The Boston-Area “BDS Map” Endangers My Community

Illustrative. Photo: Facebook.

June 19, 2022

Eden Kohane is an intern for the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM). A current undergraduate student at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, she is a 2020 alum of Gann Academy in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Seeing the Jewish institutions of Boston, my hometown, recently mapped out and accused of culpability for the “colonization of Palestine,” as well as “policing and systemic white supremacy” in the United States, was extremely disturbing. And to scroll through this interactive online document and stumble upon an entire page dedicated to my former high school — Gann Academy in Waltham, Massachusetts — made it personal.

As a Gen Z member attending a liberal northeastern school, Brown University, I was already all-too-familiar with the insidious antisemitism inherent to the BDS movement. Calls to boycott Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, have struck a chord with young college students searching for a noble cause to virtue signal about on social media, and I have sadly learned to cope with this unfortunate reality.

However, I cannot sit quietly as demands are made to “dismantle” my Jewish community and my alma mater.

The Boston “BDS map” — published by the Mapping Project and promoted by BDS Boston — is not about social justice, nor about Israel. Instead, it’s frightening purpose is to incite hatred of the Jewish people as a whole.

Gann Academy always felt like a safe space for me to grow as a young Jewish woman, and it provided me with amazing opportunities to learn about Israel via open dialogue and critical thinking.

In the tenth grade, when Gann brings its students to Israel on a five-week program called “myIsrael,” I distinctly remember being told by my teachers that the trip was not geared toward any particular ideology, but was rather meant for us to explore our personal relationships with the Jewish state. And Zionism was presented as an important facet of Jewish culture and heritage to learn about and understand, but it was not forced upon us in a propagandistic manner.

For anyone to singling a Jewish high school for teaching students about Israel is patently absurd. And instead of effecting any sort of meaningful change, the new “BDS map” only endangers Boston-area Jews, including Gann students, as it provides a target list for antisemites seeking to do harm.

Besmirching institutions along faith-based lines is always a perilous game, and even more so when it comes to Jewish entities. Over the millennia, the persecution of Jewish communities has often begun with efforts to distinguish and alienate them from the rest of society.

We must not let history repeat itself. We must speak out and raise the alarm as those who wish to see us destroyed solely over our religious identities put their crosshairs on us.