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November 24, 2022 10:23 am

‘Wellesley News’ Endorses The Mapping Project: The Fragmentation of Journalistic Integrity

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avatar by Alexandra Berman


[Illustrative] Harvard University students displaying a pro-Palestinian sign at their May 2022 graduation ceremony. Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder

Wellesley College’s student newspaper, Wellesley News, has launched an attack on Jewish students and the overall Jewish community by endorsing The Mapping Project, a website that libelously accuses Jewish schools, synagogues, and community organizations of promoting white supremacy and the “colonization” of Palestine. 

The Mapping Project was first launched this past June by BDS supporters, with the goal of revealing “the local entities and networks that enact devastation, so we can dismantle them.” This endeavor was incredibly dangerous to the entire Jewish community of Massachusetts, as it exposed identifying information including addresses and phone numbers of Jewish individuals and institutions, and gave a tacit green light to go out and put an end to their so-called “devastation.”

The founders of The Mapping Project are determined to spread, “a deeper understanding of local institutional support for the colonization of Palestine and harms that we see as linked, such as policing, US imperialism, and displacement/ethnic cleansing.”

Such links are not only wholly inaccurate, but seek to malign Israel and any entities tied to the sovereign state. The effort is also plainly antisemitic, as it claims that American Jews are representative of Israel.

Wellesley College President Paula A. Johnson made sure to distinguish between the institution and its student newspaper’s editorial board, by calling out the conspicuous antisemitism that The Mapping Project embodies, stating “While it is not my practice to comment on the newspaper’s editorials, I do feel the need to make it clear that Wellesley College rejects The Mapping Project for promoting anti-Semitism,” adding she was concerned that the project “poses a significant threat to the physical security of the Jewish community of Greater Boston, including neighbors and partners of the College.”

Following sharp criticism from organizations in the Jewish and pro-Israel communities, the Wellesley News editorial board walked back their claims, stating, “We intended to use the Mapping Project only as a source of information about Wellesley College and its affiliated institutions,” adding that, “We do not endorse The Mapping Project. 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.” 

Just days before, however, Wellesley News advocated for The Mapping Project, stating that it provides “a vital service” and that “Collecting data about these institutions, tracing their financial and political activity and publicizing this information is incredibly important.”

The Wellesley News editorial board is not the only university newspaper that has failed to adhere to its own standards.

This past April, Harvard’s student newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, openly endorsed the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Although they claim, “We unambiguously oppose and condemn antisemitism in every and all forms,” they go on to compare Israel to South Africa  under apartheid, saying that “the tactics embodied by BDS have a historical track record; they helped win the liberation of Black South Africans from Apartheid, and have the potential to do the same for Palestinians today.”

However, as has been repeatedly demonstrated, Israel is not an apartheid state — quite the opposite — so the Crimson’s argument seems to openly violate its mission, which claims that the paper is “committed to accuracy in its reporting,” and that they “ensure the impartiality of our journalism.”

This is quite ironic, given that the very claims they make about Israel are based on the warped biases they harbor against the Jewish state, which therefore implies the opposite of impartiality and strays far away from any objective or historical facts.

When it comes to Israel, journalistic integrity is being compromised and impartiality is quickly becoming a facade; instead, certain editorial boards are looking to further their own agendas by making baseless claims about Israel in their own newspapers, and then emphasizing their impartiality at the end of their articles, which they think gives them a free pass.

Antisemitism and anti-Zionism aren’t just persistent in mainstream media outlets, but are now being propagated among newspapers at the hyper-local level at college campuses across the country. Now, more than ever, we must speak up and stop the spread of antisemitic and anti-Zionist propaganda that’s pushed through student newspapers.

Alexandra Berman is a current CAMERA on Campus Fellow and a senior at the University of Miami.

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