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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Hawking’

On Israel’s President’s Conference

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

 I would, in retaliation, host Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan “Apartheid Weeks.” Stephen Hawking has, apparently, no issues speaking in China and Iran, two countries with appalling human rights records. No one speaks about BDS of Saudi Arabia, where the list of human rights violations is endless. Where were their voices? Or Pakistan, with religious minorities facing persecution and violence against women? No one asked me to cancel my trip to Pakistan.

Recently I received an email from “a Palestinian in Vancouver,” in Canada, asking me to boycott Israel’s annual Presidential Conference, “Facing Tomorrow,” soon in Jerusalem, where I have been invited to speak.

The request for my boycott citied as reasons Israel’s human rights violations and mentioned that as Stephen Hawking boycotted the conference, perhaps I should, as well.

My response to my Palestinian friend is that the first time I was invited to speak at this conference three years ago, I went, hesitantly, not knowing what it was all about. I was so enthused by both my visit to Israel and the conference that I wrote extensively about the experience on my blog, and later named my own Not-for-Profit Organization “Muslims Facing Tomorrow” with an idea that one day, I would host a similar conference about ideas and a vision for a better tomorrow.

Upon my return, I praised the country and the people, but many of my Muslim friends were not interested in knowing these details. They only asked, “Were there any Palestinians at the conference and was the Israel-Palestinian issue discussed?” I was happy to respond that yes, there were Palestinians at the conference; I had even brought home a book on Islam from one of the Palestinian speakers there.

About human rights violations: granted that Israel, like every other country, has violations — but far fewer than those of the countries surrounding it. Israel is still the only liberal democracy in the area where one can find gender equality and freedom for its citizens. During my visits to Israel, I have, in fact, questioned Israeli Arabs and found that they are loath to leave the country where they enjoy freedom and human rights.

As I am accredited to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, where I attend its sessions twice a year, I have a close connection with human rights. At the UNHRC, I hear a lot about humanitarian crises, and these do not include Israel. The OIC (Organization of Islamic Co-operation), for instance, – a group of 57 Arab and Muslim States which has a permanent delegation to the United Nations and is the largest international organization outside the United Nations — continuously slams and blames Israel for everything happening in the Arab and Muslim world and beyond. This incrimination of Israel has become the norm, and can be seen as a ruse to deflect or move focus away from the real problems besetting the Arab world.

BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel is also not a new movement, but has taken on a life of its own at academic institutions all over North America. This movement has led to “Israel Apartheid Week” events, ugly and nonsensical, at many universities. If I were a student, I would, in retaliation, host Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan “Apartheid Weeks.” But I know that is not the solution to the problems besetting these countries, and the crux of the issue is how freedom of speech can become the fine line between hate mongering and truth.

This incrimination also highlights the double standards held by academics such as Stephen Hawking: he had no issues, apparently, speaking in China and Iran, two countries that have appalling human rights records. But that is his problem.

My problem is that I am from Pakistan, a country where the word human rights has no meaning or recognition whatsoever. According to the Human Rights Watch World Report on Pakistan for 2012, Pakistan had a disastrous year — including increasing attacks on civilians by militant groups, religious minorities facing unprecedented insecurity and persecution, and where freedom of belief and expression are coming under severe threat as the presence of Islamists has grown by leaps and bounds. This does not even begin to address violations against women. The Aurat Foundation, a local women’s rights group in Pakistan, says the number of incidents of violence against women in Pakistan has increased at least seven percent over the past year.

Yet Another Jewish Org Poised to Honor a BDS Enthusiast (video)

Friday, May 17th, 2013

One would think that after several recent public relations disasters when Jewish or Jewish-connected organizations honor people who support political and economic warfare against the State of Israel, that Jewish groups would stop doing this.

But one would be wrong.

First there was Yeshiva University’s Cardozo Law School which presented a human rights award to one of the world’s leading defamers and delegitimizers of Israel, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter.

Then there was the 92nd Street Y which came very close to providing a public platform from which leading BDS advocate Roger Waters would spew his venom against Israel. Luckily for the 92nd Street Y, Waters had to change the date of the appearance, and the Y took that opportunity to slip out of the noose it had created for itself.

Then there was the incredible fiasco of the State of Israel itself inviting a long-time critic of the Jewish State, scientist Stephen Hawking, to a major scientific conference in Israel.  A little due diligence would have revealed that Hawking was already on record as embracing a hostile narrative against Israel. But no, Israel invited Hawking to give a talk at the President’s Conference.  Hawking rebuffed the Jewish State, backing out of his commitment because he wanted to support the academic boycott against Israel. And Hawking and, especially, those who make the demonization of Israel their life’s work, were thrilled to chalk up a victory in the BDS war against the Jewish State.

Now we learn that the American fundraising arm of a wonderful Israeli institution – Soroka Medical Center – is poised to honor yet another soldier in the delegitimization war against Israel.

On June 18 at the Harvard Club in New York City, the American Friends of Soroka Medical Center will hold its annual gala.  The Statesman for Health Award is being given to a man who helped the virulently anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace support the boycott of Ariel Cultural Center. Mandy Patinkin not only supported the Ariel boycott, he allowed his name to be used to recruit other celebrities to vilify the cultural center in the Jewish town of Ariel. Some statesman.

Patinkin has done more than simply sign a letter of support for artists boycotting a cultural center in Israel, he has also assisted in a fundraiser for Jewish Voice for Peace, and has long been a national board member of Americans for Peace Now.  Just last year, at a conference in Israel he talked about having had his eyes opened while on a tour of Hebron with his good friends from Breaking the Silence, an organization committed to demonizing the Israel Defense Forces as a military force of terror, bent on acquiring territory, and not a defensive, ethical military.

Patinkin, unlike some with whom he associates, is not an Israel hater.  He simply believes that Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria are the nub of the problem and if Jews would just get the heck out of the area, peace would break out.

Patinkin said he supports Israel in a variety of ways, but says the “settlements ignite the situation” between Israelis and Palestinians. For Israel to build a new theater “in an illegal settlement” was adding fuel to the fire.

It is hard to listen to Patinkin and imagine anything other than that he has a warm, loving soul and just wants everyone to get along.  But he’s a big boy now, one with an audience who listens to him.  And with that following comes a responsibility.

The same is true for the American Friends of Soroka.

It is not enough to find a sweet Jewish man with a beautiful voice, one whose star is on the ascent because of his role in a huge television series hit. If the American Friends of Soroka wanted to honor someone, it would have been nice if they found someone who loves all of Israel, someone who doesn’t encourage economic warfare against any of it.

And now Jews are left with the choice of not going to a fundraiser for a wonderful, non-political medical center in Israel, or going and watching as an American Jew who encourages the economic boycott of a Jewish town is given an award.  It’s a tough choice that Jews should not make other Jews make.

 

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.”

Being Intellectually Honest

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Last July, I went to the President’s Conference in Jerusalem, invited as a blogger and treated with much respect. My political agenda is pretty obvious to anyone who takes the time to read about my writings. I am, if nothing else, intellectually honest in my feelings. I object when someone says I hate Arabs – I don’t. I don’t object when someone says that my political realities leave no room for the hope that peace is just around the corner. It isn’t.

When I was first invited to the conference – I was a bit surprised. Truthfully, I despise much of what Peres has done in his life and certainly, dislike many of the words that come out of his mouth. I think at age 90, he has finally found his niche and he’s an excellent president – if he would just stay out of politics. But he won’t, and I won’t, so he and I have a nice truce most of the time. He talks; I write. I was concerned that being invited meant I’d have to write his words, break this quiet truce we’ve had going for the last 20 years – I couldn’t agree to that.

But I was assured that I had complete freedom to be, to write…and the promise was most definitely delivered – I wrote what I wanted…I did. I blasted several of the speakers. I called them naive. I argued that some had no right to come here and draw lines on the map or lecture us about how we can do more. And the one who amazed me beyond all others, was the one who spoke in direct contradiction to most of what Shimon Peres believes. “Even if you give them Jerusalem,” Ayaan Hirsi-Ali said, “even if you give them Jerusalem, there will be no peace.”

So I went, I wrote, and felt that I had fulfilled two commitments – the first, to attend and write as much as I could to provide the noise and the bang any conference organizer wants associated with an event, and second to be true to myself. Obviously, the conference organizers agreed, because I was invited back again this year.

It truly is an amazing event – and this year, Professor Stephen Hawking was invited to attend and speak – and he agreed. And then, as would be expected, Palestinians started writing to him demanding that he boycott Israel and the conference and – amazingly enough, as would not be expected, this intelligent man, this icon of British intellectualism, caved in and agreed. He wrote the organizers that he has agreed to the boycott of Israel and will not be coming.

I have no problems with his boycott. I understand and respect his sentiment. I ask only one thing – that he be true to his convictions and boycott Israel entirely. Do not come here, do not speak here. In fact, if you want to be intellectually honest, don’t speak at all. You see, the device that you, Professor Hawking, use to communicate despite your crippled body, includes a computer with an Intel Core i7-based communication system, which runs on a chip designed in Israel. So you see, Hawking, every word you say bears testimony to your hypocrisy.

Please go ahead – truly boycott Israel – I can think of no easier way to silence your absurd position. You don’t want to come to Israel to thank those who enable you to sustain a higher quality of life – no problem, don’t come. This year’s President’s Conference has a rich list of speakers and unlike some others, I personally don’t think you’ll be missed.

But I do hope a man of your…um…intellectual honesty…will have the decency to truly fulfill the boycott you support. I wonder if maybe the scientists in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon have developed an alternative device…yeah, I didn’t think so either. In the meantime, there’s always pen and paper…

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Stephen Hawking Proves Even Genuises Can be Gullible Dupes

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Well, time to add another genius who let us down to the list.

Perhaps the world’s best known scientist, Stephen Hawking, has pulled out of a commitment to give a lead lecture at a major international science conference which willl be held in Israel next month.  The event is also a celebration of the 90th birthday of Israel’s president, Shimon Peres.

Hawking, 71, is the world-famous author and theoretical physicist and professor of mathematics at England’s Cambridge University.  Last month Hawking accepted an invitation to headline the fifth annual president’s conference, “Facing Tomorrow.”

However, in a statement published by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, allegedly with Hawking’s approval,  Hawking’s change of mind was described as “his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there.”

According to the British newspaper the Guardian, last week Hawking sent a letter to Peres, informing him that he had changed his mind and would not be appearing at the conference.

Hawking has ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), and has been confined to a wheelchair for decades.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/stephen-hawking-proves-even-genuises-can-be-gullible-dupes/2013/05/08/

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