Jewish Voice for Peace unequivocally condemns Canary Mission, a malicious website that seeks to vilify principled activists for Palestinian human rights with targeted campaigns of misinformation, bigotry and slander.
We reject the notion, propagated by Canary Mission and similar organizations, that there is anything shameful, hateful, or anti-Semitic about organizing for Palestinian rights on campus. Antisemitism and criticism of Israel are not the same, and Canary Mission targets students and faculty because they criticize Israel – not because they have expressed anti-Jewish bias. We especially emphasize that labeling support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement as “pro-terrorist” is a false assertion. And we commend the brave and principled students and faculty who continue to organize in the face of intimidation and repression.
Established in spring 2015, Canary Mission is a shadowy anonymous website designed to threaten the academic and professional careers of college students and faculty who publicly advocate for Palestinian human rights and an end to Israeli occupation. A cyber-bullying operation, Canary Mission volunteers and staff scour the social media accounts of activists for statements supporting Palestinian rights, which they then use to levy false and misleading accusations that the activists ‘support terrorists’ or ‘are inciting Jew-hatred’ on campuses.
Canary Mission’s Smear Campaign
Canary Mission encourages its circle of followers to attack activists on Twitter, Facebook and other social media, again levying false accusations of anti-Semitism to attempt to tar their reputations. Recently, there have been reports that the organization has also contacted employers and university administrators directly in an effort to punish activists for Palestinian human rights in their professional lives.
The students targeted by Canary Mission are overwhelmingly Palestinian, Arab, Muslim and/or students of color. In a national climate marked by rising Islamophobia, anti-Arab and anti-black racism, Canary Mission’s smear campaign only adds fuel to the fire, exposing already marginalized campus communities to additional surveillance, harassment and even physical danger.
Canary Mission’s efforts to intimidate individuals into silence also aim to create a ‘chilling effect’ to dissuade other potential activists from speaking out in support of Palestinian human rights and equality. Recognizing the McCarthyite nature of this campaign, mainstream Jewish publications like the Jewish Daily Forward and Tablet Magazine have condemned Canary Mission as a ‘moral failure’ of the pro-Israel movement.
While Canary Mission is particularly brazen in its incitement, it is not the only pro-Israel, anti-Muslim organization that levies false accusations of antisemitism and pro-terrorism to suppress campus activism for Palestinian rights. Frightened by the growing successes of the BDS movement, a coordinated network of organizations across the country are spending hundreds of millions to intimidate students, bully administrators and stifle free speech on campuses.
As documented in our recent report, while groups like Canary Mission and the David Horowitz Freedom Center name and shame student activists, other groups like StandWithUs and the AMCHA Initiative stifle dissent on campuses by equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, claiming that campuses are “unsafe” for Jewish students, and pressuring university administrators to take disciplinary action against speech that is critical of Israel.
The irony, as shown by Canary Mission and the aggression it has inspired, is that in truth, it is Palestinian, Arab and Muslim students who face a truly ‘unsafe campus climate’.
Criticism of Israel is Not Anti-Semitic
As an organization inspired by Jewish traditions of social justice, Jewish Voice for Peace supports the BDS movement as a principled, nonviolent means of holding Israel accountable for human rights violations against the Palestinian people.
BDS is a set of tactics to bring about international pressure to hold the Israeli government accountable and end its abusive policies. We reject the notion, propagated by Canary Mission and other pro-Israel groups, that BDS is anti-Semitic. Criticism of the policies of the Israeli government does not constitute an attack on Jewish people.
Student and faculty activists committed to values of justice and equality should be applauded for their principled work for Palestinian rights, not demonized with smear campaigns. We stand with students and faculty targeted by Canary Mission, and we commend them for their human rights activism.
JVP advises potential employers, university administrators and other outside parties to disregard Canary Mission because it is not a legitimate source for student or faculty recommendation or evaluation.