Stephen Hawking Is Boycotting Israel’s Conference, and I Would Too

The world’s most famous, atheistic physicist is protesting Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians by boycotting a major, international science conference to be held there next month. That seems inconsistent to me, since he has already visited Israel four times. I’ve been boycotting Israel for the same reason for over thirty years, and I’ve been consistent about it. But then, who cares! No one’s asking me to come there.

In about 1980, I discovered in some Old Testament prophecies that there willl be a Palestinian state. That’s when I got interested in knowing about the ongoing, Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I then wrote a magazine article about it that never got published. Later, I wrote a book about it entitled Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia that was published in 1990. In doing so, I read over a hundred books in researching the subject. Some of them were pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian, and others were vice versa. As many people know by now, even people who are only observers of this conflict get very polarized about it.

When people learn that I wrote a book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they often say to me, “Oh, then you have visited Israel?” To their amazement, I answer “no.” Sometimes they respond, “how can a person write a book about that subject and never visit Israel?” Most of these people then inform me that they have visited Israel, sometimes insinuating that they therefore know more about the conflict than I do. Oh yeah! They visit Israel as tourists and get guides hired by the State of Israel. Sometimes, they expound some propaganda. But such tourists likely learn only the Israeli Jewish viewpoint of the conflict and not the Palestinian perspective as well. That’s unfair.

The Apostle Peter came to a new, and corect, understanding in his life when he said, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality” (Acts 10.34 NRSV). The King James Version renders this statement by Peter, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” Even though God chose Abraham to make a covenant with him and his descendants, that did not abrogate the attribute of God’s character in which he is fair and just in his treatment of all people and all nations, so that he is not partial to any, including Jews or the State of Israel. That’s how we should be–no respecter of persons. Love Jews, but love all people.

Christian Zionists give carte blanche support to Israel. Heh you brothers, what ever happened to the prophetic voice that sometimes issues in godly rebuke. “Iron sharpens iron,” says the scriptures. In my first thirteen years of learning the Bible and theology, I did so in a militant, Christian Zionist church. (Christian Zionists Hal Lindsey, author of The Late Great Planet Earth, and I come from that same church.) I know from experience what I’m talking about. Some now think I’m anti-Semitic. Not at all! I wouldn’t stake my life on the Jew Jesus if that was the case. I fully support the existence of the State of Israel and wish it well.

Then, why have I refused to visit Israel, at least as a tourist? Tourism has always been Israel’s #1 industry, and it has been at the expense of the Palestinians. How so? Most tourists, which includes a lot of Christians, go there to visit the holy sites. (Christian leaders take groups to visit Israel, and I see in some of that the love of money as the root of all kinds of evil.) Most of these sites are located in East (Old) Jerusalem, which the UN still regards as “occupied territory.” Why? Israel took possession of it in the Six-Day War of 1967. Prior to that, East Jerusalem had been the possession of the Palestinians under the administration of Jordan.

Israel, as all member-states of the UN, is supposed to adhere to the UN charter. It demands that Israel return this territory to the Palestinians. I have thought that Israel’s prolonged refusal to do so should call into question its UN membership. Moreover, Israel’s “occupied territory” includes a lot more than East Jerusalem; it also includes the entire West Bank. And to make matters worse, for most of the succeeding 46 years since 1967, Israel has allowed the building of Jewish settlements in these occupied territories. The U.S.–as Israel’s #1 ally and the past, sole, peace broker for the conflict (which is a conflict of interest)– objects to this settlement program; yet, it has never applied any significant pressure on Israel to discontinue these illegal settlements.

Now, I admit that Israel has a dilemma in deciding how to try to solve the conflict according to the demographics. That is, the Palestinian and international focus of giving the Palestinians the West Bank in order to establish a Palestinian state there and the separated Gaza Strip could threaten Israel’s security because it would make Israel too narrow at its middle and therefore less defensible. But security for such a Palestinian state would be much worse, since there must be a corridor joining these two parcels.

That’s why I think Israel should listen to its own biblical prophets and thereby realize that the best solution for both parties is a Palestinian state only in the coastal plain, as a revival of ancient Philistia, with Israel possessing all of the West Bank. The Quartet–UN, EU, U.S., and Russia–is now the peace broker of this conflict, although this peace process has been dead for years. But the Quartet says the proper solution is “two states lying side-by-side.” What I’m talking about truly fulfills this requirement, but what the Quartet is talking about as the solution–a Palestinian state in most or all of the West Bank with a corridor joining it to the Gaza Strip–is not two states lying side-by-side at all.

I hope to someday visit Israel. If it ever happens, it will only be when there is a Palestinian state. If so, I’d like to take my cute, Jewish grandaughter, Sydney Zarley, who is now two-and-a-half years old.


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