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June 16, 2022 11:33 am

BDS ‘Mapping Project’: US National Media Ignores Sinister List That Encourages Targeting of Jewish Institutions

avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue


A pro-BDS demonstration. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A multicolored muddle of dots and lines covering an illustration of the United States’ east coast is the latest example of the all-out war being waged against Jews by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to ostracize and eventually dismantle the State of Israel.

Dubbed the “Mapping Project,” the illustration is essentially a list of hundreds of institutions and entities in Massachusetts — many of which are Jewish — that are supposedly connected to the “colonization of Palestine” and the “harms that [it sees are] linked, such as policing, US imperialism, and displacement/ethnic cleansing.”

Drawn up by the BDS Boston chapter, the group has defended the disturbing map, which observers have noted echoes the boycotts of Jewish businesses in Nazi Germany. In justifying its actions, BDS Boston claimed the chart comprises “ways in which institutional support for the colonization of Palestine is structurally tied to policing and systemic white supremacy here where we live, and to US imperialist projects in other countries.”

The group also sinisterly suggested that it seeks to “dismantle” the listed institutions because “every entity has an address.”

One can only speculate how the Boston Museum for Science, which is among the named organizations, is promoting heavy-handed policing.

The targeting of a vast swathe of Jewish schools and groups — many of which have no demonstrable ties to Israel — did not go unnoticed. High-profile names from across the political spectrum lined up to condemn the group, including Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D,MA) and Lee Zeldin (R, NY).

Massachusetts Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey issued a joint statement denouncing the obvious antisemitism that underpins the project:

At this moment of rising anti-Semitism [sic], racist attacks, and political violence, this ‘mapping’ of the Jewish community is dangerous and irresponsible. We strongly condemn anti-Semitism and will continue working for the safety of all vulnerable people at home and abroad.

In response, however, BDS Boston doubled down and defended its actions, claiming they are exposing “Massachusetts’ imperialist landscape” and how “imperialism, racism, militarism & Zionism are systemically connected in our communities.”

The group’s official Twitter account also retweeted comments from supporters, including those claiming its critics were acting in “bad faith,” and that any accusation of antisemitism “deflects accountability from those complicit institutions.”

Calla Walsh, 18, a Boston BDS campaigner, even attempted to transform herself into the victim of the resulting furor, claiming she is “literally a teenager” who cannot “feel safe at work anymore because Zionists are harassing [her] employer about [her] pro-Palestine [sic] work.”

Walsh, whose Twitter account largely consists of labeling anyone who disagrees with her a “Nazi,” also appears to be a supporter of the terrorist Irish Republican Army (IRA); her social media biography includes the Irish motto “Tiocfaidh ár lá” meaning “our day will come,” which is commonly associated with the group that perpetrated scores of deadly attacks on civilians and British soldiers in the United Kingdom in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s.

The “Mapping Project” controversy has been bubbling away over the past week and received widespread local media coverage, such as in the Boston Globe, as well as by Jewish news publications (see here, here, and here). On Monday, the head of the FBI’s Boston office, Joseph Bonavolonta, intervened, hosting a virtual briefing with worried Jewish leaders.

Yet despite the involvement of the FBI, the attention of the Massachusetts press, and the denunciation by prominent former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, national US media outlets have remained conspicuously quiet about the growing controversy.

The absence of coverage by leading news outlets in America is worrying because it shows a lack of concern for Jews, particularly at a time of record levels of antisemitic bigotry.

As HonestReporting has previously demonstrated, the media plays a vital in helping to protect marginalized communities, with research showing a positive correlation between increased news coverage of hate crimes and subsequent decline of such incidents.

It is, therefore, troubling that mainstream media outlets do not see the news value in the BDS campaign’s latest chilling attack on American Jews.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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