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October 12, 2022 11:22 am

Wellesley College Newspaper Distances Itself From BDS-Linked ‘Mapping Project’

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign. Photo: Alex Chis.

The campus daily of Wellesley College has distanced itself from of the “Mapping Project,” an American pro-BDS organization, which promotes the conspiracy theory purporting to show a connection between Zionism, police brutality, and “the colonization of Palestine.”

“We do not endorse the Mapping Project,” The Wellesley News said in a statement Wednesday. “The Wellesley News editorial board would like to reemphasize that we condemn antisemitism and all discriminatory beliefs, including the use of the Mapping Project for antisemitic rhetoric and actions.”

The paper, however, affirmed its support for “the BDS [boycott, divestment, and sanctions] movement and Wellesley Students for Justice in Palestine.”

Created by a Boston area group, “The Mapping Project” includes a searchable database and map listing the addresses of American Jewish Institutions, a feature that the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has described as continuing “a pattern which has led to violence against Jews and their institutions.

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Mapping Project’s assertion is based on a similar conspiracy theory alleging that the Anti-Defamation League’s Leadership Seminar in Israel, which brings police officers to Israel for training in countering extremist violence and terrorism, is to blame for racial tension between Black Americans and law enforcement. The group also builds on the strategy of making the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “intersectional” by blaming American Jews for racism and other issues related to racial inequality in the US.

On September 28, the editorial board of The Wellesley News said the initiative is “providing a vital service,” in an editorial titled “The Wellesley News Calls For The Liberation of Palestine.”

“Collecting data about these institutions, tracing their financial and political activity and publicizing this information is incredibly important,” it continued. “Simply revealing that these ties exist is not justification for violence or bigotry of any kind. Rather, it forces us to reconsider our individual role in a systemic harm.”

In Wednesday’s statement, the paper claimed that the editors “intended to use the Mapping Project only as a source of information” and that it functionally served  as a “citation” in their endorsement of BDS.

Wellesley College President Paula Johnson responded to the editorial on October 8, emphasizing that “Wellesley College rejects the Mapping Project for promoting antisemitism.”

Johnson also noted that “claiming that Jewish people and organizations are responsible for a host of societal harms and calling for action against them is, by definition, antisemitism.”

Her statement was commended by the Academic Engagement Network, a nonprofit that promotes academic freedom and free speech.

“Kudos to Dr. Paula Johnson for her strong statement denouncing the Mapping Project,” AEN executive director Miriam Elman tweeted. “Wellesley News should apologize immediately to the campus Jewish community and reach out to learn about Jewish identity, Zionism, and the Jewish experience. Its editorial is shameful.”

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