Ikindi Gitotsi mu Mubano w’u Rwanda na Uganda

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Perezida w’u Rwanda Paul Kagame (ibumoso) na perezida wa Uganda Yoweri Museveni (iburyo) Uganda irashinja u Rwanda kwicira abantu babiri ku butaka bwayo. Ministeri y’ububanyi n’amahanga ya Uganda, yamaganye bikomeye igikorwa yise More »

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Dear Friend,

Dear Friend,

Around this time yesterday, we sent you an email about our Fruit Tree Campaign.


As you probably know, the Sabbatical Year (Shmita) is almost here are there are now less than 12 days left to plant in Israel.

In an effort to help observant Israeli farmers, we are trying to get as many trees in the ground while there is still time.

Within the hour of when the email was sent, the enemies of Israel overloaded our server with million of requests, in an effort to shut us down.

Our site was actually shut down. We got tons of emails telling us that many of you were not able to participate in our fruit tree planting campaign.

We worked diligently through the night to upgrade our systems and get the best protection possible on very short notice.

Along with the IDF and other Israeli government sites, we had experienced numerous cyber-attacks during the Gaza War in November 2012, and had upgraded then, but apparently it wasn’t good enough.

We cannot let Hamas win on any front – including the cyber-war.

What you can do in response is plant even more! Click here to plant…

Whether or not you experienced this or any other cyber-attack…

Whether or not you thought how YOU can help to defeat Hamas…

… and whether or not you’ve already planted fruit trees in Israel…

Together, let’s turn this attack into something positive for Israel. Don’t let them shut us down. We can defeat Hamas by doing even more and more for Israel.

Click here to Plant Fruit Trees in Israel within the Next 11 Days

IMPORTANT: 
If you experience any problem whatsoever with our website, please let us know immediately! Your timely feedback is critical for our efforts to advocate for Israel.

If you are interested in supporting the effort to win the war for Israel in the media – and on the battlefield of public opinion – click here to donate.

We thank you for standing united with Israel throughout these difficult times. Your help is so vital and is greatly appreciated.

With Blessings from Israel, 
The United with Israel Family

Click Here to Help MORE Israeli Farmers by planting MORE Fruit Trees

Dear Friend of Gatestone,

On Tuesday, the European Union (EU) announced a new online speech code to be enforced by four major tech companies, including Facebook and YouTube.On Wednesday, Facebook deleted the account of Ingrid Carlqvist, Gatestone’s Swedish expert.


It’s no coincidence.

Ingrid had posted our latest video to her Facebook feed — called “Sweden’s Migrant Rape Epidemic.” As you can see, Ingrid calmly lays out the facts and statistics, all of which are meticulously researched.

It’s a video version of this research paper that Gatestone published last year. The video has gone viral — racking up more than 80,000 views in its first two days.

But the EU is quite candid: it is applying a political lens to their censorship, and it now has teams of political informants — with the Orwellian title of “trusted reporters” — to report any cases of “xenophobia” or “hate speech” to Facebook for immediate deletion.

It’s political censorship. It’s outrageous. And it’s contrary to our western values of free speech, political freedom and the separation of mosque and state. But in another way, it’s a tremendous compliment — the world’s censors think that Gatestone Institute’s work is important enough and persuasive enough that it needs to be silenced.

Well, not if we have anything to say about it. We raised such a ruckus about this attack that the Swedish media started reporting on Facebook’s heavy-handed censorship. It backfired, and Facebook went into damage-control mode. They put Ingrid’s account back up — without any explanation or apology. Ironically, their censorship only gave Ingrid’s video more attention.

Facebook and the EU have backed down — for today. But they’re deadly serious about stopping ideas they don’t like. They’ll be back.

So what should we do? I think there is only one thing we can do: continue to produce our well-researched reports, and to expand our online presence with even more videos!

As you know, just last week we started releasing high-quality original videos, hosted by our Gatestone experts. Our first four videos have already been watched by more than 150,000 people!

It’s a great way to make our research come alive — and as Ingrid’s viral video shows, to get our ideas noticed.

So I want Gatestone’s talented experts to make more videos — a lot more! We need to win the battle of ideas. Can you help?

Each video costs us approximately $500 to produce. But as Facebook’s attack on us shows, they’re worth every penny.

Will you help us do that?

If you can sponsor one video, for $500, that would be a powerful statement of your support for our ideas — and your resistance to the Facebook/EU censorship. But even a $50 gift would be so helpful — if just 100 Gatestone supporters chipped in $50, that’s enough to produce ten more powerful video presentations — any one of which could go viral too!

Facebook and the European Union thought they could shut us up. I want to prove them wrong. Please click here, to help us fight back. Do it for Ingrid!

Yours truly,

Nina Rosenwald
President and Founder, Gatestone Institute

P.S. Click here to see all of our YouTube videos so far. I want to do so many more, and with more of our experts. It’s a great way to spread our message, especially in the age of short, shareable videos. Please consider contributing $50, $500 or whatever you can!

P.P.S. We’ve never been censored this way before. I think it means we’re making a difference. What do you think?

Gatestone Institute is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, Federal Tax ID #454724565.
Contributions to Gatestone Institute are tax deductible in the U.S. to the full extent of the law

Cuba and Obama’s ‘Axis of Evil’ America Rescues Dying Dictatorships Which Then Try to Destroy It by A.J. Caschetta

  • Just as the Soviet Union did not subsidize Castro’s tyranny for the good cigars, so too Iran and North Korea are less interested in old weapons and luxury goods than in the one thing Cuba has always offered to America’s enemies — physical proximity. The USSR used Cuba as a forward operating base in the Cold War. Why would Iran and North Korea not do the same?

  • Iranian and North Korean scientists have been openly cooperating on so many projects that Iran, if it is not already doing so, will likely evade IAEA inspections by testing its weapons in North Korea.
  • A medium range missile fired from Cuba could reach most of the US. Cuba would also be a good launch point for an EMP attack on the US.
  • Obama’s diplomatic engagement with Cuba’s octogenarian dictators will ensure that the island prison stays in business. Like Iran, Cuba has been flaunting its tyranny since Obama’s outreach, with 8,616 political arrests in 2015.

When George W. Bush used the term “axis of evil” to describe Iran, Iraq and North Korea in his 2002 State of the Union speech he was derided from all sides. Post-modernists and others among whom ideas of good and evil are quaint but obsolete, sneered that Bush was a simplistic thinker. Others, who agreed that threats to their existence might be evil, seemed less troubled by the ethics than by the accuracy of the term “axis.”

Bush, by linking these three nations, was accused of misunderstanding that members of an axis work together. As Iraq and Iran were mortal enemies, so went the argument, there was no evidence of cooperation.

In 2002 it may have been impossible to prove Iranian-North Korean cooperation, but that has changed. Since at least 2012 when the two countries signed a technological cooperation pact, Iranian and North Korean scientists have been openly cooperating on so many projects that Iran, if it is not already doing so, will likely evade IAEA inspections by testing its weapons in North Korea.

Whether through prescience or luck, Bush was correct about the Iran-North Korea connection. With Saddam out of the picture the “Axis of Evil” has become the “Duo of Evil” — not nearly the same ring. There also is evidence that the Duo is seeking to recruit a new third member to complete the axis.

Putin’s Russia, for instance, could easily be taken for a new member of the axis. Its fingerprints have been showing up in many places: the murder of Russian dissidents, the downing of passenger jets, the invasion of its neighbors. Putin’s decisions to cancel the transfer of S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran and withdrawal of troops from Syria suggest a Russia making a strategic retreat for its own best interests at the moment, whatever they may be.

China might also part of the axis. Constructing military bases on artificial islands indicates a budding expansionism. China’s reportedly growing dismay over North Korea’s antics, however, suggest a nation too concerned with its own interests to join any axis seeking to destroy the chief marketplace for its goods.

The less obvious, but more probable, recruit to the axis is Cuba, which shares with Iran and North Korea an institutional hatred for the USA and a history of autocratic rule. Robin Wright has called Cuba and Iran “melancholy twins.”

Most bitterly of all, all three countries might today be far less threatening had U.S. aid not saved them at crucial moments when their tottering regimes might have been toppled.

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Cuban dictator Raúl Castro during the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, on April 11, 2015. (Image source: White House/Pete Souza)

Had Jimmy Carter not pulled the regime out from under the Shah, the Iranian Revolution might never have caught on. Carter’s shameful treatment of an imperfect ally is a blight on his presidency. But when the so-called Green Revolution broke out in 2009, a newly-inaugurated President Obama did nothing to help the revolutionaries. Worse, he reached out his open hand, eventually placing billions of dollars at the mullah’s disposal just when sanctions were crippling Iran’s economy.

In 1994, North Korea was not yet a nuclear power. Its economy was almost non-existent, and an ailing Kim Il-Sung was losing the battle of world opinion after the IAEA declared it in violation of non-proliferation safeguards. Just when international opprobrium might have been leveraged against the regime, a semi-retired Jimmy Carter saved the Kims with the worst diplomatic deal the U.S. had ever made. The subsequent Clinton-Carter Agreed Framework provided Kim Jong Il (whose father died during negotiations) regular shipments of heavy fuel oil and, of all things, two light water nuclear plants. In return, Kim promised not to do what he immediately set about doing.

The now-infamous photograph of Kim Jong-Il and Madeleine Albright toasting the deal is an iconic tableau to diplomatic folly on par with Neville Chamberlain triumphantly waving a piece of paper with Hitler’s promise to behave himself, or more recently, John Kerry and Zarif shaking hands over the JCPOA.

Now Cuba is being saved just when its repressive dictatorship was finally vulnerable and fading on the vine, bereft of the welfare it enjoyed first from its Soviet patrons and then from Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Obama’s diplomatic engagement with Cuba’s octogenarian dictators will ensure that the island prison stays in business. Like Iran, Cuba has been flaunting its tyranny since Obama’s outreach, with 8,616 political arrests in 2015.

Historical similarities aside, Cuba has cooperated with both Iran and North Korea. Under the Shah, Iran had no diplomatic ties with Cuba; but after 1979, Castro was one of the first nations to recognize Khomeini’s regime as the legitimate government of Iran. Since then, ties between the two have been increasing steadily. In May of 2001, Fidel Castro visited Iran, where he said “Iran and Cuba, in cooperation with each other, can bring American to its knees.” Visiting Cuba at a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in 2006, then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thanked the Castros for their support of his country’s nuclear program; he visited Cuba again in 2012; by 2014 the relationship had grown even closer.

Cuban relations with North Korea are not as old nor as easily documented as those with Iran. Aside from Castro’s visit to Pyongyang in 1986 and some weapons transfers in the 1980s, there had been little to report, until recently. The Economist offers 2008 as the year that cooperation between Cuba and North Korea began increasing. In 2013, the North Korean ship Chong Chon Gang was interdicted in Panama after leaving Cuba laden with Soviet weaponry hidden under mountains of sugar. There were MiG jets, spare MiG engines, missile parts, radar components, and other weaponry. There were reports that the ship had visited Cuba several times before being caught with the weapons. What else might have been smuggled out of Cuba is far less worrisome than what might have been smuggled into Cuba.

A Cuban role in the axis would be more than ideological. Just as the USSR did not subsidize Castro’s tyranny for the good cigars, so too Iran and North Korea are less interested in old weapons and luxury goods than in the one thing Cuba has always offered to America’s enemies — physical proximity. The USSR used Cuba as a forward operating base in the Cold War. Why would Iran and North Korea not do the same?

Most analysts are focused on North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), but a medium-range missile fired from Cuba could reach most of the US. Cuba would also be a good launch point for an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the US.

Just days before North Korea’s purported hydrogen bomb test, the State Department reached out to Kim Jong Un with another lifeline offer. And on March 17, the US removed Cuba from the list of countries deemed to have insufficient port security.

In spite of repeated Iranian violations of the JCPOA, there is no sign that the so-called “snapback sanctions” are even a topic of discussion at the White House. Last week, Russia used its veto at the UN Security Council to prevent any sanctions on Iran.

The biggest difference between the Bush and Obama approach to the “axis of evil” is that Bush was opposed to it; Obama appears infatuated.

A.J. Caschetta is a senior lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum. He can be reached at ajcgsl@rit.edu.

Critics of Islam on Trial in Europe: Wilders Convicted by Giulio Meotti

  • On December 9, for the first time in Dutch history, a court criminalized freedom of expression: The truly heroic Dutch Member of Parliament, Geert Wilders, was found guilty of the “crimes” of “inciting discrimination and insulting a minority group.”

  • The death sentence against Salman Rushdie in 1989 by Iran’s supreme leader looked unreal. The West did not take it seriously. Since then, however, this fatwa has been assimilated to such an extent that today’s threats to free speech come from ourselves. It is now the West that put on trial writers and journalists.
  • The Red Brigades, the Communist terror group which devastated Italy in the 1970s, coined a slogan: “Strike one to educate one hundred.” If you target one, you get collective intimidation. This is exactly the effect of these political trials about Islam.
  • “Hate speech” has become a political weapon to dispatch whoever may not agree with you. It is not the right of a democracy to quibble about the content of articles or cartoons. In the West, we paid a high price for the freedom to write them and and read them it. It is not up to those who govern to grant the right of thought and speech.
  • In Europe now, the same iron curtain as in the Soviet era is descending.

After the Second World War and the horrors of Nazism and Stalinism, a central tenet of Western democracies has been that you can put people on trial, but not ideas and opinions. Europe is now allowing dangerous “human rights” groups and Islamists to use tribunals to restrict the borders of our freedom of expression, exactly as in Soviet show trials. “Militant anti-racism will be for the 21st century what communism was for the 20th century,” the prominent French philosopher, Alain Finkielkraut has predicted.

A year ago, Christoph Biró, a respected columnist and editor of the largest Austrian newspaper, Kronen Zeitung, wrote an article blaming “young men, testosterone-fuelled Syrians, who carry out extremely aggressive sexual attacks” (even before mass the sexual assaults of New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Hamburg and other cities). The article sparked much controversy, and it received a large number of complaints and protests. Biró needed four weeks off work because of these attacks and later (under pressure) admitted that he had “lost a sense of proportion”. Prosecutors in Graz recently charged Biró with “hate speech” after a complaint by a so-called human rights organization, SOS Mitmensch. The case will be decided in court.

Journalists, novelists and intellectuals throughout Europe are now told to raise their right hand before a judge and swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth — as if that were not what they were doing all along and for what they are now being prosecuted. It is an alarming but very common sight today, where “hate speech” has become a political weapon to dispatch whoever may not agree with you.

It is not the right of a democracy to quibble about the content of articles or cartoons. In the West, we paid a high price for the freedom to read and write them. It is not up to those who govern to grant the right of thought and speech, that belongs to the free initiative in the democracies. The right to express our own opinion was paid for dearly, but if it is not exercised, it can quickly disappear.

A grotesque new legal front was just opened in Paris. The French philosopher Pascal Bruckner began his trial, where he opened his defense with a quotation from Jean-Paul Sartre: “The guns are loaded with words”. Bruckner, one of the most famous essayists of France, is on trial for having spoken out against the “collaborators of Charlie Hebdo‘s assassins”.

“I will say the names: The organizations ‘The Indivisibles’ of Rokhaya Diallo and ‘The Indigenous of the Republic’, the rapper Nekfeu who wanted ‘a bonfire for those dogs’ (Charlie Hebdo), all those who have justified with ideology the death of the twelve journalists”.

Countless witnesses testified in defense of Bruckner: the editor of Charlie Hebdo, “Riss”; the political scientist Laurent Bouvet; the former president of “Neither Whores nor Submissives,” Sihem Habchi; and the philosopher, Luc Ferry. Bruckner used the term “collaborator” for “those newspapers which justified the liquidation of the Résistance and the Jews” during the Second World War. Sihem Habchi spoke of the danger of a “green fascism”, Islamism.

Bruckner’s verdict will be announced on January 17. “Bruckner brought his voice before the 17th Chamber [court], too often a grave-digger of freedom of expression,” commented the important and courageous Riposte Laïque.

These political trials about Islam started in 2002, when a court in Paris considered a complaint against Michel Houellebecq, who, in the novel Platforme called Islam “the stupidest religion.” The writer Fernando Arrabal, arrested for blasphemy in 1967 in Franco’s Spain, was called by Houellebecq to testify in in court. “What a joy to be in a trial for crimes of opinion,” Arrabal said in Paris. “Zaragoza, Valladolid, Santander,” the playwright named a number of Spanish cities. “This is the list of the prisons where I have been for the same crime as Houellebecq.”

The late Italian writer, Oriana Fallaci, was also put on trial for her book, La Rage et l’Orgueil (“The Rage and the Pride“). The French newspaper Libération called her “the woman who defames Islam.” Later the satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, and its editor, Philippe Val, targeted by Islamist organizations, were also forced to appear in court.

The death sentence against Salman Rushdie in 1989 by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini looked unreal. The West did not take it seriously. Since then, however, this fatwa has been assimilated to such an extent that today’s threats to free speech come from ourselves. It is now the West that puts on trial writers and journalists.

It has become almost impossible to list all the journalists and writers who have had to defend themselves in court because of their ideas on Islam. To quote the French-Algerian writer, Boualem Sansal, the author of the novel “2084,” from an interview with Libération: “We are aware of the danger, but we do not know how to act for fear of being accused of being anti-immigrant, anti-Islam, anti-Africa… Democracy, like the mouse, will be swallowed by the serpent”. And it will be turned into “a society that whispers”.

Journalists are now prosecuted even if they question Islam during a radio debate. That is why today most of writers and journalists are only whispering about the consequences of mass migration in Europe, Islam’s role in the terrorists’ war on democracies and the sultans’ offensives on freedom of expression.

The Red Brigades, the Communist terror group which devastated Italy in the 1970s, coined a slogan: “Strike one to educate one hundred.” If you target one, you get collective intimidation. This is exactly the effect of these political trials about Islam. The debate is rapidly closing.

In the Netherlands yesterday, the trial for the “crimes” of “inciting discrimination and insulting a minority group” against Geert Wilders was concluded. The brave Dutch politician had asked supporters if they wanted “fewer Moroccans” in the country. Convicting Wilders yesterday, a court criminalized freedom of expression for the first time in Dutch history. (Wilders was acquitted five years ago in a similar trial).

Left: Writer Salman Rushdie. Right: Dutch MP Geert Wilders.

In France Ivan Rioufol, one of the most respected columnists of the newspaper, Le Figaro, had to defend himself in court against the “Collective Against Islamophobia.” The writer Renaud Camus, who has expounded on the “great replacement” theory, which holds that France is being colonized by Muslim immigrants with the help of mainstream politicians, was charged with “hate speech.” Marine Le Pen also had to appear in court. In Germany, there was the case of Jan Böhmermann, a comedian who satirized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on television. German judges then put on trial Lutz Bachmann, the founder of “Pegida,” the anti-Islamization movement. In Canada essayist and journalist Mark Steyn was charged with “flagrant Islamophobia” by a “Human Rights Tribunal” (and later cleared). Lars Hedegaard, the president of the Danish Free Press Society, was also charged with “hate speech” (and later aquitted) for comments critical of Islam.

It is fundamental that these writers and journalists are acquitted. But the goal of these trials is not to find the truth; it is to intimidate the public and to restrict freedom of expression on Islam. These are purges to “re-educate” them. Sadly, as we see from the Wilders trial, they have often been succeeding.

After the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Milan Kundera’s novels disappeared from bookstores and libraries. The intelligentsia lay in sterility and isolation. Cinemas and theaters offered only the Soviet performances. Radio, newspapers and televisions streamed only propaganda. The Russians rewarded the bureaucrats who pressured writers and journalists, and punished the rebels. Those who spoke out were often obliged to work as unskilled laborers. Prague, restless and fascinating, became silent and whispering.

In Europe now, the same iron curtain is descending.

Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.

CRISIS: Internet to Have Global Governance October 1. Call Congress! Better Censorship for Tyrants by Judith Bergman

  • The U.S. announced its plan to pass the oversight of the agency to a global governance model on October 1, 2016. The Obama Administration says that the transition will have no practical effects on the internet’s functioning or its users, and even considers the move necessary in order to maintain international support for the internet and to prevent a fracturing of its governance. Oh really?

  • The absence of the U.S. in overseeing the governance of the internet could spell the end of the current era of free speech on the internet, as well as free enterprise.
  • What guarantees are there that internet governance will not eventually end up in the hands of those very governments, seeing as they are all very eager to gain control of it? None. The Geneva Declaration of Principles makes clear that the UN, run by a majority of authoritarian governments, wants a decisive role for governments in internet governance.
  • Civil society groups and activists are calling on Congress to sue the Obama Administration — perhaps at least to postpone the date until more Americans are aware of the plan. It is not too late.

Very soon, on October 1, 2016, much of the internet’s governance will shift from the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) authority to a nonprofit multi-stakeholder entity, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, also known by its acronym ICANN.

Until now, NTIA has been responsible for key internet domain name functions, such as the coordination of the DNS (Domain Name System) root, IP addresses, and other internet protocol resources. But in March 2014, the U.S. announced its plan to let its contract with ICANN to operate key domain name functions expire in September 2015, passing the oversight of the agency to a global governance model. The expiration was subsequently delayed until October 1, 2016.

According to the NTIA’s press release at the time,

“NTIA’s responsibility includes the procedural role of administering changes to the authoritative root zone file – the database containing the lists of names and addresses of all top-level domains – as well as serving as the historic steward of the DNS. NTIA currently contracts with ICANN to carry out the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions and has a Cooperative Agreement with Verisign under which it performs related root zone management functions. Transitioning NTIA out of its role marks the final phase of the privatization of the DNS as outlined by the U.S. Government in 1997”.

According to the NTIA, from the inception of ICANN, the U.S. government and internet stakeholders envisioned that the U.S. role in the IANA functions would be temporary. The Commerce Department’s June 10, 1998 Statement of Policy stated that the U.S. government “is committed to a transition that will allow the private sector to take leadership for DNS management.” The official reason, therefore, is that

“ICANN as an organization has matured and taken steps in recent years to improve its accountability and transparency and its technical competence. At the same time, international support continues to grow for the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance as evidenced by the continued success of the Internet Governance Forum and the resilient stewardship of the various Internet institutions”.

The Obama Administration says that the transition will have no practical effects on the internet’s functioning or its users, and even considers the move necessary in order to maintain international support for the internet and to prevent a fracturing of its governance.

Oh really?

While the transition may appear ostensibly “technical”, the absence of the United States in overseeing the governance of the internet could spell the end of the current era of free speech on the internet, as well as free enterprise.

This is not merely wild speculation; it is evident in the statements that several governments, who are less than enchanted with the concept of freedom of speech, have made in recent years regarding the governance of the internet.

Some of these statements have come to light in the preparatory work of the United Nations World Summit on Information Society, known today as WSIS+10 — a process that began in 2003 with the Geneva Declaration of Principles and that continues to this day. Purportedly, the purpose of the process is a “commitment to build a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge” (section A.1), but already in section B.1 it becomes clear that the UN, run by a majority of authoritarian governments, wants a decisive role for governments in internet governance:

“Governments, as well as private sector, civil society and the United Nations and other international organizations have an important role and responsibility in the development of the Information Society and, as appropriate, in decision-making processes. Building a people-centred Information Society is a joint effort which requires cooperation and partnership among all stakeholders”.

The UN, in the form of International Telecommunication Union (ITU), has already tried in vain to wrestle control of the internet from ICANN, but where the ITU failed, WSIS+10 may succeed with the new “global governance” ICANN, unshielded from the protection of the US.

The urge of various governments to control the internet is evidently there. If anything, this was clear from the submissions for the December 2015 WSIS+10 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting.

The written submission of the Group of 77 plus China — a coalition, dating from 1964, of developing countries that now includes 134 nations — stated that, “The management of the Internet involves both technical and public-policy issues and … the overall authority for Internet related public policy issues is the sovereign right of States.”

China’s individual submission was even more interesting. It stated that,

“The multi-stakeholder governance model that brings together governments, the private sector and non-governmental organizations would be respected… This model should not be lopsided, and any tendency to place sole emphasis on the role of businesses and non-governmental organizations while marginalizing governments should be avoided. The roles and responsibilities of national governments in regard to regulation and security of the network should be upheld. It is necessary to ensure that United Nations plays a facilitating role in setting up international public policies pertaining to the Internet. We should work on the internationalization of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers”.

When China says that ICANN should be internationalized, it hardly has in mind an increased role for non-governmental organizations.

Russia did not even pay lip service to the multi-stakeholder governance model but cut straight to the point:

“We consider it necessary to consecutively increase the role of governments in the Internet governance, with strengthening the activity of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in this field, as well as with support of the UNESCO activity in the development of ethical aspects of Internet use…”

“Ethical aspects of Internet use”?

Saudi Arabia, in its submission, also emphasized, that a priority for the WSIS+10 should be, “actualization of enhanced cooperation to enable governments… to carry out their roles and responsibilities in international public policy issues pertaining to the internet”.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama Administration — as well as many in the high-tech community — regards the long-planned move as necessary to maintain international support for the internet and prevent a fracturing of its governance — a claim critics may find dubious. The U.S. government’s role “has long been a source of irritation to foreign governments,” according to the NTIA. One look at many foreign governments and it is easy to see why. The NTIA claims that, “These calls for replacing the multi-stakeholder model with a multilateral, government-run approach will only grow louder if the U.S. government fails to complete the transition”. Is that a threat?

But what guarantees are there that internet governance will not eventually end up in the hands of those very governments, seeing as they are all very eager to gain control of it? None.

In fact, those who claim to care about a free and uncensored internet, unbridled by government and international state organizations, should take a close look at the proposals for the plan for ICANN that the different stakeholders, including governments, came to agree on in March 2016 in Marrakech. According to this plan, the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), a decisional participant in ICANN, will — subject to certain limitations — be able to participate in decision-making on budgets, board member removals, and other matters of ICANN corporate governance. This is new and represents a major shift, which should concern those who care about internet freedom. Even if this plan is discarded for some reason, it shows how eagerly governments are pushing for control in internet matters. That observation alone should serve as a warning to those who take at face value the U.S. administration’s declarations that nothing will change.

The decision to transfer authority to ICANN has met with resistance in the U.S. Congress, and a coalition of more than two dozen civil society groups and activists are even calling on Congress to sue the Obama Administration — perhaps at least to postpone the date until more Americans are aware of the plan. It is not too late.

Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.

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