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Tuesday, 31 May 2011 10:05

Stallman does not blame Palestinians for boycott

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Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman says that he does not blame Palestinians for their non-violent boycott of Israel which resulted in him having to cancel some talks scheduled in Israel.


Stallman had been invited to speak in some Palestinian universities; when Israeli free software enthusiasts heard about this, he was also invited to speak at some venues in Israel.

But when Stallman's Palestinian hosts became aware of this, they said they would withhold funding for his trip if he gave any talks in Israel. He was thus forced to cancel those talks.

"Some Palestinians invited me to speak in Palestinian universities," Stallman told iTWire. "I then arranged speeches in Israel afterwards since I would be there.

"When the Palestinian hosts found out about this, they said they would not pay for my tickets if I were going to speak at Israeli universities. They have a campaign of boycott of Israeli universities.

"I had a choice of speaking in Palestine and cancelling those speeches, or not going at all and cancelling those speeches. I chose the former.

"I don't advocate a blanket boycott of Israeli universities. (If I did, I would not have offered in the first place to give speeches in them.) But I am not going to campaign against it either.

"I see where the Palestinians are coming from: Israel's occupation policies are horrible. (See the stallman.org political notes for more information; also see gush-shalom.org.)

"Non-violent Palestinian protests are crushed with persistent brutality. (See https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=221897.) Palestinians who are against violence are looking desperately for some method of non-violent resistance that has an effect. I can't blame them for it, even if I don't agree entirely with the details. So I don't want to oppose them during this trip.

"I hope to give talks in Israel, although not at universities."


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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