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May 8, 2013 12:09 pm

About-Face: Cambridge Confirms Hawking Is Boycotting Israel

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British theoretical physcist Stephen Hawking. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Following denials earlier today, Cambridge University is now confirming that Stephen Hawking has chosen to boycott an event in Israel next month.

A University spokesman told The Algemeiner that “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.”

The Algemeiner reported earlier that an article published by The Guardian last night, which cited a statement from the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) that it was Hawking’s “independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there,” had been contradicted by a Cambridge University spokesman.

The Presidential Conference earlier criticized Hawking’s decision. After the initial reports, Presidential Conference chairman Israel Maimon decried Hawking’s boycott of the conference as “outrageous and inappropriate, especially for one so fundamentally associated with the spirit of independence as a person and an academic.”

A spokesperson told The Algemeiner that a letter had been received from Hawking explaining his decision for not attending. “The conference has made the decision not to discuss any of the contents of the letter received by Professor Hawking, but we stand by our statement from this morning,” Matthew Krieger said.

Krieger added: “The conference is not confirming if it was a boycott or not a boycott.”

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