So, You’re Anti Semitic Now, Professor Hawking?


hawkingFollowing last month’s vote by the Teachers’ Union of Ireland.

Steven Hawking has joined the academic boycott of Israel by pulling out of a conference hosted by former Israeli president Shimon Peres.

How’s that gone down?

Hawking’s decision met with abusive responses on Facebook, with many commentators focusing on his physical condition, and some accusing him of antisemitism.

…Israel Maimon, chairman of the presidential conference said: The use of an academic boycott against Israel is outrageous and improper, particularly for those to whom the spirit of liberty is the basis of the human and academic mission. Israel is a democracy in which everyone can express their opinion, whatever it may be. A boycott decision is incompatible with open democratic discourse.”


Stephen Hawking joins academic boycott of Israel (Guardian)

Previously: To Cease All Cultural And Academic Collaboration


Thanks Sido

100 thoughts on “So, You’re Anti Semitic Now, Professor Hawking?

    1. cecille santos

      Israel has democratic views on everything just like other modern countries of the world you can not boycott academics who have nothing to do with government policies if that is the case there should be many more academic boycotts by atrocities many countries are doing against their own people including the Palestinian and Hamas regime

        1. Jimi

          The “Palestinian and Hamas Regime” tend not to have too many academic events, on account of barely having buildings or infrastructure that hasn’t been cluster bombed, although it is a prime venue for studying the effects of phosphorous in crowded areas I’m told.

          Also there are easier targets in that comment than his punctuation,

      1. Dan Ó C

        I’d like to unpack “Israel has democratic views on everything just like other modern countries of the world ”

        What does that mean? Democratic views on everything? Last time I checked they showed utter disdain for international human rights laws and norms; it’s tended to be a bit more “bomb now, (don’t) ask questions later”, hasn’t it?

  1. Jones

    Boycotts only serve to increase tensions.

    Look at Israel’s treatment of Gaza for instance.

    1. Pretengineer

      You can’t be seriously comparing a non-violent academic boycott to the detention of an entire population can you?

      Surely not. That would be a ridiculous comparison.

    2. Fat Frog

      Israel is imposing a blockade of Gaza restricting all but the bare essentials in and not allowing exports out causing immense hardship and suffering. There is no equivalence with a boycott. You clearly do not know what you are talking about- I think I’ll trust Stephen Hawking on this one.

      1. cluster

        Hawking is famous for his grasp of world geopolitics and group psychology.

        Oh wait, he’s not.

        1. Fat Frog

          Introducing an ad hominem on Stephen Hawking’s stand. Genius. Good luck with that.

          1. cluster


            There is a reason that Stephen Hawking’s stand on the issue is being broadcast worldwide and Fat Frog’s opinion is not.

            It is because he is famous for his expertise and his work. It is worth pointing out that this expertise is in theoretical physics rather than conflict management or peace studies. That’s not an ad hom attack on his personal stand.

            Whether one agrees with his decision is a separate issue.

        2. timbot

          I don’t believe that advanced studies of geopolitics are required to recognise injustice.

          1. cluster

            No, I’m sure a few short Broadsheet posts and four minutes of analysis on RTE News should be sufficient research.

      1. JB

        He’s a moron for taking a stand against genocide? So the Americans were morons for getting involved in WW2 as well?

    3. Bejayziz

      I tend not to trust physicists on matters of defense…stick to the science Stephen

      1. Fat Frog

        I think you will find he is not giving them advice on defense, he is taking a moral stand. Hard for some to understand, I know.

          1. Emko

            Are you kidding? or just uneducated? How about the Transistor? amongst hundreds of other things.. or satellites? you wouldn’t have your mobile phone if it wasn’t for discoveries made by Physicists.. not to mention that they have given us a better understanding of our universe..

    4. SOMK

      Academic boycott of South Africa has been credited with helping the drive towards dismantling of apartheid, so there is a precedence. It’s as much about putting pressure on Western governments to be more vocal in condemning the vileness of Israeli policy as it is about pressuring the Israeli government themselves.

      1. Bejayziz

        It’s very different situation to South Africa but you like many others like to hand pick your news stories when it comes to Israel and the Palestinian Territories…Also Stephen Hawkings has no back ground in social/geopolitical or military issues and this shouldn’t be news worthy as a result, its the equivalent of a Kim Kardashian Boycott of Israel

          1. Bejayziz

            Tutu!? Really? …again my point above doesnt change here….akin to a Kanye West boycott of Israel….

          2. paul

            Pretty much everyone that was involved in the South African debate (apart from those against the sanctions obviously) recognises that the Apartheid situation in Palestine is a lot worse than it was in SA.

          1. cluster

            We’re just glad to have you back, Clampers. The comments don’t even need to be in the right place.

          2. cecille santos

            I grew up both in South Africa and Israel and for anyone to say that apartheid is worse in Israel or even equate apartheid with Israel is a total uneducated moron. In Israel there are Moslem, Christian drusim etc. government officials, as well as in the jusdicial branches, there is no segregated, schools, buses, hospitals, beaches, thetaers, movie houses restaurants and so on, like there was in South Africa. also couples of different colors are allowed to marry freely without being arrested and put in jail like in south Africa.

        1. Escobar

          I also have no background in social/geopolitical or military issues, but like most humans, I recognise bullying when I see it.
          I think a lot of people are pretty sick of the way Israel operate without regard for internationl law.

  2. ck

    oh so he boycotts Israel, he is anti-Semitic…does it mean your constant anti Israel bias make you and the idiot pseudo socialist rabble commenting in here also a bunch of Jew hating windbags? just curious.

    1. The Old Boy

      The headline is a comment on the over reaction from some quarters. There are many Jews who are abhor the Israeli treatment of Palestine and Gaza, including Noam Chomsky.

    2. Escobar

      amazing how ‘hew-h@ter’ and ‘anti s€mite’ are thrown at people who don’t approve of Israel’s bullying. It’s laughable and wearing really thin.
      Sure an organisation associated with Israel came out and tried to Call Mary Robinson an anti-semetic murderer. The woman’s a saint, a saint!

  3. Brucey

    Boycotting Israel doesn’t make him antisemitic. Anytime anybody criticises Israel, all of a suddenly they are seen as bloody antisemitic.

      1. runnybabbit

        And it’s a disgusting point to make. As someone else quoted below these comments, being anti-Israel doesn’t make you anti-Semitic, but being anti-Semitic WILL make you anti-Israel.
        I really find this headline disturbing as it opens a gate to shroud anti-Semitism in something legitimate. Again I’m not saying all anti-Israel positions are inherently anti-Semitic, but I would say a generous enough portion of them are. Nobody is going to turn around and say ‘yeah I’m anti-Semitic’ as it will immediately disestablish any argument they might have, so I think anti-Israel remarks need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Anti-Semitism exists and it is abhorrent to imply otherwise.

          1. runnybabbit

            I’m pretty sure I know what you’re referring to, but I still don’t understand how marginalizing antisemitism is okay?

          2. runnybabbit

            I know it is meant as a joke, but given the general consensus of the contributors on here I think it only stands to undermine real antisemitism.

  4. misterboyle

    Is it me or is Israel Maimon statement not a total condition? Surely a boycott by its very nature is a ture form of democracy in action, one man one vote/choice

    1. Jimi

      I think his point was that it’s unfair to refuse to deal with Israeli academics because of the actions of their politicians/military, Like refusing to talk to an Irishman because you don’t like U2.

      Though he skips over the fact that as a democracy the politicians setting the policy are elected based on public votes, and that the academics have a proportional say in those elections and therefore the policies.

  5. cluster

    Academic and cultural boycotts make me very uncomfortable.

    They also tend to hurt most those who are least supportive of Israel’s more extreme policies. Academics and artists tend to be more left-wing that mainstream Israeli society.

        1. Fat Frog

          Ahem, speaking French doesn’t make you intelligent. Just thought I’d point that out.

          1. cluster

            I googled hasbara1 and that’s the tag he uses on his twitter page.

            I assumed you knew who he was if you were gonna go around accusing poeple of being him.

    1. dave g

      Sometimes it does unfortunately, but its the only way some folk can make the opinion heard. Its about putting pressure on governments. I took part in a boycott a while back in Dublin, how effective it was I’m yet to quantify, but I think its about pro-active action.

  6. test test

    I think a lot of this country boycott Israel, and it is justified, it is in no way religious, and it is entirely justified..

    1. Bejayziz

      A lot of the country? Really? ….are you telling me people dont buy any of the fruit and a good portion of the veg from Dunnes etc as thats were most of it comes from….if your gonna get all high horsey i wouldnt be buying chili’s from Superquin either as theyre from Zimbabwe….

      I’d imagine there’s only a handfull of people that take part in your dont buy those strawberries charade

      1. test test

        I make a very conscious effort not to buy any product produced there, I check the country of origin of most produce I buy.

        There is nothing ‘high horsey’ about it either. Just a small effort to help an occupied nation.

        1. Bangalore

          Me too, even if it means going to several different places to find what i want.

    2. cluster

      Most of this country uses products made in Israel every day and they don’t even know it.

      1. Medium Sized C

        Most of the people reading this are probably using a product designed in Isreal.

        1. cluster

          Stay away from anything with Intel inside. One of their biggest plants along with the US and Ireland is in Israel.

    3. runnybabbit

      I just don’t understand how people can say boycotting Israel has nothing to do with religion. It was established as a religious state for the Jews after the holocaust. I just don’t see how any attempts to undo that are not anti-Semitic

      1. Fat Frog

        I’ve just got this fluffy bunny name, and I am just making this wide-eyed statement. (I just want peace and love and why can’t people just get along etc.) But oh look, I have already branded most of the posters here as anti-semites in an earlier comment I made.

        Silly wabbit.

        1. runnybabbit

          Yes of course I would like peace.

          I have not branded any poster here an anti-Semite, if you will read the words I wrote (rather than assuming my right wing position means I think you are an anti-Semite) I was urging Broadsheet to drop the devil-may-care attitude for what is or is not anti-Semitism. I’m not saying those against Israel as a state in its current state are anti-Semites, I’m saying that some anti-Semites are against Israel- and implying that questioning somebody’s possible anti-Semitism is to be ridiculed will just lay a nice path to ridicule any other attempts to stop anti-Semitism. Do you understand?

          Please refrain from suggesting I think all posters in here are anti-Semites.

          1. Jimi

            ” I just don’t see how any attempts to undo that are not anti-Semitic” ergo agreeing with his right to boycott is anti-Semitic (it isn’t)

            “I just don’t understand how people can say boycotting Israel has nothing to do with religion”….Like this…..ahem……criticising a sovereign state for blatantly illegal and immoral military and social tactics, has nothing to do with the majority religion of that country, and little to do with the founding principles of that country.

          2. runnybabbit

            Look I understand criticism over what is perceived as immoral action – but I perceive it as a right to defend. I do not see Israel as occupying Palestine. It is a sovereign state. It was established for a hugely religious reason, let’s be fair. It has been under near constant threat since its establishment, and if it weakened its defense I don’t think it would exist today. And it needs to exist. I don’t want to call anyone antisemitic, but I’d like people to realize that undermining Israel’s right to exist undermines Jews’ right to a homeland – and as history tells us time and time again, one is needed. Yes, the wall of partition is controversial at best, but the decline in murder through suicide bombings since its erection is undeniable. Call me crazy but I find suicide bombing unspeakably immoral.

            I’ll happily clarify further on my point if you want to question me.

  7. Starina

    “Israel is a democracy in which everyone can express their opinion, whatever it may be”

    You have the right to free speech as long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it

    1. bisted

      …yes…and they have just democratically re-elected Netanyahu and voted for a continuation of his policies which include extermination of the democratically elected Hamas and ethnic cleansing in the West Bank.

      Well done Prof Hawking.

  8. the truth

    Stephen Hawking is an anti-semite. Boycotting Israel doesn’t make him an anti-semite. Being an anti-semite makes him boycott Israel.

    Explains his love of Wagner too.

    1. runnybabbit

      I’m not entirely sure of Hawking’s position on anything really, but finally somebody understands why anti-Israeli attitudes are fairly considered as anti-Semitic ones.

    1. runnybabbit

      Democracies* don’t, correct. “Israel” does not do that either. Camera men and journalists are rarely killed in Israel, and I would doubt by Israeli defense.

        1. Bejayziz

          Rubber Bullets and Tear gas an ok response to to an angry mob hurling rocks at ye…they werent using live ammunition

          1. Bejayziz

            they were telling them to disperse and the Muppet refused to it and they fired a rubber bullet at his leg (whats wrong with that), there was clearly a riot in progress if you take note of the road blocks so they were restoring order…stop making out like someone was killed

  9. runnybabbit

    By mocking what some people consider antisemitism, you marginalize real antisemitism and make it more acceptable to commit under the guise of other things. Disgusted by the headline, Broadsheet.

  10. RapidEddie

    Although Stephen Hawking is not a world-renowned scholar on geopolitics, I’m going to indulge in some wild speculation that he’s a highly intelligent and well-read man, who’s made a decision to register his disapproval of Israeli government policy based on facts, conscience and a careful consideration of events.

    That’s just wild speculation, mind.

    1. cluster

      It is just wild speculation. You have absolutely no idea how well read he is generally.

      Lots of academics have gaping holes in their knowledge once they move past their own narrow sub-speciality,

  11. Nadine Lumley

    The reason the right-wing government in Israel gets away with murder is because everyone is so scared of being called an anti-Semite. I’m not anti-Semite; I’m anti-murder.

    Support for Israel equals support for war crimes against Palestine. (I think the right-wing corporate-owned Israeli government is just hiding behind the Zionist movement just like Stephen Harper hides his corporate agenda behind evangelicalism).

    1. runnybabbit

      And if anti-Israel is anti-Murder, then is pro-Palestine pro-murder, pro-suicide bombs?

      1. runnybabbit

        Honestly, I really don’t want people to think I’m trying to argue the anti-semitism argument, because I know it’s fruitless and I know most of you are not anti-Semites – I just want to know where you think the Jews should go if Palestine were to be granted their demands?
        I can’t think of any Arab states Jews are welcome in, and I don’t see how a Palestinian run one would be any different. Arabs are welcome to the Israeli democracy – suicide bombers are not.

  12. katiepea

    How is boycotting against an agressive states policies being anti-semitic? I don’t see him saying people of a certain race don’t deserve equal treatment. I see a very well educated, in fact, most call him “the smartest man alive” making a clear statement that he thinks Israel is a terror state. There are federal officials, scientists, humanitarians, doctors, history professors, etc that agree with this sentiment. A large part of Americans do as well. Israels actions as an agressor and war monger are being noticed more and more and sentiment against their actions increases daily.

    None of this makes someone racist. Grow up, quit using HE”S AN ANTI-SEMITE as a crutch and a tool like a screaming baby who can’t get what they want. It’s time Israel stop bullying the planet into war. The end.

    1. runnybabbit

      I think you’ll find the Palestinian government is classified as a terrorist organization. I think you’ll find Israel was established as a Jewish homeland after one of history’s worst cases antisemitism.
      Israel existing as a state as everything to do with religion, as I think the Jews need a home.
      Do you think if they weakened their defense it would continue to exist?

  13. wrong tap

    Israel isn’t a religion you dumb self righteous pr**ks. Most of us “anti semites” are quite critical of our own governments actions with regards to murdering brown people but that doesn’t equate to being anti christian boogie men who support holocausts when we see them. getting sick of this old crap now

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