The media's reports Wednesday that Professor Stephen Hawking would not be attending the President's Conference in Israel next month prompted many to accuse the world-renowned scientist of anti-Semitism.
Hawking, however, has already visited Israel four times, including the last time, in 2006, at the invitation of the British Embassy. During that trip, he visited universities in Israel and the Palestinian Authority and said he hoped to meet Israeli and Palestinian scientists.
According to a report in the Guardian, ever since Hawking's participation in the conference was made known some four weeks ago, he has been bombarded with countless emails and letters from Britain and other places in the world, calling on him to revoke his decision.
In view of Hawking's previous visits to Israel, however, it would be difficult to brand him anti-Semitic. Perhaps he just wanted to avoid the headache involved in any visit to Israel by a well-known scientist or performer.
read more: Israel may not be a pariah, but it's definitely a headache - Diplomacy & Defense - Haaretz.com