In 2009, when Israel counterattacked after four years of Hamas rocket attacks on its civilians, Hawking managed to cobble together every incoherent and inaccurate trope about the conflict into one soundbite. He told Al Jazeera:
“A people under occupation will continue to resist in any way it can. If Israel wants peace it will have to talk to Hamas like Britain did with the IRA.Hamas are the democratically elected leaders of the Palestinian people and cannot be ignored … Israel’s response to the rocket attacks has been quite out of proportion. Almost a hundred Palestinians have been killed for every Israeli. The situation is like that in South Africa before 1990. It cannot continue.”
Naturally, Hawking promoted conspiracy theories about the Iraq war, claiming that it was based on “two lies” intentionally told by the Bush administration: that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and that he was involved in the 9/11 attacks.
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After the celebrity he earned from A Brief History of Time, Hawking grew into that special kind of scold—think Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye—who trades on his reputation as an impartial man of facts and logic in order to condescend to ordinary people.
As Tom Wolfe said of Noam Chomsky, another leftwing scold, “An intellectual is a person who is knowledgeable in one field but speaks out only in others.”