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Stephen Hawking's message to Israeli elites: The occupation has a price

By choosing to avoid the Presidential Conference – an annual meeting of Israeli generals, politicians and business elites with their international fans, Prof. Hawking reminds that the occupation cannot be forgotten or avoided. A response to Haaretz’s Carlo Strenger.

The British Guardian on Wednesday reported that Prof. Stephen Hawking has cancelled his appearance at the fifth Presidential Conference due to take place this June, in protest of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. The report was later confirmed by Cambridge University. A spokeperson for the Jerusalem-based conference called Hawking’s decision “outrageous and improper.”

One of Haaretz’s leading lefty columnists, Carlo Strenger, wrote an open letter to Hawking echoing these feelings. After expressing pride in his own opposition to the occupation, Strenger accuses Hawking of hypocrisy and applying a double standard; he claims that Israel’s human rights violations are “negligible” compared to those of other countries in the world, and notes that the Israeli academia is for the most part liberal and therefore can’t be blamed for the occupation.

I would like to respond to some of the points he makes, since they represent a larger problem with the Israeli left.


While Hawking responded to the call for academic boycott, it should be noted that the Presidential Conference is not an academic event: it’s an annual celebration of the Israeli business, political and military elites, whose purpose is unclear at best, and which has little importance in Israeli life (it didn’t exist until five years ago). The pro-occupation Right has a heavy presence at the conference – or at least it felt that way last year, when I attended. I will get back to the notion of “the liberal academia” and the Presidential Conference later.

Personally, I think we should put  the “double standards” line of defense to rest, since it’s simply an excuse against any form of action. The genocide in Cambodia was taking place at the same time as the boycott effort against South Africa. According to Prof. Strenger’s logic, anti-Apartheid activists were guilty of double standards; they should have concentrated their efforts on many other, and “much worse” regimes.

The notion according to which the horrors in Syria or Darfur make ending the occupation a less worthy cause represents the worst kind of moral relativism, especially when it’s being voiced by members of the occupying society.

I’m also not sure what makes Israeli human rights violations “negligible” compared to those of other countries. I certainly do not think that killing hundreds of civilians in one month during Cast Lead was “negligible,” but the occupation goes way beyond the number of corpses it leaves behind – it has a lot to do with the pressure on the daily lives of all Palestinians, and with the fact that it’s gone on for so long, affecting people through their entire lives (I wrote on the need to see beyond death statistics here). Plus, there is something about the fact that it’s an Israeli who is determining that those human rights violations are “negligible,” which makes me uneasy – just as we don’t want to hear the Chinese using the same term when discussing Tibet.

I will not go into all of Strenger’s rationalizations for the occupation – his claims that the Palestinians answered Israel’s generous peace offers with the second Intifada; that as long as Hamas is in power there is nobody to talk to, that Israel is fighting for its survival against an existential threat, and so on. I don’t think that a fact-based historical analysis supports any of these ideas, but Strenger is entitled to his view. If you think the occupation is justified, or at least inevitable, you obviously see any action against it as illegitimate and uncalled for.

Yet the thing that made Prof. Strenger jump is not “any action” but rather something very specific – the academic boycott. Personally, I think that his text mostly portrays a self-perception of innocence. Israel, according to Strenger, doesn’t deserve to be boycotted and the “liberal academics” – like himself – specifically, don’t deserve it because they “oppose the occupation.”

At this point in time, I think it’s impossible to make such distinctions. The occupation – which will celebrate 46 years next month – is obviously an Israeli project, to which all elements of society contribute and from which almost all benefit. The high-tech industry’s connection to the military has been widely discussed, the profit Israeli companies make exploiting West Bank resources is documented and the captive market for Israeli goods in the West Bank and Gaza is known. Strenger’s own university cooperates with the army in various programs, and thus contributes its own share to the national project.

I would also say that at this point in time, paying lip service to the two state-solution while blaming the Palestinians for avoiding peace cannot be considered opposing to the occupation, unless you want to include Lieberman and Netanyahu in the peace camp. We should be asking ourselves questions about political action as opposed to discussing our views: where do we contribute to the occupation and what form of actions do we consider legitimate in the fight against it?

Prof. Stephen Hawking responded to a Palestinian call for solidarity. This is also something to remember – that the oppressed have opinions too, and that empowering them is a worthy cause. In Strenger’s world, the occupation is a topic of internal political discussion among the Jewish-Israeli public. Some people support it, some people – more – are against it; the Palestinians should simply wait for the tide to change since “it is very difficult for Israeli politicians to convince Israelis to take risks for peace.” And what happens if Israelis don’t chose to end the occupation? (Which is exactly what they are doing, over and over again.) I wonder what form of Palestinian opposition to the occupation Prof. Strenger considers legitimate. My guess: none (code phrase: “they should negotiate for peace”).
The issues of boycott and anti-normalization are perhaps the toughest for Israeli leftists right now. Like everyone who deals with Palestinians – if only occasionally – I have personally felt the effects of various campaigns against the occupation. I could also say that I have felt alienated by the language and tone of many pro-Palestinian activists. Often I feel that they reject my Israeli identity as a whole, sometimes even my existence. Many even refrain from using the name “Israel”, leaving very little room for joint action or simply for meaningful interaction.

But all this is beside the point right now. While I myself have never advocated a full boycott, I think that the least Israeli leftists can do is to not stand in the way of non-violent Palestinian efforts to end the occupation. It’s not only the moral thing to do, but also a smarter strategy because as long as Israelis don’t feel that the status quo is taking some toll on their lives, they will continue to avoid the unpleasant political choices which are necessary for terminating the occupation. Since the Israeli left is often unable to admit its own share in the occupation – and therefore acknowledge the legitimacy of Palestinian resistance – again and again it acts against its own stated goals.

2012 was the most peaceful year the West Bank has known in a long time (for Israelis, that is), and yet at its very end, Israelis chose a coalition which all but ignores the occupation. The problem is not just the politicians; Israelis are simply absorbed by other issues. I hope that Stephen Hawking’s absence will serve as a reminder for the generals, politicians and diplomats who will attend the Presidential Conference next month of the things happening just a few miles to their east – as “negligible” as they may seem to some.

Techwashing: Hasbara group strikes back after Hawking boycott
A Zionist defense of Hawking
No end in sight: Occupation marks 45th anniversary
Ending the occupation: No way around direct pressure on Israel

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    1. Danny

      “it’s an annual celebration of the Israeli business, political and military elites, whose purpose is unclear at best”

      What’s unclear about it? It’s a celebration of Peres, by Peres and for Peres. It didn’t exist until five years ago because that was when Peres became “president”.

      Reply to Comment
    2. “According to the Prof. Strenger’s logic, anti-Apartheid activists were guilty of double standards; they should have concentrated their efforts on many other, and ‘much worse’ regimes.”

      South African anti-apartheid activists specifically chose BDS as their strategy and asked their supporters abroad to adopt it. In 2005 Palestinian civil society did the same. There is no double standard. We have made a considered decision to do as requested by the people involved. In his statement Hawking has explicitly said that he consulted with Palestinian colleagues on whether to go to this event. This is what Strenger can’t seem to get his head round – BDS is not something that a group of internationals decided to do on a whim, but an effort undertaken in consultation with Palestinians.

      When the South African BDS effort was underway, some people argued against it using similar tactics to the ones we see here. But now few people remember the excuses that were used to try and discredit this central plank of anti-apartheid activism. They only remember that apartheid ended.

      “I could also say that I have felt alienated by the language and tone of many pro-Palestinian activists.”

      Me too, especially among internationals. Sometimes I get the feeling that many people abroad (both committed Zionists and pro-Palestinian activists) see this as like some kind of desperate and edgy sport, and they cheer on their ‘side’ with no regard for the fact that they are actually spectating on people’s lives and not a football match. But ultimately this is not about them, it’s about people who are getting their houses demolished and whose seven-year-old kids are liable to be grabbed by the military as they play in the street. It’s impossible for any genuine reconciliation and mutual understanding to exist while those things are still in place. That will only come as the injustices are ended. BDS is a way of bringing us to that point.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Palestinian/Arab ‘civil society’ has been calling for a boycott of Israel since before 1948 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_League_boycott_of_Israel).

        The only thing that has changed is that they have a network of international supporters that have taken up the banner. The boycott has been rebranded as something positive as in it now means to demand the ‘rights’ of the Palestinians while in all actuality pursuing the same goal of destroying Israel as it had since 1948.

        The comparisons to South Africa are really the only thing that the pro-BDS crowd has as legitimacy for these tactics. As, by their logic, if something was done against apartheid South Africa it must be just and legitimate in every situation.

        Reply to Comment
        • The 2005 call was initiated on a grassroots level by a slew of Palestinian educational and cultural organisations, many of them very small. The Arab League’s boycott was originally designed to halt Zionist land-buying and it was largely organised from outside, on the state level, with little opportunity for direct Palestinian leadership and participation – in fact, at one point Palestinians were complaining to the Arab Higher Committee because the boycott also adversely affected them. It all but fell into disuse. Interestingly, Arab nations began to abandon it about fifteen years before the fall of apartheid.

          The South African situation has made a big difference, because when apartheid ended, people saw that the strategy as applied by the anti-apartheid campaigners had been effective (despite taking thirty years to get off the ground). BDS as it is now has been informed and shaped by that history. It goes deeper than rebranding – there is experience and knowledge available now that we did not have before.

          As for ‘destroying Israel’, there are people who honestly do view an end to the occupation and an end to discriminatory policies that privilege Jews above Arabs as meaning the destruction of Israeli society. Any attempt to change the status quo is destroying Israel. The occupation is vital to security, Arabs have other states, if they were to be given full political rights they would be able to crush us with their majority so we need to keep them like this, why don’t they just clear off somewhere else, etc., etc. If the maintenance of your polity as it is necessitates systemic injustice to others as a matter of course, then there is something badly wrong with that polity, and it needs to alter. This isn’t destructive, pretty much the opposite.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            The 2005 boycott call is just another continuation of the boycott and anti-normalization activities of Arabs and Palestinians from since before 1948. That another group of Palestinians got together and put together a platform that some naive Western conflict tourists manage to stretch their imagination into pretending is not a call to destroy Israel is certainly an achievement and yet as you point out yourself the Palestinian demand for a boycott of Israel is hardly new.

            Yes, there are people that view a demand to create a state called something other than Israel in place of a state called Israel as a call to destroy Israel. You are certainly free to argue that destroying Israel is something that you find palatable but call things what they are and stop pretending that destroying Israel is “NON-DESTRUCTIVE”. That claim is laughable regardless of how well-hidden it is in otherwise polite conversation.

            Reply to Comment
          • Whatever your opinion on BDS, it’s very tough to argue that its growing acceptance is the product of naivety or lack of knowledge. ‘Naive Western conflict tourist’ must be a new one for Hawking’s resume.

            Secondly, you are reading sinister desires for destruction into my comments that aren’t there. Have one state, have two states, have a federation of states called Israel, Palestine, and Marmaduke – just stop trampling over Palestinians’ civil rights through a combination of military rule, blockade, and discriminatory policies. BDS is only committed to destroying Israel if you regard these things as Israel. Additionally, there are people within the BDS movement who support two states, people who support a binational/multi-ethnic state, and people who are flexible on outcome providing it’s just. Given this plurality of political views, it is hard to put BDS proponents in a box and claim that we are all rubbing our hands over a shared nefarious goal, especially when you can hear activists who favour a multi-ethnic/binational state discussing the centrality of all the land’s cultures and faiths to this vision.

            As I wrote in my first comment, it is true that not everyone’s motives are pure. This can be said for international activists in both camps. It bothers me as it bothers Noam. But this isn’t a reason to abandon BDS, because every single strategy for conflict resolution, from high-level political negotiations to BDS to the peace-and-coffee mornings held in Area B hotels, attract people who don’t always act in good faith. Without exception. We can’t afford to wait for everyone to embrace total love of neighbour before we take steps to support people who need some outside assistance now. It’s a question of doing what is practical to bring about a just living situation for them. However, BDS is only one facet of conflict resolution. Among other things, it is also important to foster respect for Israelis and a deeper understanding of Israeli culture whenever we do find it absent. This isn’t at odds with BDS and I would argue that it is important to do these things concurrently. I honestly don’t see any destructiveness in this approach, politely phrased or not.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            It is very easy to argue that whatever acceptance BDS is gaining is a result of good branding and marketing taking advantage of naivety and lack of knowledge. This is how most ideas and products are spread and not based on their underlying value. So, the Palestinians figured out how to rebrand their 70+ year old to boycott Israel/Zionists/Jews as a struggle for Palestinian ‘rights’ as opposed to a demand for the destruction of the Zionist entity and suddenly there is a bunch of Westerners that are running around trying to tell me that they don’t care whether Israel survives or not, and most likely it will not if they had their way, but they themselves are not for the destruction of Israel.

            I am not “reading sinister desires” and imagining people polluting the goals of an otherwise pure movement. I am reading the BDS website. BDS lists three very simple goals. With the first two I have no particular problem given the room for negotiation provided by the Arab League. The last one demands that Israel accept to be overrun by anyone claiming to be the descendant of Palestinian refugees which now number what? 8 million? Given the demographics of Israel and the hostility of the existing Arab population to the state the influx of such numbers of additional and vastly more hostile Arabs can only lead to either the destruction or the dissolution of the state of Israel. Both of these are going to be highly destructive events given the dynamics of the region, so let’s stop pretending we are talking about something “NON-DESTRUCTIVE”!

            And NO you are not going to get away with claiming that BDS is some kind of big tent where all are welcome because it is nonsense. I have already pointed out that one of the three basic objectives is one that inevitably leads to the destruction of the state of Israel. In other words this is taken for granted in any BDS conversation that accepts the principles of the organization. Whatever follows may be configured into any number of states but none of them realistically is Israel and so even here the argument that BDS or you are not for the destruction of Israel is empty.

            I didn’t build the box. BDS built the box. I don’t accept you trying to scramble out of it while still maintaining that BDS is some kind of pure being when it itself presupposes that the boycott continues until Israel is destroyed. If you support BDS that is what you are supporting.

            Reply to Comment
          • You claim that granting human rights to Palestinians will destroy Israel, but that is childish nonsense. Grant Palestinians the right to live peaceful lives without fear of being shot or tortured, and the violence will end. Continue to torture and kill people who have never even spoken an angry word inside of Israel, let alone attacked anyone, and the violence will continue. This is your choice, and yours alone.

            Reply to Comment
          • Vitaliy

            You are right up to a certain point. Unfortunately, there will be some people, such as Sheikh Nasralla (who’s not even Palestinian), that will to see Israel destroyed no matter what.

            Reply to Comment
          • You’re assuming that eight million people would want to move to Palestine if RoR were granted, but the number of Diaspora Palestinians in existence =/= estimated uptake for RoR. There are plenty of refugees and their descendants who have built good lives for themselves elsewhere and who are happily settled (as you pointed out to me in another thread). The entire Bassawi community living in Michigan is not going to rush back to al-Bassa in formation the moment they get the go-ahead. People might visit from time to time, but not go to live. The same applies even to displaced Palestinians and their descendants who live in far harder circumstances. In Dheisheh camp, for example, people support the RoR while simultaneously acknowledging that not everyone who was offered it would want to take it. The important thing is to have the dignity of choice.

            For those who do want to return, there are a variety of views on the best way to implement this. Some BDS supporters (those who advocate a 2SS) argue that Palestinian refugees should be able to settle in the West Bank and Gaza and receive monetary compensation from the Israeli government. Others argue that they should be able to return to the whole of pre-48 Palestine, but they are not clamouring for this to happen overnight – because this is a fraught situation, such a return would have to be facilitated in stages, to give people time to assimilate. I have sometimes thought about the viability of establishing small committees of refugees from neighbouring countries who would visit back and forth as part of the preparation, to make links between Diaspora refugee communities and Palestinian and Israeli society as it is now. This could also be a useful tool in reconciliation, not just between Israelis and Palestinians, but in the wider region. But we are not at this stage yet. Some internal stability is needed first.

            It’s reasonable to argue that practical implementation of RoR should be one of the final things to be addressed, because of these concerns, but it’s necessary to at least start thinking about RoR in a less crude and caricatured way than you are doing now. So YES, I will get out of the box, and you should try thinking outside of the box, and – enough box metaphor. But you get what I mean.

            Reply to Comment
          • Jezzamy

            Anything connected to the atrocious BDS movement is opposed to Israel, Israeli’s (20% of whom are Arabs), the Israeli Gvmt and all it’s cultural, academic and social institutions, basically the whole lot. And ultimately it doesn’t accept that the state of Israel even has a right to exist as it stipulates as one if it’s demands the right of return for Palestinian refugees. the right of return especially if including all descendants might not necessarily be a bad thing but it would definitely be totally impracticable. For a start most original houses no longer exist and secondly what do you suggest should happen to the people now living there? I don’t know why a predominantly Jewish state is such a terrible thing let’s face it it’s the only one in the world. There may be some discrepancies between the rights of jews and arabs but actually Israeli arabs enjoy far more freedom than most of the arab worlds populations. A far more possible idea would be for Israel to leave most of the west bank and the Palestinian refugees to move to there or to Gaza. Any that want to remain in the countries they now live in should be allowed to and given full rights and citizenship.

            Reply to Comment
    3. Richard Witty

      There is no middle is the problem, as many have noted, including professor Strenger, often.

      Even on this discussion of the significance of the Hawking decision, all you hear from are repugnant far right and repugnant far left.

      I think you are unnecessarily dismissive of Strenger’s points. You state that there is no historical substance to his points, which strikes me as odd, given that hezbollah remains highly armed, Syria is in civil war among parties that almost to a T hate Israel almost as much as they hate each other. The left urges civil war in Jordan, and are utterly confused by the Egypt.

      That’s 100% of borders in a state of confusion, if not threat, real threat.

      The significance of the second intifada is also not inconsequential. You are still young, but between 1990 and the present the Israeli electorate went from mostly sympathetic with Palestinian assertions of goal and need, to following the second intifada antagonistic, fearful, or most characteristically desiring that they be invisible, rather than violent.

      There has never NOT been a cultural boycott and academic boycott of Israel urged by pro-Palestinian and formerly pan-Arab and pan-Muslim efforts.

      To those that have been following the issue, the presumption of a 2005 call as something distinct, is laughable.

      It is very painful to be isolated. Its painful when isolation occurs by oceans or mountains, by neighbors’ wars, by defense, by oppression, by overzealous righteousness.

      If the goal of dissent is to change relations between Israelis and Palestinians, the boycott effort does the oppossite. It reinforces the status quo of antipathy, when a change is entirely what is needed.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Danny

      Carlo Strenger should be ashamed of himself. If this is what’s left of Israel left, then I think I prefer the right. At least they don’t PRETEND to be progressive.

      Reply to Comment
      • jack

        Since when do Zionists suffer shame or humility?

        Reply to Comment
      • Khaled Khalid

        Interesting point.
        The Right are the only ones who can deliver peace the same way “Only Nixon could go to China?”

        Reply to Comment
    5. Richard Lightbown

      Nicely reasoned Noam: good to see you back on form. At least it outed Strenger from his phoney liberal stance.

      This is quite a coup. It’ll be interesting to see how much knock on effect a protest by someone of Hawking’s stature will produce.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Giora Me'ir

      Well done Professor Hawking. It was the morally right thing to do. Is he supposed to not not
      attend a conferece in Israel because of human rights violations in China and Iran? That’s ridiculous.

      Reply to Comment
    7. carl

      I agree with Richard: great article! I prefer people like Lieberman than fake dove like Carlo Strenger.

      Reply to Comment
    8. dickerson3870

      RE: “Personally, I think we should put the ‘double standards’ line of defense to rest, since it’s simply an excuse against any form of action.” ~ Noam Sheizaf

      MY COMMENT: The “double standards” mantra is a favorite defense technique used by what Robert Naiman refers to as the “two state fakers”*.

      * REGARDING “TWO STATE FAKERS”, SEE: “Flotilla 3.0: Redeeming Obama’s Palestine Speech with Gaza’s Ark”, By Robert Naiman, truth-out.org, 3/25/13
      [EXCERPT] . . . Bibi doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state; Bibi’s government doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state; AIPAC doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state; and Congress – which defers to AIPAC – doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state. Of course, many of them mouth the words – not Bibi’s government, they don’t even do that – but those who mouth the words oppose any practical measure that would help bring an independent Palestinian state into existence. They’re “two state fakers.” Settlement freeze? Impossible. UN membership for Palestine? Can’t be done. No, according to the two state fakers, the only option on the menu in the restaurant for the Palestinians is to return to negotiations without a settlement freeze, negotiations that for 20 years have brought more land confiscation, more settlements, more restrictions on Palestinian movement and commerce, more oppression. And so, Obama was saying, my hands are tied. Don’t look at me. . .
      ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/15307-flotilla-30-redeeming-obamas-palestine-speech-with-gazas-ark

      Reply to Comment
    9. dickerson3870

      RE: “I will not go into all of Strenger’s rationalizations for the occupation – his claims that the Palestinians answered Israel’s generous peace offers with the second Intifada . . .” ~ Noam Sheizaf

      MY COMMENT: I will! ! ! Or, to be more precise, I’ll let the renowned Uri Avnery do it.

      TAKE IT AWAY, URI: “The Dogs of War: The Next Intifada”, By Uri Avnery, Counterpunch, 9/03/11
      [EXCERPT] . . . The second (“al-Aqsa”) intifada started after the breakdown of the 2000 Camp David conference and Ariel Sharon’s deliberately provocative “visit” to the Temple Mount. The Palestinians held non-violent mass demonstrations. The army responded with selective killings. A sharpshooter accompanied by an officer would take position in the path of the protest, and the officer would point out selected targets – protesters who looked like “ringleaders”. They were killed.
      This was highly effective. Soon the non-violent demonstrations ceased and were replaced by very violent (“terrorist”) actions. With those the army was back on familiar ground. . .
      ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/09/02/the-next-intifada/

      Reply to Comment
    10. Shmuel

      “The second (“al-Aqsa”) intifada started after the breakdown of the 2000 Camp David conference and Ariel Sharon’s deliberately provocative “visit” to the Temple Mount”

      Utter nonsense. This fabrication has now been fully debunked by none other than Suha Arafat herself. Sharon’s visit tothe Temple Mount was a poor excuse to trigger the already planned intifada. Here, read it for yourself.


      “Yasser Arafat’s widow, Suha, admitted that the late Palestinian leader planned the second intifada, in an interview with Dubai TV”

      Reply to Comment
      • Richard Lightbown

        MEMRI translates it and JPost reports it. Not a very good pedigree for getting the truth on anything.

        c/w “The Israelis also got their hands on thousands of documents which showed just how far Arafat had lost control of the guerrilla organisations flourishing amid the Palestinians on the West Bank. But the Israelis then went public with translations and accounts of their contents which were deliberately misleading and, in one case, untrue. […] when the Independent undertook a thorough translation of the papers, it became clear that the Israelis had presented a fraudulent account of their contents.”

        Robert Fisk, ‘The Great War for Civilization’, p627.

        Reply to Comment
        • Shmuel

          Fine Richard, be in denial. You guys always are …

          You don’t believe the Jerusalem Post? You don’t believe the translation of Memri? OK then, watch the video yourself, judging by your love of the Palestinian Arabs, you probably speak Arabic, judge for yourself. Otherwise get one of your Arabic speaking friends to translate the video for you. Here it is …


          As for what YOUR Robert Fisk friend wrote, don’t make me laugh, talking about a person with bias and agendas, he has no credibility whatsoever. Every article he ever writes, oozes of pro Arab propaganda. He is a shameless pro Arab polemicist. Wash your mouth out with soap for quoting him.

          Reply to Comment
          • Richard Lightbown

            Considering that the British government relied on a translation published in the JPost in its deportation case against Sheikh Raed Salah, and considering that the quotation was found in court to be maliciously incorrect, only a damn fool or someone with a vested interest is going to accept a JPost translation at face value. I will grant it is unclear whether that translation came from MEMRI or not but MEMRI has certainly been caught out creating distortions such as during an Al Jazeera interview with Hani al-Sebai.

            Fisk says that his newspaper’s commissioned translations showed that Arafat had lost control of the guerrilla organisations on the West Bank. So how was he going to launch an intifada? Get real Shmuel. He wasn’t in a position to do it, regardless of what his moll may or may not have said. More like he read which way the wind was blowing but he no more launched the intifada than Archduke Ferdinand started the First World War.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            No problems Richard. First you denied what Suha Arafat said. The fact that Arafat specifically said to her that he PLANNED the intifada in order to show that he won’t be forced into making concessions that he did not want to make.

            Then, when you were confronted with the actual video in which she said what she said, you just want to ignore the video and off handedly dismiss what Suha said.

            Conclusion: No matter what facts you are confronted with, you will always believe ONLY what YOU WANT TO BELIEVE. Facts don’t matter to you. You are not a thinking person.

            Reply to Comment
    11. “the occupation goes way beyond the number of corpses it leaves behind – it has a lot to do with the pressure on the daily lives of all Palestinians, and with the fact that it’s gone on for so long, affecting people through their entire lives.” : The occupation has become a form of involuntary servitude, truncating the life possibilities of an ethnic class for the self defined security needs of another. While this is wrong and unsustainable in the long term, it would not be true that there are no security needs. To change things, some risk will have to be born, and that risk will sometimes be actualized. This last is what the right uses to maintain its ideological hold on the public.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Aaron Gross

      You wrote here about Palestinian legitimacy:

      If you think the occupation is justified, or at least inevitable, you obviously see any action against it as illegitimate and uncalled for.

      No, I don’t. I see the occupation as completely justified, but I also see Palestinian resistance to it as legitimate, even though the resistance is not legally protected in the form it happens to take. That applies to the 1967 occupation and even to the 1948 occupation as well, and certainly to pre-1948 Palestinian resistance to Zionism. Since 1948, both sides are legitimate, both are just.

      I admit that most Israelis don’t think like me, but intuitively, many of my fellow fascists and racists believe something pretty much like this. Many right-of-center Israelis believe that the Palestinians got screwed by Zionism, that they (the Israeli) would act the same if they were in the Palestinian’s position, and so on. Intuitively, there’s a lot of sympathy for the Palestinians’ position by many on the right and in the center. Not all or most, but many.

      Reply to Comment
      • Richard Lightbown

        Very interesting and honest post Aaron. Could you flesh it out a bit more because I don’t fully understand your position?
        My understanding is you consider the terrorist attacks from both sides over 65 years to be legitimate. The Zionist terror is legitimate for whatever fanatical reason they cite in justification and Palestinian terror is legit because they have been screwed. Do I misunderstand you, or are you really saying that war is the natural state of things in the region until one side gains a total victory by destroying the other in Biblical style?
        The other point I don’t understand is just how much occupation is completely justified to you. Would it be completely justified for Israel to aim to take control of the entire land between the Nile and the Euphrates? If not, how much are you personally prepared to settle for?

        Reply to Comment
        • Aaron Gross

          First of all, I explained my position mostly in order to make the point that many Israelis have kind of a vague sympathy with some of those views, though they’d reject them the way I expressed them. Pace Noam, many right-wingers do subscribe to the “two rights make a wrong” opinion.

          I don’t know about the legitimacy of terrorism. That’s a hard one, and I can’t answer it. I do think that anti-Zionist terrorism before 1948 was definitely justified. How else can you resist a settlement movement?

          I think the 1967 occupation is justified because the Palestinians have not accepted Israel’s existence and would continue the fight if the occupation were ended. I think the 1948 occupation (the State of Israel) is justified because it was recognized by the “international community” and is not tyrannical or anything.

          I do think there’s hope for an end of the 1967 occupation and a cold peace, but not in the near future.

          Again, I think Israelis, including on the right and center, sort of vaguely agree with some of these opinions.

          Reply to Comment
          • Richard Lightbown

            Thanks for taking the trouble. There is no question that there are Israelis that agree you. Statements by Ehud Barak and Moshe Dayan come immediately to mind. I wonder what it would take to harness those sentiments into some sort of positive momentum.

            I am left with the impression that you are describing your own moderate opinions in hardline terminology. But then I hate political definitions anyway beyond Bob Dylan’s statement that it is only up politics and down politics that matters.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            “I don’t know about the legitimacy of terrorism. That’s a hard one, and I can’t answer it. I do think that anti-Zionist terrorism before 1948 was definitely justified. How else can you resist a settlement movement?”

            Justified? Then what follows is that Israel had no right to be born. And if you feel that way, then you are part of the + 972 crowd.

            I would like to think though that what you meant to say was that both the Arabs and the Jews had a case. It was a case of two legitimate claims to have land.

            What ALL of us on the centre right believe though is that the Arabs made an error when they insisted that ALL the land was/is theirs. The only thing that this centre rightist will concede is that given the rhetoric of the Arab leaders, it is understandable that the Arab masses went along with that claim. Not only went along with it, but fully adopted that unreasonable claim. But was the claim reasonable? No it was not.

            Reply to Comment
          • Aaron Gross

            Shmuel, no, I don’t believe that both sides had a good case, say, a century ago. I don’t think Zionism had a moral case at all back then, period. Zionism was unjustified and the indigenous resistance, including terrorism, was justified. That’s just my opinion, of course.

            Once the Yishuv became an accomplished fact, a large, established population rather than just a few settlements here and there, the situation became more complicated, with both sides having legitimacy.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            “Shmuel, no, I don’t believe that both sides had a good case, say, a century ago. I don’t think Zionism had a moral case at all back then, period. Zionism was unjustified and the indigenous resistance, including terrorism, was justified. That’s just my opinion, of course.”

            Of course you are entitled to your opinion Aaron but by professing such an opinion, you forfeit the right to count yourself as part of the mainstream of us right wing Zionists. Because all right wing Zionists whom I know at least, profoundly disagree with you.

            By the way, if I WOULD agree with you, then I would have to be consistent and I would therefore be against the existence of Israel.

            Reply to Comment
    13. Yochanan

      Very cogent and well-argued. You made a great point that is often forgotten – ‘The genocide in Cambodia was taking place at the same time as the boycott effort against South Africa.’

      Reply to Comment
    14. Tzutzik

      “To change things, some risk will have to be born”

      Israel already took risks in 2000, 2001 and 2008. and the risks did not pay off. So Here is a counter suggestion. It is now the turn of Palestinian Arabs to take a risk:

      1. They should formally renounce their right of return demand.

      2. They should recognise Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

      “and that risk will sometimes be actualized”

      Yes, and thats why the Palestinian Arabs should offer something for the risk taking that Israel is asked to take.

      Reply to Comment
      • Joe

        Maybe they would if normalisation was truly on the table. It isn’t and it hasn’t ever been. Hence they stick to the position that is acknowledged in International Law: that they have a Right to Return and a right to an unoccupied life. If you want them to change, offer them something worth changing for.

        Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          “Maybe they would if normalisation was truly on the table.”

          It was in 2000, 2001 and 2008 in the peace offers that were made by Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert respectively.

          “It isn’t and it hasn’t ever been.”

          You are in denial.

          “Hence they stick to the position that is acknowledged in International Law: that they have a Right to Return”

          No they have not. No sane country can be forced to accept millions of self avowed enemies of the country who were not even born in that country.

          “and a right to an unoccupied life.”

          So long as a single Jew lives in Israel, the Hamas types (at least 50% of Palestinian Arabs) will consider the land as “occupied land”.

          “If you want them to change, offer them something worth changing for.”

          I take it that you don’t consider what was offered in 2000, 2001 and 2008 worth changing for? If not, the occupation is destined to continue for as long as it takes. How is that??

          Reply to Comment
          • Joe

            You are delusional – none of the offers were for a coherent, independent nation. This is part of the problem – the claim that totally unacceptable offers were somehow addressing the issues.

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    15. Arieh

      I am actually sad for poor old Stephen Hawking. He allowed himself to be misled by ideologues who have no consciences.

      While I respect his scientific intellect, I have no respect for his ability to recognise right from wrong. It is incumbent on a person with his intellect to inform himself thoroughly with the history of this conflict before taking sides. He is obviously not aware of the efforts of past Israeli governments to end this conflict in 2000, 2001 and 2008. Had the Palestinian Arabs been willing to compromise instead of responding with violence, the occupation would be no more.

      So Hawking is either blissfully blind or has chosen to be blind. If it is the latter then he lacks a moral compass.

      Reply to Comment
      • Joe

        Hmm. Someone takes a moral stand that you don’t agree with, and they lack a moral compass. It seems like you lack a dictionary.

        Reply to Comment
        • Arieh

          I don’t agree with poor old Hawking because it is obvious that in this case he either did not do proper research about the history of this conflict, or if he did then he ignored pertinent facts. What are those facts?

          1. That the occupation came about because Israel was attacked.

          2. That Israel attempted to reach peace deals which would have ended the conflict and the occupation, several times. But the Palestinian Arabs, because of whom Israel was attacked, refused to make peace and insisted on dictating terms instead. I have news for you Joe, those who lose wars of aggression don’t customarily dictate terms. Never in the history of mankind except in the case of Israel do you people demand it.

          All of that adds up to lack of moral compass by Hawking and those who convinced him. You don’t like me saying that? That makes us even. I don’t like your claims either.

          Reply to Comment
          • Joe

            We can agree that this moral stand is not one everyone would agree with, and perhaps that you fundamentally disagree with it. But to suggest that because you fundamentally disagree it is therefore totally outwith of a moral compass is to mangle the meaning of the words.

            Reply to Comment
    16. Steve

      Perhaps, Stephen Hawking was right to extend the boycot to academic institutions as well. But, you should know that I think this also applies to you and your work. After all, you are part of the “Israeli left”. Perhaps, we shouldn’t make any distinctions and boycott all your works as well.

      Maybe, MSNBC was wrong to have you on the air this past year as you are an Israeli who lives and works in Tel-Aviv. In other words, despite all your “good work”, the boycott applies to you as well.

      Reply to Comment
      • Nice try, but a central feature of BDS is that it targets institutions and not individuals.

        Reply to Comment
        • Shmuel

          “Nice try, but a central feature of BDS is that it targets institutions and not individuals.”

          I bet George Galloway does not agree with you.

          Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            BDS has already taken a stance against Galloway and have said he does not reflect BDS movement in any way.

            Reply to Comment
          • In response to George Galloway’s refusal to debate an Israeli at the Oxford Union, the Palestinian BDS National Committee wrote, “BDS does not call for a boycott of individuals because she or he happens to be Israeli or because they express certain views.” Therefore, I am a BDS advocate who has Israeli friends, several of whom hold what the BNC would class as ‘certain views’ – unreserved support for more settlement-building, for example. There isn’t any contradiction. George Galloway probably wouldn’t think much of me, but I’m not about to lose sleep over his opinion.

            Reply to Comment
          • Steve

            Does that mean I should boycott 972mag more generally. Is that enough of an “institution”? For the most part, this blog is merely a collection of Israeli individuals who mostly live and work in parts of Israel that frankly many Arabs see as occupied lands. If you asked someone from Hamas whether Tel aviv is occupied land, they would probably answer in the affirmative.

            The point I’m trying to make is where does this boycott end. And why is your boycott better than George Galloway’s version. I have a few Palestinian colleagues who I work with in Canada that believe the boycott should also apply to Israeli individuals who still live in Israel, especially those who have served in the IDF like Noam.

            Why is your boycott better than theirs? Who are you or BDS for that matter to set the limits on any boycott. If we’re going to boycott certain cultural or academic instituions even though those instituions may be strongly critical of Israeli policies, then why should we make a distinction with individuals?

            Reply to Comment
          • The Palestinian BNC gets to direct BDS efforts for the same reason that the ANC got to direct them in South Africa: they are a broadly representative group, drawn from all sectors of Palestinian society. They initiated and shaped this movement into what it is now and they are widely accepted within their society as representing its interests.

            Of course they can’t police what individuals in Canada decide to do. They don’t have the power. Nobody has. If I met an individual who felt that the best way to resist occupation would be to throw apple and custard strudels at the Israeli Embassy at four o’clock every Friday afternoon, I would disagree with their approach and I would do my best to dissuade them from it, but ultimately I don’t have any power to get into their heads and control their thoughts and actions. But neither can they claim that their resistance is on an equal footing to something that has been drawn up and coordinated by a wide cross-section of groups within Palestinian civil society.

            Institutions are targeted over individuals because they wield the power that keeps those injustices in place and actively profiteer from their maintenance. While Israeli students have little choice but to attend Israeli universities, Israeli universities do have a choice in whether they choose to build dorms in a settlement (Hebrew U) or collaborate in the building of weaponry that is then used to tear into Gaza (Technion). I’m more than happy to employ an Israeli tutor to help with my Hebrew, or to go to a private class. But I won’t be enrolling in Hebrew U for it. There is a major difference. As for army, I think most BDS advocates can recognise that the real problem does not lie with some seventeen-year-old who doesn’t say no when s/he receives a call-up. That’s not an easy thing to do, and it’s not a reasonable expectation to put on the shoulders of high school kids. I support refusal but I can’t demand it of teenagers. The problem lies with the fact that there is conscription at all, and the responsibility lies solidly with the government and its occupation army. It makes far more logical sense to tackle them.

            Finally, no, a group of bloggers forming a collective hardly qualifies as an ‘institution’ in the style of the Presidential Conference – state-backed, state-sanctioned. But under the apple and custard strudel principle, you are more than welcome to boycott it if you want.

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    17. XYZ

      In cases where someone at first says he is coming to Israel, and then changes their mind because they suddenly had a epiphany discovering the “suffering of the Palestinians”, I assume that all kinds of pressure, threats and/or bribes were applied to the person. I don’t blame Hawking, I view him as a victim of Arab pressure.

      Reply to Comment
      • Joe

        Not someone who struggles with the moral issues associated with it, then. He is only one of the cleverest people alive, clearly the only reason he might change his mind would be due to ‘pressure’. You, on the other hand, are a professional pillock.

        Reply to Comment
        • XYZ

          Einstein was a brilliant physicist, but didn’t understand politics. There is no connection between knowing about physics and other things, like the Middle East conflict.

          Reply to Comment
          • Joe

            That’s true, xyz. But then, clever people might also reasonably change their mind (and/or decide to make a stand on an issue) without undergoing ‘pressure’. The one is not necessarily causally linked to the other.

            Of course you actually know that.

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    18. Engelbert Luitsz

      Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, Stephen Hawking… great minds think alike.
      It’s maybe because Israeli society is submerged in symbolism that they are more afraid of a symbolic act than of a real threat. Thinkers, poets and scientists are the existential threats to the Jewish state, along with human rights and respect for international law.

      Reply to Comment
      • XYZ

        Ah yes, Einstein, the “pacifist saint” who lived in Berlin during World War I where he worked on his General Relativity Theory at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut where his salary was financed by German militarists while he supposedly was hoping for German defeat, and one of whose close friends was Fritz Haber who was the head of the German poison gas project.

        Reply to Comment
        • Engelbert Luitsz

          That’s the one!

          Reply to Comment
    19. Lary Larsen

      Good response. I think the most pivotal point was the last paragraph. The more the Palestinians resort to non-violent protest (i.e. become invisible to Israelis) the more Israelis tend to not see them. Sounds obvious, but it’s a very real, core dynamic that doesn’t bode well for anything other than a 1S outcome.

      So BDS is simply the only thing left that continues to make Israelis aware that 10m over the wall lies a festering sore of a human rights problem. One that requires their attention, politically and personally.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Heidi

      THANK YOU! As a Palestinian, this piece really means a lot and your effort and your extending out a hand in love is not forgotten. Blessings friend.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Arthur Dent


      But the hell with the truth…
      In this case it’s not the main thing. Nobody cares about Hawking’s coming to israel. Everybody just want to debate about… (what exactly? the boycott is ment only for highlight the subject, all people talk about is the occupation, so what those it matters if there is actually a boycott?) >> if everybody boycott israel than it wouldn’t be a boycott because it will be like stop using asbest… by not boycott israel – the goal of boycott is made.

      Reply to Comment
      • Leen

        This has already been disproven. Cambridge University released a statement saying that Hawkings wasn’t coming because of health reasons. However, Hawkings then approved the statement BRIC which indicated that he was boycotting Israel. Cambridge retracted their statement.

        Reply to Comment
    22. Nicholas Bourbaki

      This article is pure bullshit! What price are they talking about?

      This is pure sensation created by the media and nothing else.This conference is NOT even an academic conference!!

      The ONLY reason why Hawking is famous because of the media and his popular science books. There are hundreds of great living physicists whose contribution is at least as important as that of Hawking if not more. What about Jacob Bekenstein?
      Do people realize that it is actually called Bekenstein-Hawking entropy?

      What about Ed Witten, David Gross, Gerard’t Hooft or Steven Weinberg? Why they were not invited in the conference?

      Steven Weinberg is a Nobel Laureate in physics. He refused to attend a REAL academic conference in Britain in the year 2007. Boycott has a heavy price too!


      Reply to Comment
    23. mikael

      Hehe, in all due respect and also from others, the sane world, cudos for showing, not only the academic/scientific/literated a Backbone that is sorly missed in this days.

      Never mind the Bollocs from the “feinds of Israel” and the Hasbaratnjiks, now that you and the others have encountered them in full force, gratulations, S. Hawkind, thats not often they come out in this maner and scale.

      How bizzar: A land ivaded, from a slavic tribe from the sentral european plains, and forcing by violence the natives out from a ever larger area, and have made war with everyone, and demands that WE persive them as Victims, how f… dumb do you, “freinds” really think we are, huh.
      No Israel, we all sitt and wait beacuse we all see you true face, and its an ugly one. We are simply fed up with the constant barrage with drivel and lies, forgerys and flattout hypocrasy.

      There is not even ONE coment on the legitimazy of the Palestinian cause, becuase its legitim, in evey term possible, and just, by any standards, the fact that the MSM is way out of anything close to credible or even true, is you last deffence line, the rest of us have seen you, for decades.

      Now the world is watching a Nation and its “freinds” attac a man in a wheel chair, reminds me of the over 400 children shott by the IDF the reasent decades, and still the blame the Palestinians, for manitaining the war.

      Reagrding the “freinds” you have reatched a new low, unbelivable but still, I am stunned.


      Reply to Comment
    24. ElaineB

      A good and honest analysis. I particularly appreciate your revealing how at times you have felt alienated, but your acceptance that this is part of the process.

      Reply to Comment
    25. Nash Jivah

      Hawkins perhaps recognizes that the ground in Middle East is shifting in favor of Palestinians and against Israel, so we should all begin to get used to the idea of one state solution , pluralistic, democratic and equal opportunity -one country for all its inhabitants.

      Reply to Comment
    26. MNabil

      Great article!

      Reply to Comment
    27. Barry Meridian

      Nash Jivah, I guess 22 countries aren’t enough for the Arabs.
      The last time i checked, Jews are barred from every Arab country except a few thousand Jews who live in Morocco and Tunisia.

      Just to remind people the 1 state solution was tried by a Kurd named Saladin. Saladin won the wars but opposed a state for his people the Kurds, cause he wanted a 1 state solution with the Arabs, Turks and Iranians. How did that work out for the Kurds?

      Today the Arabs have 22 countries, Iran and Turkey are 2 large countries and the Kurds have nothing.

      There was a play written by a Kurdish writer a few years ago called “The Trial of Saladin.” In it Saladin is brought back from death to appear in a Kurdish court. Realizing what the Arabs, Turks and Iranians did to his people, he apologizes to the Kurdish nation and commits suicide knowing he was responsible for all the Kurdish suffering by opposing a Kurdish state.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Barry Meridian

      Stephen Hawking Endorses Iranian and Chinese Repression
      MAY 10, 2013
      Alan Dershowitz

      The only logical conclusion that can be derived from Stephen Hawking’s decision to join the academic boycott of Israel, coupled with his enthusiastic visits to Iran and China, is that he actively endorses and supports the repression practiced by the Iranian mullahs and the Chinese party bosses. Why else would he single out the world’s only Jewish state for his academic boycott?

      Prior to the cancelation of his academic talk in Israel, it might have been argued that his visits to Iran and China reflected not support for the regimes but rather a neutral approach to academics, or a refusal to participate in academic boycotts. No longer can this justification work. The only possible justification for distinguishing between Israel on the one hand and Iran and China on the other hand would be if Israel’s actions were worse than those of Iran and China.

      Only a knave or a fool would believe that to be so. Israel’s academies are among the most open, diverse and free in the world. Israeli universities have affirmative action programs for Palestinians and other minorities. Political dissenters receive tenure and thrive at Israeli universities.

      The very concept of an Iranian university is an oxymoron. There are no free and open places of learning in that repressive theocracy. Dissenters are not given tenure; they are murdered, after first being tortured. Blasphemy, which is broadly defined, is punished. Gays are not only excluded from Iranian universities, but are imprisoned and killed. Women are oppressed. Baha’is are persecuted and killed. There is no freedom in Iran—a country that is seeking to develop nuclear weapons so that they can wipe the State of Israel off the map.

      Yet Iran is a country that Stephen Hawking visited. He did not boycott that Islamic country. He limited his boycott to the democratic nation state of the Jewish people.

      Not only did Steven Hawking visit China, he praised it effusively. Although Chinese universities are considerably better than Iran’s, there is no real freedom to criticize the government or the Communist party. The people who brought us Tiananmen Square still hold positions of authority in China. Dissidents are persecuted. There is no semblance of fair trial. Censorship reigns.

      Yet Stephen Hawking did not boycott China. He boycotted only Israel – the only country of these three with real academic freedom and the only country where people with disabilities are fully-integrated, first-class citizens of society. In China, many disabled children are aborted due to the country’s one-child policy. In Iran many disabled people are kept hidden within families because of prevalent cultural taboos.

      Israeli universities have an unmatched record of developing devices that assist people with disabilities in their daily tasks. Ironically, Israeli universities have developed the very microchips that allow people suffering from motor neurone disease, like Stephen Hawking, to communicate.

      I do not know why Hawking, whose intellectual accomplishments are beyond reproach, uses these devices now to call for the boycott of the very country that enables to him to communicate in the first place. But we have long ago learned that people who are brilliant in some areas may be utter fools in other areas.

      The burden is now on Steven Hawking to justify on the face of what looks like a double standard, hypocrisy and bigotry. If Israel were not the nation state of the Jewish people, I do not believe Hawking would participate in a boycott against it.

      Has he stood up for the right of the Chechnyas against Russia? Has he championed the rights of the Armenians against Turkey? Did he protest America’s policies in Afghanistan when he accepted the Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama? Was he on the forefront of opposing Britain’s repressive actions against those seeking independence for Ireland?

      I do not remember hearing his voice when genocides were being committed in Rwanda, Darfur, and Cambodia. But now suddenly, having accepted an invitation to participate in an academic conference sponsored by the peace-loving President of Israel, Shimon Peres, Hawking has become the most famous and visible face of an academic boycott directed at the Middle East’s only democracy and only country where academic freedom prevails.

      Nor can Hawking’s argue that his joining of the academic and cultural boycott against Israel is simply a demonstration of his disapproval of Israel’s presence in the West Bank. The boycott movement that he joined opposes the very existence of the state of Israel and applies only to Jewish citizens of Israel, not to its Arab citizens.

      J’accuse Stephen Hawking of bigotry. Let him defend his actions in the court of public opinion. I don’t think he will be able to.

      I don’t know whether Hawking is a fool or a knave. Perhaps he is simply an ignoramus who didn’t bother to learn the fact at first hand and simply followed the bigoted British academic crowd in lemming like fashion. Let him explain. Let him try to justify but do not allow him to remain silent in the face of these serious accusations of double standard, hypocrisy and bigotry.

      For shame Stephen Hawking. History will not remember you kindly for your foolish foray into the oldest of bigotries.

      Reply to Comment
    29. Barry Meridian

      Joe, why are you lying?
      You could have Yossi Beilin as PM of Israel and the Pals would reject an offer by Him.
      The Palestinians like all Arabs cant accept the fact there will be an Israel not controlled by the Arabs.
      Palestinian Rejectionism and terrorism seems to be a problem the left likes to talk about.

      Reply to Comment
      • Barry Meridian

        Barak and Olmert offered the Palestinians a state, even though there was never in history any state called Palestine governed by Palestinians.

        Abbas: Olmert offered PA land equaling 100% of West Bank
        Abbas tells Asharq Al-Awsat that land offered included no Israeli settlements or Israeli Arabs.
        Jack Khoury
        Dec 20, 2009

        Saeb Erekat confirmed Olmert had offered a final peace settlement that would include territorial concession equivalent to the entire West Bank and the division of Jerusalem.
        Nov 3, 2011

        The Palestinians also control 100% of Gaza.

        The Palestinians refused to end the conflict as long as it meant that they would have to accept the legitimacy of Israel as a sovereign, permanent country and neighbor. Only when the Palestinians extremist/rejectionist/supremacist attitude changes will peace really be possible.

        Reply to Comment
    30. Barry Meridian

      Correction. I meant to say Palestinian Rejectionism and terrorism seems to be a problem the left doesn’t likes to talk about.

      Glorifying terrorists and terror
      Palestinian society’s habitual glorification of terrorists as heroes and role models is one of its most effective means of promoting terror. In honoring the worst killers, the PA is simultaneously giving approval to murder and enticing future terrorists with assurances of glory and honor if they succeed in killing. Terror and murder become the Palestinian’s ticket to fame, honor and glory.

      The terrorists honored most highly amongst Palestinian society are those who have killed the greatest number. Abd Al-Baset Udeh, killer of 30 at the Passover Seder massacre, had a soccer tournament for 14-year-olds named for him. His brother was honored with distributing the trophies. Dalal Mughrabi, terrorist bus hijacker (led the most lethal terror attack in Israel’s history in 1978, when she and other terrorists killed 37 civilians, 12 of them children) has had summer camps, schools, graduation ceremonies and sporting events named for her, as well as many TV documentaries honoring her. Palestinian newspapers also frequently glorify Mughrabi, as in the Al-Ayyam article which described Mughrabi as writing “the most glorious page of heroism in the history of the Palestinian struggle. [Aug. 2, 2009].

      Reply to Comment
    31. One of the interesting things that happens when someone makes a criticism of Israel is the strategy that is used by those that defend Israel’s invasion, occupation and absorption of the Palestine beyond the internationally recognized borders. If you criticize the discrimination and subordinate status of its Arab residents, you have to write a treatise on discrimination every where else; if you write a criticism of Israel’s absorption of the land of the people of Palestine, you have to write a treatise on all land seizures; if you criticize Israel’s blanket bombings of Palestinian communities you have to write a treatise on all blanket bombings; if you write a criticism of the bulldozing of Palestinian homes and olive groves, you have to write a treatise on the demolition and destruction of farms and homes all over the world.

      It is standard defensive fare that is evidently from a source book for the supporters of the unconscionable violence against the people of Palestine by the Jewish Zionist led, Christian Zionist supported Israeli government and serves to transpose the focus of the criticism of the Israelis to a focus on the critic.

      Reply to Comment
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