A Brief History of Stephen Hawking’s Complicated Relationship With Israel

Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned physicist who died on Wednesday, had a difficult relationship with Israel.

In 2013, his decision to boycott a conference in Jerusalem honoring Shimon Peres, the late Israeli president, made international headlines, sparking outrage in Israel and much of the Jewish world.

The conference, which was meant to mark the 90th birthday of the Israeli leader, was attended by world leaders and celebrities, among them former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Hawking’s decision to back out was first reported in The Guardian.

Stephen Hawking and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, 2006.Kobi Gideon / GPO

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Hawking initially notified the organizers that he would attend, but under pressure from the international Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement, he reneged. At first, his associates said that Hawking would not be attending because of his failing health. Only later did it emerge that his decision had been prompted by pressure from the boycott movement.

– A brief history of Stephen Hawking’s complicated relationship with Israel