Did or did not physicist Stephen Hawking respect the boycott of Israel? According to a report in The Guardian, such was indeed his reason for bowing out of a planned visit. Soon after that piece appeared, we were inundated with news stories stating that the Guardian got it all wrong, and that Hawking cancelled his trip due to health reasons.
Quite under-reported was the later confirmation that Hawking really does support the boycott.
This story is told, in a very biased way (but with all relevant citations and details), on this right-wing site
Here is Hawking's actual statement
“I have received a number of emails from Palestinian academics. They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this, I must withdraw from the conference. Had I attended I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster.”
So now we have to ask why AP and other mainstream media outlets did so much to publicize the bogus "health reasons" story. Fake news doesn't make itself, you know.
The above-cited right-wing site, Legal Insurrection, now counts Hawking among the "bad guys." I see nothing wrong with either his statement or his actions. But I do have a problem with the bizarre views expressed by LI:
The boycott, which singles out only Israel, attracts open and de facto anti-Semites and those in the leftist-Islamist coalition who seek Israel’s destruction.
"The leftist-Islamist coalition"? What
leftist-Islamist coalition? How come I've never met a single left-wing "Islamist" during the past forty-or-so years I've been following politics? I've met left-wingers who dislike all
forms of religious belief; none of them wanted to buddy up with either jihadists or the Sieg Heil
For my part, I've consistently stated that I find all forms of fundamentalism -- Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu -- equally vile. I might even go so far as to categorize "evangelical atheism" as just another form of fundamentalist zealotry. All isms are prisons.
Is the term "Islamist" now defined so broadly as to include everyone who believes, as I do, that Israeli treatment of the Palestinians mirrors the horrors that American Indians suffered at the hands of whites?
It is pure fantasy to suggest that the left marches in (goose-)step with "open and de facto anti-Semites." On the other hand, there has long been much overlap between the American right wing and old-school anti-Jewish bigotry. For example, lots of people still read and cite the paranoid works of Nesta Webster or Eustace Mullens, and the fans of those two authors can hardly be called liberals. I could fill up a very
long post on that theme, if tasked to do so.
Then again, the exercise would probably be pointless. Now matter how well you argue, you can't prove that the sky is blue to someone who insists that the sky is some other color.