Hawking’s Boycott of Israel is Intellectually & Morally Disreputable

The following is an excerpt of an editorial that appeared in The Times of London of May 10, 2013. It is reprinted from Daily Alert, published by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Brilliance in one sphere does not guarantee sense in another. So it is with Professor Stephen Hawking, who revealed this week that he had withdrawn from a conference in Israel after being lobbied by Palestinian groups. His conduct is alien to the spirit of critical thinking on which science and academic inquiry depend. Professor Hawking is entitled to express political views. Unfortunately his views on this subject are drearily simplistic and the inferences he draws from them are pernicious. The campaign for an academic boycott of Israel is not only about the condition of Palestinians in the West Bank or Israel’s security policies in Gaza. The boycotters are hostile to the Jewish state. Israel has many flaws but a central and vital characteristic. It is a democracy in a part of the world where liberal political rights and free inquiry are scarce. There is no serious analogy between Israel and apartheid. Professor Hawking should never have put his name to this campaign. It is an example of intellectual obscurantism masquerading as humanitarian concern.

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