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Posts Tagged ‘MATTHEW KALMAN

Stephen Hawking joins academic boycott of Israel

Professor Stephen Hawking died at the age of 76, after over 5 decades of a deadly disease that left him handicapped and crippled on a wheelchair, communicating through an electronic device. He had published “A short history of time” that sold 8 million. He was officially received by world leaders and monarch.

Physicist pulls out of conference hosted by president Shimon Peres in protest at treatment of Palestinians
What really winds up Israel is that this rejection comes from a famous scientist, and it is science that drives its economy, prestige and military strength

Stephen Hawking’s decision to boycott the Israeli president’s conference has gone viral. Over 100,000 Facebook shares of the Guardian report at last count. Whatever the subsequent fuss, Hawking’s letter is unequivocal. His refusal was made because of requests from Palestinian academics.

Stephen Hawking mystery
 Hawking’s boycott ‘threatens to open a floodgate with more and more scientists coming to regard Israel as a pariah state’. Photograph: PA

Hawking, 71, the world-renowned theoretical physicist and former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, had accepted an invitation to headline the fifth annual president’s conference, Facing Tomorrow, in June, which features major international personalities, attracts thousands of participants and this year will celebrate Peres’s 90th birthday.

Hawking is in very poor health, but last week he wrote a brief letter to the Israeli president to say he had changed his mind. He has not announced his decision publicly, but a statement published by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine with Hawking’s approval described it as “his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there”.

Hawking’s decision marks another victory in the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions targeting Israeli academic institutions.

In April, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland became the first lecturers’ association in Europe to call for an academic boycott of Israel, and in the United States members of the Association for Asian American Studies voted to support a boycott, the first national academic group to do so.

In the four weeks since Hawking’s participation in the Jerusalem event was announced, he has been bombarded with messages from Britain and abroad as part of an intense campaign by boycott supporters trying to persuade him to change his mind.

In the end, Hawking told friends, he decided to follow the advice of Palestinian colleagues who unanimously agreed that he should not attend.

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

By participating in the boycott, Hawking joins a small but growing list of British personalities who have turned down invitations to visit Israel, including Elvis Costello, Roger Waters, Brian Eno, Annie Lennox and Mike Leigh.

Many artists, writers and academics have defied and even denounced the boycott, calling it ineffective and selective. Ian McEwan, who was awarded the Jerusalem Prize in 2011, responded to critics by saying: “If I only went to countries that I approve of, I probably would never get out of bed … It’s not great if everyone stops talking.”

Noam Chomsky, a prominent supporter of the Palestinian cause, has said that he supports the “boycott and divestment of firms that are carrying out operations in the occupied territories” but that a general boycott of Israel is “a gift to Israeli hardliners and their American supporters”.

Hawking has visited Israel four times in the past. Most recently, in 2006, he delivered public lectures at Israeli and Palestinian universities as the guest of the British embassy in Tel Aviv. At the time, he said he was “looking forward to coming out to Israel and the Palestinian territories and excited about meeting both Israeli and Palestinian scientists”.

Since then, his attitude to Israel appears to have hardened.

In 2009, Hawking denounced Israel’s three-week attack on Gaza, telling Riz Khan on Al-Jazeera that Israel’s response to rocket fire from Gaza was “plain out of proportion … The situation is like that of South Africa before 1990 and cannot continue.”

Israel Maimon, chairman of the presidential conference said: “This decision is outrageous and wrong.

“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.” (Palestinian deputies in Israel are Not allowed to express freely their opinions)

In 2011, the Israeli parliament passed a law making a boycott call by an individual or organisation a civil offence which can result in compensation liable to be paid regardless of actual damage caused.

It defined a boycott as “deliberately avoiding economic, cultural or academic ties with another person or another factor only because of his ties with the State of Israel, one of its institutions or an area under its control, in such a way that may cause economic, cultural or academic damage”.

 This article was amended on 8 May 2013. The original described Hawking as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. He stepped down in 2009.

Stephen Hawking boycott conference in Israel, and hosted by Israel 90 year-old president Shimon Peres. In protest at treatment of Palestinians

I consider Professor Stephen Hawking the ultimate mental achievement of mankind. A total paraplegic who managed to communicate his complex ideas and theories by very convoluted and hard time consuming language methods. That is the spirit of determined persons. And Hawkins never forget that racism and discrimination should be banished from civilization.

Professor Stephen Hawking is backing the academic boycott of Israel by pulling out of a conference hosted by Israeli president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem as a protest at Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

Stephen Hawking fine tuned the theory of the Big Bang and developed the notion of the Black Holes…

Hawking, 71, the world-renowned theoretical physicist and former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, had accepted an invitation to headline the fifth annual president’s conference, Facing Tomorrow, in June, which features major international personalities, attracts thousands of participants and this year will celebrate Peres’s 90th birthday.

and Matthew Kalman published  in The Guardian this May, 8, 2013

Stephen Hawking

A statement published with Stephen Hawking’s approval said his withdrawal was based on advice from academic contacts in Palestine.  Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Hawking is in very poor health. Last week, he wrote a brief letter to the Israeli president to say he had changed his mind. He has not announced his decision publicly, but a statement published by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine with Hawking’s approval described it as “his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there”.

Hawking’s decision marks another victory in the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions targeting Israeli academic institutions.

In April, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland became the first lecturers’ association in Europe to call for an academic boycott of Israel, and in the United States members of the Association for Asian American Studies voted to support a boycott, the first national academic group to do so.

In the four weeks since Hawking’s participation in the Jerusalem event was announced, he has been bombarded with messages from Britain and abroad as part of an intense campaign by boycott supporters trying to persuade him to change his mind.

In the end, Hawking told friends, he decided to follow the advice of Palestinian colleagues who unanimously agreed that he should not attend.

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

By participating in the boycott, Hawking joins a small but growing list of British personalities who have turned down invitations to visit Israel, including Elvis Costello, Roger Waters, Brian Eno, Annie Lennox and Mike Leigh.

Israeli occupation forces has detained around 9,500 Palestinian minors since 2000.
Israeli occupation forces has detained around 9,500 Palestinian minors since 2000.

Many artists, writers and academics have defied and even denounced the boycott, calling it ineffective and selective. Ian McEwan, who was awarded the Jerusalem Prize in 2011, responded to critics by saying: “If I only went to countries that I approve of, I probably would never get out of bed … It’s not great if everyone stops talking.” (What if Israel refuses to talk peace with Palestinians?)

Noam Chomsky, a prominent supporter of the Palestinian cause, has said that he supports the “boycott and divestment of firms that are carrying out operations in the occupied territories” but that a general boycott of Israel is “a gift to Israeli hardliners and their American supporters”.

Hawking has visited Israel four times in the past.

In 2006, he delivered public lectures at Israeli and Palestinian universities as the guest of the British embassy in Tel Aviv. At the time, he said he was “looking forward to coming out to Israel and the Palestinian territories and excited about meeting both Israeli and Palestinian scientists”.

Since then, his attitude to Israel appears to have hardened.

In 2009, Hawking denounced Israel’s three-week attack on Gaza, telling Riz Khan on Al-Jazeera that Israel’s response to rocket fire from Gaza was “plain out of proportion … The situation is like that of South Africa before 1990 and cannot continue.”

Israel Maimon, chairman of the presidential conference said: “This decision is outrageous and wrong.

“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.”

In 2011, the Israeli parliament passed a law making a boycott call by an individual or organisation a civil offence which can result in compensation liable to be paid regardless of actual damage caused.

The law defined a boycott as “deliberately avoiding economic, cultural or academic ties with another person or another factor only because of his ties with the State of Israel, one of its institutions or an area under its control, in such a way that may cause economic, cultural or academic damage”.

• This article was amended on 8 May 2013. The original described Hawking as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. He stepped down in 2009.

“Don’t take it personal Tony Blair: You are totally useless in the Quartet of Palestinian peace process”

Palestinian officials say Tony Blair (former Labor British PM) shouldn’t take it personally, but he should pack up his desk at the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem and go home.

They say his job, and the body he represents, are “useless, useless, useless”.

Mr Blair became the representative of the Middle East Quartet – the UN, EU, US and Russia – a few weeks after leaving Downing Street.

Last week, he visited the region for what he said was the 90th time since being appointed in June 2007.

He spends one week a month based in Jerusalem or globetrotting on behalf of the Quartet. His office is funded by the Quartet members and his 24-hour security detail is on secondment from Scotland Yard but he receives no direct salary.

MATTHEW KALMAN published in The Independent on Dec. 16, 2012 under

‘Useless, useless, useless’: the Palestinian verdict on Tony Blair

“After four years of renting 15 rooms at the American Colony Hotel for his full-time staff, Mr Blair put down more permanent roots in 2011 by renting the penthouse of a new office building in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem.

Senior Palestinian officials and analysts told The Independent the move was unnecessary – his sojourn in the region should be cut short.

Mohammed Shtayyeh, an aide to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said last week:

“The Quartet has been useless, useless, useless. Always the statement of the Quartet really means nothing because it was always full of what they call constructive ambiguity that really took us to nowhere…” and he suggested that its constant need to reach internal consensus among its warring participants had rendered it ineffective.

Mr Shtayyeh, who had just ended a meeting with Mr Blair and said: “You need a mediator who is ready to engage and who is ready to say to the party who is destroying the peace process ‘You are responsible for it'”

Mr Shtayyeh is not alone (in finding Blair’s role totally useless).

Last February, the Saban Centre for Middle East Policy at The Brookings Institution pronounced the body already dead in a report bluntly entitled The Middle East Quartet: A Post-Mortem report:

“The Quartet has little to show for its decade-long involvement in the peace process. Israelis and Palestinians are no closer to resolving the conflict, and in the few instances in which political negotiations did take place, the Quartet’s role was usually relegated to that of a political bystander. Having spent most of the last 3 years in a state of near paralysis, and having failed to dissuade the Palestinians from seeking UN membership and recognition in September 2011, the Quartet has finally reached the limits of its utility.

“The current mechanism is too outdated, dysfunctional, and discredited to be reformed. Instead of undertaking another vain attempt to ‘reactivate’ the Quartet, the United States, the European Union, United Nations, and Russia should simply allow the existing mechanism to go quietly into the night,” the report concluded.

Mr Blair rarely travels to Gaza, citing security reasons.

The Quartet website features a number of achievements in the West Bank, including the removal of Israeli army checkpoints and upgraded facilities for exports. Palestinian and Israeli officials told The Independent that the Quartet appeared to be taking credit for other people’s work.

“I think in general, Palestinians are disappointed by the performance of the Quartet,” said Ghassan Khatib, vice-president of Birzeit University near Ramallah and a former Palestinian Authority cabinet minister. “I cannot think of any serious thing that the Quartet succeeded to help us in.

“Sometimes Tony Blair speaks about removing checkpoints, but I think Israel was going to remove these checkpoints with or without the Quartet”. Dr Khatib said the Quartet’s announcements about assisting the Palestinian economy were as hollow as their political achievements, but he stressed that his attitude wasn’t personal. “It has nothing to do with Tony Blair … I think it’s the Quartet that failed to deliver.”

Mr Blair’s Jerusalem office did not respond to a request for a comment.

Timeline: Blair’s peace-making

June 2007

Tony Blair appointed Middle East envoy on behalf of the EU, US, UN and Russia.

May 2008

Launches peace plan for Israel-Palestinian conflict based on improving economic co-operation.

March 2009

On a visit to Gaza, Mr Blair calls on Israel to ease its blockade.

September 2011

Mr Blair warns that a bid for statehood at the United Nations by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would be “deeply confrontational“.

October 2011

Nabil Shaath, one of the senior aides to President Abbas, has harsh words for Tony Blair and accusing him of talking “like an Israeli diplomat”.

 

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