Students, others targeted by website for political stances


A call to boycott products from Israel at a January 2009 demonstration in London, England. (Photo by Claudia Gabriela Marques Vieira)

The Canary Mission is a website that names individuals and college campus groups who website organizers claim show hatred of the United States of America, Israel and Jewish people.

The website was apparently created and updated by “concerned citizens and motivated students” who desire to combat anti-Semitism. Organizers believes that everyone should have a right to know who is affiliated with the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.

The website has several hundred students profiles, which include names, occupations, universities they attend, programs they are enrolled in, acquaintances of theirs also on the website, and links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. The website also names many professors, with the institution they are employed by, and the “negative statements” they have made about Israel. The administrators also take screen shots of tweets and Facebook posts deemed anti-Semitic and derogatory to the state of Israel.

After messaging numerous people named at the site, I received a response from an individual who would like to remain anonymous and we connected through Facebook Chat.

“I don’t want to give them more s*** on me,” the student wrote. “Currently, all they have is the fact that I attended a rally for Students for Justice in Palestine.”

The student was placed on the website, after attending a rally for Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Berkley, around March 2014.

“And I signed myself up to help organize and from that week on I was a prominent member with the organization,” the student wrote. “I didn’t find out about my name being on the website until a friend told me about an article from AlterNet News.”

The student added that because they had not made any derogatory or offensive claims, they were spared the offense of having their Twitter or Facebook profile screen shots posted.

The rest of the interview:

How do you feel about being on there?

“Well, I think its bull****, and at first it was quite terrifying to think that while we were organizing that someone was attending just to inform.”

Have you received any hate since being on the website?

“Yeah, when that AlterNet News article came out, all me and my friends were getting the same robotic messages trying to instigate an argument, which started making everyone paranoid.”

Were you ever scared for your safety?

“No, not all. Some of the girls were because as you can imagine the messages they received were threatening.”

Does this make you nervous for future employment?

“It used to, but no so much anymore, I just don’t believe many people visit the site anymore.”

Is there anything you would like to say to the administrator of the website?

“Yeah, at the end of the day they state everyone should know about us and what we’ve allegedly done or said hence screenshots of things we say.  Well, we want the same thing but only we want to know where our products come from and if the company is ethical or not. ”

• • •

The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) refers to a global movement to pressure Israel to abide by international law and agreements and end the humanitarian crisis Palestinians are facing. The United Nations released a report “Gaza 10 Years later” describing the blockade of Gaza as unlivable by 2020.

When AlterNet News went to do a full investigation of The Canary Mission website, it was unable to come up with any names for the administrators names or those of funders, but there is a donate button on the main page of the website.

AlterNet managed to contact Rebecca Peirce, who reached out to the administrators of The Canary Mission after racial and sexual online abuse she was receiving, after being listed at the site. “We received your request to be off the CM,” The Canary Mission tweeted. “If you’re able to demonstrate good behavior for a few years it will be considered.” That prompted an FBI investigation but no information regarding the case has been released.

The  Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement is controversial internationally. France ruled against 12 activists who burst into a supermarket in 2009 in BDS t-shirts and handing out flyers, fining them $50,000 for their activism. In 2015, Canada enacted laws prohibiting local governments, public bodies, unions and student groups from voting for or supporting the BDS movement. England, in 2016, decided to follow suite and enact similar laws.

Currently, legislation is being debated in the U.S. Congress where supporting for the BDS movement could see Americans prosecuted and face up to $250,000 in fines. The ACLU and numerous other human rights organizations have spoken out against such measures arguing that they impede a citizens right to free speech.

Related links:

The Canary Mission

AlterNet Article

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