Open source pioneer cites PA pressure in nixing Israel talks


WASHINGTON (JTA) — A pioneer of open source computer programming canceled three lectures at Israeli universities because of pressure from the Palestinian Authority.

Richard Stallman 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, Haaretz reported Tuesday.

"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 e-mail 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 originially 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. His GNU project eventually launched the Linux operating system, which was originally conceived by Linus Torvalds.

Recommended from JTA