Saturday, November 2, 2013

Hawking's Hypocrisy

Columnist Mona Charen observes that world famous physicist Stephen Hawking has decided to decline an invitation to speak in Israel after hearing from Palestinian academics that to do so, one supposes, would be to be complicit in Israel's alleged crimes against the Palestinian people.

Charen deftly skewers the hypocrisy, or if not hypocrisy, certainly the mindlessness, of Hawking's decision. She writes:
Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned physicist and celebrity, has canceled a planned trip to Israel, where he was invited to participate in a conference sponsored by Israeli president Shimon Peres. His explanation: “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.”

It’s an odd world, isn’t it? By what inverted moral calculus does someone of Hawking’s stature find it morally problematic to set foot on the soil of the region’s only democracy? One wonders: How many other nations has Hawking declined to visit in order to express his disapproval of their policies?
She goes on to note that Hawking did not scruple to visit the old Soviet Union when it was one of the world's chief violators of human rights, nor did he shrink from visiting the Ayatollah's Iran in 2007, a country that not only sponsors terrorism around the world but imprisons Christians, stones women to death for adultery, and hangs both apostates from Islam as well as homosexuals.

Evidently, Mr. Hawking's moral fastidiousness only bothers him when it comes to Israel. Indeed, why is it that of all the nations in the world which treat their own citizens, not to mention those of their neighbors, abysmally, Israel almost exclusively singled out as particularly worthy of what Charen refers to as BDS (boycotts, divestments, and sanctions)?

It is especially peculiar that Israel is deemed uniquely worthy of punishment when it's recalled that Israel has a substantial minority population of Arabs who enjoy all the benefits of citizenship in a free and open democracy, even being permitted to practice their religion and hold political office. I can't think of one Arab country in which Jews are granted anything close to similar status.

In most Arab countries Jews (and Christians) live a tenuous existence where the best policy is to keep one's head down and mouth shut and maybe you won't have your house burned, your children seized and your life forfeit.

Charen also mentions that Arabs, and those like Hawking and other celebrities eager to demonstrate their political hipness and moral grandiosity, often express outrage that the Israelis built a wall between Israel and Palestinian Gaza which works a hardship on some Gazans who find themselves separated from their places of employment by the barrier. This, they say, is an intolerable cruelty.

Indeed, the wall is unfortunate, but why did the Israelis build it? Before the wall was erected Palestinian terrorists were easily crossing into Israel and blowing up Israeli schoolchildren and murdering Israeli families almost weekly. Rather than doing what most of the countries with which Hawking has no moral quarrel would do, which is to simply bomb Gaza into pulverized sand and dust, Israel simply built a fence to keep the terrorists out, and it has worked. But that simple non-violent measure of self-protection is too much for the delicate sensibilities of Hawking, et al., and he refuses to travel to a country which would be so insensitive to the rights of Palestinian Arabs as to protect themselves from their depradations.

Like so many on the left, Hawking seems to believe that Israel has a moral obligation to allow itself to be obliterated by its enemies, and if it refuses to cooperate in its own destruction then it's ipso facto not the sort of place that deserves to be graced by his awesomeness.