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Stephen Hawking’s double standard

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Physicist Stephen Hawking is boycotting a conference in Israel because he disagrees with the nation's policies. (AP)

When I first read that the preeminent physicist, Stephen Hawking, had joined the boycott of Israeli academics, I thought to myself, “good for him.”

After all, it’s unsurprising that such an intellectual giant and general inspiration to mankind would be a man of great principle. 

If he believes a people are being mistreated, he will not sit idly and ignore the situation; he will bravely join the forces of the just to combat the unjust.

With the exception of his Israel boycott, I could not find any instances of Mr. Hawking boycotting or even speaking out against other nations in the Middle East.

At the same time, I became curious about what other boycotts Mr. Hawking is currently participating in. Now, I understand that although he is a scientist, he is by no means a political scientist, so I couldn’t expect him to be familiar with the suffering of every last group, tribe or clan in on the planet. 

But since Mr. Hawking does seem to keep current on events in the Middle East, I thought it would be fair to assume he had boycotted other countries in the region that are also guilty of bad behavior.

Surprisingly, with the exception of his Israel boycott, I could not find any instances of Mr. Hawking boycotting or even speaking out against other nations in the Middle East. 

This is quite curious when you consider how pervasive government sanctioned human rights violations are throughout this region.

But fine, Mr. Hawking has no responsibility to monitor the suffering of the entire Middle East; it’s really just the suffering of Palestinians that he’s concerned with. And it’s no secret that the current governing administrations in the Palestinian territories have an atrocious human rights record, with the persecution of gays, religious minorities and women among its leading offenses.

So I was even more surprised to find that not only hasn’t Mr. Hawking boycotted Palestinian academics, he actively consulted with them prior to deciding to joining the boycott of Israeli academics.

Ultimately, however, there is still no denying that Mr. Hawking is a principled man. If you happen to be a straight Palestinian male of the Muslim faith who openly supports his government, Mr. Hawking will always have your back.

Mendy Finkel is an attorney and frequent political commentator.