The 2013 conference should have included British theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking as one of the keynote speakers. Globally recognized as a genius, Hawking has also become the poster child for science over the last few decades. But in a move that has garnered him both some applause and some criticism, he chose to boycott the 2013 Israeli conference following the advice of Palestinian academics. This will undoubtedly help to vindicate the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) in their fight against "Apartheid Israel". On the English version of the Middle East media site El Arabiya, while some claimed that his health was what made him change his mind, Hawking's statement was made crystal clear:
“We understand that Professor Stephen Hawking has declined his invitation to attend the Israeli Presidential Conference Facing Tomorrow 2013, due to take place in Jerusalem on 18-20 June. 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 advantage of living in the free world, is that we can make our own decisions, and I certainly am not against anybody boycotting anything for any reason as long as their decision is based on facts and done with integrity, that of course in the case of Professor Hawking is not the case. I personally have and continue to exercise my right to boycott. So the question is not "why boycott"? but rather "why boycott inconsistently"?
I find it pathetic that Hawking chooses to boycott the very country that is providing him with the technology to communicate with the rest of the world. The microprocessors used in the Speech Generating Device (SGP) that gives him a voice were developed in Israel (so were instant messaging, the flash drive, single-click computer translation and cell phone technology to name just a few)!
Hawking lives with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Israeli doctors and researchers are currently making great progress in the area and will soon be likely to provide more answers and better care if not a cure for ALS. How will Hawking react to the "oppressors' discovery"? Will he ignore it and discard all progress because it was from Israel? I sincerely doubt it, because like in most cases of boycotting, people are rarely consistent.
Dr. Hawking's decision to boycott Israel is far from being based on the facts, but the facts on the Middle East crisis have ceased to be a criteria in the decision process for a while now. Political correctness abounds where tolerance reigns. But if tolerance isn't based on truth, how tolerant is it?
His decision runs the risk of creating a snowball effect in the scientific and academic community. More people will follow suit, without checking the facts of course, but hey, if a genius like Dr. Stephen Hawking boycotts Israel, he must know better. Well, that's one of the problems, he doesn't! Genius doesn't guarantee common sense, and in the case of Dr. Hawking, it is painfully obvious as he has decided to bite the hands that feeds him!
Additionally, in a very arrogant move on his part, Dr. Hawking has declared that God doesn't need to exist for the universe to have started, a statement that sounds a little bit like he [Hawking] feels like playing god. He has declared that: " the universe can create itself out of nothing" which of course is quite different than believing that God created the universe "ex nihilo" (out of nothing). As an agnostic, Dr. Hawking chooses to keep God out of the equation.
The very God that Hawking chooses to reject is not impressed by his theories and discoveries because He in fact created the world (in six days to boot!). Hawking on the other hand will meet his maker one day and I believe that he will be impressed. My prayer is that he would come to a saving knowledge of Messiah before it is too late. I also hope that he would retract his decision to boycott the Israeli Conference because God has no patience for those who hurt the "Apple of His eye".
It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)