Early last week, when it came out that British physicist Stephen Hawking had decided to not attend a late-spring conference in Jerusalem, he went quickly from being a cult hero in the Israeli high tech sphere to pariah. Although he has been to Israel several times in the past – and to the occupied territories of the West Bank, now called “Palestine” by a growing number of countries, agencies and notable individuals – he was encouraged by British academics, Palestinian scholars and American linguist, Noam Chomski, to back out.