“Jewish Voice for Peace unequivocally condemns Canary Mission, a malicious website that seeks to vilify principled activists for Palestinian human rights with targeted campaigns of misinformation, bigotry and slander,” the statement says.
Since its inception in 2015, Canary Mission has compiled a database that currently contains over 400 individuals and organizations who the site accuses of “promoting hatred of the USA, Israel and Jews on college campuses in North America.” Canary Mission specifically targets individuals and organization involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign which it describes as “anti-Semitic.”
Organizations highlighted on the site include Students for Justice in Palestine, Muslim Student Association, and Jewish Voice for Peace.
The database consists of profiles for each individual complete with photos, social media screenshots, and what the site calls “infamous quotes.” The profiles also include education and employment information, as well as links to the individual’s social media accounts. Each person’s involvements and comments are listed under often incendiary headlines such as “Perpetuating Terrorism,” “Defending Terrorists,” and “Excusing Anti-Semitism as Anti-Zionism.”
Jewish Voice for Peace Campus Organizer, Ben Lorber, JVP was immediately angered by Canary Mission’s targeting of social rights activists when the website garnered attention last year. However, they initially chose not to respond to the site to prevent drawing any more attention to its campaign.
According to Lorber, JVP decided to post a statement in response to “a couple of very isolated incidents” where Canary Mission contacted the employers or universities of students profiled on the site.
“We thought it would be useful for students whose names might be on the website, it might be useful for them to have a statement from Jewish Voice for Peace they can refer to on the slim chance that they get asked about it by a potential employer or university,” Lorber said.
However, Lorber does not believe that individuals who find themselves on the Canary Mission database should be too concerned about possible ramifications
“It can be a little scary, and a little weird personally, knowing that there’s a site out there with your name on it and your picture, speaking all these lies about you, but you know, the vast, vast, majority of students are never going to have any employment problems with it. They’re never going to have any problems with their universities because of it, because more and more people—first of all it’s really easy to see that site is bogus—and more and more people around the country, around the world, are going to admire students for their social justice activism,” he said.
Lorber believes that Canary Mission’s campaign is just another sign of the growing strength of the movement for Palestine.
“This is only the latest example of the persecution and harassment that the student activists for justice in Palestine have faced. It’s sign really that our movement has grown stronger, because the opposition is resorting to more and more desperate ways to attack us,” Lorber said.