By Michael Levitt
Is a disturbing new initiative in the United States a harbinger of what Jews in Canada and elsewhere should anticipate in the way of antisemitic tactics? Recently launched in the Boston area, the Mapping Project uses a modern platform to invoke age-old antisemitic tropes, slandering a Jewish community for both the alleged actions of another country and social problems at home. We shouldn’t be surprised.
Since Israel’s inception nearly 75 years ago, its opponents have been nothing if not inventive in their efforts against the world’s only Jewish state. In their relentless campaign aimed at demonizing and delegitimizing Israel, they often betray an odious attitude to Jewish people.
To be clear, this isn’t to conflate all criticism of Israel with antisemitism. There’s of course a place for fair-minded and fact-based criticism of Israel, which like all countries, isn’t beyond reproach. Instead, I speak here of an increasingly toxic anti-Zionism predicated on an anti-Jewish double standard and vicious hostility to Jews.
The group calling itself the Mapping Project uses an online platform to target hundreds of public and private entities in Massachusetts, many of them Jewish, for their supposed complicity in the so-called “colonization of Palestine” and various ills plaguing society.
Project organizers created an interactive map which, along with their convoluted commentary, depict a sinister, conspiratorial network linked to diverse “harms” at home and abroad, such as “US imperialism, policing and displacement/ethnic cleansing.” Topping their list is Zionism, the belief that Jewish people have the right to self-determination and statehood in their ancestral homeland.
The project’s website alleges that Boston’s Jewish institutions are “structurally tied” to U.S. media, police, government and other agents of nefarious activity. With antisemitic overtones, the map blacklists scores of Jewish schools, synagogues, charities and cultural groups. It takes aim at Jewish non-profits, saying “charity is fundamentally misconstrued as a selfless and generous act. In reality, charitable donations are supporting the colonization of Palestine and violence worldwide.”
For most entities, the map includes a skewed, incriminating profile, listing its address and apparent link to Israel and/or other assumed transgressions. In many cases, it also indicates the names of an organization’s staff members, setting them up as targets for online abuse, if not worse.