Some reading for Stephen Hawking to catch up on concerning the campaign to exclude Israelis from the global academic community

Michael Yudkin’s argument against the academic boycott campaign.  click here.  (2007)Stephen-Hawking1

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking

David Hirsh on the antisemitism which comes with the boycott campaign.  (2013)

Cure worse than the disease: academic boycott of Israel in the light of the academic boycott of South Africa – Mira Vogel (2007)

Mira Vogel on PACBI (2008)

Engage response to BRICUP [PDF] (2007)

Ben Gidley on the antisemitism which comes in the wake of the boycott campaign:  The Case of Anti-Semitism in the University and College Union (2011)

Robert Fine responds to Desmond Tutu’s call for a boycott of Israel in the South African Mail & Guardian  (2010)

Robert Fine in debate about boycotting Israel, “the apartheid state”. (2008)

Antisemitism, Boycotts and Freedom of Speech – Robert Fine (2007)

Hirsh, David. 2012. Portia, Shylock and the exclusion of Israeli actors from the global cultural community. Engage, [Article]

Hirsh, David. 2011. No such thing as victimless boycott. Mail and Guardian, South Africa, p. 14. [Article]

Hirsh, David. 2007. Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: Cosmopolitan Reflections. Working Paper. Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA) Occasional Papers, New Haven, CT

Resignations from UCU over the issue of the academic boycott of Israel.

Raphael Cohen-Almagor (2013)

Norman Finkelstein’s Attack on the BDS Movement

For an Engage archive on the Israel / Apartheid analogy click here.

Boycott Israel? Desmond Tutu, David Newman, Neve Gordon, David Hirsh, Robert Fine, Ran Greenstein, Uri Avnery, Farid Essack.  here.  (Oct 2010)

The University of Johannesburg Boycott, here.  (May 2011)

Colin Schindler shows how a boycott hinders his ability to do his job to teach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Read it here. (June 07)

Eric Lee argues a boycott is no way to help the Palestinians here. (June 07)

Anthony Julius and Simon Schama’s argument against John Berger’s boycott call. Here. (Dec 06)

Paul Frosh’s contrast between boycott and joint work. Here. (Nov 06)

A detailed critique of PACBI‘s (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) call for “BDS” – “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions”. Here. (Sep 06, David Hirsh)

Jon Pike’s arguments for voting against the Natfhe 2006 motion. Here. (May 06)

David Hirsh’s arguments for voting against the 2006 Natfhe motion. Here.  (May 06)

David Hirsh’s response to the passing of the Natfhe motion: Don’t get mad, get even. Here. (May 06)

Jon Pike’s discussion of boycotts. The distinction between ‘boycott as solidarity and boycott as punishment’. Critique of Jaqueline Rose’s case for boycott. Here|. (Sep 05)

The myth of the institutional boycott. The boycott campaign pretends that it is boycotting institutions when really it proposes a boycott of individuals. Read Jon Pike’s analysis. Here. (February 06)

Making Emotional Sense of the Proposed Boycotts against Israeli Academics and Intellectuals – Catherine B. Silver (2007)

Steve Cohen’s response to the McCarthyite political test that Natfhe voted to apply to Israeli academics. Here. (May 05)

Live Dangerous – Shop at Marks and Spencers.  (2006)

Hirsh’s speech and reports from his debate with Ilan Pappe, pro-boycott professor at Haifa University, on the issue of the boycott. At Birmingham AUT. Here.  (Nov 05)

David Hirsh responds to a supporter of the boycott. Here. (Sep 06)

David Hirsh looks closely at what Steven Rose says on Radio 4’s Today programme. Here. (September 06)

John Strawson’s 2005 argument against the boycott campaign.

Engage’s original founding statement.  2005.

Another version of who we are. 

6 Responses to “Some reading for Stephen Hawking to catch up on concerning the campaign to exclude Israelis from the global academic community”

  1. Brian Robinson Says:

    Not sure if I can crosspost within a website, but this is a comment I left to Eve Garrard’s piece on ‘The Pleasures of Antisemitism’

    An open letter at to Prof Hawking from Carlo Strenger.
    Hypocrisy and double standard: An open letter to Stephen Hawking

    By deciding not to attend the Israeli Presidential Conference, one of the world’s leading scientists is singling out Israel and denying it has been under existential threat for most of its existence.
    By Carlo Strenger | May.08, 2013 | 3:56 PM | 61

    Dear Professor Hawking … [G]iven my respect for your achievement I am surprised and saddened by your decision …
    Let it first be said that I have been opposed to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories for many years … I think that Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank is indefensible morally, stupid politically and unwise strategically, and I will continue opposing it as long as I can … This being said, I have always found it morally reprehensible and intellectually indefensible that many British academics have been calling for an academic boycott of Israel. This call is based on a moral double standard … [Contextualises Israel’s violations by refering, inter alia, to Guantanamo, the USA’s current drone policy and continues] Professor Hawking: how can you and your colleagues who argue for an academic boycott of Israel justify your double standard by singling out Israel? You are simply denying that Israel has been under existential threat for most of its existence … [the hypocrisy of singling out Israel] I’m still waiting for the British academic who says he won’t cooperate with American institutions as long as Guantanamo is open, or as long as the U.S. continues targeted assassinations …

    In addition to the hypocrisy, singling out Israel’s academia is pragmatically unwise, to put it mildly. Israel’s academia is largely liberal in its outlook, and many academics here have opposed Israel’s settlement policies for decades. But once again, British academics choose the easiest target to vent their rage in a way that does not contribute anything constructive to the Palestinian cause they support.

    Israel, like any other country, can be criticized. But such criticism should not be based on shrill moralism and simplistic binary thinking – something I do not expect from academics.

    The letter concludes: “If your cancelation was indeed a function of pressures and not from health reasons, as stated by your university following The Guardian’s report, I would respect it if you were to reconsider your decision and come to the President’s Conference.”

  2. Brian Robinson Says:

    New Statesman
    Sorry, Stephen Hawking, but a boycott of Israel isn’t the answer
    A general boycott plays into the hands of Israel’s hard-right leaders. Instead, we should punish firms and institutions that operate in the Occupied Territories.

    Matt Hill has written on the Middle East for the Daily Telegraph and the Independent

    ‘[I]t’s true that Israel’s supporters throw the word ‘delegitimisation’ around to portray fair-minded criticism of Israel as invidious and sinister. But when it comes to BDS, the fact is that they have a point. The BDS movement doesn’t have a single leadership with stated goals, but most of the biggest groups within it make little secret of their preferred outcome to the conflict. Instead of a two-state solution, they support a single, Palestinian-majority state that would mean the end of Israel’s existence. Don’t take my word for it. Norman Finkelstein, the heroic pro-Palestinian author and activist, recently launched a blistering attack on the BDS movement, telling an interviewer: “[The Israelis] say ‘They’re not talking about rights. They want to destroy Israel.’ And in fact, I think they’re right. . . . There’s a large segment of the movement that wants to eliminate Israel.

    ‘Stephen Hawking is a brave and principled man, and there’s no doubt his gesture was intended to send Israel a signal about the need for peace and an end to its oppression of Palestinians. But, in doing so, he has added his considerable weight to a movement whose aims are in many ways the opposite of his message of peace and reconciliation. It’s significant that the website of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, one of the biggest UK supporters of BDS, reproduced Hawking’s letter of withdrawal – but clipped the part which referred to a “peace settlement” …

    ‘[B]ut here’s the thing: whatever the intentions of figures like Hawking, what Israel hears from BDS is the voices questioning its right to exist. This plays into the narrative of its hard-right leaders …

    [Continues, making a case to boycott not Israel, but firms and institutions operating in the Occupied Territories] ‘
    In this way, we can send Israel a clear and bold message. We can say: “We support your right to live in peace and security. But we reject the occupation of a single inch of Palestinian soil, the demolition of single Palestinian home, the spilling of a single drop of innocent blood.”

    This isn’t about pulling our punches, or sending Israel a softer message. It’s about refusing to give its leaders a reason not to hear us.’

  3. Brian Robinson Says:

    The Guardian
    Stephen Hawking accused of hypocrisy over Israel conference boycott

    Scientist’s critics say he should stop using Israeli technology in computer equipment that allows him to communicate

    Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem The Guardian, Wednesday 8 May 2013 18.12 BST

    Stephen Hawking
    British physicist Stephen Hawking, whose decision to boycott a conference in Israel has been described as hypocritical. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

    Stephen Hawking’s decision to boycott an Israeli conference in protest at the state’s 46-year occupation of Palestine was derided as hypocritical by some, who pointed out that the celebrated scientist and author uses Israeli technology in the computer equipment that allows him to function.

    Hawking, 71, has suffered from motor neurone disease for the past 50 years, and relies on a computer-based system to communicate.

    According to Shurat HaDin, an Israel law centre which represents victims of terrorism, the equipment has been provided by the hi-tech firm, Intel, since 1997.

    “Hawking’s decision to join the boycott of Israel is quite hypocritical for an individual who prides himself on his whole intellectual accomplishment. His whole computer-based communications system runs on a chip designed by Israel’s Intel team. I suggest if he truly wants to pull out of Israel he should also pull out his Intel Core i7 from his tablet,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Shurat HaDin.

    Intel could not be reached for comment, but their website quotes Justin Rattner, chief technology officer, as saying earlier this year: “We have a long-standing relationship with Professor Hawking.” He added: “We are very pleased to continue to … work closely with Professor Hawking on improving his personal communication system.”

    Cambridge University declined to comment on allegations of hypocrisy regarding Hawking’s communications system.

    • This article was amended on 9 May 2013 to remove a reference to Intel being an Israeli firm. It is a US multinational with bases in Israel.

  4. Brian Robinson Says:

    So it wasn’t just “listening to Palestinian academic colleagues”?

    Noam Chomsky helped lobby Stephen Hawking to stage Israel boycott

    US professor Noam Chomsky expressed regret at Hawking’s initial acceptance of invitation to speak at conference in Israel
    Robert Booth and Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem, Friday 10 May 2013 19.47 BST

    Noam Chomsky was among 20 academics who privately lobbied Professor Stephen Hawking to boycott a major Israeli conference, it has emerged.

    Chomsky, a US professor and well-known supporter of the Palestinian cause, joined British academics from the universities of Cambridge, London, Leeds, Southampton, Warwick, Newcastle, York and the Open University to tell Hawking they were “surprised and deeply disappointed” that he had accepted the invitation to speak at next month’s presidential conference in Jerusalem, which will chaired by Shimon Peres and attended by Tony Blair and Bill Clinton.
    etc … Link to news story above

  5. Open letter to Claire Potter from David Hirsh | Engage Says:

    […] colleagues and I have been involved in opposing the boycott campaign for a while now.  Here is a web page with links to lots of the things which we have written on the boycott […]

  6. A reply to Claire Potter: in a fight to boycott Israelis, remain vigilant to the danger of antisemitism | Engage Says:

    […] A collection of Engage’s arguments against the campaign to boycott Israeli universities are to…. […]

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