Free software guru Richard Stallman has been forced to cancel a trip to Israel after managing to land himself in hotwater on both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian wall.
Stallman had originally planned to speak at a number of Israeli universities which would nicely coincide with a pre-planned jaunt over to Palestine to give a number of lectures.
However this plan backfired rather spectacularly due to the fact that the Palestinians, which were paying for Stallman’s trip, were somewhat reluctant to support his jolly across the border to offer his expertise to the Israeli universities on their dime.
This meant that he was forced to renege on commitments to speak at Tel Aviv University, Haifa University and others in July in an embarrassing u-turn, writing that he was “sorry for the disappointment”.
In an email to Edward Aronowvich of the Israeli Society for Free and Open Source Software he explained “the funds for my travel to Israel are coming from Palestinians who invited me to give talks for them,” and so he would have to cancel the trip says according to Haaretz.
Not surprisingly this did not go down well in the Isreali camp where his famous ideals of freedom were questioned after backtracking over the fact that if he lectures in Israel the Palestinians stubbornly insisted that they “won’t buy the tickets” for him and the whole trip would be off.
Aronovich replied in an email you can see here that he was “not disappointed” that Stallman would not give the talks stating that it is his “legitimate right”.
However he expressed doubts over Stallman’s truthfulness about freedom.
“Boycotting the Israeli Universities since you get funds from Palestinians means that you accepted the Palestinians proprietary license,” Aronovich said.
“Neither you nor them want to help their neighbor (sic). 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 (sic) implementation of your own ideas.”