In April, 2015, an anonymous online entity calling itself “Canary Mission” began publishing negative, often defamatory, portraits of activists who are supportive of Palestinians, back the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights, or are critical of Israel state policy in relationship to the Occupation of Palestine.
Approximately 140 activists, most of them undergraduate students in the United States, were first profiled. Since then, the number of profiles has grown to more than 1,000 and includes professors, intellectuals, and a wide range of people who in one way or another oppose the state of Israel’s apartheid system.
Canary Mission’s anonymous founders made clear from the start that their mission was to damage the lives of activists. “It is your duty to ensure that today’s radicals are not tomorrow’s employees,” said an anonymous female voiceover on a promotional video posted to Canary Mission when the site launched. Canary Mission also regularly tweets out false accusations that activists are anti-semitic, terrorists, criminal, or even “fake Jews.” These tweets have sometimes gone directly to places of employment where targeted activists work.
Canary Mission is nothing short of a modern day blacklist. To date no person or entity has claimed responsibility—or credit—for maintaining the Canary Mission website. The most comprehensive investigative research on Canary Mission was completed by journalist and book author Max Blumenthal. In a 2014 article for Alternet, Blumenthal was unable to identify the creators of Canary Mission, or its funding sources, even though Canary Mission publicly solicits tax-deductible donations via its website and mailing list.
In 2016, a public strike was launched against Canary Mission in the form of “Against Canary Mission,” an online petition condemning the blacklisting tactics of the site. The petition specifically solicited signatures from University faculty and administrators, asking them to reject any information from Canary Mission in its evaluation of students, or student applications to study. More than 1,000 faculty and administrators from around the world signed the petition.
Today, Canary Mission continues to smear mostly student activists while hiding behind the cover of anonymity. In the face of shifting public opinion against Israel’s illegal occupation, Canary Mission uses a politics of underhandedness, name-calling, and personal attack. In the last year, Canary Mission has compared Palestine activists to white supremacists in an attempt to further demonize activism against the Israeli occupation.
Our website responds to Canary Mission. Rather than anonymously malign people dedicated to Palestinian emancipation, it celebrates and pays tribute to their work. Ours is a playful, and humane, rebuttal to the original’s bad faith intentions. As with Palestinian freedom there is only one way—forward–and only one road—the high road. We hope you enjoy our work.