commentator, new details have emerged regarding the cancellation of Professor Stephen Hawking’s trip to Israel, after many news reports, including a very ironic one in The Jewish Press (Stephen Hawking Boycotting Company Working on his Cure), that Prof. Hawking decided to boycott Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians.

The source of the story was the Guardian, which late last night claimed that Hawking was boycotting Israel, based on a statement from the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), with what looked like Hawking’s approval.

The statement said that the move was “his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there”.

However, a Cambridge university spokesperson told The Commentator on Wednesday that there was a “misunderstanding,” and that Prof. Hawking had pulled out of the conference for medical reasons.

A University spokesman said: “Professor Hawking will not be attending the conference in Israel in June for health reasons – his doctors have advised against him flying.”

The spokesperson suggested that BRICUP had “assumed” Hawking’s position on the matter, and that their assumption was untrue.

The Commentator was unable to reach BRICUP via telephone for comment, however its website maintains its original statement on the matter, as seen below:

According to BRICUP, however, the above statement must be the most vigorous backtracking feat ever performed by a person in Prof. Hawking’s condition. Here is their statement:

UPDATE 8 May: The statement above (Stephen Hawking declines invitation to attend Israeli conference, based upon his knowledge of Palestine) has been issued with the specific endorsement of Professor Hawking’s office. His staff sent us the following message on 7 May “Just spoken to Tim [Tim Holt, Acting Director of Communications for Cambridge University] and we are both in agreement with the quote – and as you say – sensible to get this out rather than a lot of differing opinions.” We have seen the letter that Professor Hawking sent to the Jerusalem organizers giving his clear reasons for not attending and are seeking his permission to release the letter but will not do so until we have his approval. We regret the misinformation being circulated about this matter.

The Jewish Press has contacted both the press person for the Presidential Conference, and President Peres’s spokeswoman, and we’ll update you as soon as we receive their response.

It’s down to what’s written in Prof. Hawking’s original letter – meanwhile, someone, stop the presidential shredder in Mr. Peres’s office…

Stephen Hawking Boycotting Company Working on his Cure

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/stephen-hawking-boycotting-company-working-on-his-cure/2013/05/08/

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