BDS Boston, a local supporter of the international campaign to “de-normalize” Israel and end its existence through Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), recently shared a map linking Massachusetts-area Jewish institutions to government entities, the media and the police and connecting them to sinister activities.
The map, developed by the Mapping Project, includes tracking of the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts, teen and youth focused organizations like the Hillel Council of New England, the Jewish Teen Foundation of Greater Boston, and even a Jewish high school, Gann Academy. Included in their targeting of “institutions responsible for the colonization of Palestine or other harms” are Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Boston office, the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University, and even Harpoon Brewery. Yet inescapably, the list’s focus is its inclusion of Jewish institutions, from cultural or press outlets like the Jewish Arts Collaborative and the Jewish Journal to major Jewish community organizations, like Hadassah, the Anti-Defamation League, and, ominously, Hillel and a Jewish day school. The mappers call them “highly militarized forces that share resources and information to enforce the intersecting systems of white supremacy and capitalism.”
Sound familiar? It should. It invokes age-old and frightening antisemitic tropes right out of the “Protocols for the Elders of Zion,” a fabricated document that described the Jewish plan for global domination and helped inspire brutal Russian pogroms and the Holocaust.
Now these same conspiracy theories are having a resurgence among anti-Israel activists who are increasingly bold when it comes to targeting Jewish organizations that are primarily religious- or community-focused (as opposed to Israel-focused). Nerdeen Kiswani of Within Our Lifetime claimed that Jewish community organizations “are Zionist organizations hiding behind Judaism. So every single organization on that list is a legitimate target.” Zahra Billoo, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations San Francisco Chapter, said, “We need to pay attention to the Zionist synagogues. They are your enemies.” The New York group Decolonize This Place was even more explicit, posting online: “Find targets nearby, find where these Zionist fools live, and where there [sic] offices are, and act!”
Is it any surprise, then, that attacks on Jews—already by far the American demographic most targeted for religiously-motivated hate crimes—are skyrocketing? In New York City, anti-Jewish attacks increased by 409% in the one year period from February 2021 to February 2022. It is no wonder, then, that 88% of American Jews say they are concerned about Jew-hatred in the United States, and that 39% of American Jews changed their behavior over the past year due to antisemitism.
Jewish Americans are profoundly aware that there is an ongoing campaign by powerful forces, including state actors, to cause us harm. Notably, Iran has repeatedly targeted Jewish community organizations not associated with Israel for terrorist violence, including the truck bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on July 18, 1994, which killed 85. France, with Europe’s largest Jewish community, has seen a rash of attacks on Jewish individuals and institutions, including at a kosher grocery store in Paris and a Jewish school in Toulouse.
Jewish Americans are profoundly aware that there is an ongoing campaign by powerful forces, including state actors, to cause us harm.
We can’t bury our heads in the sand any longer. The same people who are expressing an urge to “target” their “enemies” at Jewish institutions are also mapping out where Jewish individuals live and work. Surely, they won’t stop with Massachusetts, but will continue on to paint a national and worldwide map of Jewry. The goal is not merely to delegitimize Israel, but to render America’s Jewish community a pariah. More disturbingly, the intelligence represented by the map can be weaponized immediately by deranged individuals or more sophisticated ones, including state actors committed to doing harm to the Jewish community.
Make no mistake: What the Mapping Project has built is a plan for a pogrom. This is a code red—the incitement to harm and the intelligence are both being widely disseminated. We need immediate help from the U.S. government and all sectors of society to prevent a dramatic increase in anti-Jewish violence. Moreover, the world must recognize BDS for what it is—a front for the oldest hatred, antisemitism, in its purest and most virulent form. How cruel and telling that they who claim anti-Zionism is not antisemitism map not just pro-Israel but also Jewish institutions in New England.
Jacob Baime is Chief Executive Officer of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), a leading organization in the fight against anti-Israel activity and antisemitism in the United States. He was also the Area Director of AIPAC’s New England Region and served as Campus Coalition Director for Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey.