FBI monitoring BDS mapping site that ties Jewish orgs to police, media

FBI Boston Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta: “At this time, we have not observed any direct threats of violence in open sources related to this map as of its publication.”

An FBI vehicle (photo credit: REUTERS/AMR ALFIKY)
An FBI vehicle
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMR ALFIKY)

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is monitoring the BDS Mapping Project that charted Jewish and Zionist institutions in Boston and framed them as "structurally tied" to US media, police and government, a Bureau representative said at a Jewish community briefing on Monday, the Boston Herald reported.

The FBI is “very well aware and are tracking the Mapping Project website, and are working to identify additional information regarding this website,” FBI Boston Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta said at the meeting, according to the Herald. “At this time, we have not observed any direct threats of violence in open sources related to this map as of its publication.”

“At this time, we have not observed any direct threats of violence in open sources related to this map as of its publication.”

FBI Boston Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta

The community briefing was a collaborative meeting between the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), Antidefamation League (ADL) New England, and the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston (CJP) — All of which were included in the BDS map.

"Under the guise of an interactive map, the innocuously named 'Mapping Project' is promoting a list of Jewish communal organizations in Massachusetts that it contends are 'responsible for colonization of Palestine or other harms such as policing, US imperialism and displacement.'"

JCRC, ADL and CJP

"Under the guise of an interactive map, the innocuously named 'Mapping Project' is promoting a list of Jewish communal organizations in Massachusetts that it contends are 'responsible for colonization of Palestine or other harms such as policing, US imperialism and displacement,'" JCRC, ADL, and CJP said in a joint statement last Wednesday. "Virtually every Jewish organization in the Commonwealth, along with its leadership, is listed in this map along with the relationships of each to civic, governmental, university and other community organizations."

The NGOs asserted that the map blamed Jews for the perceived ill of the community, and blacklisted those associated with the Boston Jewish organizations.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, also known as BDS. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, also known as BDS. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

"It is a list with names and organizations to be shunned, isolated and disenfranchised," said the Boston NGOs. "And it draws on age-old antisemitic tropes that are all too clear to our community: Jewish wealth, control and conspiracies."

Condemnation

US politicians, such as US senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) were included in the map, which asserted in its database that "US imperialism is the greatest threat to life on the planet."

At this moment of rising antisemitism, racist attacks, and political violence, this ‘mapping’ of the Jewish community is dangerous and irresponsible," Warren and Markey said in a joint statement on Friday. "We strongly condemn anti-Semitism and will continue working for the safety of all vulnerable people at home and abroad.”

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, who was designated by the map as being "ardently pro-Israel" and complicit in the "harms" of colonialism and policing, said that "targeting Jewish organizations and individuals is hateful and wrong."

Baker said that he stood with "leaders across Massachusetts" and denounced "this effort to demonize Jewish organizations."

"At a time where antisemitism and political violence is on the rise, this 'mapping' of Jewish people, schools, organizations and academics is alarming and reminiscent of a dangerous history of identifying and tracking Jewish people," Rep. Katherine Clark said in a statement on Thursday. "These maps have the potential to provoke attacks against the Jewish community."

"The BDS movement put together 'a mapping project that accuses Jewish and 'Zionist' institutions of various evils in American society," said Congressman Ritchie Torres last Wednesday. "Scapegoating is a common symptom of antisemitism, which at its core is a conspiracy theory."

The Mapping Project told Mondoweiss that it was trying to overcome BDS limitations in which activists would focus on one institution at a time, and instead identify a "web of connections" so that activists could identify "strategic vulnerabilities" of the system to "weaken and dismantle them."

The map includes institutions such as a high school, Gann Academy, because the school has Zionism in its student clubs and allegedly in the curriculum, and because the school encourages students to travel on programs to Israel. The Synagogue Council of Massachusetts is listed as "complicit" in Zionism and normalization.

Media outlets such as the Boston Globe and Jewish Journal were included in the network for "willfully spreading Israeli state propaganda" and capitalism.

"We will not be intimidated and we will not be silent," the CJP, ADL and JCRC said last week in response to the map. "We in Boston will stand together and continue our work building bridges, supporting our allies and each other, and confronting antisemitism where we see it and when we experience it."