1,000 scholars condemn pro-Israel blacklist site

Israel advocates are attempting to stifle Palestine solidarity activism on US campuses. ZUMA Press/Newscom

More than 1,000 members of faculty have condemned a website that blacklists students and educators who criticize Israel.

“We reject the McCarthyist tactics used by Canary Mission,” the scholars say in a statement initiated by students.

“We urge our fellow admissions faculty, as well as university administrators, prospective employers and all others, to join us in … standing against such bullying and attempts to shut down civic engagement and freedom of speech,” the scholars add.

The aim of the shadowy website, Canary Mission, is to punish students for their activism by harming their future academic and professional careers.

Its anonymous administrators contact potential employers and graduate student admissions committees, claiming that the students are engaged in anti-Semitic bigotry and sympathy towards terrorism.

The site is part of an increasing wave of tactics by right-wing groups on US campuses intending to silence criticism of Israel.

While Canary Mission’s creators hide behind anonymity, notorious Islamophobic demagogue Daniel Pipes has admitted to journalists Max Blumenthal and Julia Carmel that he knows who is responsible for the site. Pipes also acted as a go-between, conveying comments he said came from Canary Mission’s administrators to the journalists.

The statement is “a reassurance to students that faculty have their back on this,” said Cynthia Franklin, an English professor at the University of Hawai’i.

“I really think it is incumbent on faculty to stand strongly in support of students and to do that in a very visible way, especially those of us with tenure,” Franklin told The Electronic Intifada.

Franklin helped author the statement along with other scholars, students and members of Jewish Voice for Peace.

“JVP advises potential employers, university administrators and other outside parties to disregard Canary Mission because it is not a legitimate source for student or faculty recommendation or evaluation,” the group has previously said.

“Going to continue”

While some students have felt a chilling effect on their public activism after being targeted by Canary Mission, others are speaking out.

“There’s been a split between graduate students who are so appalled by the ugliness of these tactics who are willing to say, ‘we’re not going to be silenced by this’ and those who have family in Palestine who worry that they will not be able to get home,” said Franklin, who is also a member of Faculty for Justice in Palestine.

Recent graduate Sumaya Awad told The Electronic Intifada that “without any collective struggle against this site, and other blacklists that exist that are continuing to target people, this harassment and intimidation is just going to continue.”

Awad, a founding member of Students for Justice in Palestine at Williams College, told The Electronic Intifada that she faced backlash “from the very start” both by the administration and various Israel-aligned groups on campus.

“I found out I was targeted by Canary Mission midway through my senior year,” she said. “I scrolled through my profile, which very meticulously documented every single political activity I participated in at Williams and [previously] at Columbia University.”

“I was very proud of all these things I had done,” she said. “But then the very real world effects of Canary Mission started to sink in.”

The first thing that comes up on a search of her name is her Canary Mission profile, Awad said.

She added that as a visible Muslim without US citizenship, she was overcome with “constant dread” over the profile and how it could impact her student or visa status.

“It was pretty terrifying that this is the first thing that employers would see if they googled me,” Awad said, “we’re already living in a world ravaged with Islamophobia and discrimination.”

But Awad is pleased to be part of a fight back: “This is the way to combat this site and other sites of this sort … whether they are targeting Black Lives Matter activists or Muslims.”

“A threatening place”

David Lloyd, a professor at the University of California at Riverside, told The Electronic Intifada that some students have faced attacks by anonymous users of the website who have threatened them with violence and sexual assault.

“For women students in particular, this is a very threatening place to end up,” he said.

The website’s creators are “covered by their anonymity and they’re attacking people who have had the courage to speak out on a controversial issue,” Lloyd added.

“Far from repelling graduate admissions committees or potential employers, the fact of someone’s engagement with social justice issues would actually be a sign of the very qualities one wants to include in a graduate program,” Lloyd said.

As Palestine solidarity activism and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement continue to gain support, Awad said that the existence of sites like Canary Mission proves that activists are creating a threat for Israel-aligned groups:

“Their fear is what’s causing them to react this way. It should be a push for us to continue the struggle forward, to continue connecting it to the different movements that already exist in the US and elsewhere.”




...would be a HUGE plus in the hiring decision. The kind of courage, perseverance, and "can do" attitude exhibited by the people listed on that site would be a major benefit to any company lucky enough to get them. Doubly so in my case as an entrepreneurial tech biz in a tough field (aerospace). You just cannot overstate the value of those character attributes and propelling energy.


The bozo running the site is lazy. The clown lists only a tiny fraction of the anti-racist/anti zionist activists that could be listed.

People, if we all do our jobs right that dope could be entering names and typing in moronic little screeds non stop 24/7 365 days a year for the next hundred years and not get anywhere near all of us. So lets all continue doing what we are doing, everyone.

Keep up the good work.


David Lloyd correctly observes that this blacklisting of students should be read as evidence of their worthiness for admission to graduate programs. Canary Mission is a cowardly project, and when its anonymous controllers are publicly named- which can't come too soon- they must be held to account in a court of law. As well as being despicable, blacklisting is also illegal.


I'm 65 and semi-retired now, but I was an activist in college on the issues of our day and have tried to stay committed to Justice and Peace over the years; however raising a family and working for a living take up so damn much of your time and energy.

Anyway, if I go back to college part-time, how could I get included on this list? I would consider it a badge of honor.

Israel is a country not a religion. Being against the immoral actions of any government is just being a responsible world citizen. Being against the unspeakable horrors of Nazi Germany was not "anti-Aryan", or "anti-German", or "anti-Christian", it was anti-evil. The same is true of the current atrocities by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people. Constantly calling any and all criticism of the government of Israel anti-Semitic is a dodge, a shield to hide behind.

Also, as for the admins of this site remaining anonymous, that's no different than spouting racist, anti-Jewish drivel while hiding under a white hood.

By the way, I'm an old, white, male, US veteran, raised in a Christian church (See we aren't all bad).


Roger, thank you for your sense of humor. I am your age and ex student activist on 1973 college campus. Now, I get excited and shut up as I see people who remind me of myself.

No apologies, we did what we could; and now our kids shall proceed till justice and peace are actualized.


I've seen real direct discrimination in business and real estate over a "free Palestine" bumper sticker and LOTS of nasty threatening language, HOWEVER... it has NEVER stopped me or anyone I know from getting whatever we want elsewhere, so I would encourage people to keep this fear tactic in perspective.
It's much smaller than the Israel-funded projects want us to think it is. The huge efforts to ruin careers of professors are real, but they take a lot of work and the rest of us (especially white folks) need to stay in solidarity with BDS in order to force the discrimination campaigns to have to work harder each time. We can't let canary-whatever get any free mileage from fear alone.
Furthermore, it goes both ways... for example, Hillary Clinton is clinging to a thread against what should be the easiest opponent to win against, but she openly prostrates herself below Netanyahu (and people complain about Trump?) and the Saudis, etc, and openly promises fascist action against BDS. She's walking a tightrope between doing what Likud wants and managing to win an election. After Syria, Ukraine, etc, I hope she loses and takes her canary crap with her.

Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).