Stephen Hawking Victimized by Boycott Israel Scam?

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


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It’s not clear why Stephen Hawking has repeatedly been the victim of fake claims by opponents of Israel that he is engaging in a boycott of the country. It may be because he is the world’s best known living scientist. And it may be because his disability makes it harder for him to rebut such claims and makes it easier to fake supposed messages from him.

What is notable is that this latest scam has gone beyond Al Jazeera and was picked up by the Guardian, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The Guardian, which broke the story late last night, claimed that Hawking was due to boycott Israel after receiving an erroneous statement from the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), apparently with 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 has confirmed to The Commentator that there was a “misunderstanding” this past weekend, and that Prof. Hawking had pulled out of the conference for medical reasons.

A University of Cambridge statement released Wednesday cited “personal reasons” for Hawking’s decision, according to The Associated Press. After the boycott allegation was reported, university spokesman Tim Holt told the media, “For health reasons, his doctors said he should not be flying at the moment, so he’s decided not to attend. He is 71 years old. He’s fine, but he has to be sensible about what he can do.”

Hawking had visited Israel several times before, despite even earlier claims that he was boycotting the country. BDS groups have repeatedly made false claims about boycott victories before, but Hawking has been a perennial target. YouTube is full of fake interviews with Hawking, some of which target Israel.

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    Whatever the truth of this particular BDS attack, this much is for sure: its main ringleaders are the ISM and their part must be front and center – http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/02/28/the-assorted-

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

    • UCSPanther

      The ISM needs to be declared an outlaw organization…

  • brook

    phoey on idiots who would take advantage of a person with a disability. Dr. Hawking is a hero and an inspiration to all people

  • Melissa

    Heads UP! Dr. Hawking PERSONALLY confirmed that he has joined the BDS movement. Cambridge had to retract its statement that he cancelled because of his health.

  • blutopie

    Professional talking points are now desperately being given to floundering hasbara-istas at their wits end – 'Cut it out – you're only making things worse with your condemnations of Hawkings', say the official pros

    'Stephen Hawking is now the academic boycott movement’s unlikely poster boy'

    'The more Hawking is condemned, the more severe the repercussions will be'

    "The decision of world-renowned astro-physicist Stephen Hawking to cancel his participation in the upcoming President Conference could be a breakthrough moment for the anti-Israel boycott movement.

    The recruitment of such a universally respected and admired international figure to the cause of BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) clearly overshadows other significant gains that boycott advocates have made recently with groups such as the Irish Teachers Union or the American Association for Asian Academic Studies.

    With Hawking, the Palestinian-inspired BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement now has a powerful symbol and an unlikely poster boy at its disposal in its increasingly successful drive."

  • Tom

    Apparently he did indeed join the boycott: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/05/07/Phy

  • Tali

    Yes, that disgrace of a man joined the boycott. Oh well. The man should pull out his Intel chip from the tablet he uses every day. He should pledge not to take Teva medicine.

    May the man get the end he deserves.

  • Ghostwriter

    For such a smart guy,Dr. Hawking is sounding really stupid here.