JERUSALEM, May 14, 2003 ― When British physicist Stephen Hawking cancelled an upcoming trip to Israel due to pressure from Palestinian academics to honor the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, it caused a huge stir on the Web. Reactions to an earlier article here, too, were passionate on both sides of the political spectrum.
There were those who called Hawking an anti-Semite and Israel-basher. Others spewed venom at Hawkings’ critics for daring to suggest that his motives were impure. The common argument on the part of the critics was that Hawking uses technology invented in Israel, and that if he is so intent on boycotting the Jewish state, he should stop using the devices that enable him to communicate.
My own position points to the hypocrisy of the Palestinian academics who have been using Hawking as their poster boy, failing to mention that had he been born in any area ruled by Islamists, he would have been ostracized for his physical disability. I cited an example of a three-year-old Palestinian who has been living in an Israeli hospital since infancy, because his parents and the authorities in Gaza abandoned him when his hands and feet were amputated. Meanwhile, his doctors have not only been caring for him, teaching him how to use his mini wheelchair and prostheses, but have been raising money for his treatment.
But many celebrities have cancelled their trips to Israel on ideological grounds. Why did the Hawking incident touch such a major nerve, both in Israel and elsewhere?
The following is a video interview, conducted at the Israel Hayom studio on May 13, discussing this very question.
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