Stephen Hawking has pulled out of the conference hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres as a protest against Israel’s aggression towards the Palestinians.
The renowned scientist and cosmologist has expressed his support for the academic boycott of Israel which has also been endorsed by the Teachers Union of Ireland along with the members of the Association for Asian American Studies in the United States.
Hawking had previously accepted the invitation to attend the Israeli president’s fifth annual conference, ‘Facing Tomorrow’. However, the physicist later sent a brief letter to Peres saying that he had changed his mind and would not attend the event due in June.
British Committee for the Universities of Palestine has reported Hawking’s statement on their website:
“This is his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there.”
Hawking’s refusal to attend the conference is a major achievement for the boycott which is aimed towards the isolation of Israel in order to change its aggressive and discriminatory attitude towards Palestine.
While some appreciate the decision, there are also people who think that the academic boycott is going to be ineffective and will not have the desired effect upon Israel’s policies towards Palestinians or any other country in the region. In fact, just this week, Israel conducted two unprovoked air strikes on Syria. One wonders if Stephen Hawking’s boycott will have any major effect on the campaign or not.