Stephen Hawking to boycott Israel conference

Stephen Hawking (Photo: Doug Wheller)

Stephen Hawking (Photo: Doug Wheller)

Professor Stephen Hawking has pulled out of a conference to be held in Jerusalem as part of an academic boycott of Israel.

Reportedly, the well-known physicist told Israeli President Shimon Peres that he will not be attending the ‘Facing Tomorrow’ conference in June “based on his knowledge of Palestine.”

The British Committee for the Universities of Palestine described it as "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 statement came with Professor Hawking’s approval.

Professor Hawking originally agreed to headline the fifth annual conference hosted by Mr Peres which, this year, will also celebrate the President’s 90th birthday.

A Fair Play spokesman said: "Professor Hawking's misguided withdrawal from the President's Conference is both bizarre and unfortunate. President Shimon Peres is one of Israel's strongest and most consistent advocates for peace through negotiation and compromise with the Palestinians, and the President's Conference is a venue for promoting his approach. Professor Hawking could have joined the Conference and explained his views on the conflict in the region, just as many other participants have done. By boycotting the conference, he has thrown away this opportunity and will help nobody."

Last updated: 9:29am, May 8 2013