Noam Chomsky Helped Talk Stephen Hawking Into Boycotting Israel

Jessica Stites

The Guardian reports that Stephen Hawking's decision to boycott Israel was the result of a private letter sent to the famed physicist by 20 academic colleagues. Among the signatories was Noam Chomsky, who has been a vocal critic of Israel's treatment of Palestinians. Hawking has rarely expressed political views, but he was clear about his reasons for not attending the upcoming presidential conference in Israel. A statement he approved referred to "his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there." Pro-Palestinian activists cheered the news.

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Jessica Stites is Editorial Director of In These Times, where she runs the Leonard C. Goodman Institute for Investigative Reporting and edits stories on labor, neoliberalism, Wall Street, immigration, mass incarceration and racial justice, among other topics. Before joining ITT, she worked at Ms. magazine and George Lakoff’s Rockridge Institute. Her writing has been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Ms., Bitch, Jezebel, The Advocate and AlterNet. She is board secretary of the Chicago Reader and a former Chicago Sun-Times board member.

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