Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

So, Professor Hawking, is Israel worse than China, US or Russia?

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a meeting with China's President Xi Jinping along with their delegates at the Great Hall of the People on May 9, 2013 in Beijing, China
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a meeting with China's President Xi Jinping along with their delegates at the Great Hall of the People on May 9, 2013 in Beijing, China

Stephen Hawking is either a hypocrite or a fool. How else can you explain his decision to boycott Israel?

Either it's because Jews – sorry Israelis – are uniquely beyond the pale of humanity or Hawking is morally, er, dyslexic.

After all, he seems happy to use Israeli technology – Intel – in his communications system so obviously "disinvestment" isn't to be taken that seriously.

But all that is small ethical bagels. Professor Hawking was more than happy to visit China in 2006 and sing the country's praises despite the quasi-genocide of Tibet, the crushing of its culture, exiling of its leadership, the systematic use of torture, the seizure of the land of the indigenous people and vast settlement by colonising Chinese.

Any of that sound vaguely familiar, Mr Hawking?

Will you be boycotting Russia over Chechnya?

But let's go for bigger fish, shall we? Professor Hawking is worried about Israel's treatment of Palestinians. Detention without trial, the assassination of leaders etc. So different to all those orange boiler-suited detainees in Guantanamo and Obama drawing up presidential death lists.

Did Hawking protest? No, he didn't – he accepted the Medal of Freedom from President Obama's hands. Will Hawking be telling fellow professors at Yale, Harvard and MIT where to go? If not, why not? China, Russia and the US – perhaps they're just too darn big to ostracise? Is Israel "just the right size"? In a world filled with misery, moral complexity, political folly, cruelty and injustice, why is it only the 'crimes' of a democratic Jewish state that call for boycott? After all, it is Professor Hawking making a distinction between Israel and China (not to mention Iran, visited 2007).

We have a right to know exactly how Israel is morally more repugnant than China. (Something only a fool, a hypocrite or an anti-Semite could believe.)

It's been more than a week since Hawking announced his support of the boycott of Israel. Despite many column inches pointing out his apparent inconsistencies, we've only been offered deafening silence.

It's called "debate" Professor. C'mon. Tell us how your critics are wrong.

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