He’s been variously described as ‘the man who invented time’ and ‘Britain’s most brilliant physicist’, a genius whose academic intellect dwarfs we humble cabbages.
Professor Stephen Hawking’s celebrity has even transcended the dreamy spires of Oxbridge, because he’s risen to be an international icon, made all the more charismatic by crippling disability.
His body contorted by motor neurone disease, the 71-year-old sits in an ultra-high-tech wheelchair, oozing thoughts on the origins of the universe that are broadcast via a robotic voice, laden with a trans-Atlantic accent.
For long he espoused the view that scientific advances – and the exchange of vital information between those at its cutting edge – should be accessible to all, regardless of creed, colour or origin…in essence the noblest sentiments for the betterment of mankind.
Now, for quixotic reasons, Hawking has had a change of heart, perhaps allowing the festering prejudices of others to colour his judgement, though – some argue – these might also be chime with his own resentments.
Because the lodestar of science has allowed himself to become the pin-up boy of the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), a group composed mainly of vengeful, academic Left-whingers, whose goal is the demonization, delegitimisation, and ultimate demise of one country and its people.
That nation isn’t an autocratic monarchy, a fanatically-religious theocracy or tyrannical one-party state where minorities are crushed. On the contrary, it’s a vibrant, liberal democracy, with a free Press, independent judiciary and an oasis of sanity in one of the planet’s craziest neighbourhoods.
Yet, so far as the gobby BDS heavy mob is concerned Israel is the crucible of world ills. What sticks in their craw is it’s a dynamic, secular, Jewish state – the only one – created from the ashes of the Holocaust by United Nations decree as a homeland for a long-persecuted, dispossessed people, with incontestable rights to the ground their ancestors dwelt upon.
But, ignoring blindingly glaring truths – including Israel’s long search for peace – hysterical BDS bigots dispute its very right to exist and tar it with the accusations of ‘racism’ against Palestinians, likening Israel to South Africa’s repugnant Apartheid regime.
Co-incidentally, its seeds were first sewn there, in Durban at the (anything but) 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which even moved Mary Robinson – a former Irish President, UN human rights chief and partial to the Palestinian cause – to say was infected with ‘a horrible anti-Semitic presence.’
However, BDS didn’t gain traction until a few years later, after the ghastly, Egyptian-born Mona Baker, head of translation studies at the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology, sacked two Israelis from a journal she headed, simply because they were Israelis.
From there it flowered among the right-on, far-Left, especially in Britain quirkily, who smugly contend they are such a learned elite, they know everything better than anyone else (except, perhaps, common sense).
Hence, they are happy to fall for seductive Palestinian spin without questioning its lack of validity. And their blunderbuss vilification of all things (and people) Israeli undermines any objective discussion of Israel government policies.
So, conveniently forgetting that 1.5-million Israeli Arabs enjoy more freedoms than their brethren in surrounding Muslim countries, that women have equal rights and aren’t stoned to death for adultery, that gays are not persecuted, that Israel is more culturally diverse than most Western nations, BDS hate-spewers subscribe to Iranian headbanger, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s madness to ‘wipe it off the face of the earth’
Far be it for them, then, to criticise Palestinian terror-mongers for suicide bombing outrages or launching indiscriminate rains of rockets from Gaza, where kids are used as human shields and cuddly Hamas murders opponents. And don’t ever imagine these uber-smart alecs vent their spleen on countries like Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, North Korea, Egypt, Syria and, most particularly, Iran, which richly deserve censure for their appalling human rights violations.
Echoing that other bastion of unfettered prejudice, the UN Human Rights Council – a misnomer in every sense and, until his welcome demise, heavily under the influence of Libyan despot, Muammar Gaddafi – bullying BDS-ers see only one rogue state: Israel, which refuses to cave into Palestinian double-dealing and has the temerity to combat blackmail by terror.
Now, shamefully, Hawking has become a willing dupe of the BDS ship of fools, whose agenda runs exactly counter to all that academic and artistic freedom purports to represent.
Despite visiting Israel four times, the man who penned the best-selling baffler, A Brief History of Time, signalled his boycott sympathies earlier this month, by reneging on his acceptance of an invitation to attend Israel President, Shimon Peres’s annual conference.
In a lame attempt to justify his volte face, Hawking says his second thoughts were swayed by Palestinian academics, but that’s disingenuous. The fact is he was pressured by purblind BDS-ers – plus the American linguistics expert, Noam Chomsky, an ardent fan of Hezbollah and one-time guest of Hamas – whose tacit solution to the Israel-Palestine issue is a ‘one-nation state’ that doesn’t include ‘a Zionist entity’.
By his gullibility, Hawking has cast a dark cloud over academic integrity and lent his name to a gang of fanatics who judge a scientist only by his or her nationality, not the sum of all the health and wealth-giving breakthroughs they have pioneered.
However, his sad, flawed judgement has only accentuated the merits of Peres’s conference. Titled ‘Facing Tomorrow’, its intention is to address key issues than impact on mankind – from global politics and economics to the environment, education and much more.
Hawking would have been sharing a forum with former US President Bill Clinton, ex-British prime minister, Tony Blair, one-time Russian leader, Mikhail Gorbachev and an array of prize-winning, fellow academics, politicians and business innovators from every civilised corner of the globe.
Probably also in attendance would be the geniuses who created NurOwn, the very medicine Hawking relies on to stall the progress of his illness, and the people who invented Intel’s Core i7 microchip that powers the awesome technology of his wheelchair-communications system.
Without either, he’d be trapped, wordless and immobilised; a physical and intellectual basket case.
Incidentally, his benefactors are Israelis, who shared their innovations with the world, otherwise nobody’s cellphone and laptop would work.
However, now he’s endorsed the boycotters’ credo of hate, it remains to be seen whether Hawking will surrender the life-enhancing gifts Israel’s scientists have brought him. Because, after all, that’s what BDS is all about.