If you think Stephen Hawking’s decision not to attend a conference in Israel was a principled stand for academic or other freedoms, you can drop that notion.

Hawking, as many have pointed out in the past few days, has attended conferences in the past several years in such beacons of academic freedom and national tolerance as Iran and China.

What’s becoming very clear is that Hawking was targeted with a concerted pressure effort to bully the aging, seriously ill scientist into lending his name to the demonization of Israel.

We already knew that Hawking was pressured by Palestinian academics, but The Guardian reports the vile anti-Israel U.S. Professor Noam Chomsky spearheaded the effort to pressure Hawking as well, Noam Chomsky helped lobby Stephen Hawking to stage Israel boycott:

Noam Chomsky was among 20 academics who privately lobbied Professor Stephen Hawking to boycott a major Israeli conference, it has emerged.

Chomsky, a US professor and well-known supporter of the Palestinian cause, joined British academics from the universities of Cambridge, London, Leeds, Southampton, Warwick, Newcastle, York and the Open University to tell Hawking they were “surprised and deeply disappointed” that he had accepted the invitation to speak at next month’s presidential conference in Jerusalem, which will chaired by Shimon Peres and attended by Tony Blair and Bill Clinton….

Chomsky, who has backed “boycott and divestment of firms that are carrying out operations in the occupied territories”,  agreed to add his considerable weight to the pressure on Hawking after email correspondence with the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine campaign group (Bricup), said its chair, Jonathan Rosenhead.

None of this really is surprising.  But it is how Hawking will be remembered, not for his achievements, but for the fact that he gave in to pressure from some of the worst elements in society who stand against the freedoms Hawking claimed to be supporting.