The Mapping Project’s appearance in Boston prompted an unusual reaction – even some of the most hostile anti-Israel forces distanced themselves from it. Groups like the official international BDS movement realize that this initiative, which targets Jewish organizations and leaders to be dismantled, sounds like the worst form of anti-Semitism, reminiscent of the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and could easily lead to violence against targeted individuals. institutions and leaders.
Rejection of this dangerous program should be welcomed wherever it comes from. The Bulgarian government is particularly commendable. When alerted by the ADL that the project, which had been started by Google, had been moved to a Bulgarian website, the government moved quickly to do the same. More problematic is the Icelandic government, which to date has not kicked out the project now that it has moved to an Icelandic site.
Most significant, however, of this whole episode, despite the efforts of many anti-Israel forces to distance themselves from it, is the inevitable link between the character of broader anti-Israel activity and the emergence of this dangerous agenda. .
So many elements of this project had their roots in other anti-Israel activities. The portrayal of undue Jewish influence and power is a regular feature of anti-Israel propaganda. The idea that Jews control US foreign policy, hence US support for Israel, is pervasive and, of course, ignores the fact that the vast majority of the American people have long supported the Jewish state as a as the achievement of Jewish self-determination in history. Jewish homeland and as a democratic and strategic ally of the United States.
The idea that Jewish and other organizations that support the existence and legitimacy of a Jewish state should be excluded from coalitions and participation in social justice activities has become a hallmark of anti-Israel movements. We have seen it in the women’s movement, in some gay advocacy groups, and on many campuses across the country. Indeed, specific individuals were told that they were not welcome in coalition activities because of their support for Zionism.
The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement itself is driven by the idea of dismantling Jewish support for Israel. BDS has never sought to make Israel better, but to use boycotts, divestments and sanctions to eliminate the Jewish state. The Mapping Project takes this broad concept and personalizes it in a particularly dangerous and offensive way.
Tied to all of this is the continuing effort, begun by the Soviet Union in the 1970s, to label Zionism as racism. The latest version of this effort to delegitimize the Jewish state, and thereby delegitimize all those who support Israel, is the increasing use of the term “apartheid” to describe Israel. This is of course an attempt to tie Israel to the racist apartheid regime in South Africa and thus create a pathway to take whatever steps are necessary to delegitimize the Jewish state.
What these measures ignore is that the boycotts of South Africa were essential to truly dismantling racism, whereas the boycotts of Israel are in fact prime examples of promoting racism – that is, to say the powerful racism of anti-Semitism.
All of this brings us back to the link between these anti-Israeli activities and their natural embodiment, the Mapping Project. It is useful for everyone to denounce it. If we want to prevent this insidious movement from spreading, however, we must go further than talking about the project itself.
We need to talk about the inevitability of these dangerous protests if the vicious anti-Israel activity described here, reflecting offensive and biased views of the Jewish state and the Jewish people, is allowed to spread and be legitimized.
It is this generalization of anti-Zionism that must be tackled if we want to make progress in the fight against this new form of domestic extremism.
Kenneth Jacobson is Deputy National Director of the Anti-Defamation League.