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DebConf20: offer to speak in Palestine censored (debian.community)
117 points by fsfesicherheit 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 44 comments

If(?) you really want to read this, please note that the site is closely connected to a former Debian developer with an axe to grind and at least people in his very close proximity acting in bad faith [0][1].

Please use your judgement as to the quality of the contents of https://debian.community. I have no horse in this race, but I do notice it is a prime example of Godwin's law [2]...

[0] dig debian.community, dig danielpocock.com

[1] https://nm.debian.org/public/people/dd_all - no Daniel Pocock anymore

[2] https://debian.community/nazi-rhetoric-creeping-into-debian/

Note that this is the same person whose message was allegedly censored.

The actual reason the message didn't reach the mailing list it that he's banned there.

being banned and being censored are much the same thing. it is all just dirty politics. this is the reason I don't join any large free software organization or any other large non-profit for that matter

I do notice it is a prime example of Godwin's law.

Except it didn't involve that kind of rhetoric at all.

Not until you brought it into the conversation.

IMHO the carefulness that was put in writing that message make it impossible to interpret it as antisemitic or bad faith. Actually interpreting it as antisemitic is bad faith.

If the message was silently censored, there's no reason to believe that the list manager is claiming that it was antisemitic.

Here's another possible explanation: maybe the message was posted by an individual who is generally banned from Debian mailing lists.

Come to that, maybe the same individual is the author of all the articles on the oddly-anonymous "Debian Community News" site.

I suspect the care put into the message was more to ensure that this specific example would look reasonable on its own. When set in the context of the site it's posted on, and the other sites associated with the author (e.g. fsfesicherheit's other postings to HN), it looks more like a pattern of quite targeted harassment.

I personally have no skin in this game, but if the message was censored from the list I would give the listmasters the benefit of the doubt that this was due to the author of the e-mail rather than the content per se.

>(e.g. fsfesicherheit's other postings to HN)

A single other submission (an article on the Berlin Wall) and two comments relating to said article consitutes a HN posting history?

I'm not seeing anti-semitism here but I am seeing censorship.

If you click through and read the article, it has nothing to do with the Berlin Wall.

Wirt said "I did not wanted to say its antisemetic, I wanted to say that we don't want to see either antisemetic _or_ antiisrelism" (sic)

Deleting messages that express specifically anti-semitic views is anti-racist.

Deleting messages that express specifically anti-state views, where that state imposes racial apartheid, is explicitly pro-racist.

This was the latter.

This is a (probably not intentional) ad-hominem

Headline is misleading. He didn't 'offer to speak', he proposed splitting the conference 50:50 between Israel and Palestine. Fine, if that's something you think would benefit the community, but then should we also be splitting conferences in China between Beijing and Tibet? Russia and East Ukraine? India and Kashmir?

Either turn every academic conference into a geopolitical soapbox or just host it where the engineers are and leave it at that.

Have you read the letter ?

> I'd personally volunteer to give the same talk twice for both audiences.

And you've drawn a lot of false equivelancies, leaving aside that its completely unrelated to this topic.

The article is about the interpretation of Anti-semetism.. Not litterally where the conference should be held.

But seems you haven't read it.

Why is in order for us to do this, we have to do that? What about supporting Palestine bothers you so much?

Nothing about supporting Palestine bothers me in the slightest. I'm explaining why someone might think a thread about organising a conference about an open source operating system in a city with many open source contributors is not the appropriate place to bring it up.

Don't bring geopolitics into everything. That way lies madness.

So would you have participated to a developer conference in apartheid South Africa? You think the issue was some sterile "geopolitics" debate?

>Don't bring geopolitics into everything.

A general ban on hosting conferences in geopolitically sensitive hotspots that covered Israel would be the non-hypocritical way to achieve this aim, supposing it is the true aim.

However, hosting a conference in Israel is inviting political posturing. Message censorship is political posturing. Using anti-semitism to censor non-anti-semitism is political posturing (and, usually, a form of anti-arab racism itself).

Why the censorship though? That is pretty nefarious.

Palestinians basically live in israel, but have manufactured concrete borders put around them. Inhibiting their freedom of movement in their own country. Not allowing them to go to conferences. So holding a deb community member asking the community if they would be willing to spend some time for the engineers less fortunate, is actually quite awesome of him.

We have only the account of "censored" one. Censorship is not a fact.

> Can you see any way in which this message could be considered anti-semitic?

I accept the message can be disturbing to some (not to me) but I believe it is not anti-semitic.

> the message can be disturbing to some

How would it be disturbing?

For any kind of discussion where there are multiple conflicting ideas, it is likely that an argument based even at least partially on opinion can be disturbing to one or some of the parties.

Inflammatory is the word you're looking for. Or flamebait.

There is no opinion here. Just someone who advances a pretty harmless proposal.

There are more facts than opinions there and thus, I totally support what the author is proposing! But this doesn't mean the whole piece is written in a neutral tone.

Here is the paragraph which includes the author's opinion, initiated with a seemingly rhetorical question:

> 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.

Surprise someone flagged something mentioning censorship talking about Israel.

And now it's gone, why flagging, then taking it away? Why no infos? What's happening?

This way won't stay on the front page . Someone flags it and when time passes mods unflag it but it stays out of the front page , it reaches to less people. Perfect manipulation. Edit: I don't mean HN mods manipulation, just someone who doesn't want this info to reach a wider audience

Thanks for the input.


You shall not talk about what Israel does.


He removed a bad-faith message that needlessly brought up political issues.

Political - yes, though one could argue that the toxic state of relations in that region (almost) forces us to be political, in nearly any decision we make.

Arguably, staying silent (and not bringing the idea of a dual-city conference) would have been a "political" gesture, also. Tacitly in favor of the current status quo.

But bad faith? I don't think so.

Making the decision to host a conference in Israel in the first place is a form of political posturing, as is message censorship. If they truly wanted to be apolitical (and it appears that Alexander Wirt very much does not) they could have held it somewhere more neutral (e.g. Turkey).

Are you serious? There was an article on HN just yesterday about how Turkey censored Wikipedia for two years.

I think a lot of Israeli engineers would just like to be able to host conferences without it turning into a geopolitical debate.

>Are you serious? There was an article on HN just yesterday about how Turkey censored Wikipedia for two years.

And yet it would maximize those who would be able to attend. Both Israelis and Arabs can fly to Turkey pretty easily.

>I think a lot of Israeli engineers would just like to be able to host conferences without it turning into a geopolitical debate

I'm sure a lot of North Korean and Venezuelan engineers would love that too, but until the Israeli government ends racial apartheid the chances of it not turning into a geopolitical debate are zero.

I don’t want to get inti a huge debate here, but you’ve repeatedly talked about apartheid which is a highly inappropriate metaphor that often gets tossed around as if it’s somehow factual. There are Arab citizens of Israel, and they don’t have codified laws that require them to live separately from Jews, nor do you find signs that say “beware of Arabs” and other such hallmarks of apartheid. It’s a disservice to both the history of South Africa and Israel to use this term.

There are few places that don’t have geopolitical concerns for _someone_. I don’t think the community would be up in arms for a conference in the US, but plenty cannot come to the US (and it’s hardly not geopolitically controversial). I don’t think you’ll find many Armenian or Kurdish developers who want or could come to Turkey, for example. If you host in Palestinian territory, you won’t find many Israelis, Jews, gays, or other persecuted minorities able to attend that either.

I ask you to recognize that these things are complicated and multi-faceted, with a wide variety of “valid” viewpoints depending on who you are, and not worthy of such reductionism.

> but you’ve repeatedly talked about apartheid which is a highly inappropriate metaphor

The apartheid accusation doesn't have much to do with Arab Israelis; the fact is that Israel exercises complete civil and military control over vast portions of the West Bank; in these areas, you can be Jewish- in which case you're an Israeli citizen, subject to civil law and able to vote for the government that effectively controls the area; or, if you're Palestinian, you're subject to the military law and vote for a government that is powerless on the territory. This is an apartheid situation, but Israel can deny it because it happens outside of its legal borders, where Israel enjoys every privilege of sovereignty without any of the duties.

> you’ve repeatedly talked about apartheid which is a highly inappropriate

There's a wall with guard towers. I've been there and seen it myself. The existence of some 2nd class Arab citizens that they couldn't ethnically cleanse or expel any other way while the world was watching doesn't change that fact.

>I ask you to recognize that these things are complicated

It was never complicated. Israel was a racist European colonization project just like South Africa. The fact that it screams anti-semitism until it's blue in the face and asks you do to the same does not change that fact.

There are codified laws that specificities ally exempt Arab Israelis from. National service.

It made sense to boycott South Africa during apartheid, and it makes sense to boycott Israel today.

I can understand it, but how can you expect to keep living normally as if nothing was happening, when your army's snipers are shooting live bullets on protesters and 10% of your population lives on illegally occupied territories?

This is not "a geopolitical debate", this is a fundamental human rights issue.

I don't have any inside knowledge on this. But I would think choosing any particular country could be interpreted as posturing by some group.

Many people remain uncomfortable about how DebConf organizers are handling the challenges presented in the middle east.

As someone, who has zero experience with DebConf whatsoever, I have to say, I can see how such an intro could be interpreted as anti-semitic. What "challenges" would have an Israli conference have to handle? How and why. If it's just because it is Israeli then do all Israeli conferences need to "handle" this challenge?

Should DebCon be boycotted if it doesn't live up to said "challenges"?

But maybe someone can explain, what is meant by "challenges"?

Also, as a sidenote, the article doesn't help it's case either, if it uses the Holocaust as a reason to criticize Israel.

For example : the territory is zoned, there are military checkpoints and depending on your ethnicity, you are not free to go where you want. So if you are Muslim for instance you could be banned from attending the conference.

> the territory is zoned

Haifa is not zoned. It's inside Israel, which once entered you're free to wander around.

> there are military checkpoints

Given the threat posed by terrorism, blaming the Israelis for having military checkpoints on their land borders is kind of disengenious

> depending on your ethnicity

Arabic is an official language of Israel. 20% of its people are Muslim. I've never witnessed a security check where men wearing a Taqiyah were treated different. Please ride the Jerusalem tram, which is packed almost 50/50 with orthodox jews and orthodox muslims and tell me, this is an Apartheit-state and not a place of civic order.

> So if you are Muslim for instance you could be banned from attending the conference.

No, you're not. As the place of the conference is Haifa, once you've managed to pass border-customs at the airport your movement is unrestriced inside Israel.

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