Over the past few years, as support for Palestinian rights has grown across the United States, student members of SJP chapters nationally have been facing intense online harassment for speaking up for Palestinian rights. One particular organization, the Canary Mission, has led multiple concerted attacks against students and faculty, tweeting about them as “Jew haters” and “terrorists” to potential employers.
Colleges and universities must defend the rights of students to the free exchange of ideas, including advocacy for Palestinian rights. When an off-campus organization publicizes the names, faces, social media, employment, and educational information of students online, universities have a direct responsibility to protect students from this inflammatory, organized harassment, which also threatens students’ physical safety. Sadly, for the most part, administrators have failed even to appropriately condemn the hateful slander, as when the David Horowitz Freedom Center used Canary Mission student profiles during the 2015-16 academic year to publicly post the names of mostly Muslim/Arab/Palestinian student activists on the walls of campuses, and denounce them as “terrorists.”
However, despite its well-orchestrated efforts, the Canary Mission has largely failed at its stated goal of hurting students’ career prospects; to date, no known students have been fired or denied employment or academic study because they were blacklisted by the Canary Mission. In one case we know of, an employer has even defended students from a Canary Mission attack. And in another case, a pro-Palestine group looking to hire interns “recruited” from the list compiled by the Canary Mission, joking that someone else had done the work for them.
This past summer, I, along with a few fellow members of the USACBI Steering Collective, have organized with a group of recently-graduated students, mostly former members of SJP chapters, to gather signatures by faculty across the US opposing the Canary Mission blacklist. Over 1000 professors, representing a variety of viewpoints on Israel/Palestine, signed a statement insisting that the Canary Mission has no place on university campuses, and should not be taken seriously by university departments when evaluating prospective students for admission. That letter is below. To see the list of signatories and to sign your name visit againstcanarymission.com.
University Faculty Condemn Canary Mission Blacklist
As faculty who serve, have served, or are likely to serve on an admissions committee at graduate and undergraduate university programs across the country, we unequivocally assert that the Canary Mission website should not be trusted as a resource to evaluate students’ qualifications for admission. We condemn Canary Mission as an effort to intimidate and blacklist students and faculty who stand for justice for Palestinians.
Canary Mission is a website and social media initiative designed to slander student, faculty, and community activists for Palestinian rights as extremist, anti-Semitic, and sympathetic to terrorism. By publicizing the names, social media accounts, employment history, and other personal information about student activists, Canary Mission mobilizes a small online community of pro-Israel advocates to harass and threaten these activists. Over the past six weeks, the now two-year old Canary Mission site has added over 100 new students to its blacklist. As of this writing, in the first half of 2016, Canary Mission has on over 30 occasions tweeted the names of employers in order to rally their followers to intimidate students. In a few cases, Canary Mission also has contacted the prospective graduate schools of these students, claiming without evidence that the students are anti-Semites, terrorists, or both. The goal of their campaign is to use fear and intimidation to pressure activists to cease their human rights advocacy. Though the creators of Canary Mission remain anonymous, it has been linked to, and utilized by, such well-known individuals as Daniel Pipes and David Horowitz, who have been labeled as purveyors of hate speech by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Although, as individual faculty, we hold a range of viewpoints on Israel-Palestine, we recognize that student advocacy for Palestinian human rights is not inherently anti-Semitic, and that such advocacy represents a cherished and protected form of free speech that is welcome on college campuses. We reject the McCarthyist tactics used by Canary Mission. Canary Mission’s aim is to damage these students’ futures, and to punish them for their principled human rights activism. We urge our fellow admissions faculty, as well as university administrators and all others, to join us in signing and standing against such bullying and attempts to shut down civic engagement and freedom of speech.
To see the list of signatories and to sign your name visit againstcanarymission.com.