World-renouned theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking joined the boycott of Israel on Tuesday by withdrawing from a conference hosted by Israeli president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem.
The announcement was met with ferocious (and nonsensical) pressure from backers of Israel’s occupation. In one case, an Israeli law firm, Shurat HaDin, condemned Hawking’s decision to join the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement as “hypocritical”, arguing that the computers he uses contain technology designed by Israeli tech engineers.
Rather than addressing Hawking’s concern about the rights of Palestinians as well as Israel’s frequent and disproportionate use of force against Palestinian civilians, the critics chose instead to bring attention to Israeli technological or scientific contributions. It is as if these advancements grant Israel free reign to violate international law (via settlement building, occupation, etc.), civil rights (via minority rights, race-based deportations, etc.), and human rights (via movement restrictions, incarceration of children, etc.).
Luckily, Hawking isn’t bending. Whitewashing and rebranding Israeli human rights and international law violations, and attempting to guilt BDS advocates by skewing the focus of the boycott call is wholly unsuccessful.
What is successful, though, is the BDS movement itself, initiated in 2005 by Palestinian civil society. The Guardian’s coverage is straightforward about that. Here is one of the best and most honest lines published by The Guardian so far this year:
In case anyone is interested in sending a poster-sized version of the line to Avi Mayer, use this image: