How Stephen Hawking supported the Palestinian cause

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Stephen Hawking. (photo: Getty Images / CNBC)

The late renowned scientist will be remembered not only for his work, but his support for Palestine.

By Al Jazeera | Mar 14, 2018

“I accepted the invitation to the Presidential Conference with the intention that this would not only allow me to express my opinion on the prospects for a peace settlement but also because it would allow me to lecture on the West Bank. However, I have received a number of emails from Palestinian academics. They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this, I must withdraw from the conference. Had I attended, I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster.”
— Stephen Hawking, May 3, 2013

Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned scientist who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 76, was known not only for his groundbreaking work but also for his support for Palestine.

Hawking, who had motor-neuron disease, made headlines in May 2013 when he decided to boycott a high-profile conference in Israel where he was scheduled to speak. The physicist was working at the Cambridge University in the UK at the time.

The Presidential Conference, an academic event held in Jerusalem, was being hosted by the late Israeli President Shimon Peres. In a letter Hawking sent to the organizers on May 3, he said the “policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster.”

With the approval of Hawking, the British Committee for Universities of Palestine, an organization of UK-based academics to support the academic boycott of Israel, said in a statement at the time: “This is his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there.”

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