The Jewish community in Massachusetts is on edge after the launch this month of a mysterious website listing the names and addresses of numerous Jewish and other institutions
BOSTON (AP) — The Jewish community in Massachusetts is on edge after the launch this month of a mysterious pro-Palestine website listing the names and addresses of dozens of local institutions — a number of which are Jewish — and calling them to “dismantle” and disrupt them.
The Mapping Project’s creators say its interactive map of nearly 500 local colleges, police departments, businesses and nonprofits illustrates “some ways in which institutional support for the settlement of Palestine is structurally linked to the maintenance of order and systemic white supremacy here where we live, and to American imperialist projects in other countries,” according to a statement posted on the site.
The Anti-Defamation League, which opposes Jewish discrimination and bigotry and is among those named, is hosting an online forum on Wednesday to explain why the project is harmful and what the Jewish community can do, according to an invitation to the event. US attorney Rachael Rollins of Massachusetts is among those expected to speak.
Event organizers also want to warn the wider Jewish community about the potential for copycat efforts in other cities and states, as encouraged by the website’s creators, said Robert Trestan, bureau chief of the ADL in New England.
The ADL is among those calling on the authorities to shut down the site for promoting hatred and encouraging violence. The league and others argue that Jewish groups make up a disproportionate share of named entities.
Police departments and other law enforcement agencies make up more than half of the list, and some of the state’s most recognized institutions, such as Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Raytheon, General Electric, Moderna and Fidelity Investments, occupy another large share.
But dozens of Jewish organizations are also named, from Gann Academy, a Jewish high school in suburban Boston, and New England Yachad, the regional branch of a national organization for Jewish people with disabilities.
“The danger is that there are people among us who want to commit acts of violence, even if the mapmakers did not intend to,” Trestan said ahead of Wednesday’s event.
Meanwhile, members of Congress are calling on federal law enforcement officials to get involved.
A bipartisan group of 37 lawmakers from across the country sent a letter last week to the FBI and other federal authorities to investigate and provide “enhanced security” to organizations listed on the website and to work with media companies. social and Internet service providers to prevent further distribution of the site.
“We must not condone this incitement,” wrote U.S. Representative Josh Gottheimer and other lawmakers.
Spokespersons for federal agencies did not respond to emails seeking comment on Tuesday. Messages sent to the email listed on the Mapping Project site in recent days have also not received a response.
Internet company GoDaddy, where the website’s domain name is registered, has reviewed the website and concluded that it has not violated its domain name registration agreement, spokesman Nick Fuller said. in a press release.
The 1984 Hosting Co., of Reykjavík, Iceland, which hosts the site, said in an email that it facilitates freedom of expression but does not host those who advocate violence, terror, repression or hatred.
The company declined to comment when specifically asked about Jewish community concerns in follow-up posts.
“We have suffered severe cyberattacks, legal attacks and physical threats from hate groups of various persuasions trying to get us removed from websites,” the company said in its statement. “We don’t give in, no matter what.”
Local Jewish community leaders say the website launch comes as anti-Semitism is on the rise in New England.
More than 100 anti-Semitic incidents such as vandalism, harassment and assault were recorded in Massachusetts last year, up 48% from the previous year, according to the ADL’s annual report. Incidents rose more than 40% overall in New England, excluding Connecticut, according to the report.
Among the incidents last year in Massachusetts were the stabbing of a rabbi near a Jewish day school in Boston and the Duxbury High School football team’s use of terms anti-Semitic in its calls to play.
Jeremy Yamin, vice president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies, a Boston nonprofit named on the Mapping Project, said local Jewish groups have been reaching out in recent days to see how they should respond.
He encouraged them not to overreact, but also to make sure their safety plans, equipment and staff training are up to date.
“We’re really focused on long-term preparation,” Yamin said. “That’s serious anti-Semitic rhetoric, but it’s also part of a range of issues that we’ve been dealing with for some time.”
Rabbi Ron Fish, who has a son who is entering Gann Academy, said he was confident the private school in Waltham was taking the necessary precautions and would not hesitate to send them to class when they resume at school. ‘fall.
“The targeting of children is horrible,” said Fish, who is also the ADL’s director of anti-Semitism advocacy. “The Mapping Project is guilty of committing such an outrageous and dangerous act. But hiding is not a solution.