What's a Pro-Boycott Cartoon of Stephen Hawking Doing in a Jewish Paper?

The Forward Should Defend Israel, Not Hypocritical Attackers

eli valley

By Hillel Halkin

Published June 03, 2013, issue of June 07, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Would America’s best Jewish newspaper publish a cartoon in support of renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking’s joining the academic boycott of Israel? It would — and it did.

I can think of no other accurate way of describing the prominently featured appearance in a recent issue of the Forward of Eli Valley’s “A Brief History of Hawking’s Hypocrisy.”

It can be contended, of course, that this cartoon was not pro-boycott at all. All it did, one might say, was lampoon accusations made against the totally paralyzed Hawking that he was acting hypocritically, inasmuch as his own life-support system depends on an Israeli-designed computer chip that he did not choose to boycott, too.

But such a contention is disingenuous. Charging Hawking with hypocrisy for not pulling the plug on himself because he has been kept alive by Israeli technology is admittedly a rather poor argument, although perhaps not as poor as all that. (Israeli technology, after all, is not unconnected to research in the Israeli universities that the boycotters wish to treat as pariahs.)

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

It is not, however, the main argument against Hawking or even one of the main arguments in general, and none of his serious critics has claimed that it is. Most have not even mentioned it.

A cartoon that ignores this fact — one implying that Hawking’s disinclination to commit suicide is the main argument against him — is a cartoon that seeks to portray Hawking’s critics as foolish and malicious. And since what Hawking is being criticized for is boycotting Israel, it is a cartoon that portrays opposition to the boycott as foolish and malicious, as well. It is a pro-boycott cartoon.

And in the Forward!

Is it really necessary to make the case in the pages of a Jewish newspaper that no Jewish newspaper, let alone the Forward, should allow the slightest expression of sympathy for the Israel boycott movement to appear in it? Is it necessary to insist on the inherently anti-Semitic nature of this movement? Is it necessary to observe that anti-Semitism should not be condoned, let alone promoted, by the Jewish press?

Apparently, it is.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.