Techwashing: Hasbara group strikes back after Hawking boycott

Israeli hasbara organizations have been calling Stephen Hawking a hypocrite for daring to boycott Israel while simultaneously using an Israeli-designed chip in his wheelchair. And this, in essence, is the emblematic Israeli response: shut your mouth when you criticize me.

(Translated by Sol Salbe)

One of the more repulsive concepts underlying Israeli hasbara (the Hebrew term for the public relations efforts geared at disseminating information about Israel) is “redemption through technology.” The concept states that since Israel is a technology leader, it is exempt from any criticism for the fact that it oppresses the Palestinians and other minorities. The same get-out-of-jail card should apply to the fact that it is an ethnocracy, which just happens to be best thing that has ever happened to anti-Semites since the 19th century. This is usually expressed as “ah, so you write some criticisms of Israel, you despicable lowlife? Are you aware that you are using Israeli technology?!” As if somehow this provides some sort of rebuttal to the criticism.

Even if we accept the assumption that Israeli technology is somehow indispensable to modern life – and I certainly do not buy this assumption – there is a conflation here between the activities of individual Israelis or Israeli companies and Israel’s political pursuits. An American female blogger, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten, noted that this minor psychosis is really strange: when someone criticises the United States government, it does not occur to her to say “but we gave the world a whole range of Apple products!”

This psychosis has now reached its zenith, an example of which can be seen here: one the most repulsive hasbara organisations, Shurat HaDin, is calling physicist Stephen Hawking a hypocrite for daring to boycott Israel while simultaneously using an Intel chip which is at the core of the system with which the handicapped physicist engages with the world . This chip, claims the lawfare organization organization, was manufactured in Israel. Thus, the brutes of Shurat HaDin suggest that if Hawking wants to be an honest man, he ought to shut the fuck up. This, in essence, is the emblematic Israeli response: shut your mouth when you criticize me.

Intel is an international company with branches in Israel. It is far from certain whether the chip that Hawking uses was created or designed by Israelis. Moreover, I doubt that Intel is all that keen about this kind of attention by Shurat HaDin. In free countries, those in which one may call for a boycott of Israel, Shurat HaDin’s atavistic approach may certainly lead to a call for a boycott of Intel until it ceases its activities in Israel. Naturally, this doesn’t apply in Israel where anyone calling for a boycott runs the risk of hundreds of settlers prosecuting them and demanding up to NIS 30,000 ($8250) without having to prove actual damages.

A boycott of Intel could be a good idea: the Israeli taxpayer has been subsidizing the corporation for many years under the program of “socialism for the rich, swinish capitalism for the have nots.” So those taxpayers might indeed be delighted when Intel — one of the most predatory corporations around — goes on to exploit other country. But that’s a different story.

Stephen Hawking’s message to Israeli elites: The occupation has a price
A Zionist defense of Hawking