(RNS) — As everyone knows, “You can’t pahk ya cah in Havad Yad.”
But, at least now, you can see where many Jews are trying to pahk theirs — all over the Boston area.
Consider “The Mapping Project.”
We are a multi-generational collective of activists and organizers on the land of the Massachusett, Pawtucket, Naumkeag, and other tribal nations (Boston, Cambridge, and surrounding areas) who wanted to develop a deeper understanding of local institutional support for the colonization of Palestine and harms that we see as linked, such as policing, US imperialism, and displacement/ethnic cleansing. Our work is grounded in the realization that oppressors share tactics and institutions – and that our liberation struggles are connected. We wanted to visualize these connections in order to see where our struggles intersect and to strategically grow our local organizing capacities.
“The Mapping Project” locates Jewish institutions — and individuals — in the Boston area that anti-Israel activists believe to be responsible for Israeli “crimes” against the Palestinians.
If the connecting lines in that map look suspiciously like antisemitic images of Jews spreading their tentacles across the world, then you got that right.
To quote the Boston Jewish Community Relations Council:
Virtually every Jewish organization in the Commonwealth, along with its leadership, is listed in this map along with the relationships of each to civic, governmental, university and other community organizations. Whether those relationships were cultivated by the Jewish institution or the community organization, the underlying messages are clear: Jews are responsible for the ills of our community and if you maintain your relationship with Jewish organizations, you will share that responsibility.
What other ills of the community? It ties Zionism not only to U.S. imperialism but also to ableism, ecological harm, gentrification, the prison-industrial complex and other sins.
Of course. Jewish institutions are notoriously incapable of showing compassion to the disabled. That must account for the plethora of ramps, etc., in synagogues and JCCs.
Of course. Gentrification was so Herzl, Ben Gurion, Ahad Ha Am, Jabotinsky and Golda Meir.
You do recall that Herzl, at the First Zionist Congress in Basel, got up and said:
There will come a time when we will return to our Land, Also, there will come a time when a hipster (I am not sure what that is, but I am told that many of them will have beards just like mine) who will work in high tech (again, I do not know what that is, but someday, we will be a “startup nation”) will want to move into a place called Somerville, Massachusetts. This is totally part of the Zionist dream. To be a free people on the other side of the Charles River.
Actually, it is not funny. Here is what they are doing: They are making a list of everything, every ism, they don’t like and simply attaching them to Jewish institutions and to Israel.
The project mentions the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts, the ADL, a Jewish high school, local philanthropists, an arts group, J Street. This is, plain and simple, the conspiracy complex of the far left — as pernicious as QAnon and Great Replacement Theory.
In its pernicious labeling and scapegoating of the Jews, and its imagined web of Jewish influence, it comes straight out of the playbook of any medieval Jew hater. Recently Jewish Voice for Peace published a cartoon of Israeli soldiers drinking the blood of Palestinians. It was straight out of Der Sturmer. Actually it is far older than that — it is a blood libel, and it is almost 2,000 years old.
Let us be clear. “The Mapping Project” is dangerous. We on the center-left like to imagine the right has a monopoly on the potential for violence in this country.
True: Most political violence has come from that direction. I am writing this in the midst of the Jan. 6 hearings. Combine that horror with antisemitic and racist violence and you get the picture.
I like to muse, in my alliterative, way, that the right has the weapons. The left has the words.
But, as Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.) has said, these antisemitic tropes could inflame violence against the Jewish community. Other Massachusetts politicians, including Rep. Ayanna Pressley, have joined him in condemnation of the “Mapping Project.”
Why? When it comes to verbal and written violence; when it comes to demonization and finger-pointing; when it comes to arcane conspiracy theories — especially when those apply to the Jews — there is a 100 percent possibility that those ideas and words will lead to violence.
In fact, the historical record is painfully clear. It has always been the case that hateful words and ideas have led to violence.
As we should have discerned by now, anyone can get high-powered military-style arms. Right or left.
It would take you less time to buy a gun than to find a parking space in downtown Cambridge.
Finally, a cautionary tale.
“The Mapping Project” has included J Street in its cross hairs.
J Street is a left-leaning advocacy group around issues in Israel. It has often called for a two-state solution.
J Street, because it deigns to even recognize the state of Israel (and to want what it considers to be a better state of Israel), is too right wing for these people.
Because the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement people and their allies do not want a better state of Israel.
They want no state of Israel.
Oh, one last thing, please.
The “Mapping Project,” BDS, the ongoing demonization of Israel — tell me one thing, please:
How do any of these moves improve the life of one single Palestinian?
Answer: They don’t.
Because they are not intended to do so.
Because it is so much easier and more useful to hate Israel than to love Palestinians.