The world-famous British astrophysicist and mathematician Stephen Hawking has given up his participation in the June international conference in Israel. According to the British daily The Guardian, the 71-year-old scientist justified his decision as a protest against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. He provoked criticism in Israel by joining the “wrong and scandalous” academic boycott of Israel.
The severely disabled scientist, who cannot move or speak due to a long-term illness, originally accepted an invitation to a conference on future issues, at which numerous personalities from all over the world are expected. Former world leaders such as Bill Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev and Tony Blair are preparing to come to Jerusalem for this meeting, which is also planned to celebrate the 90th birthday of Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Last week, however, a professor at Cambridge University’s Hawking said in a short letter to the Israeli president that he had changed his mind and would not be coming to Jerusalem for the conference. Based on his knowledge of Palestina and in consultation with Palestinian colleagues, he allegedly made an “independent decision” to support an academic boycott of Israel, the physicist said in a statement released with his permission by the British Committee for Palestinian Universities.
According to Haarec, the chairman of the Jerusalem Conference, Israel Maimon, called Hawking’s decision bad and unjustifiable. According to him, the academic boycott of Israel is inadmissible, especially for a person “for whom the spirit of freedom is the basis of his human and academic mission.” Moreover, the boycott is, according to Maimon, incompatible with open, democratic dialogue.
Who walked around the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem on Sunday was probably not surprised. This time, ordinary pilgrims did not insert their prayers into the crevices between the stones, but Barcelona footballers, led by the famous Messi and Neymar. All in Jewish yarmulkes.
The club set out for the Middle East on a so-called peaceful journey, during which it wants to help calm the situation in the region, specifically to “promote peace and tolerance through sport and build a bridge between Palestinians and Israelis.” But does sport really have the power to resolve millennial disputes? Can Barcelona become a kind of dove of peace?
It cannot be assumed, after all, the biggest star of the Catalan club is nicknamed “Messiah” or “divine Lionel” with great exaggeration. However, the “football god” has now descended to the war, distributing the joy of sport there. At least it was a nice sight.