Academic boycotts seem to resonate deeply within Israel, veering towards the dynamics of vengeance. Cosmologist Stephen Hawking’s decision to boycott the Israeli Presidential Conference sparked a furore on social media sites, with a deluge of derogatory comments directed against the scientist applauded by Zionists and their supporters. Overnight, it seems as though a brilliant mind has suddenly been deemed incapable of an independent decision, since the result obviously tarnishes Israel’s international image.
Once the initial confusion cleared, and it became evident that Hawking’s cancellation was not due to health reasons, the ingrained culture of hatred detonated. Commentators on social media have expressed the view that Hawking should have already died, that he is incapable of tending to himself, the devices he uses to communicate would ‘waste a lot of electricity’, in possession of ‘a crippled mind’ and he should ‘give up his voice synthesizer’. Others claimed to have ‘lost respect for this man’, that he was ‘supposed to be brilliant’, while another commentator expressed his wish to ‘throw him into a black hole’.
Israeli media has portrayed the decision as ‘shunning Israeli science’. However, as can be seen from the conference’s website, it is difficult to decipher exactly how Hawking is shunning science, given that the wide spectrum of subjects to be discussed should allegedly provide suggestions for ‘a better tomorrow for Israel, for the Jewish people and for all humanity’. Science is not even mentioned in the list of subjects to be discussed, unless it has been included in the ‘and more’ category. The conference is also being touted as an opportunity to celebrate the 90th birthday of Shimon Peres – the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize winner who has also declared himself a ‘Ben Gurionist’.
The conference obviously seeks to impart an image of Israel distanced from the daily human rights violations meted out against the Palestinian population, hence there is obviously no reference to the apartheid implied within subjects to be discussed such as culture, identity and education, no discussion of how the right to memory has been manipulated into an attainable circumstance according to adherence to Zionist ideology. Israel’s melancholic metaphors are eagerly endorsed by supporters of the occupation in Israel and abroad, to the extent that many are claiming intellectual superiority to Hawking based on a decision which has clearly enraged the occupation beyond any boundaries of logical argument.
The trend of Zionist verbal brutality has been observed in other occasions; in Hawking’s case the reaction has resembled retaliation. The initial anti-Semite rhetoric and expected insults regarding Hawking’s illness have escalated into cries of ‘traitor’. The so-called ‘only democracy in the Middle East’, which expects the world to believe and endorse Israel’s philosophy and practice of ‘free speech’ has been unable to come to terms with the fact that Hawking’s decision is likely to spur other similar successes in isolating the apartheid occupation. In the meantime, Zionism is bequeathing the world with timely and revolting comments which reveal the extent of the occupation’s recalcitrant hatred and vision of dialogue with its opponents.