At the beginning of the Holocaust, the Nazi regime kept detailed lists of Jewish businesses and institutions throughout their territory. This knowledge led to Judenboykott, or “Jewish boycott,” which was the first coordinated action taken by the Nazi party against German Jews on April 1, 1933. Germans were not to patronize businesses the Nazis identified as Jewish, including the offices of Jewish doctors and lawyers.
Boycotts like these intensified and gave rise to the infamous Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) in 1938. Rioters destroyed hundreds of synagogues and other Jewish institutions throughout Germany and Austria. Hundreds of Jews were killed amidst the violence and destruction.
Eighty years later, a new list emerged online in the spirit of the Judenboykott.
The Mapping Project is an interactive map of Massachusetts that lists over 500 local companies, universities, police departments, charities, schools, and synagogues that are, one way or another, connected to the Boston Jewish community.
30 out of the 38 nonprofits listed on the map are Jewish NGOs. The website lists the location, contact information, and an accusatory note that indicts each of these establishments. Specifically, they accuse these organizations of supporting “genocide,” “white supremacy,” and “ethnic cleansing” due to their ties with Israel. The project also includes an alarming call to “dismantle” and “disrupt” these institutions for their connection to Zionism.
For instance, Boston University is one of the many universities listed on the Mapping Project website. The website claims that the university is complicit in “policing,” the “prison-industrial complex,” and “surveillance.” Claims that it bases on a conspiracy characterized as the “Deadly Exchange.” The program, dubbed by the unsuitably-named organization Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), portrays the Israeli police and military as violent oppressors of Palestinians who are teaching U.S. police officers how to implement racist and discriminatory policing in the United States.
In reality, the exchange program between American and Israeli law enforcement agencies is mostly centered on counter-terrorism efforts. Steven Pomerantz, the architect of the counter-terrorism exchange program, debunks the lies spread about it, “Despite suggestions to the contrary, there is no field training involved in either the conferences or trips and no training on holds or arrest mechanics.”
The website also falsely defines Zionism as “a form of white supremacy that supports the colonization of Palestine by a settler population.”
Zionists were never white imperial colonialists. Jews maintained a constant presence in the land of Israel throughout history. Approximately 3,000 years ago, the Jews established a monarchy in the land that includes Israel, Gaza, the West Bank (Judaea and Samaria), the Golan Heights, parts of Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. Despite most Jews being exiled by the Babylonians and Romans, some remained and rebelled against their oppressive rulers. They stayed through the violent crusades between Christians and Arabs and continued to live in the land during the Ottoman empire. Jews across the diaspora began immigrating back to their ancestral homeland as early as the late 1800s during the Ottoman Empire era, fleeing their home countries from antisemitism and persecution. The second large wave of Jewish migration, known as the “Second Aliyah,” occurred before World War I and was largely made up of Russian Jews following the pogroms, a series of violent riots incited that massacred and expelled Jews.
The largest wave of Jewish migration to the British Mandate of Palestine was comprised of Holocaust survivors after World War II fleeing the aftermath of a horrific genocide. Additionally, over 800,000 Mizrahi Jewish refugees fled their home countries in the Middle East and North Africa, with over 586,000 resettling in Israel between 1948 and 1972. Today, nearly half of Israel’s native population descends from the Jewish refugees of the Arab world, not white Europeans.
The website presents more false information, stating, “… Zionism is the continued presence of settler-colonists on land in Palestine and their dominance over land, resources, and politics.”
In reality, Zionism is the movement of liberation for the Jewish people. Jews are indigenous to Israel and have maintained a connection to the land for thousands of years, enduring many expulsions and persecutions throughout their history. The origins of the Jewish people are in the land of Israel and nowhere else.
Israel is an effort of decolonization, as it is the return to the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people. How could Jews be settlers if their indigenous roots are in the land of Israel? Since the inception of the Jewish state, Jews have been willing to live and accept a neighboring Palestinian state. Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders have been unwilling to accept a neighboring Jewish state.
Instead, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and Gaza Strip fail to meet the needs of its people and represent them fairly.
Zionism gave birth to the State of Israel, the only functioning democracy in the entire Middle East, and is unique in that it was founded to “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” A commitment that the State of Israel has strived to keep.
For instance, minorities in Israel, no matter their religion or ethnicity, are considered citizens with the same privileges as Israeli Jews. Arab-Israelis, for instance, have seats in the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), giving them a measure of political power. People of all faiths can freely visit their holy religious sites across Israel, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Temple Mount.
Furthermore, Israel has attempted to make peace with their Palestinian neighbors for decades. When the United Nations adopted the 1947 Partition Plan that proposed both a Jewish and Arab state, Jews happily accepted the plan, while Arab leaders outright rejected it. That pattern has continued since.
The implications of the Mapping Project’s misinformation are serious and negatively impacting campus discourse.
For example, the Wellesley News, a student-run newspaper at Wellesley College, promoted the Mapping Project on its website and featured an editorial parroting many of its claims. While the Wellesley News has since rescinded its endorsement, the op-ed supporting the Mapping Project remains published on their website.
The alarming rhetoric used throughout the Mapping Project has proven what many Jews have known for a long time: anti-zionism is antisemitism. Why else would the project target local synagogues, Jewish day schools, and universities with large Jewish populations?
Boston University’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter is guilty of towing the same line. In December of 2021, SJP wrote “Long Live the Intifada” on BU’s Greek Rock on central campus, a phrase commonly used to call for violence against Jews. The student group also protested the Jewish National Fund’s (JNF) summit in Boston in November 2022, waving signs calling for “Palestine to be free from the river to the sea” – a euphemism for the destruction of the State of Israel.
BU Students and Administrators should recognize the Mapping Project and the rhetoric of SJP at BU for what it is – bigotry against Jews.
This article was originally featured in The Daily Free Press, an official campus outlet for Boston University.