Revealed: Canary Mission blacklist is secretly bankrolled by major Jewish federation

(graphic: Nikki Casey / Forward)
Mainstream American Jewish leaders have claimed not to know who funds Canary Mission. As it turns out, a big chunk of the money came from within their own ranks.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis | Forward | Oct 3, 2018

‘[Canary Mission] threatens the security of student activists, as well as create a toxic atmosphere of fear and paranoia among fellow students, thus infringing upon students’ ability to freely express their opinions.’
— Student Senate Resolution, UC Davis

One of the largest Jewish charities in the US has been secretly funding a shadowy online blacklist targeting college students who criticize Israel.

For three years, a website called Canary Mission has spread fear among undergraduate activists, posting more than a thousand political dossiers on student supporters of Palestinian rights. The dossiers are meant to harm students’ job prospects, and have been used in interrogations by Israeli security officials.

At the same time, the website has gone to great lengths to hide the digital and financial trail connecting it to its donors and staff. Registered through a secrecy service, the site is untraceable.

Now, for the first time, the Forward has definitively identified a major donor to Canary Mission. It is a foundation controlled by the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, a major Jewish charity with an annual budget of over $100 million.

The federation’s support of Canary Mission connects the American Jewish establishment itself to a website that is facing increasing criticism from young Jews.

Canary Mission has been controversial since it appeared in mid-2015, drawing comparisons to a McCarthyite blacklist. While some of those listed on the site are prominent activists, others are students who attended a single event, or even student government representatives suspected of voting for resolutions that are critical of Israel.

In recent months, it been the subject of growing backlash from pro-Israel Jewish students and local Hillel professionals, who say it is damaging to their own work.

Mainstream American Jewish leaders have claimed not to know who funds Canary Mission. As it turns out, a big chunk of the money came from within their own ranks.

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