Thursday, May 9, 2013

Stephen Hawking Derided For 'Hypocrisy' For Boycotting Israeli Conference While Using 'Israeli' Technology

Harriet Sherwood in The Guardian:
Stephen Hawking's decision to boycott an Israeli conference in protest at the state's 46-year occupation of Palestine was derided as hypocritical by some, who pointed out that the celebrated scientist and author uses Israeli technology in the computer equipment that allows him to function.

Hawking, 71, has suffered from motor neurone disease for the past 50 years, and relies on a computer-based system to communicate.

According to Shurat HaDin, an Israel law centre which represents victims of terrorism, the equipment has been provided by the hi-tech firm, Intel, since 1997.

Give. Me. A. F**king. Break!

I am frequently critical of some oil-producing countries in the Middle East, e.g., Saudi Arabia and Iraq, for their society's policies on women's rights. But no one has yet vilified me for continuing to drive my car. (Full disclosure: at the moment, I am physically unable to drive my car. But I would drive it if I could, thereby undoubtedly burning Saudi oil.)

And labeling Intel an "Israeli" firm is stretching the notion of corporate nationality past the breaking point. Intel is a multinational firm headquartered in the US. It happens to have an Israeli branch.

To the people in Israel who are critical of Hawking for using Intel technology, I offer the following advice:
  • Unplug your own Intel-based PC from the Internet and the power grid. After all, you'd be using "Israeli" technology. Even if your PC has a chip from another company, you are using a technology originated by an "Israeli" company. Yes, I'm telling you to give up your computers. How does that feel? And yet, I am asking far less of you than you are asking of Hawking.
  • Take your gun (I believe it is a fair assumption that every Israeli owns a gun), shoot yourself in both feet, then in both hands, rendering yourself permanently disabled, but still not quite as disabled as Hawking without his electronics. Welcome to crippledom... it's great fun, isn't it?
  • While you're at it, stop attending Hollywood movies, because many Hollywood stars are openly critical of Israel on human rights grounds. Let's face it: you're slamming Hawking because he is a star, and you can leverage his stardom to obtain publicity for yourselves. Can you see how some people might see that as hypocrisy on your part?
From what I've read, Hawking, a celebrity as few scientists have ever been, can be an annoying person to deal with, sometimes even in professional contexts. But people do not deserve to be told they should not use the technology that allows them to interact with other people day to day. Telling Hawking to unplug his electronic prostheses is exactly equivalent to telling me that I must live my life without my artificial limb. And that's real hypocrisy.


  1. Hmm, I live in Santa Clara CA, where Intel is headquartered. I didn't know I was an Israeli. Wow, ya learn new things every day :).

    I'm not aware that any of the technology used in Hawking's wheelchair is Israeli in origin. Intel CPU's are designed in their facilities in California, Arizona, and Washington, due to national security regulations (which do not allow foreign-designed CPU's in systems purchased by national security organizations). Intel's chipsets are tightly coupled to their CPU's and are also designed in those same facilities. The Israeli branch of Intel is, as far as I know, working on wireless technology ( a peculiar specialty of the Israelis in general, they are leaders in WiFi and GPS chip design) but I'm not aware that Hawking is using WiFi or Bluetooth as part of his chair. So it was BS from the first.

  2. While there have been upgrades to the computer system it is attached to, the basic technology that Stephen Hawking uses goes back to the mid-1980s, before Intel really branched out, and he still uses that same basic technology, which is why he 'speaks' with an American accent.

    There are much better systems available today, but he doesn't want to change it.

    Those clowns can pound salt and stick it where the sun doesn't shine. If they want to blame someone, blame themselves for electing the Likud, just like Americans have to accept responsibility for electing the Shrubbery.

  3. What better way to taunt Likud than rolling away in one of its own chariots. Sun Tzu must be laughing.

    1. karmanot, WADR to Israeli technology, that "chariot" was not a product of an Israeli firm. Let's try again: Intel is a multinational company with headquarters in the US. As BadTux says, Intel is legally required, for national security reasons, to design and build processor chips (and I presume associated chip sets) in the US. As Bryan says, Hawking is fond of his old technology, even if (by his own words) it makes him sound like "a Yank" (again his own words).

      Taunting Likud may be worth doing for its own sake... I've never known a more self-absorbed group of people, and I've known a lot of Jews for a lot of years... but Hawking simply adopted the best available technology at the time it was designed, and that was from Intel, and Intel is an American company. All the rest is baloney, an attempt by that Israeli law firm to hitch a ride on Hawking's public celebrity. FTS.

  4. Yep, I was more into the phraseology than the facts of it! :-)



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