When Stephen Hawking announced he was boycotting Israel in protest of their occupation of Palestinian land the ensuing furore was nothing if not predictable.
After a barrage of appeals from Palestinian academics the world-renowned scientist cancelled his appearance at the high-profile Presidential Conference. Hawkings stated in a letter dated 3rd May: “I accepted the invitation to the Presidential Conference with the intention that this would not only allow me to express my opinion on the prospects for a peace settlement but also because it would allow me to lecture on the West Bank. However, 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. Had I attended, I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster.”
Opposition to the move from Israel was swift, condemning his decision as “outrageous and improper”, with conference chairman Israel Maimon going on to say, “Israel is a democracy in which all individuals are free to express their opinions, whatever they may be.… Read the rest