JERUSALEM, May 11, 2013 ― The blogosphere went wild this week trying to get to the bottom of British physicist Stephen Hawking’s cancellation of a trip to
Hawking had decided not to attend the fifth annual Israeli Presidential Conference, where he was scheduled to be a key speaker, “based on advice from Palestinian academics that he should respect the [academic and cultural] boycott [of Israel],” though it was initially reported that he wasn’t coming due to ill health.
It was easy to believe the latter.
First of all, Hawking, 71, has a degenerative motor neuron disease related to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He is virtually paralyzed and undoubtedly suffers from related secondary ailments.
Once it became clear that Hawking has clearly and simply aligned himself with
Feeling angry, then guilty, then betrayed, these people went on the attack. This is not to say, as Arab propagandists have been asserting since then, that all of them crossed the line into inappropriate comments. On the contrary, most of the criticism lodged at Hawking was political and ideological. Only a handful made nasty remarks about his physical disabilities.
Many called attention to the fact that Hawking owes his ability to function and produce important bodies of work to Israeli inventions. As Shurat HaDin’s ― the
“Hawking’s decision to join the boycott of
She is right, but it is not only Hawking whose life would be virtually impossible without Israeli innovations. In fact, every field imaginable has been enriched by Israeli breakthroughs. Anyone calling for boycotts of Israeli merchandise and ingenuity would do well to reconsider.
Indeed, shunning products made in
The list, like the hypocrisy, goes on.
But such double-dealing on the part of BDS-ers is not restricted to the realm of material goods. Far worse is their double standard where human beings with impairments are concerned. Arab societies, kept in the Middle Ages by their religious and political systems, treat their brethren with birth defects or other imperfections like outcasts.
Perpetual intermarriage among first cousins is common, which leads to many congenital deformities in the first place; equally prevalent is the shame that families feel when faced with what are considered flawed offspring.
A poignant case in point is that of three-and-a-half-year-old Mohammed al-Farra, who was born in
The only person who has stood by him is his grandfather, who continues to live with him at the hospital. There the little boy, who knows no other home than the wing where he has been raised, has been given a mini-wheelchair and is being taught how to use Israeli prostheses.
His Israeli doctors have not only been treating him for all these years, but have raised money to cover the costs of his care ― something the
The Palestinian academics who are delighted to have such a renowned figure legitimize their cause have failed to mention that had Hawking hailed from their home towns, he would have died long ago from neglect, societal scorn and inadequate medical assistance.
It is this kind of black hole that Hawking ought to be contemplating these days
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