Chomsky with Ayatollah (R370).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
American Jewish linguist and outspoken Israel critic Noam Chomsky was among a
group of 20 academics who lobbied British physicist Stephen Hawking to boycott
next month’s President’s Conference in Jerusalem, The Guardian reported on
Chomsky joined British academics in telling Hawking they were
“surprised and deeply disappointed” that he had accepted the invitation to speak
at the conference in Israel,” according to the newspaper.
Rosenhead, chairman of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine,
convinced Chomsky to endorse a letter to Hawking pushing him to change his mind
and boycott the June 18-20 conference.
discriminates against the Palestinians who make up 20 percent of its population
in ways that would be illegal in Britain,” its treatment of the people of Gaza
amounts to “collective punishment,” the construction of Jewish settlements
breaches the Geneva convention and “Israel places multiple roadblocks, physical,
financial and legal, in the way of higher education, both for its own
Palestinian citizens and those under occupation,” the Guardian quoted the letter
“Israel has a name for the promotion of its cultural and
scientific standing: ‘Brand Israel.’ This is a deliberate policy of camouflaging
its oppressive acts behind a cultured veneer,” the letter
Hawking informed the conference’s organizers on Wednesday that
he was withdrawing his participation in the event, in support of the academic
“I have received a number of emails from Palestinian
academics,” he said in a letter to the organizers. “They are unanimous that I
should respect the boycott. In view of this I must withdraw from the
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu slammed Hawking for
joining the boycott against Israel and cancelling plans to attend President
Shimon Peres’s conference, saying the celebrated physicist should “study the
Asked by The Jerusalem Post about Hawking’s boycott at a press
briefing, Netanyahu said
, “He should investigate the truth, he is a scientist.
He should study the facts and draw the necessary conclusions: Israel is an
island of reason, moderation and a desire for peace.”
organizers are expecting a record attendance of 5,000 participants, including
some of the world’s smartest people, leaders of the largest global technological
companies, internationally renowned academics, Nobel Prize laureates, celebrated
artists and past and present heads of state.
Former US president Bill
Clinton is to be awarded with the Presidential Medal of Distinction at the
Other statesmen who are set to join Peres in celebrating his
ninth decade include former president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev,
former British prime minister Tony Blair, who attended all four previous
Presidential Conferences, and Prince Albert of Monaco.
Jonny Paul and
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.