Day Three – Campaign against Censorship in Israel, Keller in a Pub, Princess Siam and I. October 12, 2008Posted by GuySoft in Hamakor, ITU.
Tags: censorship, ITU, olpc
Today a few important things happened, I am giving a table of contents so you can skip to what interests you.
In the morning we woke up even earlier than the day before, at 05:30, because the staff did not want us to e late to the opening ceremony that was starring the princess of Thailand. I don’t have much to tell apart from the fact that is was pretty cool to be in such a royal event. However we got stuck at the youth forum lounge because the princess decided to stay for lunch at the pavilion.
As we were stuck at the lounge I noticed the group form Palestine. Up till then, I did not get the chance to exchange any words with them, so I did. I would like to stress that there is no hostility between any of us. On the contrary, we all want to make new friends. I talked to Muhammad who is from Ramallah, and we put up the idea of helping connectivity in Ramallah in combine with joint classrooms between Israel and Palestine. We said this should continue after the conference. I want to stress this – I truly believe that this is the way to end our ongoing conflict would be to talk and form human connections. It might sound like a cliche, but I do think we need to solve this from bottom to top as well as from top to bottom.
Once of the problems I wanted to bring up during my visit was the censorship law that is in stages to be passed in the Israeli government that will, in effect, give the ministry of communication the way to block sites from the public. At the coffee break I talked with Howard Williams who was a part of the policy and regulation forum. Howard called a group with the heads of the youth forum (I am not sure who was who exactly, apart from Walda). The problem is that the ITU can’t tell the governments what to do, and it tries to avoid the censorship problems because countries like China, Iran and others are part of it. So what I said is that we could try and tackle the problem where it lies. The law that is being passed in Israel, is cleverly disguised as a law to stop paedophiles and porn sites (what politician would vote against such a law?). The politicians have no idea what they are approving! In the news site I am part of, we tried to contact the members of parliament that voted for the law, but only got refusals to comment (this includes the political party that proposed the law!).
This has led us to the following idea: What we should do is write to a news paper aboard, that would be read by the members of parliament (something on the scale of "The Economist"), the article would show the absurd steps taken by the Israeli government (this law is non-democratic, this is no secret), and hope this kind of criticism will reach the minds of the voters. I also find it as my duty to bring this subject to the youth forum table, as reluctant as lot of people are to talk about it.
After the forum we were taken to an opening ceremony that was pretty impressive, we were asked to come there with our formal attire (aka the traditional clothing of our country). Unfortunately there is no formal attire in Israel, so I just wore smart clothes. There seemed to be a lot of VIP everywhere. Then suddenly all the friends of the youth forum started dancing on the stage, which was pretty exiting (you need to picture about 100 people from 50 countries dancing together in their traditional clothing).
After the party, I started talking to Matt Keller, he seemed to be the main presenter for OLPC in the conference. He invited Rotem, Davor (the representative of Australia) and myself to a pub! We spoke on the way about practically everything, from the fact the UN is not bold enough on things, to politics in Israel, he even said he is arriving to our area in September (to Lebanon). There is a sentence he said that I would like to quote here: “The UN withholds saying that a laptop per child in country X is going to contribute the country. Since it might damage the traditional way of life. If the question was – do you think your county would benefit from electricity, what would you think the answer would be?!”. I think this give the basic insight of OLPC, that people tend to miss. ICT should be just like the public health service, electricity and anything that is provided to citizens.
Its more or less 04:26 now, so I must go to sleep now. Here are the chosen pictures of the day.