Stephen Hawking’s set to boycott a conference in June hosted by Israel’s President, Shimon Peres, along with a group who will also refuse an invitation. The academic boycott is in place to protest Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
Israel is currently occupying Palestinian territories, and the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine said that Hawking has “declined his invitation” to the conference after deciding to observe the boycott.
“This is his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there,” the committee said on its website.
Tim Holt, media director at the University of Cambridge, told the Associated Press that Hawking’s decision was strictly based on health reasons and not the academic boycott.
“For health reasons, his doctors said he should not be flying at the moment so he’s decided not to attend,” Holt said about the situation. “He is 71 years old. He’s fine, but he has to be sensible about what he can do.”
Stephen Hawking’s boycott has added to the controversy of the conference though the British physicist and author had no intentions of doing so. The 71-year-old currently suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The debilitating disease is known to progressively weaken the muscles and cause breathing problems along with other symptoms. Though Hawking’s health is a major concern, Israeli leaders believe he is making the wrong decision by pulling out of the conference in June.
“The academic boycott against Israel is in our view outrageous and improper, certainly for someone for whom the spirit of liberty lies at the basis of his human and academic mission,” said Israel Maimon, the conference chairman, in a statement concerning Stephen Hawking’s boycott.
The chairman went on to add that multiple world leaders would be attending the conference, including former United States President Bill Clinton. Nevertheless, Maimon’s criticism won’t have any affect on Stephen Hawking’s boycott as the award-winning genius won’t be attending in June.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]