DebConf20: offer to speak in Palestine censored
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On 20 December 2019, a Debian Developer posted the message below to the debian-project mailing list, offering to give the same talk at both DebConf20 in Haifa, Israel and again in Palestine the next day.
The message never appeared in the list and can't be found in the list archive for December.
Alexander Wirt (formorer) has previously declared that he will censor messages about Israel due to anti-semitism. Yet the message below doesn't include anything against Israel and doesn't mention the boycott campaign. It is simply a volunteer offering to give up more of his time to help a population in Palestine who suffer from extraordinary discrimination.
Is Wirt really fighting anti-semitism, or could the DebConf20 organizers simply be afraid of any discussion that may deter wealthy Israeli sponsors? This doesn't suggest that Israelis have actually sought such influence, it is more of an indication of how easily some volunteers with official roles in Debian are bamboozled when anyone, whether it is an Israeli company or a Silicon Valley company, shows up with a fistful of cash.
Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day and the Jewish people are asking us not to forget the Holocaust. Yet when people turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in Palestine, when they expel people from organizations for purely political reasons or when they censor mailing lists, they are saying that human rights are optional. To be credible and sincere in remembering the Holocaust, we must show equal respect for all human beings, their political views and of course their religion.
Subject: DebConf Israel and DebConf Palestine
Date: Fri, 20 Dec 2019 23:59:18 +0100
Many people remain uncomfortable about how DebConf organizers are handling the challenges presented in the middle east.
I'd like to share an observation about how the British currently handle the question of visiting Israel: when Government or royal officials go there, they spend 50% of their time on Palestinian territory. They also visit neighboring countries.
Could half of DebConf 2020 be held in Palestine?
Would anybody like to have two DebConfs back-to-back, one in Israel and one in Palestine?
I'd personally volunteer to give the same talk twice for both audiences.
Debian Developers are volunteers and can't be obliged to visit either of these countries. However, in the case of people funded by bursaries, it may be reasonable to make it a criteria of the bursary that the recipient visits both countries.
Can you see any way in which this message could be considered anti-semitic?
If your company wants to become a DebConf sponsor, stake your claim to geo-political influence or simply ensure volunteers are well fed, you can contact the team here.