Our community is already on edge because of the alarming rise in antisemitism, including direct attacks on Jews in synagogues, at commercial establishments and on neighborhood streets. Last week, things got worse. The Mapping Project, a pro-Palestinian group in Boston, took things to a new, disturbing level, with frightening implications.
The Mapping Project is an activist collective that is aligned with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. It believes there are harmful connections between Jewish and pro-Israel groups and government, the police and the media, that are responsible for a lot of bad things. It posits that “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.” In other words, the Mapping Project has recycled the hateful mantra of antisemites everywhere that the Zionist conspiracy is the root of all evil.
In furtherance of its point, the Mapping Project created and published an interactive statewide map designed to expose “local institutional support for the colonization of Palestine” and a litany of other societal problems. The map shows a web of connections linking hundreds of Massachusetts Jewish groups, schools, universities, political groups and charities, with several references to the amount of money controlled by some of the entities, and making no distinction between a day school and a pro-Israel political organization — or even between J Street and the ZOA.
But it gets worse. The Mapping Project names names — and provides addresses. It lists the webpage for each identified entity, which includes the organization’s address and, for many, the names of lay and professional leadership of the organization.
While the Mapping Project doesn’t call for specific action against the identified organizations or their members, the potential for harassment and harm is clear, and is clearly intended. Indeed, the Mapping Project tells its supporters: “Our goal … [is] to reveal the local entities and networks that enact devastation, so that we can dismantle them. Every entity has an address, every network can be disrupted.” The invitation for mischief could not be more explicit.
The Massachusetts Jewish community and communal, religious and political leaders of all stripes responded promptly and forcefully to the Mapping Project’s outrageous actions, with many expressing concern about possible incitement to violence. The Mapping Project itself has been silent. And neither its website nor its publications identify any of its members.
What is particularly upsetting is that there is nothing that can be done to undo the damage of the Mapping Project’s actions. The information they have published cannot be withdrawn. And the blatantly antisemitic enemies list they have created puts organizations and individuals at risk.
The Mapping Project will likely invoke the questionable assertion that “being anti-Zionist is not antisemitic.” And it will surely invoke the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech. But neither argument cuts it here. The ugliness of the Mapping Project’s publication along with the clear incitement to action is wrong, dangerous and irresponsible. It’s also antisemitic. The First Amendment does not protect the right to incite violence against Jews or anyone else.