Robert L. Wolkoff
Robert L. Wolkoff

You told the truth about me? Shame on you!

Something odd happened during the Vietnam War. Actually, a lot of odd things happened during the Vietnam War, but I want to focus on one of them. Time Magazine had a cover story about the war. On the cover was a picture of a naked, crying, baby. It turns out the upper crust ladies of Dallas, Texas took great offense at the idea that Time would do something so atrocious as to show a baby’s naked tush on its cover. So they insisted that every issue of Time had a post-it note glued on to cover the baby, and thereby avoid offending the good citizens of Dallas.

The irony, of course, is that if anything was atrocious, it was the war itself, not the baby’s tush. But in this case, the real atrocity was ignored, while there was endless cluck-clucking and tut-tutting about the evidence of the atrocity.

Something similar is taking place today with a website called Canary Mission. Canary Mission—whose name comes from the proverbial canary in the coal mine, the first alert of danger—catalogues the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic comments that pollute our college campuses. Its motto is: “If you’re a racist, the world should know.” They profile people who are in violation of the U.S. State Department definition of anti-Semitism, who support terrorists, who violate the personal safety of Jews or supporters of Israel, promote BDS, etc. They only use open sources (tweets, posts, articles, etc.), so there’s no spying on anybody.

Here’s a small sampling of Canary Mission profiles:

Alex Abbasi, Harvard, called for a stone-throwing intifada in Israel, expressed solidarity with terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah, denied that Israel has a right to self-defense, and claimed that Israel was trying to genetically mutate Palestinians.

Rabab Abdulhadi, a professor at San Francisco State University, calls for a Third Intifada, organized a trip to the Middle East where participants met with convicted terrorist and hijacker Leila Khaled, and supports BDS.

Mohammad G. Hammad, a former student at San Francisco State, praised the terrorist organization PFLP, and posted a picture of himself holding a knife and saying, “I seriously can not get over how much I love this blade. It is the sharpest thing I own and cuts through everything like butter and just holding it makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier.” He also commented that when he saw a picture of an Israeli soldier, “The only ‘peace’ I’m interest in is the head of this f*cking scum on a plate, as well as the heads of all others like her, and all others who support the IDF.”

Which, in case you didn’t know, is us.

Atrocious stuff, certainly. And you would think that a website that identified these people should be congratulated. After all, when the neo-Nazis from Charlottesville were named and shamed, nobody complained about it. To the contrary. @YesYoureRacist has nearly 400 thousand followers.

But now, believe it or not, Canary Mission itself—not the anti-Semites it exposes—is under fire.

Why? Well, beside the gutter anti-Semites like Hammad, Canary Mission also lists the people who are actively involved in the BDS movement, like Rebecca Vilkomerson, head of Jewish Voice for Peace. And people like this don’t think they should be on the same list as the gutter anti-Semites because, you see, they have high morals.

Unlike the rest of us.

So when they disrupt Israeli speakers, compare Israelis to Nazis, and seek to destroy the livelihood of millions of Jews through BDS, they think they should get a medal. And the website that simply repeats what they have publicly said and done is committing an atrocity. McCarthyism! Intimidation! Blacklisting! Demonization! Scare tactics! Defamation!

Wait…., what? How can it be defamation to accurately quote what a person publicly says, and to accurately describe what a person publicly does?

One student with a Canary Mission profile, Nadine Jawad (active in BDS, accused Israel of “demonic acts,” “state sponsored terrorism,” and “massacre”) commented, “When you google my name, this comes up. How is it going to be perceived?”

Exactly as it should be perceived, in my humble opinion. You break it, you buy it. And remember: the Internet is forever.

The ante has been upped, now, because evidently Israeli immigration authorities are aware of Canary Mission and use it to help determine who gets to enter Israel. And they don’t like people coming to their country that are actively working for its destruction.

Go figure.

And make no mistake, the goal of BDS is the destruction of Israel. As Princeton’s resident anti-Semite, Richard Falk, has written, the purpose of BDS is “to shake the foundations of the Zionist insistence on a Jewish state.” Success for BDS will ruin (if not end) the lives of millions and millions of Jews. And we’re not supposed to even talk about it?

Sorry, but “sha shtill” (“quiet down, don’t make trouble”) is no longer an option for us. And if that makes life tough for anti-Semites, well, you are known for who you are.

About the Author
Rabbi Wolkoff serves Congregation Bnai Tikvah in North Brunswick. He has published hundred of articles and lectured internationally on Jewish topics, and has been active both in interfaith work and in the struggle against anti-Semitism, both in the United States and in Sweden, where he served for a decade. He is a JNF Rabbi for Israel.
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