Open source pioneer cancels Israel lectures

A pioneer of open-source computer programming canceled three lectures at Israeli universities because of pressure from the Palestinian Authority.

Richard Stallman, an American, said his Palestinian hosts threatened to pull their financial support for his July trip if he spoke to an Israeli audience along with his planned lectures to Palestinian audiences, the Ha’aretz daily reported May 31.

“They are unhappy that I offered to give talks at Israeli universities, and say they won’t buy the tickets if I’m going to do that,” Stallman wrote in an email to his Israeli coordinator. Stallman said he will speak in the Palestinian regions as planned.

“I think it is best if I go and give the speeches they originally invited me to give,” Stallman said. “I am sorry for the disappointment this will cause.”

Stallman is a self-described software freedom activist and is the founder of the Free Software Foundation, which seeks to promote computer user freedom and campaigns against software patents. — jta