In the years following World War II, German pastor Martin Niemöller, in his speeches around the world, uttered words that became famous:
“First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Today, some American Jews—and others who rarely even think about Israel—may feel safe in stating, “When they come for the Zionists, I need not speak out, because I am not a Zionist.”
But this summer’s Boston BDS “Mapping Project” shows that to our enemies, there’s no difference between Zionist and Jew—or even between Zionists and many unsuspecting firefighters, businesspeople, or lawyers.
The Mapping Project has created a map and address book of nearly 500 allegedly “pro-Zionist” organizations that Boston BDS believes should be dismantled because of their support of “local entities and networks that enact devastation” on Palestinians.
Many of the groups mapped by the group have the word “Jewish,” “Israel” or “Zionist” in their names—like Jewish National Fund, Jewish Teen Foundation, Israel360 and Zionist Organization of America, but most do not.
Boston BDS also—ambitiously—aims to dismantle such “Zionist” offenders as Apple, Microsoft, Harvard Law School, Boston United Pentecostal Church, JP Morgan Chase, Cambridge Fire Department, Synagogue Council of Massachusetts and The Boston Herald, plus some 250 greater-Boston police departments.
Even ultra-left Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren made the list, though in fairness, both she and Rep. Ayanna Presley—both widely regarded as political opponents of Israel—denounced the Mapping Project.
BDS Boston was able to cast such a wide net for “Zionists” using the power of “intersectionality”—a political offshoot of Critical Race Theory—holding that Zionism overlaps or intersects with 12 other societal “harms.”
The group’s Facebook page claims that its map serves to “illustrate how local support for the colonialization of Palestine is structurally tied to policing, evictions and privatization locally.”
Thus, you can be condemned by Boston BDS under the Zionist label if you commit the sins of U.S. Imperialism, Ecological Harm, Gentrification, Health Harm or Privatization (which includes 45 companies that are apparently guilty of practicing capitalism).
The Boston BDS list builds on the anti-Semitic specter of a broad, international Jewish conspiracy, with greedy tentacles reaching into and manipulating every key aspect of society.
While most Massachusetts politicians and Jewish leaders—and, surprisingly, even the national BDS Movement—condemned the Boston BDS list, most did so because of its crude “naming and blaming” mapping tactic, not its fundamental strategy.
After all, with anti-Semitism on a steep rise in the United States, to post an address book of Jewish/Zionist addresses is tantamount to publishing a hit list for terrorists. It’s surely a bad look, even for BDS.
However, none of the Mapping Projects’ critics got to the heart of the matter. None pointed out that BDS is at its core an anti-Semitic movement whose founders call for destruction of the world’s only Jewish state—or that BDS’s hateful assertions of apartheid, genocide and colonialism are flat-out lies.
In short, American Jews—even those who support anti-Israel politicians—would be wise to remember that our enemies do not distinguish between Jew and Zionist. Many Jews—“good Germans”—supported the Third Reich, but they were not spared. Many non-Jews who opposed Hitler’s authoritarianism were taken, too.
Likewise, our enemies make no distinction between “good liberal Jews” and the uppity Zionist variety. Nor are non-Jewish friends of Israel exempt from potential persecution.
Wherever the people responsible for the Boston BDS Mapping Project—or any of their intersectionalist brethren—gain power, they will unhesitatingly condemn and neutralize those guilty of any of a myriad of supposed social sins.
In short, you’re no more safe as an anti-Zionist Jew than you are as an anti-Zionist employee of the Attleboro (MA) Police Department or Bain Capital or a student at the Berklee College of Music—all of which were named by the Boston BDS list.
If we don’t forcefully oppose these activists, we can be sure that when they come for the Zionists, they will also come for the Jews. All of them.
Next these social justice warriors will come for the firefighters, engineers, lawyers, musicians, police officers and even the employees of Boston’s Harpoon Brewery, all of whom are also on the Boston BDS list.
Let’s be crystal clear: This is not merely about Boston BDS or even about the BDS national movement.
It’s about “progressive” radicals who believe their perverse social analysis allows them to condemn broad swathes of our population—people whom they accuse of being social criminals because of their beliefs, because of their identity—or simply because they are employees in a wide range of businesses, government services and non-profit organizations.
For those who support BDS, remember: These activists don’t like capitalists, don’t like liberals (and hate conservatives), don’t like police, don’t like the U.S. military, don’t like whites, don’t like “gentrifiers,” don’t like Zionists (or anyone who does business with Israel)—and they don’t like Jews.
To paraphrase the poet John Donne, “Don’t ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”
James Sinkinson is president of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.