Hawking is no superhero

British cosmologist Stephen Hawking is to be turned into a comic book character for an illustrated series that takes readers “inside his mind.” The writers of Stephen Hawking: Riddles Of Time & Space will apparently provide a glimpse into “the man, the myth and the legend.”

Until recently, I would have been pleased that the famous physicist is to achieve “superhero” status in the world of comic books. But I am still reeling from the news that Hawking recently capitulated to the anti-Semitic boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign by pulling out of a high-profile Israeli conference.

Hawking cancelled his forthcoming appearance at the Facing Tomorrow / Presidential Conference in Jerusalem after coming under intense pressure from Arab academics and professional Israel-hater Noam Chomsky.

The conference – minus Hawking – will bring together thousands of world leaders and intellectuals for discussions on a range of issues. Ironically, Hawking was also due to enter the West Bank/Judea and Samaria to give a lecture, but this too has been cancelled. So as well as disappointing Israelis, he has let down those Arab academics who put science before tribal politics.

The Anti-Defamation League has described Hawking’s decision to withdraw from the conference “ a slap in the face” and an affront to “academic freedom and the promotion of the free exchange of ideas.”

David Newman, dean of the faculty of humanities at Ben Gurion University, pronounced that an academic boycott “just destroys one of the very few spaces left where Israelis and Palestinians actually do come together.” He’s right.

For an intelligent man, this is a particularly stupid and short-sighted decision. I can only assume that Hawking is ignorant of the true nature of the BDS movement and will eventually realize his mistake and recant.  It is sad that a man of Hawking’s intellect is unwilling to see the double standards and anti-Semitic agenda of the BDS campaign.

I say this because no intelligent person can possibly support the BDS movement without compromising his intelligence and his integrity. The boycott-Israel-brigade is the most pernicious, nasty and anti-Semitic movement to emerge since the 1930s. BDS is not about concessions for peace. It is about disseminating disinformation in the hope of bringing about the demise of the world’s only Jewish state.

It is such a silly thing to do. Hawking could have criticized aspects of Israeli policy at the conference. Now, his voice won’t be heard at all.

Hawking’s decision is hypocritical. Why did he visit China in 2006 and Iran in 2007? These are countries with appalling human rights records. But so-called progressives in the West care nothing for the plight of Chinese peasant farmers or oppressed women in Iran.

What is also remarkable about Hawking’s decision is that he is boycotting the most scientifically-advanced country in the world. In 2012, Hawking accepted a $3 million physics award, which was awarded by Yuri Milner, a major investor in Israeli high-tech. Hawking is involved in the discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle, which was found using Israeli-developed particle detectors.

Moreover, Hawking benefits from Israeli technology. He communicates using a mechanical voice system run by the Intel Core i7 Processor developed by the Israeli division of Intel.

Let’s hope Hawking recognizes his appalling hypocrisy and rethinks his decision to boycott the only democracy in the Middle East.