Despite “Israeli” Propaganda, Founder of Free Software Foundation, Stallman Confirms His Visit to Palestine

11 Jun, 2011

Richard M. Stallman (“RMS”), founder of the Free Software Foundation and the GNU Project, confirmed his visit to Palestine after receiving an invitation from the free software and open source communities in Palestine.

Stallman’s visit to “Israeli”-occupied Palestine means a lot to Palestinian techies, free software advocates, and supporters of general freedoms around the world. Stallman calls for the freedom and right to disseminate knowledge for the advancement of people and the humankind progress, within a unique relation between software and general freedoms, which became an independent approach that is widely applied in computer science, and spread to non-technical domains.

The world of software and applications that we use, falls into two categories, the first is non-free & closed were the user have no knowledge on how it works nor how to develop it further, This category is the most common among users.The second category is the free open source software, which matches the 1st category in quality, however it complies with a set of freedoms that grants the user the ability and power to further develop & customize it and use is as a source of knowledge that can be built upon, publish and benefit from it in the advancement of human kind.

In recent weeks, Stallman has been under harsh criticism by Israeli media and tech associations for canceling his lectures at Israeli Universities which were added to his itinerary because of his visit to Palestine.

His decision to cancel the “Israeli” appearances was made after being briefed by the organizers on how visiting Israeli universities within his visit to Palestine goes against the guidelines of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) — a nonviolent strategy to pressure Israel to end the illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territory.

Stallman’s withdrawal from his Israeli appearances provoked the Israeli media, and tech communities in Israel, to attack Stallman in local and international forums in addition to the Israeli media, accusing him of going against the freedom principles he advocates, and suggesting that his decision was forced upon him by the Palestinian National Authority.

The Palestinian organizers deny all claims that the PNA was involved in organizing Stallman’s visit, maintaining that it is solely organized by autonomous Palestinian tech communities.

In response to the accusations of political bias in his decision to honor the PACBI guidelines, Stallman commented, “If I had considered the Palestinians’ insistence unjustified, I would have looked for a way around it, such as asking for other funds to speak at the Israeli institutions. However, I decided to go along with their demand because I see where they are coming from. Israel’s occupation policies are horrible; nonviolent Palestinian protests are crushed with persistent brutality. Palestinians who are against violence are looking desperately for an effective method of nonviolent resistance. I can’t blame them for it even if I don’t agree entirely with the details. So I decided to accept their boycott policy during this trip, and I cancelled my speeches at Israeli universities.”.

Stallman will be in Palestine July 14-18, 2011 for a visit arranged and hosted by Palestinian free software and open source communities. A variety of central event and visits to Palestinian academic institutions will be carried out during his visit, in addition to community related activities and programs.

Stallman launched the famous GNU Project in 1984 to provide a computational platform built entirely on free software, that offers tools that is being used in many world class application. Moreover the GNU Public License, GPL, governs the distribution of software in a way that ensures it’s freedom is widely used today, where most free licenses today followed the same path.

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