OT: Stephen Hawking boycotts conference in Israel


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gonzo chemist

Fort Collins, CO
May 9, 2013 - 12:26pm PT
Hawking is a scientist of tremendous integrity. As one of the greatest thinkers in his field, he publicly announced at a conference in Dublin that he was WRONG about a theory that he (and Kip Thorne) defended for 30 years. That takes some real humility.

Social climber
May 9, 2013 - 06:31pm PT

“Despite his reputation in the West as a "dove", Peres' career to date includes war crimes in Lebanon, support for collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza, and, in private discussions, incitement against non-Jewish citizens. Anyone would do well to avoid a conference hosted by such a hypocrite. Simply not being Ariel Sharon does not really cut it; Peres should be scheduled for a trip to The Hague, not welcoming foreign dignitaries and celebrities.”




Trad climber
Douglas, WY
May 9, 2013 - 06:42pm PT
Isn't that the same picture of Hillary they show patients in Hospital ERs to help treat individuals checking in with erections lasting more than 4 hours? Cialis and Viagra induced erections just don't stand a chance.

Social climber
Joshua Tree
May 9, 2013 - 07:11pm PT
Isn't that the same picture of Hillary they show patients in Hospital ERs to help treat individuals checking in with erections

Uh, Rodger? You ain't exactly Clark Gable, brah.

Social climber
Falls Church, VA
May 10, 2013 - 09:29am PT
the (il)liberal (il)logic of moral relativity:

in 1973 hawking attended a conference in the ussr AFTER the soviets brutally oppressed uprisings in hungary and czeck...the soviets, by the way, also sent dissident scientists to the gulag

in 2007 hawking attended the physics olympiad in iran where they still stone adultresses, hang homosexuals, and persecute non-muslims

what's life like in israel? 1.6 million arabs live in insrael (20% of the population) with full citizenship rights; they vote; serve in the knesset, on the supreme court, in the foreign service, in the media, on the police forces, and even in the military

yep, sounds terribly oppressive to me







winston smith is dead

Trad climber
the tip of god's middle finger
May 10, 2013 - 09:50am PT
his pursuit for the theory of everything
must be pretty demanding.

no time for anything else
when you're tieing a bow around infinity.
gonzo chemist

Fort Collins, CO
May 10, 2013 - 12:52pm PT

I wasn't commenting on Hawking's personal life. You misread my post. Perhaps I wasn't clear.....sheesh. Get your panties untwisted and relax...it seems like YOU'RE the one who needs to get out for a bit of climbing.

Gym climber
South of Heaven
May 10, 2013 - 02:37pm PT
Stephen Hawkings has integrity? He cheated on his wife. You call that integrity?

I call that impressive as hell. The dude can't even speak on his own.

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
May 10, 2013 - 02:58pm PT
I rejoice reading that Professor Hawking is boycotting the upcoming conference in Jerusalem. Now...if he would only join the Kardashian boycott.

Signing the petition calling for E! to cease public abuse and stop airing all Kardashian-related programming... would title him forever as Practicing Professor of Proper, Pure and Aboveboard Principle

My ears will be glued to the BBC....

Social climber
May 10, 2013 - 06:13pm PT
Middle of June with this conference?

Even if the Israelis worked 24/7 days no way they will get the second DOME in place to protect the speakers or attendees. It is to be finished by the earliest 2015.

Do not understand why our State Dept. has not said not a good time to visit this time and in the next month and being even in the vicinity or hotels where they are staying; of course they still have 39 days to say.

Kardashian boycott: it's un-American to do such a thing. where do I sign.


Social climber
So Cal
May 10, 2013 - 06:32pm PT
The Iron dome system is truck mounted and palletized.

They can move one in a matter of hours if required.

Social climber
May 10, 2013 - 07:18pm PT

"They can move one in a matter of hours if required."

They will not have hours to deploy they need seconds to deploy.

That is the old or first generation system. The US promised [negotiated excuse me] with the funds {billions] procured to Israel that is on the list [second generation]. South Lebanon is where the Israelis need more protection or are more vulnerable.

That is why Lebanon did not get involved when Gaza and Israel were exchanging rockets. They have more since and that is why Israel shot in Syrian space and the destruction in the delivery of more of these.

Stay tuned.
gonzo chemist

Fort Collins, CO
May 10, 2013 - 08:14pm PT

I'm glad to hear your friend woke up from the coma. I sincerely wish him a full recovery, and hope he can get back out to the mountains soon.

At your behest, I did a bit of reading. I don't respect S.H.'s personal life decisions regarding his marriage to Jane Wilde, and I would certainly never defend them.

However, I will stand by my statement that I believe his admission that he was wrong concerning the "cosmic censorship conjecture" warrants merit.

You're absolutely correct that disproving theories is a cornerstone of science. However, I've seen enough of competing egos to know that not all scientists are always so willing to publicly admit they're wrong. I work in a field where experimental design is very easy compared to the contentious world of theoretical physics. I can only imagine the heated debates, and the resulting firmly entrenched positions.

And with that, I'm going for a run before it starts raining again...



Somewhere out there
May 11, 2013 - 06:33pm PT

5 Reasons Why the Smartest Man in the World Is Right to Boycott Israel
Stephen Hawking should be commended for pulling out of an Israeli conference as a protest at Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

May 9, 2013 |

As announced by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine ( BRICUP) and subsequently covered by The Guardian, Reuters and others, world-renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist Professor Stephen Hawking has decided to heed the Palestinian call for boycott, and pull out of an Israeli conference hosted by President Shimon Peres in June. After initial confusion, this was confirmed - Hawking is staying away on political grounds.

Here are five reasons why Professor Hawking is right to boycott:

5. Whitewashing apartheid

The Israeli government and various lobby groups use events such as the "Presidential Conference" to whitewash Israel's crimes past and present, a tactic sometimes referred to as "rebranding". As a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official put it after the 2009 Gaza massacre, it is the kind of approach that means sending "well-known novelists and writers overseas, theatre companies, [and] exhibits" in order to "show Israel's prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war". " Brand Israel" is all about creating a positive image for a country that is the target of human rights campaigners the world over - as if technological innovations or high-profile conferences can hide the reality of occupation and ethnic cleansing.

4. Shimon Peres

Despite his reputation in the West as a "dove", Peres' career to date includes war crimes in Lebanon, support for collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza, and, in private discussions, incitementagainst non-Jewish citizens. Anyone would do well to avoid a conference hosted by such a hypocrite. Simply not being Ariel Sharon does not really cut it; Peres should be scheduled for a trip to The Hague, not welcoming foreign dignitaries and celebrities.

3. Boycott is not incompatible with 'dialogue'

Contrary to the rhetoric of Israeli officials and sympathisers, boycott is not contrary to dialogue. Hawking's decision, for example, will mean people are discussing Israeli policies and strategies for ending occupation. That is not atypical - BDS initiatives often encourage a meaningful exchange of views and perspectives. However, some people abuse the concept of dialogue to defend an asymmetrical status quo, leaving intact a colonial power dynamic where, in the words of South African poet James Matthews, "the oppressor sits seared with his spoils/with no desire to share equality/leaving the oppressed seeking warmth/at the cold fire of/Dialogue". Boycott has nothing to do with having, or not having, conversations - it is about accountability for, and opposing, basic violations of a people's rights. Confronting and resisting the reality of Israeli apartheid begets a dialogue that is fully realised in the context of equality and decolonisation.

2. Impunity and accountability

The boycott is grounded firmly in the well documented facts of Israeli policies. The US State Department speaks of "institutional discrimination" faced by Palestinian citizens, while Human Rights Watch says Israel maintains a "two-tier system" in the West Bank. From the "discriminatory" control and distribution of water resources ( Amnesty International) to the "forced transfer of the native population" ( European Union), it is no wonder that the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has reported Israel as violating prohibitions against "racial segregation and apartheid".

Illegal settlements are used to colonise the West Bank, Palestinians in Gaza are blockaded and bombed, Palestinians in East Jerusalem have their homes demolished - and all the while, of course, expelled Palestinian refugees just a few miles from their properties are still prevented from returning home on the basis they are not Jews. And note that the "But what about China/Myanmar/Syria etc" line misses the point (as well as placing Israel in some rather interesting company). A boycott is a tactic, advisable in some contexts, and not in others. It is not about a scale of injustice or wrongdoing. It is about a strategy targeting systematic human rights abuses and breaches of international law, called for by the colonised. Which brings us to…

1. The Palestinian call for solidarity

Palestinians suffering under Israeli apartheid are calling for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as a strategy in the realisation of their basic rights, a fact that many Zionists choose to ignore when attacking boycott campaigns. The Palestinian civil society call for BDS was officially launched on July 9 2005, a year after the International Court of Justice's advisory opinion on the illegality of Israel's Separation Wall. Signatories to the BDS call come from representatives of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and Palestinian refugees. Since then, growing numbers of people in the likes of academia, the arts world, trade unions and faith communities have answered the BDS call with initiatives that put the focus firmly on Israel's routine violations of international law and ending complicity in these crimes. Professor Hawking is to be commended for seeking the advice of Palestinian academics, and heeding their request for international solidarity in a decades-long struggle for freedom and justice.

Ben White is a freelance journalist, writer and activist, specialising in Palestine/Israel. He is a graduate of Cambridge University.

May 12, 2013 - 10:01am PT
Brokebackclimber said:
"Isn't that the same picture of Hillary they show patients in Hospital ERs to help treat individuals checking in with erections lasting more than 4 hours? Cialis and Viagra induced erections just don't stand a chance."
Holy crap I almost spewed coffee at the monitor at that comment !!! Thanks for the morning laugh Brokeback!

All those who don't support Israels right to exist raise their hands. Opps, I see most everyone has their hand raised already. Well, maybe you all should take up a collection to pay for swimming lessons for the Jews so that when the Arabs push them all into the Mediteranian Sea they can dog paddle for a while.

It looks like Hawking has finally discovered what was clear to everyone else, peace in the middle east is a Black hole. Pick a side.

Another view: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/noam-chomsky-pushed-stephen-hawking-to-boycott-israeli-conference/2013/05/11/ Of course, Chomsky and Hawking have been clear on the 70,000 people killed in Syria as well...opps, nevermind, they don't give a sh#t about them. Sorry.

Social climber
So Cal
May 12, 2013 - 04:55pm PT

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
May 12, 2013 - 06:07pm PT
When an abused child grows up to themselves become an abuser you can certainly lay the blame on other than the child, but in the end does it matter when the abuse continues.

Genocide suffered or genocide waged - it's still genocide.

May 15, 2013 - 04:02pm PT
Don't see where Israel is committing genocide. They are at war, declared by others, on several fronts, and trying to survive. Found this write up and thought it was worth sharing.


"Now that the Stephen Hawking controversy has died down and the usual suspects have traded their predictable barbs, it would serve us well to examine, coolly and without prejudice, the contours of the affair. If for no other reason, we’re likely to see similar cases pop up in the near future, and rather than being swept anew each time by the powerful gales of resentment and rage, we would do well to try and define the contours of useful conversation. Let us steer clear of the blowhards on either side, whom we’ve lost long ago. Let us also avoid nudging the conversation towards absolute terms like legitimacy, and assume, bluntly, that any human action that is not illegal is a legitimate and permissible one. What we aim for is something much more practical and far less illustrious, namely some common ground for us, the majority of people who see the nuance in this situation and who strive to settle reason, justice, and common-sense. Towards that end, I propose, the following four principles apply:

The Priority Principle: As soon as news broke of the esteemed physicist’s snubbing of the Jerusalem conference, defenders of the Jewish State argued that Hawking’s response was nonsensical given the rush of brutalities surging everywhere from Damascus to the Democratic Republic of Congo. To the extent that it implies that one ought to focus on one conflict at a time, the argument is false; as Noam Sheizaf rightly pointed out in +972, “the genocide in Cambodia was taking place at the same time as the boycott effort against South Africa,” and any claim that we ought not to focus on one when there’s another going on may very well lead to inaction. This, however, is where the priority principle comes into play: to the extent that one chooses to be an engaged and responsible global citizen, one is expected to set priorities and act on them. Such is the mark of maturity: while we are all surrounded by a constellation of stimulations, we must, if we wish to lead a morally balanced life, concentrate our attention on those challenges that are most pressing, which, as all but the most hardened cynics would agree, means that priority ought to be given to any crisis involving the loss of human life. There is little doubt that, for many, living in the occupied West Bank is cruel and tragic. But 70,000 human beings have been slaughtered in the last two years just a few kilometers to the north in Assad’s inferno. Anyone, then, is free to protest Israel’s policies, but as long as they remain silent on other, and far more pressing, catastrophes, reasonable observers will be right to question whether singling out Israel mightn’t be guided by ulterior, and dishonorable, motives.

The Categorical Imperative Principle: Arguably the foundation of much of our moral and legal system, Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative states that one must only act if one’s action may apply as a universal law. Hawking, then, is welcome to boycott these regimes that are engaged in what he believes are severe violations of human rights. But, as the Israeli political scientist Shlomo Avineri insightfully argued, if Hawking was following his own logic, not to mention Kant’s, he would have to place similar constraints on his relations with official parties in Britain and the United States, having famously called the military campaign in Iraq a “war crime.” If this is what Hawking believes, and there’s no reason to doubt him, then President Obama—patron of predator drones, which have killed, by some estimates, anywhere between 3,500 and 4,700 people, of whom at least four were Americans shot without trial—must be equally as morally tainted as President Shimon Peres, whose invitation Hawking refused. This, of course, wasn’t the case: Hawking was pleased to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Avineri is absolutely correct in claiming that in turning down one invitation and embracing another, Hawking violated not only the categorical imperative but also good, old-fashioned common sense.

The Principle of Consequence: While on the subject of common sense, advocates of any political cause mustn’t lose sight of a simple realization, namely that actions have consequences, and that if one is engaged in a pursuit to improve conditions here on earth—any other sort of political undertaking is messianic, and is almost certain to inflict wounds rather than heal them—one should be concerned with outcomes just as much as with abstractions. The theory among supporters of BDS holds that massive isolation of Israeli society would eventually lead to the Jewish State’s downfall, just as it had ended the segregationist regime in South Africa. Without discussing the merits of comparing the occupation to apartheid, it is not too difficult to admit that, under the existing geopolitical conditions, attempts to isolate Israel internationally are very likely to have an adverse effect. With strong American support in the foreseeable future, Israel is never likely to suffer a blow crucial enough to undermine its well-being; boycotts, then, serve as little but fodder for the worst elements in the Israeli political landscape, already grim. The narrative that posits Israel as a small and persecuted nation having no choice but to sacrifice all hope on the altar of vigilance is, arguably, a greater threat to that nation than all of Tehran’s missiles. It’s a line of thinking that leads to nothing but despair, and Hawking, in his refusal, feeds right into it. He might’ve used his clout to travel to Jerusalem and offer some harsh and inconvenient truths from his podium. He might’ve taken the opportunity to urge his pal Obama into playing a more decisive role in pressing for the rekindling of negotiations. He might’ve even met and spoken with young Israelis, promising them—as the American president had during his recent visit to Jerusalem—that a better tomorrow is possible if only they held their leaders accountable. Instead, Hawking wasted all his clout on a purely symbolic, utterly useless act. It’s more than just a shame.

The Proust Principle: Too often understood, often by people who had never read him, to be a chronicler of high society for whom the aesthetic always trumped the political, Proust offers us as many insights into politics as he does into any other realm of the human experience. One in particular resonates: political convictions, he argued, are like kaleidoscopic visions, constantly shifting and intricately linked to a host of other emotional, social, even artistic criteria. Rather than seek absolutes and fortify barriers, he advocates keeping in mind that the next shift in focus is just around the corner, and that we, if we’re alive at all, are constantly changing creatures. This profound insight is not without its prescriptions: following the master’s teachings, a Proustian political activist would therefore seek to establish coalitions not necessarily with those who hold similar opinions—these opinions, history and Proust’s great novel both show us, are apt to change—but with those towards whom one feels, to borrow the phrase Christopher Hitchens and Bill Buckley used to describe their (at times unlikely) friendship, a “consanguinity of spirit.” It is easy to see all of Israeli society as playing a part in the occupation, and coarse arguments insist that as the army plays a major part in the lives of individuals and institutions in Israel the nation entire is morally tainted. Proust, as conflicted about the implications of Jewish identity as anyone, would brush off such dogma, insisting that there are conflicted, attentive minds inside every political thicket eager to listen and interact, and that it’s the task of the artist, not to mention the activist, to make them heard. This is what’s lost when we stop talking, a loss that makes life poorer."

Social climber
So Cal
May 23, 2013 - 09:36pm PT

May 24, 2013 - 04:44am PT
healyje wrote:
When an abused child grows up to themselves become an abuser you can certainly lay the blame on other than the child, but in the end does it matter when the abuse continues.

Genocide suffered or genocide waged - it's still genocide.

First, as written above, I'm not sure what genocide you're talking about. Exaggerating as such for effect halts all ability to examine the real abuses of the Israeli government and any reason to sit down for a real discussion.

Second, my great grandparents were slaughtered in the Holocaust (my grandfather had already immigrated to the US in the thirties). I've lived in the US all my life so I fail to see how, even though I'm Jewish, I have anything to do with Israeli policy whatsoever. Israel is a secular democratically elected government. How can I, as a US citizen, have any effect whatsoever on their policy?

But apparently, according to you, because my family and Jewish people in Eastern Europe at large suffered genocide, I'm now the abuser committing (or condoning the same)? You're not really making that asinine, bigoted claim, are you?

You've criticized (as have I)other posters in the past for lumping all Muslims together, why are you now lumping all Jewish people together?
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