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Academics and activism: Stephen Hawking and the Israel boycott

The news that famous physicist Stephen Hawking has decided to join the academic boycott of Israel has attracted some heated commentary. Hawking pulled out of attending an Israeli conference in June, explaining…

A Palestinian farmer and Israeli soldier clash in an olive grove. Can academics in other countries affect this situation by boycotting one side or the other? AAP/Abed Al Hashlamoun

The news that famous physicist Stephen Hawking has decided to join the academic boycott of Israel has attracted some heated commentary.

Hawking pulled out of attending an Israeli conference in June, explaining in a letter to the Israeli president Shimon Peres that it was in protest of the treatment of Palestinians. In the aftermath, many have criticised his involvement in the boycott, even sparking accusations of anti-semitism.

But to better understand this controversy, it is useful to look at boycotts as a form of nonviolent action and the role of academics as activists.

Boycotts as nonviolent action

Nonviolence scholar Gene Sharp identified 198 methods of nonviolent action, classifying them into three broad categories: protest and persuasion, such as petitions and rallies; noncooperation, including strikes and boycotts; and nonviolent intervention, such as fasts, sit-ins and parallel government.

Many of these methods have been used in the Israel-Palestine struggle, but few receive much media attention. Most media reports on the conflict in Israel-Palestine focus on suicide bombers, military incursions and diplomatic initiatives.

Nonviolence is more commonly associated with Mohandas Gandhi and the struggle for India’s independence and with Martin Luther King, Jr. and the US civil rights movement. Nonviolent action has also been used in numerous other campaigns, for example in toppling dictators in the Philippines in 1986, in Eastern Europe in 1989, in Serbia in 2000 and in Tunisia and Egypt in 2011.

The first Palestinian intifada, from 1987 to 1993, involved rallies, vigils, strikes, boycotts, an alternative education system and other methods of nonviolent action. A number of analysts have examined the role of nonviolent action in the Palestinian struggle, some of them arguing that exclusively using nonviolent methods would be more effective.

Stephen Hawking has created international headlines with his decision to join the academic boycott of Israel. AAP

In the conflict today, the use of violence overshadows the Palestinian nonviolent struggle, despite the large numbers of Israelis, Palestinians and outsiders using nonviolent methods in support of Palestinian goals.

The academic boycott of Israel can be best understood as one of the many forms of nonviolent action being used. Rather than the familiar boycotts of goods or corporations, such as the boycott of Nestlé over its promotion of infant formula in the third world, the academic boycott is a boycott of social and cultural links.

Academics and activism

Boycotts are methods of noncooperation, but arguably the biggest impact of the academic boycott is the attention it brings to a cause. That a stand taken by Hawking on a social issue can generate news stories around the world, including both praise and condemnation, shows the symbolic power of an academic boycott.

It might be asked, isn’t Hawking stepping outside of his academic role by being “political”?

Actually, Hawking’s stand is just one of many ways academics engage with systems of power. Academics are often involved with social issues through teaching, research, public comment and personal involvement in campaigns. For example, social researchers investigate poverty, suicide, prison policies and a host of other significant issues, and some participate in public advocacy.

There is also plenty of research that doesn’t seem overtly political but has significant social implications. Consider, for example, scientists who develop weapons such as land mines and computer scientists who install back doors in computer codes to enable surveillance. The question is not whether research is political, because all of it potentially is in a broad sense, but what social goals are being served.

It can be argued that academics are being political if they visit Israel and being political if they refuse to visit. The choice is not whether to engage with social issues, but exactly how to engage.

Most commonly, only those academics who challenge groups or views are labelled as political, yet those who support the system are being just as political in their own way. When academics visit Israel, it is not news, just business as usual. But when academics declare a boycott, this is seen as more noteworthy. When a celebrity intellectual, Stephen Hawking, joins the boycott, it becomes international news.

Looking behind the news, and recognising the many forms of nonviolent action, Hawking’s stand should be seen not as something exceptional but as part of a long tradition of academic activism.

Join the conversation

220 Comments sorted by

    1. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Liam J

      The mindless and knuckle dragging screech that Israel is an apartheid regime is a racist lie. Israel is the only state in the Middle East that protects the human rights of women and minorities. Israel is the only state in the Middle East that is not an apartheid state.

      Hawking is a coward of the worst kind. Academics and students that boycott Israel have no place in Western universities. It is time to draw a line. Public universities that harbour BDS campaigners and other racists as a matter of policy should have their funding reviewed. We need real academics. We can not afford the racists. The world is too dangerous to splash money on them.

      http://geofffff.blogspot.com.au/

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    2. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      After a long discussion with a distinguished (retired) orientalist, I have come to the conclusion that the Israel Palestine conflict is baed on a lack of humanity on both sides.

      There is no doubt that Arabs in Israel are treated as second class citizens, have separate passports and less rights and have been subjected to property theft.

      There remains the sticking point of Hamas' call for the destruction of Israel.

      Both states are guilty of atrocious acts of barbarism, and one could argue that Israel, after the 1939-45 experience, would have been more mindful of not so behaving.

      But the fact remains that there is bad faith and action on both sides.

      What my orientalist friend did persuade me was that Israel does have a right to its land, arguably more so than the Palestinians. but that is delving into deep history.

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    3. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      My pleasure Mike.

      How long would an academic who campaigned for modern South Africa to be torn down and that Blacks should not be allowed to vote or live outside of designated regions last in an Australian university, do you think?

      That is precisely what BDS demands. In fact it is even worse than that. The campaign is for the destruction of all civil and political rights of the Middle East Jews.

      This is not anything to do with the "Palestinians". If it was they would be hollering from the rooftops for the liberation of these tragic people from the death grip of Hamas and the other murder gangs. They don't give a stuff about the "Palestinians". There is more genuine concern in Israel for the plight of "Palestinians" than anywhere else. For the Israel boycotters this is about something else entirely.

      http://geofffff.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/post-that-got-israel-banned-from.html

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    4. Ramon Erispe

      Scientific Publishing

      In reply to John Newton

      John can you disclose who the eminent Orientalist is? I'm intrigued :) It is interesting that this debate is never addressed in terms basic humanity. I have a friend who is of Palestinian heritage (and is orthodox Christian and born in Australia) and gets the full silver service treatment of state surveillance every time he goes back to visit his grandmother. What would be normal for most people who have grandparents in Ireland, Holland, Italy or the UK always turns out to be a dehumanizing process for him.

      Sadly it seems it is nigh impossible to have a rational discussion about the Middle East. Gosh the last time this region was in a state of relative calm was when it was a satrap under the Persian King Cyrus the Great.

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    5. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Sean Manning

      It is if that side is racist. Which antizionism most certainly is. Stop the racism and the dispute will be over in a day.

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    6. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to John Newton

      Arabs are not treated like second class citizens in Israel. . Israeli Arabs are the only Arabs in the Middle East who have full political and civil rights.

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    7. Liam J

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Withdraw the funding of academics critical of Israel - if this is Israels best response to criticism, no wonder they're so deep in the merde.

      Israel under zionist control is doomed, billions is annual US military aid notwithstanding.

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    8. Sean Manning

      Physicist

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Zionism, as a form of nationalism, is racist by definition. I think most reasonable people would be calling for Israel to be an integrated multicultural society, which is both fair and definitely not racist. You are creating a false dichotomy wherein people are either Zionists or racists. I mostly agree that if you could stop the racism the dispute could be solved, but I extend that definition of racism to include Zionism. As it should.

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    9. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Che

      Not only do you need to look up the definition of racist, you also need to understand what an analogy is. Because if you are going to use one, it should have at least passing relevance to the situation you are attempting to describe.

      I take it you have heard of the 'two state solution'? You know, the one that virtually every country in the world - including the UN - has endorsed. Restricting Israelis from building settlements on Palestinian land is not the destruction of the civil and political rights of Israelis - it is about upholding the rights of Palestinians not to have any more of their land stolen.

      Since you don't understand how analogies work, let me update yours so it is relevant:

      ".....How long would an academic who campaigned for modern South Africa to be torn down and that whites should be able to steal the native people's land last in an Australian university, do you think?..."

      There - that fits this situation much better.

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    10. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Anti-Zionism = racist? How do you make that leap? Zionism like Islam and other religions is a doctrine not a race issue. The racism that needs to stop is mainly from the Israeli perspective, the deep seated antagonism of Palestinians is rooted in their forced removal from traditional lands. Here is something you should read, from Albert Einstein, is he going to be labelled racist and anti-semite?

      TO THE EDITORS OF NEW YORK TIMES:

      Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is…

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    11. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      http://mondoweiss.net/2013/05/dershowitz-calls-hawking-an-ignoramus-a-lemming-and-likely-an-anti-semite.html

      Times of Israel article - http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-has-highest-poverty-rate-in-oecd-data-shows/

      So now on top of being the 14th happiest place and people on earth, they are also the 21st most impoverished, seems kind of incongruous doesn't it? I mean which is it? The happy folks are the haves, and the unhappy and poverty stricken are the have nots, damn you even segregate your folks within Israel on economic and "happiness" indexes.

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    12. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Wilson Lockheed

      Yes Wilson, and from some of the subscriptions I have I get regular begging letters. the last: '2 out of 5 Israeli children go to bed hungry'.

      Very much a land of : "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less." --- Through the Looking Glass, it seems.

      Alan Dershowitz? With such an authority we ought to all quit! :))

      Read, if you can, Dershowitz’s ‘The Case for Israel’, and Norman G Finkelstein’s, who self identifies as a Zionist, ‘Beyond Chutzpah’, On the misuse of Anti-Semitism and the abuse of history.

      The best, most systematic and ruthless deconstruction of Zionist propaganda, or any other propaganda for that matter, that I have ever read.

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    13. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Peter, I will and thank you for the point in the right direction. It is interesting though to compare the two theologies of radical Islam and Zionism (Judaism's political arm), and see the similarities. Every argument from supporters of Israel etc...is reflected in their behaving the same way. I have no time for fundamentalist thinking from any source and am not intimidated or threatened by religious zealots, so when I argue against Israel and the policies inflicted on Palestine I am equally aware…

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    14. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Wilson Lockheed

      Did you even read that letter?

      All of those individuals, including Einstein, were pro-Israel. Einstein was offered the Presidency of Israel. Hardly the gesture you would make to an antizionist.

      And the lurid account of what happened at Deir Yassin is now known to be a lie.

      http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/674327/posts

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    15. Liam J

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      @ Che Gorilla - I haven't been back since the 90s but Israel wasn't thriving then, whatever its newspapers say; that Palestinian/ now Israeli gas has probably helped. And i don't -want- Israel to go anywhere, but under zionism, its doomed.

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    16. Edwin Flynn

      I am a early retired executive at Worked in Local Government, Education and Financial Services Industries

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      What you are saying is that Einstein was a liar. If he was bestowed such an honour why did he refuse it? Could it be that he disagreed with the Zionist creed and wanted to distant himself from the leadership of the Zionist movement at the time?

      Finally, since when is factual history recorded on public forums, such as you gave?

      Have you ever been to the Jewish Museum Gorilla? Have you ever spoken to a survivor of the holocaust? I doubt it very much. If you had you would see that what Israel…

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    17. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Edwin Flynn

      I have met many Holocaust survivors in my life. More than my fair share.

      "...what Israel is doing in Palestine is a photocopy of what the Nazis did in Europe, except the use of furnaces."

      You do come come out with the most appalling bunk.

      Given you linked to a Holocaust denying Paleoconservative neo-fascist site the other day as authority on Middle East affairs I guess this has to be expected.

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    18. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Liam J

      It wasn't doing too badly in the nineties. And given that it is about to become a major energy exporter to Europe the future for Israel and Zionism could not be brighter. That alone will change the geopolitical landscape of that part of the world beyond recognition.

      http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4380736,00.html

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    19. Liam J

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      The fairly modest gas discoveries are much less important than waning US power; they must make peace with their neighbours, and soon.

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  1. James Jenkin

    EFL Teacher Trainer

    I wish the article had told us what the criticisms of Hawking are, and explained why they're wrong.

    (There's just one weak attempt to present an opposing view - 'Isn’t Hawking stepping outside of his academic role by being political?' - which is followed by four paragraphs of rebuttal.)

    The article might then feel less like a polemic and more like an argument.

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    1. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to James Jenkin

      The basic criticism is that Israel is in breach of international law by settling their civilians on occupied land.

      And no amount of vilification of Muslims or Arabs makes that OK.

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  2. John Campbell

    farmer

    And I had thought the world was short of academics of a sufficient standing to make strong statements after the retirement of Pauling, Einstein, etc. In fact I thought too many of them were pretty much under the thumb and liable to be leant on if they stepped too far out of line. Fortunately that is not quite the case.

    No doubt I will be called a racist for saying that Israel itself seems to be quite a racist country, with often an unreasonably high opinion of themselves on one hand and with numerous racist and demeaning jokes on the other.

    But in many peoples mind they seem to be the 'untouchables' of our post WW11 existence.

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    1. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to John Campbell

      "... an unreasonably high opinion of themselves on one hand and with numerous racist and demeaning jokes on the other."

      What the hell are you talking about? If this is meant to be a slur against Jews why don't you say so? Use the word.

      There is only one thing worse than a racist and that is a cowardly racist.

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    2. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to robert roeder

      Criticising Israel's policy towards "Palestinians" is not antisemitism. Usually fatuous and asinine but not antisemitic.

      On the other hand boycotting Israel until the remaining Jews surrender all their rights to those who want the state destroyed and replaced with another Muslim state is antisemitism. Most anti-Israel Arabs don't even bother to deny that theirs is a war against the Jews.

      Boycotting Israel is to overtly join that war against the Jews. This needs to be courageously said in our universities. Too many academics are too cowardly to say so. Telling the truth is to risk ostracism and to endanger academic careers.


      http://geofffff.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/this-will-be-defining-battle-of-21st.html

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    3. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Considering the fact that Israeli's, Jews or whichever term you use are Khazars seems to have eluded you in your one eyed biased and irrational comments. Please justify the ethnic cleansing, the erection of a wall to keep the two areas separate (remember that pesky thing called the Berlin Wall, which was so reviled by all right minded people). The use of white phosphorous and cluster munitions in the Gaza and West Bank, also please explain how the attack on the USS Liberty was a good thing, not to…

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    4. John Armour

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Wilson Lockheed

      I wondered when someone would mention the Khazars.

      It's obviously a sore point with our Che.

      I just read Shlomo Sand's book.

      There seems to be plenty of evidence that the bulk of European Jewry were originally Islamics who converted to Judaism, and enough evidence to convince David Ben Gurion that the Palestinians were probably the remnants of the Judean farmers who converted to Islam.

      One doesn't have be anti-semitic to be considering these things.

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    5. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to John Armour

      It would seem Che (Geoffrey), is too sensitive to facts and lays the blanket criticism on me for pointing out the obvious, it doesn't fit with his world view ergo it is false and based on racist policies and thinking. Be funny but for the fact he reflects the majority opinion from Jews/Israeli's the world over including their government.

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    6. Edwin Flynn

      I am a early retired executive at Worked in Local Government, Education and Financial Services Industries

      In reply to Wilson Lockheed

      Qoute "Please justify the ethnic cleansing, the erection of a wall to keep the two areas separate (remember that pesky thing called the Berlin Wall, which was so reviled by all right minded people)."

      Wilson go a little further back and you will see the Jews being segregated in the ghettos of Warsaw by the Nazis.

      Now Israel erects walls and isolates Palestinian villagers from their farmland by erecting "Security Walls." Yes the Jews learnt well from the Nazis. I cannot understand how having experienced inhumanity under the Naziz, that from their own horrific experiences, Israeli Jews are inflicting exactly the same unjust treatment of the Palestinians..

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    1. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to ernest malley

      Boycotting Israel is not "criticism" and it is fatuous to claim it is.

      How is being an activist for the destruction of the Jewish state and the robbing of all of her citizens of all of their human rights because they are Jews not antisemitism?

      There is indeed a form of mass mental illness at work here. History is replete with examples of racist hysteria gripping a crowd or country.

      BDS and academic boycotts of Israel are just recent examples.

      http://geofffff.blogspot.com.au/

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      How does joining a boycott make you an 'activist for the destruction of the Jewish state'?

      You'd get a better reception if you actually attempted rational arguments rather than hysteria.

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    3. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      What is the object of the boycott?

      BDS has as its goal the destruction of the Jewish state. They are quite explicit about this. What do you think they mean when they shout "from the river to the sea"?

      If Hawking does not support the destruction of the Jewish state then he has the opportunity to so. The "Academics for Palestine" whose bidding he is doing certainly does support the destruction of the Jewish state.

      It is not hysterical to call attention to creeping racism in Australian (and Western) universities. It is the simple truth. You see it everyday.

      http://geofffff.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/creeping-racism-in-australian.html

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Che, are the PLO paying you to completely discredit any defence of the state of Israel? The hysteria and irrationality of your comments represent, in one of the wierdest bits of irony I've seen in a while, one of the strongest anti-Israel arguments available.

      Fortunately, you very obviously do not represent the views of the rational majority of Israelis or, for that matter, people anywhere.

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  3. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    International news some international news reporters may wish to see it as and meanwhile I do not think there will be any lasting or even too much impact at all from Hawking's boycott.

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    1. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Greg North

      All it does is reinforce in Israel the need to stand firm against this latest tsunami of fascist antisemitism sweeping the globe. Israel will not bend to the racist campaigns. She will stand tall for the rights of her citizens and in defence of the human rights of all.

      http://geofffff.blogspot.com.au/

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    2. Sean Manning

      Physicist

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      I'm beginning to think you are less of a 'Human rights activist' and more of a zealous Zionist... You are not presenting a very balanced view point as would be characteristic of someone with human rights as their primary concern.

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    3. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Have to give you credit for the emotive language you regularly trot out for our consumption, must be some sort of Zionist Hysteria 101 course that gets attended by the people haunting the corridors of the internet and latching onto a topic, thread or post to totally derail it and further the "cause". At least you are consistently shrill in your comments and put your heart and soul into the words, maybe not a lot of thinking but well worked emotion counts for more from the likes of you and your stance on the matter.

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    1. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Michael Shand

      So, Michael we can expect to see you in full protest mode next time the taliban murder school girls because they are getting an education?

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    2. Nathan Grandel

      Exercise Physiologist

      In reply to Michael Shand

      “Orthodox Jews who stone girls in the street for not covering up enough for their liking”

      Please provide any evidence to your statement, or is it easier to just make things up?

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    3. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Orthodox Jews do not stone girls in the street for not covering up. That is a racist lie.

      On the other hand women and girls are imprisoned, raped or stoned to death in many Muslim countries for crimes ranging from adultery to seeking to get a university education.

      Opposing Israel's policy is not antisemitism. If it was most of the population of Israel would be antisemitic at one time or another. Opposing Israel's right to exist and supporting the denial of human rights of the Middle East Jews is most assuredly antisemitism. Only in the West is that denied. In most Muslim countries that is not even disputed.

      Antizionism is the new antisemitism.

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    4. Russell Walton
      Russell Walton is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired

      In reply to Nathan Grandel

      Are you serious? We could quibble over the methods of intimidation of course.

      http://www.global-sisterhood-network.org/content/view/2672/59http://pragmaticmiddleeast.tumblr.

      com/post/16821020349/israeli-feminism-misogyny-and-ignoring-the-elephant-in

      http://freethinker.co.uk/2012/01/08/eight-year-old-girl-sparks-a-backlash-against-ultra-orthodox-jews-in-israel/

      Google "Haredi misogyny"

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    5. Russell Walton
      Russell Walton is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired

      In reply to Phil Dolan

      "Yes, that's the problem, religion. Take out the loonies from both sides and Israelis and Palestinians will get on just fine."

      No they won't, religion is not the underlying cause of the tragedy, the real problem is Zionism.

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    6. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Phil Dolan

      I hate this sooooo much, this idea that unless you support Israel 100% then your agaisnt Israel

      Whart other country do we do this with? I'm critical of china but I dont get people stating "Ohh so you want north korea to take hold on the east?"

      its nonsense, im sick of any criticism of Israel being labelled anti semetic or pro taliban, blow it out your arse

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    7. Phil Dolan

      Viticulturist

      In reply to Russell Walton

      'the real problem is Zionism.'

      Like I said, if Israel were guaranteed peace, they would pull back. There are loonie ones there that believe the sky fairy promised the Jews all the land but, they are loonies. Most Israelis are the same as anyone else.

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    8. Phil Dolan

      Viticulturist

      In reply to Michael Shand

      So you think that Hamas will recognize Israel? C'mon, explain how to make peace with someone who does not recognize your right to exist. If you want Israel to disappear, you must be anti Semitic.

      And no one is asking for 100% support of Israel. Well, I'm not anyway. The expansion of settlements I think is not good, but the thousands of rockets aimed at Israel gives the loonies the excuse to be more loony.

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    9. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Phil Dolan

      "C'mon, explain how to make peace" - Get off it mate - your asking me to exlain how to make peace in the middle east? in a fkn comment section? from someone who is completely unqualified?

      your insane - I never claimed to know this and you shouldnt trust anyone who does claim this

      Unless you have something productive to add - go comment someone else

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    10. Nathan Grandel

      Exercise Physiologist

      In reply to Russell Walton

      Sorry cant open your links from work, but again any of them point to "stoning" in the street?

      Additionally the comment im responded to, makes it sound like it is a regular occurrence of stoning

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    11. Nathan Grandel

      Exercise Physiologist

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Sorry cant open your links from work, but again any of them point to "stoning" in the street?

      Additionally the comment im responding to makes it sound like it is a regular occurrence of stoning

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    12. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to John Phillip

      John I might also point out that these Orthodox Jews in Israeli are spitting on girls and calling them sluts for trying to go to school

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    13. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Nathan Grandel

      "but again any of them point to "stoning" in the street? " - Yes

      "makes it sound like it is a regular occurrence of stoning " - Yes

      Just do a google search for it, my guess is that your going to come back and say things like "Well the ultra orthodox jews that are doing this are only 10% of the population, they dont stone people everyday, its random, sometimes everyday but usually only every month"

      Replace the words "Jews" with muslim and you will see what sort of sick horrible person you have to be to try and defend these actions

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    14. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Michael Shand

      No Michael, it isnt bs. Why is there no outcry over the crimes of Hamas or Hezbollah? (Yes, I know Malala's name - she is not the only girl attacked by these 'defenders' of islam'.)

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    15. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to John Phillip

      "is there no outcry over the crimes of Hamas or Hezbollah?" - because your not paying attention maybe?

      If are you suggesting that no one is criticising Hamas or Hezbollah then your insane

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    16. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Michael Shand

      That "news" report, inaccurate as it is, does not support the racist lie that "Orthodox Jews stone girls." Throwing stones can kill. That is why "Palestinians" stone Jewish civilians. Right now a three year old Israeli girl is in hospital fighting for her life and is still in a coma after her mother's car was stoned by "Palestinians".

      http://geofffff.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/3-year-old-critically-injured-by-stones.html

      The "report" was inspired by a single incident nearly two years ago that…

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    17. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      How much are they paying you to populate a thread with your hysterical comments regarding a state founded on terrorism and maintained in the same vein?

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    18. Russell Walton
      Russell Walton is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired

      In reply to Phil Dolan

      "Most Israelis are the same as anyone else."

      yes, however there's an anomaly--the settlements continue to expand--against the wishes of the majority of Israelis?

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    19. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Russell Walton

      Quibble over methods of intimidation?

      Are you serious?

      Throwing stones is intended to injure or kill. Spitting, as disgusting and nauseating as it, is rarely fatal. And the young girl involved in this ugly old incident was herself an Orthodox Jew. And now a national hero in Israel and poster child for Israeli feminism.

      Yes. There is still a way to go for feminism in Israel. Just like Australia. And the demands of a fringe religious extremist group can not be entertained in a free secular society. That is why they are not.

      I say again that women and girls in Israel are the only women and girls in the Middle East who enjoy full civil rights under the law. They can wear what they like.

      http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/girl-8-becomes-poster-child-for-anti-haredi-backlash-1.403577

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    20. Phil Dolan

      Viticulturist

      In reply to Russell Walton

      And Australia went to war in Iraq against the wishes of the majority of Australians.

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    21. Phil Dolan

      Viticulturist

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Well, I'll let you into a secret. If Hamas would acknowledge Israel's right to exist, and if all the critics of Israel would acknowledge that there cannot be peace until that happens, there would be peace.

      But, all the critics are blind to that. Instead of ranting, tell me if Israel should pull back to 1967 borders without a guarantee of peace. Would you?

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    22. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Russell Walton

      The underlying problem is antizionism. A clearly racist ideology that holds that Jews are not entitled to form a state in their own homeland even as they are not entitled to live as free and equal citizens, or live at all, in any Muslim country in the Middle East.

      Antizionism is the new antisemitism. It really is that simple.

      http://geofffff.blogspot.com.au/

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    23. In reply to Phil Dolan

      Comment removed by moderator.

    24. Phil Dolan

      Viticulturist

      In reply to Michael Shand

      You're obviously not following as that other guy was me.

      Now, you are being asked because you are a critic, therefore you have knowledge of the subject.

      It's a very simple question, would you give land and expose your family to someone who does not recognize your right to exist?

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    25. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Russell Walton

      Zionism is the most successful national liberation movement of the last century and a light on the hill for all who struggle against oppression and violent murderous bigotry.

      Israel is not about to dissolve like a pillar of salt in a storm as if it was the old apartheid regime in South Africa. Israel is not the old apartheid regime in South Africa. Calling Israel an apartheid state is a racist lie.

      Israel is here to stay. Any decent person would celebrate that. Get used to it. There will be a "Palestine" only when the "Palestinians" accept "Palestine". They have made it very obvious that they do not want "Palestine" . They want something very different indeed.

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    26. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Russell Walton

      The "settlements" occupy less than 5% of the disputed territories and there has been no new "settlements" for many years.The "settlements" are not "expanding". Building freezes have been tried in the past to lure the "Palestinians" into negotiations for a two state solution with land swaps but have not worked.

      The "Palestinians" demand the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Judea and Samaria and the reduction of Israel to a rump state without sovereignty over its borders.

      Even in Jerusalem they demand that there be a line across which Jews are not permitted to live. Not Arab Muslins of course. Even those who have the temporary misfortune to be Israeli citizens may live where they like. Only Jews must be confined to their own part of town.. .

      Fat chance. Jews have seen laws like that before.

      . http://geofffff.blogspot.com.au/

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    27. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Wilson Lockheed

      Who are "they" of whom you speak? Come on out with it. Don't be cowardly about this.

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    28. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Certainly we have heard no criticism from you. Only demands that the Israelis give into Hamas and Hezbollah.

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    29. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Michael Shand

      You must be confusing Israel with Pakistan. And any other of a dozen Muslim countries where girls who try to get an education face a serious physical threat.

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    30. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Nathan Grandel

      There was only one incident and it did not involve stoning. We only know about it because Israel is a free society with a free press.

      No doubt that is what gets so many people irate. The very thought of free Jews tears at something raw and bloody deep in the Western mind. That is why Israel came to be in the first place.

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    31. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      "One example please of anyone anywhere who has seriously suggested that any criticism of Israel is antisemitic. Seriously just one" - may I refer you to your earlier comments

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    32. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Phil Dolan

      "You're obviously not following as that other guy was me" - well then I've already adressed your question - I will refer you to my earlier comments

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    33. Phil Dolan

      Viticulturist

      In reply to Michael Shand

      It's nice to know that one's critics are trolls with no idea of what life is really about.

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    34. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Phil Dolan

      I havent criticised anyone, all I said was that Israeli's are non Angels - I stand by my comment

      are you suggesting that Israeli's are Angels? thats a pretty wierd claim

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    35. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Michael Shand

      If you can not distinguish between the criticism of government policy and Jew hatred then the problem is yours.

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    36. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Michael Shand

      You seem to be big on blaming the Jews for the absence of peace. Why? Because they exist and many people believe they should not?

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    37. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to John Phillip

      John you seem to be preying on ignorance here, when a basic google search can give the information you claim doesnt exist - type "Boycotts Hamas" into google

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    38. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      "If you can not distinguish between the criticism of government policy and Jew hatred then the problem is yours." - "One example please of anyone anywhere who has seriously suggested that any criticism of Israel is antisemitic. Seriously just one"

      Its awesome hypocrisy

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    39. In reply to Che Gorilla

      Comment removed by moderator.

    40. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Michael Shand

      No (again), Michael. I am pointing out the hypocracy of your current declaration of support for the academic boycott of Israel (along with its tacit support of the morons protesting against a chocolate shop no less) and your apparent lack of concern for the myriad injustices currently in existence across the globe.

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    41. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      ".....If you can not distinguish between the criticism of government policy and Jew hatred then the problem is yours...."

      Then it would appear that you have a problem Geoff.

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    42. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Michael, you've descended into abuse on this page yet again, calling a number of people names. Try to keep it together.

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    43. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      I can live with my problem, Can you?

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    44. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to John Phillip

      And what?

      The Jews are not angels?

      Tell me about it.

      You are?

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    45. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      That reply was directed at the wrong commenter.

      Sorry.

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    46. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to John Phillip

      That reply was directed at the wrong commenter. Sorry.

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    47. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Michael Shand

      But about half the population of Jews in the world are Israelis.

      Why do you have a problem with this truth?

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    48. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to John Phillip

      "So, Michael, you dont support the boycott." - thats a statement john not a question and after all the dishonesty so far...I'm not inclined to believe you are after a discussion so much as you are looking for an excuse to rage

      Just save us both the time and assume I hold the position which provides you with the biggest excuse to rage and then go banana's, I'm off for the day

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    49. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Cowardly? Where do you come up with this rubbish. "They" would be your handlers, or role models or examples that you follow, other people like you who infest a site with the rabid delusional rants that have been a feature of your contribution to this thread, you do know what a shill is don't you? You ought to, you are one!

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    50. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      5% because the rest has been dismantled piece by piece over the years to bring about the situation now where there are no contiguous sections of Palestinian land. Look at maps from 1946 onwards and watch the break up and systematic isolating of pockets of land by settlers.

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    51. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Jews exist where are you getting the idea people want to eliminate Jews? Israel is the problem the state created by colonial powers and handed to the Jews by those not in any position to do so, the self determination of Palestinians was totally and comprehensively ignored by Britain and the western powers after WW2, the plan for Israel was already in place, the holocaust gave it extra weight, like Netanyahu said after 9/11, "this is good for Israel", applied after the holocaust as well, it was good for Israel (to be created). So there is no blaming Jews for the absence of peace, it is the very state of Israel and how it was bought into being that is the issue, you would do well to focus on that and less on the histrionics you have so far displayed.

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  4. John Phillip
    John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Grumpy Old Man

    Brian, in hanging your article off the hook that is Stephen Hawking's boycott, you could have improved its veracity by including direct quotes from his office's release regarding the matter.

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    1. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Jonathan Adamson

      What would you call the expulsion of all Jews from Muslim lands where they had lived for over a thousand years before there were Muslims?

      Brain surgery?

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    2. Jonathan Adamson

      Brain Surgeon

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      You can not cite one crime to justify another crime. If you followed Moses you would understand that law is absolute not racially relative.

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    3. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Jonathan Adamson

      I do not follow any religion. And one crime does not justify another.

      Israel's right to self defence is not a crime. If the "Palestinians" want peace they should stop trying to murder Jews. They should accept Israel, accept "Palestine" that they have been offered numerous times and raise their children in peace security and love.

      They do not. At least their leadership does not. They want to keep on trying to murder Jews. Not just in Israel. And people like you are encouraging them.

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    4. Jonathan Adamson

      Brain Surgeon

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Your arguement that one race against the other is self defence and the converse is murder is perverse. Only by getting rid of the apartheid mindset can you actually come to terms with actually dealing with the crimes on a fair and reasonable basis. The world is full of interest groups banding together trying to get an advantage over other interest groups. Sometimes someone has to stand up and say - this is wrong. When someone like Steven Hawking takes a stand it is a perfect opportunity to consider which produces the better outcome - tolerance or discrimination. Clearly history has painted Rosa Parks as a hero and we need more heros.

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    5. Venise Alstergren
      Venise Alstergren is a Friend of The Conversation.

      photographer, blogger.

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Oh how the sheep rush in to scream racism and anti-semitism, baa, baa, baa........

      Both the Arabs AND the Israelis are Semitic. However, thanks to a long running campaign by the Jews, they have appropriated the 's' word to mean anti-Jewishness. As for racism? This word too is being appropriated by the Israelis. Why is it that no one in this country appears to mind anti-Arab comment but screams rape at an anti-Israeli comment?

      As for Stephen Hawking: he is a genius beyond compare- as long as he sticks to science- but a quantum idiot if he dares to make a political point???? WTF is the matter with the commentariat: stupid???

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    6. Edwin Flynn

      I am a early retired executive at Worked in Local Government, Education and Financial Services Industries

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      Gavin,

      The AAUP Statement on Academic Boycotts to me looks exactly like the stork wanting to stick its head in the sand so that it does not see what is going on. The time for good men like Hawking to make a statement such as he has is now. He has succeeded in bringing the world's focus on what is going on in Israel. The AAUP of course would rather play the role of the three monkies. Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing. It takes real courage to step out of the line.

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    7. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Venise Alstergren

      Venise: the majority Jews are not Semitic. To be a Semitic one has to be a native speaker of one of the (approximately 10) Semitic languages, of which Yiddish is not one.

      Modern Hebrew may be, but there is serious questions relating to the classification and scholars ares slugging it out. What is certain is that it one of the very minor Semitic languages, if it is in fact Semitic.

      So those Jews whose mother tongue is Modern Hebrew MAY be semitic.

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    8. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Offered numerous times, how condescending can you get, offer back to the people you displaced a piecemeal and disjointed collection of packages of land and expect them to then just trundle along with restricted ability to move between these disjointed enclaves, have little or no access to export or internal markets in the region, have to get permission to move between enclaves that have been created because to do so they would need to cross Israeli settlements. Have walls and barriers put up, have…

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    9. Venise Alstergren
      Venise Alstergren is a Friend of The Conversation.

      photographer, blogger.

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      PETER: If the majority of Jews are not Semitic why is it that the first thing they do, when someone criticises Israel, is call that person/s anti-Semitic?

      Since when does language define race?

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    10. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Venise Alstergren

      Venise: when one cannot answer a question refer them to Wikipedia! However the entries are very much pro Jew —- use of the word without giving any rational thought to the matter.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism

      Roughly mid 19th century the word antisemite, or anti-Semite was coined to describe anti Jewish expression. Note that this was in Germany, at a time when the Middle East, when it was mentioned at all, was referred to as ‘The Orient’.

      Ironically the Jews that the term was…

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    11. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Venise Alstergren

      Try using a dictionary. Pretty much any dictionary will do.

      Since when does language define racism out of existence?

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    12. Venise Alstergren
      Venise Alstergren is a Friend of The Conversation.

      photographer, blogger.

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      PETER HINDRUP: Thank you for your thoughtful reply. But, you try to answer the anti-semitic question by bringing up the fact that there are Black Jews and Chinese Jews. By doing so you ignore the fact that Judaism is a religion and anyone can believe in it. I wonder how many Israelis believe in religions other than Judaism? Just an idle question, not trying to prove anything.

      Another question on the language/race question. 1) There are many, many Muslim nations, few of whom speak or write Arabic, Indonesia being one example. Yet one of the most radically conservative Muslim nations, Iran, is Farsi speaking. To which group of languages does Farsi belong?

      Anyhow, I must dash, thank you for a civil reply to my comment.

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    13. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Venise Alstergren

      Farsi? I had no idea! Googled ‘what lanuage group is Farsi’

      The BBC entry is quick and interesting.
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/other/persian/guide/facts.shtml

      ‘By doing so you ignore the fact that Judaism is a religion and anyone can believe in it.’

      This is not as cut and dried as it may appear. The Jews tend to claim that they are not, and never were a proselytising religion. A claim disputed by some/many historians who point to the Khazars who in 740 A.D. were officially…

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    14. Venise Alstergren
      Venise Alstergren is a Friend of The Conversation.

      photographer, blogger.

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Actually I knew Farsi was an Indo-Persian language. However, I still think that language is no barometer of race. Although, in such a global world, race is no barometer of language.

      'Lapsed Catholic', for someone who has never been near a church. Typical! Think of the advances the world could have made if religion had been banned. Look at America, the original Americans escaped religious tyranny in England, only to make America one of the least educated people on this planet- thanks to their proliferation of tyrannous and stupid religionists.

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    15. Edwin Flynn

      I am a early retired executive at Worked in Local Government, Education and Financial Services Industries

      In reply to Venise Alstergren

      There are those who think that religion was invented to keep a check of human kind's behaviour. Do not trespass into sin, as God is everywhere and, sees and hears and knows everything that you do. My idea is that perhaps there is a bit of truth in this and as usual there is the other side of the coin. That is if one believes that God is on his/side then he need to fears no one and nothing, as heaven awaits him.

      Religion can become a license to kill to, so to speak. Righteousness is on our…

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    16. Venise Alstergren
      Venise Alstergren is a Friend of The Conversation.

      photographer, blogger.

      In reply to Edwin Flynn

      EDWARD FLYNN: Bollocks. Man invented religion in order to confuse his opponents, to allay his own fears of death, disease and ill-fortune, and to keep women in a state of subjection. Thousands of years later little has changed. We can lie, steal and torture animals, and get away with it, if we do it in the name of religion.

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  5. Che Gorilla

    Human Rights Activist

    To be a supporter of the right of Israel and Israelis to exist and to take a stand against the racist campaigns that single out a tiny state of a tiny national minority that has been in existence longer than most of us have been alive is what takes true courage in this post-Enlightenment age.

    To denounce political Islamism for the vile, hateful and dangerous ideology that it is takes courage; especially apparently in our universities. Where are the academics who boycott Iran? Where are the…

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    1. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      "...to bring down this small liberal democracy is nothing more than a call to arms. It leaves no place to go except war."
      Nice move, make the goal of Israel which is war and the toppling of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine then Iran the fault of the victims of Israeli aggression, luckily the likes of Russia and China and even Iran see through this ploy and will make any Israeli aggression outside of self defence a very costly option. Waging pre-emptive war is unlawful, something that never seems to bother Israel or the US/UK puppets.

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    2. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      I do denounce political Islam, same as I denounce political Judaism, Zionism. That seems to be a difficult concept for you to grasp. To do one and not the other which is what you are doing by your shrill support of Zionism is disingenuous, you want to have your cake and eat. Cowboy up "Che" and admit your opinion is hypocrisy in the extreme and the standards you hold others to doesn't apply to you.

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  6. Che Gorilla

    Human Rights Activist

    27 Israelis were killed in the First Intifada most of them murdered. Nearly a thousand "Palestinians" were "executed" by other "Palestinians" for "collaboration". You can only imagine what would have happened to a "Palestinian" academic, not at an Israeli university, who called for peace and recognition of the Jewish state.

    On the other hand "Palestinian" leaders of the BDS campaign were educated at Israeli universities. Omar Barghouti himself is a product of Tel Aviv University.

    It is academically lazy to the point of fatuousness to say that the First Intifada was a "non-violent" campaign. Maybe fewer Jewish kids had their throats cut or were murdered in restaurants and nightclubs for the crime of being Jewish than in the Second Intifada. But it was hardly non-violent .

    http://geofffff.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/just-another-dumb-academic.html

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    1. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Stewart Riddle

      Well said.

      I can fully understand academics who do not wish to place their head above the parapets - looking at the hatred such action draws. However, I applaud a rational critique of any situation.

      For the record I have a Jewish great grandmother on the maternal side of my family tree. I am completely in disagreement with the behaviour of the extremists on both sides of the Gaza strip.

      As for claims regarding the stoning of women in order to garner support for whatever ideology is being touted - shame on the lot of you.

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  7. Felix MacNeill

    Environmental Manager

    What seems to be getting missed here in the predictable feuding is the fundamental point of the whole article: that, whatever you may think of a particular action, such as Hawking's engagement with this boycott, what always needs to be remembered is that the opposite of 'activism' isn't 'realty' - it's just a different form of activism...often as not dysactivism.

    Silence is consent. This remains true.

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    1. Russell Walton
      Russell Walton is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Point taken.

      When the legitimacy of any boycott is challenged by ad hominem attacks it's rather easy to wander OT.

      Boycotts are an individual's particular choice and the argument that there are far nastier regimes than Israel is not really valid.

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  8. Jerome Gelb

    logged in via Facebook

    The real issue, lost on most Middle-East watchers, is the steady radicalisation of Muslims, including Palestinians. When Muslims like the son of one of Hamas' founders, Mosab Hassan Yousef, turns on his father, converts to Christianity, immediately attracts a Fatwah but still travels the world warning that the Palestinians & all adherents to Quranic scripture, do not want peace at all. Listen to Psychiatrist Wafa Sultan, a Muslim recently converted to Christian, who has been advising the U.S. Office…

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    1. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Jerome Gelb

      The Jewish religion calls for exactly the same thing, they are mirror images of each others doctrines so what do you suggest the world do about this? In broad terms, keeping in mind the 2 ideologies are so close as to be twins so the pointing out by Jews of the violence against infidels can be shown to be the same as the Jews attitude to the goyim. There is no difference so the pot calling the kettle black comes to mind when the likes of Che pop up and rant on.

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    2. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Jerome Gelb

      ‘Listen to Psychiatrist Wafa Sultan, a Muslim recently converted to Christian, who has been advising the U.S. Office of Homeland Security that he Palestinian leadership want nothing less than the extermination of the Jews. Abbas says so in his own Arabic speeches.’

      In over ten years of reading translations of speeches, often comparative translations, or reading innumerable reports, articles and the like, in reading of books on the Middle East, including almost 50 in my library by Jewish writers…

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  9. Tim J Hawes

    Mr.

    I just find it interesting that Hawking supports boycotting Israel in favour of Palestine where 89% of people believe Sharia law should be enacted: http://www.pewforum.org/Muslim/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-exec.aspx

    I suppose its moral to silently acquiesce to the creation of a theocratic state where stoning people to death is normal. Hell, we seem to like the Saudi's so what's the difference? Still, I'll take apartheid over summary bronze age justice thanks.

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  10. David Maslow

    Independent Researcher

    Miko Peled, author of the recently published book Son of a General claims to have documentary evidence dating from 1947 that the intention of the founders of Israel was always to take all of greater Palestine. The actions of the Israeli Government only make logical sense in this context. Peled asserts that the "two state solution" is a fraud and can not possibly succeed in light of the true intent of Israel.

    Peled is receiving great support from Jewish audiences in the U.S. as we speak. To me, it is the truth at last. He has researched the truth behind such events as the six day war, in which his father saw action as a general in the Israeli army. His father subsequently became sympathetic to the plight od the Palestinians and began an investigation, which his son has now completed. If you want some answers, check it out.

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    1. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to David Maslow

      I attend the Miko Peled’s lecture/presentation n Sydney, Australia, and spoke to him at length afterward.
      Here was a man struggling to accept the evidence that he could not yet fully comprehend, who had yet to understand the full enormity of the deception with which he had been brought up.

      The lecture was far better than is the book, and for those who do not know, his brother is a professor of history in Israel who Miko turned to when he was faced with information that he could not accept, but could not ignore. It was his brother who told him that there were books he had to read, that modern scholarship had proven that things were not as they had believed.

      The book is a quick, relatively light, but worthwhile read.

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  11. Dennis Alexander

    logged in via LinkedIn

    I recall my correspondence with a Jewish Israeli academic in 2002 when this boycott was just getting underway. Rachel Giora, whose book "On Our Mind : Salience, Context, and Figurative Language" has an acknowledgment of the Palestinian people's plight in the preface, was adamant that the boycott was initiated by Israeli academics who sought support from Western academics as a means of non-violent protest by academic isolation. Her view at the time was that this boycott was against the policies…

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  12. Peter Hindrup

    consultant

    The question is: ‘What took him so long?’ The horrors have been ongoing for the past 60 odd years.

    The issue involves Israel and immediately the site is flooded with the dead horse responses of the paid up pro Israel brigade.

    Two issues: Couldn’t TC ban the use of ‘antisemitism’ , or alternatively have some professor of linguistics explain why a an obsolete word, out of its time and context is permitted?

    Perhaps my knowledge of English fails me, but I know of no other word in the language…

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  13. Edwin Flynn

    I am a early retired executive at Worked in Local Government, Education and Financial Services Industries

    The Israelites (Jews) where expelled from Israel by the Romans about 135 AD. Although this expulsion was very effective in displacing the nation of Israel it had never been truly accepted by the Jews and they called this period the Diaspora. It has always been a fascination of mine that a person who is of the Jewish faith is referred to as being Jewish. Being a Jew means being a member of the Jewish religion, whilst being an Israelite means belonging to the country of Israel. Despite their absence…

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    1. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Edwin Flynn

      Edwin: couldn't agree more.
      'Being a Jew means being a member of the Jewish religion, whilst being an Israelite means belonging to the country of Israel. Despite their absence from Israel for 2000 years people of the Jewish faith continued to refer to themselves as belonging to the nation of Israel, even though for hundreds of generations they were born in other countries'

      Therein lies the problem.. No matter what happened, or did not happen, 2000 years ago,it has absolutely no relevance today.

      Imagine if such nonsense was to be accepted, imagine attempting to unravel the intermixed people of today!

      What people refuse to acknowledge is that taking and occupying
      land by force was declared a war crime post the second world war, ad prior to the (ongoing) expulsion of the Palestinians.

      It was a war crime, it is a war crime. the Ashkenazim Jews had, and have no legitimate claim to Palestine. Ignore that fact and you are in denial of International Law.

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    2. Edwin Flynn

      I am a early retired executive at Worked in Local Government, Education and Financial Services Industries

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Peter, you bring up the matter of the Ashkenazi Jews. Whether indeed the present occupiers of Israel are indeed descendants from Abraham is something that probably requires a lot of genetic and academic research. You must not lose sight of the fact that in the Hebrew religion the religion and the race of Israel are passed on the mother. Whether the survivors of the Nazi holocaust are the descendants of the Original Israelites or the descendants from the Ashkenazi nation is really not material…

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    3. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Edwin Flynn

      Peter, unfortunately, unless Hamas and Hezbollah cease their never ending murder of Israeli citizens and are prepared to acknowledge the existence of the Israeli state, the injustices necessary to ensure the survival of Israel will continue. Your argument with regards to the supposition by Israelis that they are the 'chosen' people needs some referencing - it's a pretty outrageous claim to make. You have not suggested a course of action yet claim you wish the state of Israel no harm - how do you suggest matters proceed?

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    4. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to John Phillip

      John: I cannot recall ever saying anything about the welfare of the state of Israel, frankly I do not give a damn provided that they are put back in their box.

      Israel in its present form can and will last only as long as the US props it up, despite all the bragging of how successful the state is. The US will only fund Israel for as long as it is politically viable to do so, and as ever more problems beset the Country, cutting Israeli funding must be very high the list of what spending is dispensable…

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    5. Edwin Flynn

      I am a early retired executive at Worked in Local Government, Education and Financial Services Industries

      In reply to John Phillip

      John, the reference to the Jews being the chosen people of God is found in both the old and new Testaments. This doctrine is thought in both the Jewish and Christian faiths. Of course in Christian teachings the emphasis is reduced somewhat because of the writings in the New Testament. ie Jesus died on the cross to save all of mankind.

      In the old Testament reference is also made to this choice in Deuteronomy 14:2; shown below. Other Torah books such as Exodus and Geneses also refer to God's…

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    6. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Edwin Flynn

      So why, Edwin, arent you up in arms about the atrocities being perpetrated across the globe by the followers of Islam?

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    7. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Peter, I apologise - I was referring that comment to Edwin. Feel free not to give a damn about Israelis. You anti-Israeli/US propaganda says it all about your position on the matter. Your idea of a secular Palestinian state will never occur - the wahabbists have too much to gain internationally by continuing to exacerbate the problem. - you yourself are a case in point. Your 'belief (or is it hope)in the eventual fall of Israel is exactly the long term outcome that these fanatics are after. I am sure they appreciate your help.

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    8. Edwin Flynn

      I am a early retired executive at Worked in Local Government, Education and Financial Services Industries

      In reply to John Phillip

      To John Phillip.

      Well that is a rather big assumption that you are making John, as you really do not know what I think about the whole dirty buisness of terrorist atrocities. Where do you want to start? Would you first like to discuss the root causes of terrorism? Is it just religious difference? Just what is religion anyway? What do you think would drive a man or woman to wrap gelignite around their bodies and walk onto a bus in Jerusalem? Is it religion, or is it perhaps their utter helplessness…

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    9. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Edwin Flynn

      Edwin, my only real issue with this discussion is the demonisation of Israel WITHOUT the same process being applied to other nations/entities that are perpetrating similar or worse human rights abuses. It seems that there is much applause cast in the direction of those who criticise Israel yet no comment is made on the fact that those same commentators remain mute on the human rights abuses by the surrounding arab states. i dont see how one can criticise one without the other as particularly in this case, they are inextricably linked.

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    10. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to John Phillip

      John: perhaps you can explain how portraying Israel as it is, is 'demonising' it?

      That there are problems in other nations in the Middle East is obvious, however none are colonising another's country, none are in breach of as many UN resolutions, none are nuclear armed and not in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Nor do they claim to have ‘the most moral military on earth’,

      Nor are they claiming to be ‘democratic’, put upon by their neighbours while slathering, on an ongoing basis the virtually unarmed population that they have dispossessed.

      They do not claim to be a wonderfully successful economic powerhouse, while, until last year, being the recipients of the biggest proportion of US aid. It was running at $US1200 per head of population.

      Finally the eternal cry of victim hood singles out the Israelis.

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  14. Michel Syna Rahme

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    It is surprising that not more academics are using non violent forms of protest to reinforce evidence based messages. The Apartheid system in Palestine is one worthy cause, however, many more academics and scientists need to be joining and strengthening academic non violent activism surrounding climate change, rising CO2 levels, and the lack of political and commercial commitment to required and inevitable policies.

    In regards to Prof Hawking, the academic boycott against Israel is not outrageous…

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  15. Dianna Arthur
    Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Environmentalist

    No one has pondered whether Mr Hawking would boycott Palestine, should he ever be invited.

    As author, Brian Martin, stated above:

    "It can be argued that academics are being political if they visit Israel and being political if they refuse to visit."

    Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.

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    1. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      We know he does not boycott Iran. Even though the regime is the most egregious human rights abuser in the world.

      Don't mention the women, Jews, Christians, Kurds, Sufi Muslims, Bahai'i,,Gays ...

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  16. Che Gorilla

    Human Rights Activist

    The "Palestinians" demand the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Judea and Samaria and the reduction of Israel to a rump state without sovereignty over its borders.

    And those are the "moderates".

    Fat chance.

    To support Palestinianism is to demand war.

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    1. In reply to Che Gorilla

      Comment removed by moderator.

    2. In reply to Che Gorilla

      Comment removed by moderator.

    3. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Rubbish - the moderate Palestinians are quite willing to negotiate a just and peaceful settlement.
      They were in fact quite close to doing so when Yitzak Rabin was PM. Until some ultra-orthodox religious Israeli who thought he had a God-given right to someone elses land murdered him.

      Why the quotes around 'Palestinian'? Don't you think the people who have lived there for nearly 2000 years don't have the right to call themselves that?

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    4. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      I will recognise "Palestine" when the "Palestinians" recognise "Palestine". They do not. They never will. They don't want a state of "Palestine". Why don't you listen to them? "Palestine" is not a state. It is an antistate. The first in all of history.

      Before 1948 only Palestinian Jews were called Palestinians.

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    5. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Give it up! You are merely tiresome!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandatory_Palestine_passport

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/ea/British_Mandate_Palestinian_passport.jpg/190px-British_Mandate_Palestinian_passport.jpg

      Mandatory Palestine passport
      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
      Mandatory Palestine passport

      The front cover of a Mandatory Palestine passport.
      Issued by British Mandate for Palestine
      Type of document Passport
      Purpose Identification
      The…

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    6. Edwin Flynn

      I am a early retired executive at Worked in Local Government, Education and Financial Services Industries

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      There two things that Gorilla would like to achieve.

      Fristly he wants to increase the number of visitors to his web site of disinformation. That way when he looks up his Google Analytics page he can feel some sense of importance as a publisher.

      Secondly he would like to annoy the hell out of people that want to discuss issues such as raised in this forum by continually attacking and posting his radical views on discusstion forums. The less people discuss the issue of Palestine and Israel, the more opportunities for Israel to keep playing the victim role in the world. Those days are gone. Everyone with half a brain can see the crimes against humanity being committed by the same victims of the greatest crime against humanity themselves.

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    7. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Edwin Flynn

      I've certainly achieved the second objective.

      And you are right. Nothing pleases more than the sight of anti-Israel fanatics reduced to blithering spitting apoplexy.

      "... Israel to keep playing the victim role in the world. Those days are gone. Everyone with half a brain can see the crimes against humanity being committed by the same victims of the greatest crime against humanity themselves."

      Sheer bloody minded racist delusions.

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    8. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Without disrespect you really ought to do some basic fact checking before entering into discussions like this.It is clear you have no idea at all about the subject.

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    9. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Wilson Lockheed

      You got it pal.

      Those who are interested in seeing what naked antisemitism in its rawest form looks like need go no further than that link .

      Vile stuff. You really have to wonder about the people who have the time and compulsion to churn this muck out. And those who read it and cite it as authoritative.

      This is why Zionism exists. This is why Zionism is here to stay. This is why antizionism is just a grubby fig leaf for blathering, quite insane antisemitism.

      Expect to be called out on this.

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    10. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Expect to be called out? What on earth are you on about, like you also have to I will argue my position using the tried and true method of using facts and the sources for those facts, you on the other hand seem steeped in the previously mention Zionist Hysteria Language 101 school of debate. Go away, and come back when you have grown up, are prepared to match your opinions with data and you are ready to accept differences of opinion as just that not some attack on you or the people the topic of the discussion, see you in a few years.

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  17. Pat Moore

    gardener

    What a wealth of truth and information this thread has unearthed mainly by dialectical process, presumably inadvertently provoked by the irate Mr Gorilla. The links and comments especially by Wilson Lockheed and Peter Hindrup will hopefully help Mr Gorilla find his way out of the mists of misinformation which are provoking his intemperate claims and accusations.

    This process alone in this one instance on this one site proves beyond doubt the enlightening effect granted to the public discourse…

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    1. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Pat Moore

      Pat: this has been a good thread. I have picked up several issues of which I was not aware, or for which I never had reference.

      It is also heartening to see discussion. Until very recently this thread would have been swamped with such as Gorilla, and his posts would have been among the moderate. Gradually the Israeli/Zionist narrative is being deconstructed in the mind of the general public, the money, effort, intimidation used to impose the narrative as unchangeable is being deconstructed.

      I suspect, or perhaps simply hope, that like the Berlin Wall the eternal victim narrative will simply crumple and the long overdue reckoning will begin.

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    2. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      That's Mr Gorilla to you, fella.

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    3. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Mister?

      From where I hail from 'Mr' is either a term of immense respect ---extremely rare; alternatively it is a term, used with emphasis, of utter contempt.

      I had thought to spare you that.

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    4. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      I guess that is the reason you are no longer where you hail from.

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  18. Brian Martin

    Professor of Social Sciences at University of Wollongong

    The point of my article was to put the academic boycott of Israel into the context of nonviolent action and to point out that academic boycotts are but one of many ways in which academics engage with social issues. I appreciate those who have responded to the substance of the article.

    James Jenkin wanted me to tell about the criticisms of Hawking. I think the main criticism has been that Hawking shouldn't be supporting the boycott, with various rationales provided. See the first two links from…

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    1. Fern Wickson

      Researcher at GenØk - Centre for Biosafety

      In reply to Brian Martin

      As an academic working in hotly contested areas for an institute that is often critiqued for performing 'activist' research and capacity building, I really appreciate the way this piece highlights the political nature of all our work. I embrace my identity as an activist academic in the sense that I choose to engage in research that I passionately believe to be important, support taking action on the basis of my results, and seek to continuously critically reflect over how values shape knowledge generated by all actors. Thank you Brian for highlighting why embracing this role is not as misguided as most people would try and have me believe.

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  19. Che Gorilla

    Human Rights Activist

    "It was in August 1993, just 20 years ago, when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, strongly pressured by then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, embarked on what he described as a “gamble for peace” and consummated the Oslo Accords with the PLO, an act which bitterly divided the nation.

    "Passionate debates ensued, but in our desperate yearning for peace, until recently many of us deluded ourselves that we were engaged in an “irreversible” peace process. Some of us even mesmerized ourselves into believing…

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  20. Che Gorilla

    Human Rights Activist

    "But if Abbas were really a "partner for peace," how come he did not accept the generous offer he received from the Olmert government in 2008?

    "At that time, Olmert presented Abbas with a map that would have given the Palestinians control over most of the West Bank, and that also included the transfer of 327 square kilometers of territory from inside Israel to the Palestinians. In return, Israel would have annexed 6.3% of the West Bank to Israel.

    "Olmert's peace plan would have involved the…

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    1. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Arrogant assumption again that the road block is Palestinian, you dare to condescend to them by "offering" them their own land back? Is it any wonder there has been no peace when Israel knowingly and with malice aforethought offer bits and bobs of land back to the original owners, then cry foul because they do not lower themselves and accept. In the meantime out of sight of the talk fests around the world, Israeli bulldozers and Israeli trespassers push further into the areas where they wish to be…

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    2. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Edwin Flynn

      That's cool mate, my spelling falls short sometimes. Here is a news item that should rouse Che from his slumber this fine Saturday morning.

      http://rinf.com/alt-news/breaking-news/israelis-open-fire-9-hurt-in-west-bank-2/34266/

      I am particularly keen to hear his views regarding the 2002 commitment the Israelis regularly ignore as well as his thoughts on the numbers of illegal settlements quoted and the rule of law from Geneva they choose to also disregard.

      Over to you Che?

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    3. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annapolis_peace_conference

      "In October 2007, Prime Minister Olmert indicated that he would be willing to give parts of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians as part of a broader peace settlement at Annapolis,[14] drawing considerable criticism from right-wing Israeli and foreign Jewish organizations and Christian Zionists.[15][16][17]

      On November 27, 2007, Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas party, announced that his party would leave the government coalition, thereby ending the coalition's majority in the Knesset, if Ehud Olmert agreed to divide Jerusalem."

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    4. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Thanks Gary.

      Gorilla: it is no fun. spearing fish in a soup plate.

      Do your own research.

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    5. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      If these settlements are not illegal under international law why then does the UN and the UN Security Council regularly issue sanctions and rulings AGAINST the actions of Israel in the occupied territory? Because you say they are not illegal doesn't actually mean they are legal. Without exception the settlements are illegal and unlawful, they breach the Geneva Convention and they breach civil and human rights standards. I am just about done with you and your pathetic one eyed biased and totally hysterical views on the matters raised on this post. Surely you have another thread on another forum to earn some blood money?

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    1. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Wilson Lockheed

      ... and what position would that be in need of justification and defence Wilson?

      That Oslo was a fraud?

      That Abbas has been offered as much as could be possibly or reasonably demanded and more? And that he walked out with out so much as a backward glance?

      That Abbas can never accept a "Palestinian" state if it means leaving Israel in peace? That he would not live a week if he tried?

      That it isn't Abbas calling the shots anyway and that the "Palestinian" discourse is smothered by a medieval…

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    2. Wilson Lockheed

      Fraud Investigator

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Why are you even trying to divert from the question? More of the same tactics used all over the world to deflect attention from a point or argument. So see the other response to you, justify and then defend the articles content regarding taxing the marginalised Palestinians in Israel. 3, 2, 1, GO

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    3. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Wilson Lockheed

      Wilson: Gorilla is not worth the time. He is simply rehashing what has already been discredited with referenced rebuttal.

      Perhaps TC ought consider adding to its policy something along the lines of, unreferenced replies to issues raised that add nothing to the debate will not be published.

      References ought have to be from authoritative sources..

      I realise that this would add considerably to the work load of the moderators, so I suggest that readers be given the option of so marking contributions, bringing up a panel in which to indicate those replies that have already answered.

      A reading of Che Gorilla's thread would, I think justify this,.

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    4. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Wilson Lockheed

      I agree. The PA can collect its own taxes. This is a service provided by Israel out of the fraudulent Oslo Accords and therefore should cease. So should all international funding of UNRWA.

      As for the Church of Scotland; I'll leave debating God bothering supercessionist crackpots in skirts who apply blood dripping superstitious notions from the Dark Ages to modern geopolitical conflicts to those who could give a stuff. Certainly I don't. Theological antisemitism is as old as Calvin and Luther in Scotland. Older.

      Once you start linking antisemitic 9/11 truffer and Holocaust denial sites, as that one is, as authoritative then really I think this conversation has run its course. Take some care though. Those sites are legal in the US because of the First Amendment. However they are probably illegal here and certainly are in parts of Europe.

      This conversation is over.

      http://geofffff.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/oslo-fraud-of-century.html

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    5. Edwin Flynn

      I am a early retired executive at Worked in Local Government, Education and Financial Services Industries

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Gorilla, say "This conversation is over."

      So lets everyone do as you say!

      Who the hell do you think you are? It is not your prerogative to even think to reach such a rude and arrogant conclusion. To close the debate that you did not start. But that is what it has been all about isn't it. Bombard and flood an intelligent discussion on a very important humanitarian issue, with your bigoted and racial inspired drivel. Bore everyone out of their minds with your misinformation, and then declare…

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    6. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Edwin Flynn

      Edwin: sadly this is normal for the Israeli/Zionist bigots/extremists.
      These are the people who begin every discussion on solving the problem' with: 'Of course the Palestinians will have to make concessions'!

      On forums where any subject that is contested is quickly closed down, such people flood the site, and the thread is closed down.

      Obviously this precludes people interested in learning more about an issue being denied. Object achieved.

      Imagine your very existence being at the whim of such people..

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