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"Boycott all the way" as Cambridge University "retracts" Hawking health statement

Reports are emerging that the original story of Prof. Hawking's boycott remains true, despite the statement from Cambridge University saying otherwise

by The Commentator on 8 May 2013 14:41

Stephen_hawking_public_lecture_at_hebrew_university_of_jerusalem_14-12-2006

Fresh reports are emerging about Prof. Stephen Hawking's apparent boycott of Israel.

The Cambridge professor and renowned theoretical physicist was first reported to be boycotting Israel due to what anti-Israel activists called, "his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there."

Following a letter to Hawking, as well as numerous online reports, Cambridge University issued a statement, claiming that the report was a "misunderstanding" and that Hawking was not boycotting Israel, but rather that he was not travelling to Shimon Peres's conference next month for health reasons. The statement claimed, "Professor Hawking will not be attending the conference in Israel in June for health reasons - his doctors have advised against him flying."

A spokesperson at Cambridge also told The Commentator that the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), which issued the statement on behalf of Hawking, "assumed" that this was the reason behind the boycott, but that they were wrong.

Now however, Guardian journalist Matthew Kalman who penned the original story late last night claims the Cambridge statement is untrue, and that Hawking will indeed be boycotting the Jewish state. He tweeted, "In case you doubted my story on Hawking's boycott of Israel, I have now confirmed it again. Cambridge retraction soon".

This was shortly followed by, "Yes. It's boycott all the way."

The Commentator has contacted Cambridge for a clarification, though no statement has yet been forthcoming. 

A University spokesman has now retracted the earlier statements, claiming: “We have now received confirmation from Professor Hawking’s office that a letter was sent on Friday to the Israeli President’s office regarding his decision not to attend the Presidential Conference, based on advice from Palestinian academics that he should respect the boycott.

“We had understood previously that his decision was based purely on health grounds having been advised by doctors not to fly.”

A BRICUP spokesperson sent a note to The Commentator, claiming, "the statement was agreed with Prof. Hawking's office."

BRICUP added a statement to its website claiming the original statement was issued with the specific endorsement of Professor Hawking's office. Hawking's staff sent BRICUP the following message on 7th May 2013:  "Just spoken to Tim [Tim Holt, Acting Director of Communications for Cambridge University] and we are both in agreement with the quote - and as you say - sensible to get this out rather than a lot of differing opinions."

The head of the Facing Tomorrow conference, Israel Maimon, apparently received a letter confirming the boycott earlier this week.

Read more on: stephen hawking and Israel
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