An unknown group has launched a website that profiles people affiliated with pro-Palestinian student groups – publishing their names, photos, occupations and sometimes universities and majors – in an effort to dissuade potential employers from hiring them.
Canary Mission went live in mid-May and includes profiles of 54 people, primarily university students and professors, with photos and links to their social media profiles.
“It is your duty to ensure that today’s radicals are not tomorrow’s employees,” a video explanation of the project warns.
Canary Mission said it created the website out of concern for “the rise of antisemitic hate crimes on college campuses, and the dangerous Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement”.
But some members of the movement say that posting names on the website is harassment and “driven by deep hatred and prejudice”.
The decade-old BDS movement encourages organizations and institutions to boycott and divest from Israel until “the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel” have been recognized. Student groups have been pushing BDS initiatives at US universities in recent years, often led by groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).
The movement has been especially strong in California, where student governments at UC Irvine and UC San Diego passed resolutions urging schools to divest – though the UC system has said that it will not do so.
Most of the people profiled on Canary Mission are students or recent graduates with affiliations to SJP and Muslim Student Associations (MSA). While the site’s profiles list people’s affiliations and occupations, the majority of the text is about the history of student groups that they are tied to.
Film-maker Rebecca Pierce first learned that she had been profiled on the site, when it highlighted her as “Radical of the Day”.
As a student at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), Pierce was part of a campaign to have the school condemn remarks made by professor Tammi Rossman‐Benjamin that some believe to be Islamophobic .
“The website is filled with racist stereotypes about our activism, and intentionally tries to tie a diverse non-violent student movement to antisemitism and terror,” Pierce said in an email to the Guardian. “I do worry about future employers potentially seeing this and getting the wrong idea, but I stand behind my activism and won’t allow racist extremists to intimidate me.”
Pierce accused Canary Mission of using “McCarthyist tactics” and employing “open racism”.
“They even went out of their way to mention my African American and Jewish heritage in my profile,” Pierce said. “This is clearly a website driven by deep hatred and prejudice, masquerading as some sort of 'Canary in the Coalmine’ on antisemitism. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
It remains unclear who is behind Canary Mission – right-leaning, pro-Israel groups have denied having a relationship with the group: the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Daniel Pipe’s Middle East Forum, the AMCHA Initiative and StandWithUS told the Forward that they were not connected to Canary Mission.
Posted on 01-06-2015