What causes intelligent people to make stupid judgments about Israel?
I recently wrote an article where I suggested the possibility that latent anti-Semitism, of the kind that has recently manifested itself throughout Europe, may have played a role in influencing Stephen Hawking’s recent odious decision to boycott a conference scheduled to take place in Israel. The conclusion is a logical one. There are 22 Arab countries and according to Freedom House, none can be considered wholly free. Moreover, a recent report conducted by the bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom highlighted egregious abuses throughout the Muslim world where suppression of religious freedom and persecution of non-Muslims is the norm. Iran was criticized for “State sponsored anti-Semitism” while Egypt was faulted for doing little to protect its Coptic Christian minority as well as systemic and widespread anti-Semitism in Egypt’s media. In the Palestinian Territories, Christians in Gaza fear for their lives while in Bethlehem, Muslim intimidation of the Christian minority continues unabated. By contrast, Israel, though not without fault, was the only state ranked free in the Middle East region. The contrasts between Israel and its Muslim neighbors in every metric of freedom, progress and enlightenment could not be starker, and that raises the question, why would Hawking single out the only democracy in the Middle East for special treatment while ignoring the loathsome transgressions of her Islamic neighbors?
While discussing the article with a colleague and what role if any, anti-Semitism played, he offered another explanation, one having nothing to do with anti-Semitism. He suggested, somewhat half-jokingly, that Hawking displays some of the telltale signs of being an Idiot Savant. Savants typically lack normal social communication skills, but possess an abnormally high skill in such isolated disciplines as mathematics and art. This type of personality is very easily manipulated. Quite obviously, Hawking is not a savant but the suggestion did enlighten me as to other possibilities for his seemingly irrational and amoral decision.
It is quite obvious that the progression of Hawking’s degenerative disease has taken its toll on his frail body. It is also probable that his disease and the cocktail of medications that he’s required to imbibe rendered him susceptible to undue influence and that the Palestinian “academics” and “activists” who pressured him were keenly aware of this frail man’s vulnerabilities.
Palestinian manipulation of the weak and frail is nothing new and is in fact standard practice. During the second intifada, Palestinians routinely utilized women and children, some of whom were developmentally delayed, to carry out suicide bombings. In one particular egregious incident, Palestinian terrorists persuaded a disfigured woman, seeking medical treatment in Israel, to blow herself up in the midst of those very medical personal treating her. Fortunately, the scheme was detected before coming to fruition and the terror attack, which would have likely produced horrendous casualties on par with those witnessed in the Boston atrocity, was thwarted.
But the incident does provide some insight into the mindset of Palestinian terrorists and “activists” and their insidious efforts to exploit human frailties. In this regard, the depravity of some Palestinians and the depths to which they will stoop to accomplish their nefarious aims, knows no bounds. If they are thus capable of exploiting vulnerabilities for the purpose of causing mass murder, it goes without saying that they would employ similar tactics to influence political thinking.
A third, more simplistic explanation for Hawking’s inanity can be found in the ancient Jewish prayer of Amidah, where one petitions God to grant intelligence, wisdom and understanding. I never fully comprehended and appreciated the depth of this passage until the Hawking fiasco. Here we are confronted with a man blessed with an abundance of intelligence but sorely lacking in basic scruples causing him to succumb to the depths of stupidity.
A confluence of the above three noted elements likely played a role in Hawking’s decision to mimic the Nazi Brown Shirts of 1933. New anti-Semitism of the type described by human rights activist Natan Sharansky permeates British academia and higher learning institutions from the top down. But the manipulative role played by Palestinian activists in shaping the views of a sickly, frail man can not be overlooked. Lastly, basic common sense and understanding of the issues currently underlining the Arab-Israel dispute should have facilitated a more sympathetic view and appreciation of Israel’s position vis-à-vis the Arabs irrespective of Palestinian undue influence. Hawking clearly and utterly failed the test of wisdom.
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