The academic boycott of Israel organized by the BDS movement claimed a big success when the Guardian ran an article yesterday, Stephen Hawking joins academic boycott of Israel.

That report set off a furious response, since the academic boycott of Israel is anathema to almost all academics.

In the U.S., only the disreputable actions of the Association of Asian American Studies, led by U. Mass-Boston Professor and Associate Provost Rajini Srikanth, have given any legitimacy to the boycott.  The boycott, which singles out only Israel, attracts open and de facto anti-Semites and those in the leftist-Islamist coalition who seek Israel’s destruction.

So when a renowned physicist, who is dying of a disease for which Israelis are working on a cure, allegedly joined the boycott, it was big news.

But it may have been a lie, the BDS equivalent of Pallywood.

The Commentator reports, Prof. Hawking trip NOT cancelled due to Israel boycott:

New details about the cancellation of Professor Stephen Hawking’s trip to Israel have emerged today after numerous news reports claiming that Prof. Hawking had chosen to boycott the State of Israel.

The Guardian, which broke the story late last night, claimed that Hawking was due to boycott Israel after receiving an erroneous statement from the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), apparently with Hawking’s approval.

The statement said that the move was “his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there”.

However, a Cambridge university spokesperson has confirmed to The Commentator that there was a “misunderstanding” this past weekend, and that Prof. Hawking had pulled out of the conference for medical reasons.

Responding to an e-mail including an open letter to Prof. Hawking, shared nearly 2000 times, a University spokesman said: “Professor Hawking will not be attending the conference in Israel in June for health reasons – his doctors have advised against him flying.”

When asked for further information, the spokesperson confirmed that the BRICUP organisation had “assumed” Hawking’s position on the matter, and that it was fundamentally untrue.

The Montreal Gazette further reports:

Tim Holt, media director at the University of Cambridge spokesman, said Hawking’s decision was based strictly on health concerns.

“For health reasons, his doctors said he should not be flying at the moment so he’s decided not to attend,” said Holt. “He is 71 years old. He’s fine, but he has to be sensible about what he can do.”

A University of Cambridge statement released earlier Wednesday cited “personal reasons” for his decision. Hawking suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

CIF Watch has the email:

This should be a lesson to all, regardless of Hawking’s position.  The attempt to delegitimize Israel in academia is part of the war on Israel, done by people with bad intent.

Update:  AP also is reporting health reasons, Physicist Stephen Hawking won’t attend Israeli conference, cites health.

Tim Holt, quoted above, is Hawking’s official media spokesman.

Algemeiner reports the same, Hawking Israel Boycott Story is a Fraud, Trip Canceled for Health Reasons:

However, a University spokesman told The Algemeiner that Prof. Hawking’s cancellation was due to a health issue.

“Professor Hawking will not be attending the conference in Israel in June for health reasons – his doctors have advised against him flying,” the spokesperson said.

Hawking’s spokesman has requested that the BDS supporters take down the assertion that Hawking supports the boycott, via AP:

University spokesman Holt said that Hawking “did not specifically approve” the committee’s statement. Holt said he had asked the committee to remove the posting.

Update No. 2 — despite quite clear denials on the record multiple times by Hawking’s official spokesman, the following email has been sent, as reported by CIF:

Though original reports yesterday that Stephen Hawking cancelled his planned Israel trip in order to express support the academic boycott were (as we reported earlier today) flatly denied by Tim Holt, Acting Director of Communications at Cambridge and Hawking’s spokesperson, Holt recently informed us via an email of the following new statement just released by the University:

“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.”

If this latest statement holds up, then the bad guys have won a victory, and Hawking should be counted among the bad guys. Shame and a stain on his legacy.

Further update: This apparently was Hawking’s statement, it’s not an embrace of the academic boycott movement, more the equivalent of refusing to cross a picket line, but it does support the claim that he withdrew from this conference on political grounds:

“I have received a number of emails from Palestinian academics. They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this, I must withdraw from the conference. Had I attended I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster.”

I wonder if the result would have been different if Israeli academics were as aggressive at lobbying Hawking — but then again, the Israelis probably didn’t see this coming. Let that be another lesson.