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Davis, California

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Guest: Canary Mission is only part of the issue

The long history of Palestinian repression

Created in 2014, Canary Mission is a blacklist that serves as a response to the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) Movement that started in 2005. Led by Palestinians, BDS is a movement that seeks to end the occupation, colonization and oppression of Palestinians and their land Israel with the support of the international community.

BDS has three demands: the return of Palestinian refugees who were displaced in 1948 as mentioned in UN resolution 194, the dismantling of the apartheid wall and full equality for Palestinians, who are subject to discrimination, expressed by Israel’s current president, Benjamin Netanyahu, who does not consider them full citizens.

Although BDS is a nonviolent movement that seeks to end the oppression of Palestinians, it has met backlash not only from Canary Mission, but from other pro-Israeli organizations as well, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Anti-Defamation League. These organizations conflate the BDS movement and anti-Zionism rhetoric with anti-Semitism in order to justify targeting professors and students who speak out against Israel’s violence, colonialism, genocide and human rights violations.

Canary Mission is not the first organization to harass and derail Palestinian activism, however. Multiple organizations have stooped to dirty tactics in order to silence those who stand in solidarity with Palestinians. For example, in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) has attacked organizations that show solidarity with Palestinians.

One group that was targeted by JCRC is San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR), a nonprofit that works to support survivors and prevent sexual assault with a focus on women of color. In 2003, SFWAR had held a teach-in to educate its members on Islamophobia, in which Zionism’s role in white supremacy was discussed. The group also placed Zionism on its  list of oppressions. In reaction to this, the JCRC attacked and harassed SFWAR. The JCRC successfully lobbied the city of San Francisco to freeze SFWAR’s funds, forcing it to waste time and resources on a legal battle to reverse it.

Censorship and surveillance among pro-Israeli groups is not surprising. The Israeli government has a long history of repression and McCarthyesque practices towards many vulnerable populations, particularly towards Palestinian people. Since its creation, Israel has employed surveillance methods such as “population registries, identification cards, land surveys, watchtowers, imprisonment, and torture” on Palestinians in Palestine, including the occupied territories of West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. More recently, Israel has adopted Orwellian surveillance practices using the technologies of CCTV, electronic monitoring and biometric data collection.

Surveillance and oppression even follow Palestinians who have left the area. Persecuted in their homeland, Palestinians are unable to escape repression and violence even in countries like the United States. Most recently, U.S. immigration denied the entry of Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement and human rights activist, despite having a valid visa.

Organizations like Canary Mission and JCRC are only one part of the much larger systemic discrimination Palestinians face across the globe. Those who support anti-Zionism are accused of anti-Semitism, even though there is a marked difference between “Jewish people everywhere” and the state of Israel. By doing so, these organizations discredit organizations like Students for Justice in Palestine, accusing them of spreading hate across campuses — despite the main mission of these organizations being to oppose all forms of oppression, including anti-Semitism. If we want to fight against all forms of oppression, including anti-Semitism, it is our moral obligation to address the repression that Palestinians continue to face as part of our collective struggle.

Written by: Justine Tsai

The writer is a third-year community and regional development major and member of Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Davis.


  1. The goal,of BDS is the elimination of Israel as the Jewish homeland, so bravo to Canary Mission for documenting the records of folks who share that goal — a goal which, to any fair minded person, is a form of antiJewish racism, I.e. antisemitism. I note that you present no evidence that Canary mission tells untruths! Do you have such documentation — if so please share it with us. It’s especially insensitive that this opinion was published to coincide with Yom Hashoa, the commemoration of the murder of 6 million Jews for simply being Jewish. Fortunately this week Jews around the world will celebrate Israeli Independence Day, the rebirth of Israel partly in response to the unthinkable slaughter of defenseless Jews. 1948 wasn’t that long ago but please study the history of that time and how the combined armies of all the Arab countries was unable to finish the job that Hitler started, learn how hundreds of thousands of Jews were chased out of Arab countries and found refuge in Israel and those Arabs who stayed in Israel became citizens and how the term Palestininian was invented to describe the Arabs who fled Israel and were placed in “refugee” camps by their Arab cousins who refused to offer them a role to citizenship and wanted to use them as a tool against Israel. Canary Mission is one small implementations of the Jewish people’s goal that Never Again shall we depend on the rest of the world to protect us from the horrors of antisemism and it’s, God forbid, “final solution”. We stand ready to meet with and bond with and negotiate with all of good will who share that goal. — negotiations that BDS refuses to allow as they work towards the elimination. Of Israel ( just ask them) so is it any wonder that we need Canary lists?

    • Ps : I would like to see a Palestinian state existing in peace side by side with the Jewish state of Israel — world SJP support that goal?

  2. Jeannie, you’re delusional. The lead member of the BDS National Committee, ACCORDING TO ITS OWN WEBSITE, is: the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, commonly known as PNIF. Among PNIF’s members are five different groups designated by the US as terrorist organizations, including Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Popular Front – General Command (PFLP-GC), the Palestine Liberation Front, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

    But you’re attacking Canary Mission for revealing anti-Semitic speech by students and faculty (e.g., “Jews should go back into the ovens”) and the JCRC?!

    BDS National Committee = terrorists, literally. You should be denouncing BDS, not supporting it.

    You are dangerously ignorant.


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