Shame on Richard Stallman

Open source pioneer always stood for freedom and independence caves in to political pressure

Richard Stallman has made a career and name as someone who does not kowtow to authority. He fights for freedoms - freedom of choice in software, freedom from tyranny and freedom to choose.  So it was shocking to me to read that the "father of the open source movement" would withdraw from his scheduled appearances at Israeli Universities while on a trip to Middle East due to pressure from Palestinians.  

It seems that the Palestinians had booked Stallman to come speak at several colleges and schools in Palestinian territories.  Stallman figured while he was in the area, he would take the opportunity to speak at several Israeli Universities as well.  When the Palestinians got wind of this, they said that they would not pay for Stallman's airfare if would speak at Israeli schools too. Faced with this, rather than looking for other funding or standing up for freedom (not just in software), Stallman has withdrawn from his scheduled appearances at the Israeli schools. Shame on Stallman!

Surprisingly it seems Stallman will make some appearances in Israel, just not in any Universities.  At least according to what he told the IT Wire. To me this makes no sense at all. Either don't appear in Israel at all or appear there where you want to. Don't let anyone tell you where you can and can't speak.

Edward Aronowvich of the Israeli Society for Free and Open Source Software wrote back to Stallman and chided him saying: 

I am not disappointed that you will not give the talks - That is your legitimate right. When we had the same goals we set it and now we do not. That might happen and even though it is not pleasant it is not totally unacceptable. However, personally I start to doubt your truthfulness about freedom. Boycotting the Israeli Universities since you get funds from Palestinians means that you accepted the Palestinians proprietary license. Neither you nor them want to help their neighbor. That is the meaning of what you are doing. Oh boy, you should really re-consider the meaning of freedom given the agreements you make. You chose the "Free beer" giving up the "Free of speech" and that disappoints me very much since it has to do with the genuinity implementation of your own presented ideas.

But a review of Stallman's notes on Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would show that Stallman's decision should not come as a surprise. This website offers many examples of Stallman's pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli views.

Nevertheless, someone who is so closely associated with freedom of choice to be dictated to like that and to give in to it is shocking. I am very disappointed in Stallman for doing this.

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