Online Map Presents Clear and Present Danger to Boston's Jews | Opinion

An anti-Israel group has released a detailed online map of the greater Boston area to illustrate "how local support for the colonization of Palestine is structurally tied to policing evictions, and privatization locally, and to U.S. imperialist projects worldwide."

This interactive map — launched by anonymous allies of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) in Boston — singles out Jewish groups, police, the media, and other organizations and individuals with even the most tenuous ties to Israel and sets them up as targets. Even public figures with favorable views of the Jewish State, such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D), are listed alongside human rights organizations, houses of worship, several universities, the FBI, and Boston-area schools that have pro-Israel student organizations on campus.

The map allows users to choose from a list of "harm categories" and gives the locations of institutions it accuses of complicity in crimes against humanity, including "medical apartheid," "imperialist projects," and "colonization" of Palestinian territory.

Holocaust Memorial
Glass with the numbers of Nazi concentration camp victims etched on it is seen during a Holocaust memorial ceremony commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps, May 8, 2005, in Boston, Massachusetts. Darren McCollester/Getty Images

But the "liberation map" is not only a threat to Boston's Jews. The online project shows ties between Jews and the broader community, suggesting that there is something inherently sinister in Jews and non-Jews working together. The singling out of Jewish organizations rips open and exposes the wounds of the past and harkens back to dark times. It not only endangers Boston's Jewish community — marking it out for would-be attackers — but threatens the equality, diversity, and inclusion fundamental to American democracy.

BDS, which has praised the anonymous creators of the map repeatedly, has made no secret about its ultimate agenda: delegitimizing Israel. It advocates for measures that would, in effect, mean the end of the Jewish State, including allowing some 7.5 million Palestinians, most of whom have never lived in Israel, to "return" to it. Worryingly, increased anti-Israel activity leads to hate crimes against all Jews, regardless of where they live or how they feel about their peoples' ancestral homeland.

Many in Boston view this map for precisely what it is: an antisemitic hit list. These ugly insinuations echo toxic tropes contained within the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

Boston is known around the world as the cradle of liberty. It is a great city that has played a vital role in guaranteeing Americans' rights and freedoms — from free speech to religious practice — without fear of retribution. If this kind of hate takes root here, no place can offer refuge.

Holocaust survivor and human rights activist Elie Wiesel said, "Once I thought that anti-Semitism had ended; today it is clear to me that it will probably never end." In Boston, where Wiesel enlightened generations of students at the university bearing the city's name, BDS embodies this hatred.

The "liberation map" is not the first attack on Jews, both pro- and anti-Israel, and it won't be the last. In fact, it has been published as antisemitic incidents are rising sharply in the United States, and Jewish communities have had to increase security in response.

But the answer to antisemitism must go beyond barring our doors and hiring more guards. The response to the publication of this map, and all antisemitic incidents, requires moral clarity and a commitment to snuff the flames of hatred with facts and understanding. Silence enables impunity and empowers hate and its peddlers.

Michal Cotler-Wunsh is a former member of Israel's Knesset, where she was a member of the Foreign Relations and Defense Committees and Knesset liaison to the issue of the International Criminal Court.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.