In early June, an anonymous collective of Boston-area activists published “The Mapping Project,” an interactive map listing various institutions in Massachusetts and descriptions of their complicity in Zionism or US imperialism. The list includes universities, foundations, nonprofits, schools, and police departments. The group said they set out to deepen activist “understanding of local institutional support for the colonization of Palestine,” as well as how Israel’s colonization of Palestine is connected to US policing, US foreign policy, and the displacement of local communities. Mainstream Jewish groups such as the Anti-Defamation League reacted to the map with outrage, claiming that listing Jewish foundations, nonprofits, and the like—alongside their addresses—could incite antisemitic violence. Jewish establishment groups were particularly incensed at The Mapping Project’s call to “dismantle” and “disrupt” the institutions listed. Dozens of congressional lawmakers also denounced the project, and the FBI announced it was investigating it. Meanwhile, the map also sparked controversy from an unexpected source: the Palestinian-led Boycott National Commitee, which distanced itself from the website and, in a private letter to BDS Boston, a local group that endorsed the project, said the project will lead to backlash and open up Palestinian rights groups to “infiltration” and “repression.”
Jewish Currents editor-in-chief Arielle Angel, contributing editor Josh Leifer, assistant editor Mari Cohen, and senior reporter Alex Kane convened to discuss the accusations against The Mapping Project, whether the website is an effective way to counter Israeli apartheid, and the political divisions that have come to the fore because of the controversy over the project.
Articles, Statements and Websites Mentioned:
“Palestinian BDS National Committee Has No Connection To and Does Not Endorse The Mapping Project” by Palestinian BDS National Committee
“‘Our struggles are truly connected’: an interview with the Mapping Project” by Adam Horowitz
“The Mapping Project is not antisemitic but it is destructive activism” by Nora Lester Murad
“Sunrise, Sunset” podcast by Jewish Currents staff
Thanks to Sophia Steinert-Evoy for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).”