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stephen hawking

  • +972 People of the Year: Bloggers' picks

    Featured prominently in headlines this year were diplomatic initiatives that averted wars and lowered nuclear tensions, boycott victories, Israeli labor organizing, settlers settling in to mainstream politics, human rights defenders and at least one ruthless dictator. +972 bloggers pick the people who, for them, defined Israel, Palestine and the wider region in 2013. Read why +972 bloggers voted Edward Snowden as 2013’s person of the year. Hassan Rouhani, president of Iran Hassan Rouhani and the dynamic he generated in the few short months since becoming Iran's president are a perfect example of how established regional patterns can change when you…

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  • The academic boycott of Israel: No easy answers

    There are some strong arguments against the ASA's recent decision to support an academic boycott of Israel. But are they adequate?  Members of the American Studies Association (ASA) voted last week to endorse a resolution supporting an academic boycott of Israel, following a unanimous vote by the National Council of the ASA earlier this month. The global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement might have seemed extreme and marginal when it was established eight years ago. But what seems extreme has a way of becoming mainstream if doesn’t go away. The boycott idea became impossible to ignore as international stars such…

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  • Goodbye boycott: The cost of Kerry's 'breakthrough,' part 2

    The tactic of punishing Israel for the occupation was finally beginning to take a psychological toll - then the U.S. secretary of state rode to the rescue. The Palestinian Authority was planning to go to the UN in September, in line with the 20th anniversary of the failed Oslo Accords, and begin the process of taking Israel to The Hague over the occupation. Israel was scared, with good reason. But now that fear has lifted. Assuming that the preliminary Israeli-Palestinian talks in Washington lead to full-blown peace negotiations, which is a safe assumption – the Palestinians aren’t going to walk…

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  • Israel responds to EU: We only accept charity on our terms

    Europe says it doesn't want its largesse to be funneled over the Green Line - Israel screams anti-Semitism.  Despite all the outrage and charges of Nazi-style behavior (here and here) that Israeli patriots are leveling against the European Union, the EU's new guidelines concerning the occupied territories don't take anything away from Israel; they just place conditions on the EU's enormous charity to this country. The EU isn't saying it's going to stop buying from Israeli businesses or bar Israeli ships or planes from entering European territory; it's saying that when it gives grants, prizes, awards or support to Israelis…

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  • Consensus wisdom: The boycott of Israel is working

    The only way to stop its spread is to end the occupation, say a growing number of prominent voices (none of whom, by the way, support the boycott).   From reading my digital mail, I see that a lot of people who say they oppose the occupation also oppose the boycott against Israel, and not only on moral grounds, but for practical reasons as well. It won't work, they say, it won't convince anyone, it'll have a boomerang effect by making Israel even more intransigent. I've made my arguments against the moral objections to the boycott (here, here and here),…

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  • A double standard: Alicia Keys and sanctions on Iran

    An example of distinctively Israeli, stone-blind hypocrisy.  There seems to be a bit of a double standard in this country on the subject of BDS. For instance, we're all supposed to be sneering in triumph over Alicia Keys' decision to resist calls to cancel her Tel Aviv concert next month. No sane Israeli can support a boycott of this country, can he? Over what, the occupation? Out of the question. But at the same time, no sane Israeli is supposed to oppose the UN sanctions on Iran, unless of course he thinks they're too lenient or that they're delaying the bombing…

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  • A house divided: Campus divestment reveals cracks within the American Jewish establishment

    How can a community which so highly regards deliberation and dissent demand such unwavering unity on what is, perhaps, American Jewry’s most controversial issue? By Roi Bachmutsky Uproar recently broke out regarding world-renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking’s recent decision to cancel his headline appearance at the fifth annual Facing Tomorrow Presidential Conference hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres. Gil Troy penned an opinion piece in response, in which he argued that by boycotting the conference, “[Hawking] suggested that the dynamics of the conflict are mutually exclusive… to prove he is pro-Palestinian he had to act anti-Israeli.” My Facebook newsfeed is often filled…

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  • Techwashing: Hasbara group strikes back after Hawking boycott

    Israeli hasbara organizations have been calling Stephen Hawking a hypocrite for daring to boycott Israel while simultaneously using an Israeli-designed chip in his wheelchair. And this, in essence, is the emblematic Israeli response: shut your mouth when you criticize me. (Translated by Sol Salbe) One of the more repulsive concepts underlying Israeli hasbara (the Hebrew term for the public relations efforts geared at disseminating information about Israel) is "redemption through technology." The concept states that since Israel is a technology leader, it is exempt from any criticism for the fact that it oppresses the Palestinians and other minorities. The same get-out-of-jail card…

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  • A Zionist defense of Hawking

    I wish there was a kinder, gentler way than acts of ostracism to get Israel to end the occupation, but those ways have failed terribly.   I would not join a BDS protest; I'm a "two-stater" who believes Israel should remain a Jewish state because the alternatives would be worse, who believes Israel's "original sin" is the occupation, not Zionism, and so I don't think I'd really feel at home at your average BDS demonstration. There seems to be way too much loathing for everything about Israel in the movement - which is not to say everyone in the movement…

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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…

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