Troughboy's World

Troughboy has a mind of his own. He's open to new experiences but is sometimes a bit conservative. He believes in honesty, loyalty and justice.

Location: Cidade Maravilhosa, Not Rio de Janeiro

Well, well endowed

Friday, May 17, 2013

Israel rocked as Hawking joins boycott
Isabel Kershner
Published: May 9, 2013 - 8:43AM

JERUSALEM: Stephen Hawking has pulled out of a high-profile conference to be held in Jerusalem in June to support an academic boycott of Israel, conference organisers and the university said on Wednesday.

The academic and cultural boycott, organised by international activists to protest against Israel's policies toward the Palestinians, is a heated and contentious issue; having the renowned physicist and cosmologist join it is likely to help the anti-Israel campaigners significantly.

"Never has a scientist of this stature boycotted Israel," said Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry.
Organisers of the fifth annual Israeli Presidential Conference, held under the auspices of President Shimon Peres, said they had received a letter over the weekend from Professor Hawking announcing his decision.

Cambridge University issued a statement indicating that Professor Hawking had told the Israelis he would not be attending "based on advice from Palestinian academics that he should respect the boycott", Associated Press reported.

Earlier, the university's director of communications, Tim Holt, said by telephone that Professor Hawking, 71, had withdrawn from the Israel trip for health reasons. The university later said it had been told otherwise by Professor Hawking's office.

The chairman of the conference, Israel Maimon, strongly criticised the professor's decision, saying in a statement: "The academic boycott of Israel is in our view outrageous and improper, certainly for someone for whom the spirit of liberty lies at the basis of his human and academic mission."

Mr Maimon, a lawyer and a former Israeli government cabinet secretary, said: "Israel is a democracy in which all individuals are free to express their opinions, whatever they may be. The imposition of a boycott is incompatible with open, democratic dialogue."

There was no immediate comment from Mr Peres' office.

Britain's Guardian newspaper first reported Professor Hawking's change of mind and cited a statement by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, which The Guardian said was published with Professor Hawking's approval. It described the cancellation as "his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there".

Professor Hawking last visited Israel and the Palestinian territories in 2006 at the invitation of the British Embassy in Tel Aviv.