The supreme leader of Iran had a message the other day for his 902,000 followers on Twitter.
“Zionists have always been a plague, even before establishing the fraudulent Zionist regime,” wrote Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “Even then, Zionist capitalists were a plague for the whole world.”
“Zionists” is a dysphemism for Jews. As Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1967 during a visit to Boston, “When people criticize ‘Zionists,’ they mean Jews. You’re talking antisemitism.” To Khamenei and his ilk, it is Jews who have “always been a plague . . . for the whole world.” That is why Iranian-sponsored terror attacks have been carried out against Jewish targets far from the Middle East, such as the horrific 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were murdered. That is why Iran enthusiastically promotes Holocaust denial and why its grotesque “Jewish Studies Center” is a leading purveyor of antisemitic books, videos, and reports.
So it isn’t hard to guess what Khamenei would think of the Mapping Project, a new antisemitic endeavor in Massachusetts that likewise regards Jews as dangerously virulent.
The Mapping Project was unveiled this month by far-left extremists associated with BDS Boston. (BDS refers to the Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions campaign to treat Israel as an economic and cultural pariah.) It consists of an interactive map of Massachusetts on which are linked hundreds of public and private entities of every description. Its creators call it “an organizing tool” for “fighting back against Zionism, US imperialism, and other interlocking systems of oppression.” They claim that the organizations it highlights represent the “local institutional support for the colonization of Palestine.”
And in the age-old manner of antisemitic conspiracy-mongers, the Mapping Project is obsessed with the idea that Jews are uniquely powerful and manipulative.
Unlike anti-Black or anti-Asian racism, the animus of antisemites frequently goes beyond mindless bigotry and identifies Jews as the cause of whatever they revile most. That explains why Jews were blamed for Bolshevism by capitalist antisemites and blamed for capitalism by Marxist antisemites, or how they could be simultaneously hated by white supremacists and hated by Black extremists.
The same is true of the Mapping Project. It purports to show that a sinister web connects the Bay State’s Jewish schools, synagogues, cultural groups, and charities to the politicians, media, police, and local governments they supposedly influence. It lists numerous “harms” that must be rectified through “liberation struggles,” including “ethnic cleansing,” “ableism,” “privatization,” and “policing” — with “Zionism” heading the list.
Hatred of Israel and its supporters pervades the Mapping Project. But it is equally fanatical in its hostile focus on Jewish communal life in Massachusetts.
The project’s goal, proclaimed on its home page, is “to reveal the local entities and networks that enact devastation, so we can dismantle them.” That is not subtle. And to facilitate the dismantling of the Jewish community, the Mapping Project provides the street address of every organization it lists, and in many cases the names of key staff members.
Who and what does the Mapping Project hope to dismantle? For starters, every organization with the word “Jewish” in its name: The American Jewish Committee. Combined Jewish Philanthropies. The Harvard Center for Jewish Studies. The Jewish Arts Collaborative. The Jewish Teen Foundation of Greater Boston. The Jewish Community Relations Council.
But that barely scratches the surface. Targeted by the Mapping Project as well is the Massachusetts synagogue council. A Jewish support group for people with disabilities. A Jewish day school. The Israeli consulate in Boston. Numerous Jewish charities and volunteer associations. A pro-labor committee. A pro-business council. Right-wing Jewish activist organizations. Left-wing Jewish activist organizations. In the world according to the Mapping Project, all these entities share in the collective guilt imparted by their Jewishness. “We hope,” the project’s creators told an interviewer, that others will use the map to “plan ways to disrupt these systems and one day dismantle them altogether.” Again that word: dismantle.
No other religious, cultural, or ethnic group in Massachusetts is similarly targeted. In the concise formulation of US Representative Seth Moulton, “This project is an antisemitic enemies list with a map attached.”
Jew-hatred flourishes in disordered, unhealthy societies, and America today is more disordered and unhealthy than it has been in a long time. On both left and right, antisemitism is on the upswing. In recent years, Chabad centers across Massachusetts have been repeatedly vandalized. Last summer, a rabbi was stabbed eight times in Brighton Center by a gun- and knife-wielding assailant.
These are ugly times. Jews, as ever, are the canary in the coal mine. And there are those, as ever, who seek to map out their demise.
Jeff Jacoby is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jeff_jacoby. This column is adapted from the current issue of Arguable, his weekly newsletter. To subscribe to Arguable, visit bitly.com/Arguable.