The Diller Foundation was revealed in August as one of the principle funders of the black-listing site.
By Josh Nathan-Kazis | Forward | Oct 26, 2018
They still haven’t publicly apologized, and they haven’t acknowledged the harm that was done by their actions or [said] how they would repair it. They said, ‘We aren’t funding these organizations.’ And that was that. — Ophir Gilad, who participated in the Diller fellowship in 2013 and 2014
One of the US charities that the Forward exposed as a funder of the online blacklist Canary Mission is trying to distance itself from the website, but alumni of its teen program say it isn’t going far enough.
In a letter, senior staff of the Helen Diller Family Foundation acknowledged the foundation’s grant in support Canary Mission, and said it would not be renewed. Yet while the letter condemned “any organizations and ideologies associated with sinat chinam (baseless hatred),” it did not explicitly condemn Canary Mission, nor did it say that the foundation regretted the grant.
The Diller foundation sent the letter on October 11, the day after dozens of alumni of a teen leadership program it operates published an op-ed in the Forward calling on the foundation to “do teshuva,” or repent, for making the Canary Mission grant.
While Canary Mission hides behind its well-protected anonymity, pro-Israel students take the blame for its activities, whether or not they were involved.
By Josh Nathan-Kazis | Forward | Aug 3, 2018
We made strategic decisions within our organization about who would be out-facing members and who would be in-facing members, knowing that Canary Mission . . . would have different consequences for different people. — Abby Brook, a leader in both Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace at George Washington University
Last December, Andrew Kadi flew to Israel to visit his mother. As he walked through Ben Gurion International Airport, officials pulled him aside and said that the security services wanted to speak with him.
Kadi is among the leaders of a major pro-Palestinian advocacy group, and border authorities always question him when he travels to Israel to see his family. This time, however, something was different.
During his second of what ended up being three interrogations, spanning more than eight hours, Kadi realized that much of what the interrogator knew about him had come from Canary Mission, an anonymously-run online blacklist that tries to frighten pro-Palestinian students and activists into silence by posting dossiers on their politics and personal lives.
The precise identities of the people and groups behind the new, hard-edged anti-BDS tactics remain hazy, though chinks have begun to appear in the armor.
By Josh Nathan-Kazis | Forward | Aug 2, 2018
The people behind these new tactics are going to great lengths to hide their identities, though they seem to be working in concert with each other. They are conducting surveillance on BDS activists. They are creating anonymous pop-up websites that attack activists and student government representatives. They are hiring top-level political strategists and opposition researchers. And in Canary Mission, they are running a long-term campaign to blacklist student activists.
Strange things started happening at George Washington University this April, as their student government prepared to vote on a resolution supported by pro-Palestinian campus activists.
Anonymous fliers, websites and social media campaigns appeared out of nowhere to attack the student activists. And, on the day of the vote, two adult men, dressed as canaries, showed up to do a weird dance in the lobby of the college building where the student government was set to vote.
It was the canaries that really freaked out Abby Brook, a Jewish GW student active in pro-Palestinian campus groups. “I honestly didn’t believe it at first,” said Brook, who arrived at the building where the canaries were dancing a few minutes after they left. Friends showed her pictures of the two men. One had worn a full-body Tweety Bird costume, his face painted yellow; the other a yellow plague doctor mask with a long, curved beak.
[Such activities] raise questions about whether the Israel on Campus Coalition and individuals associated with the work he describes are acting as agents of a foreign state without registering, as required by US law, with the counterintelligence division of the Department of Justice.
Israel lobby financier Adam Milstein has been identified as the funder of Canary Mission, the anonymous website that aims to tarnish the reputations of US supporters of Palestinian rights.
Milstein is named as the financier of Canary Mission by Eric Gallagher, a former employee of The Israel Project, in Al Jazeera’s censored investigative film, The Lobby – USA.
The Electronic Intifada is releasing segments it has obtained of the film: one shows Gallagher telling an undercover Al Jazeera reporter about Milstein’s role and the other shows Milstein talking about the need to “investigate” and “expose” critics of Israel, who Milstein believes are not only anti-Semites, but also “anti-Christian” and “anti-freedom” activists who “terrorize us.”
The film also reveals that Israel lobby operatives who rely on information provided by Canary Mission “coordinate” their activities with the Israeli government.
The Sterling-owned website contains profiles of nearly 2000 students and over 500 college professors considered enemies of Israel.
Since it first registered its website in February 2015, Canary Mission has been a source of mystery and menace. Dedicated to blacklisting students involved in Palestine solidarity activism, intimidating them and denigrating their public reputations, Canary Mission’s administrators have gone to great lengths to conceal their identities. The secrecy has enabled them to target legally defenseless students – who are mostly members of minority and immigrant groups — with total impunity.
Now, the Grayzone can identify a key figure behind the malicious blacklisting operation. He is the owner of Canary Mission’s domain name and a wealthy lawyer who is a fervent supporter of Israel. According to documents provided to the Grayzone, his name is Howard David Sterling.
What shocks me about finding myself on Canary Mission is that I am far from being an outspoken activist or organizer on my campus. I am a Jew whose political beliefs differ from the community she grew up in. And because of this, I’ve ended up on a blacklist. . . . I’m not a young Jew with opinions of her own, but a young “radical,” brainwashed Jew.
Earlier this week, I discovered I’d been added to Canary Mission’s database. Canary Mission is a McCarthy-esque blacklist, a website that collects and publishes information about activists who support Palestinian rights. The site claims to document “people and groups that promote hatred of the USA, Israel and Jews on North American college campuses,” with the header, “if you’re racist, the world should know.” When the site launched in 2015, it’s goal was even more explicit: “It is your duty to ensure that today’s radicals are not tomorrow’s employees.”
Apparently, I, a senior at Barnard College, am one of those dangerous radicals.
“These sorts of attacks on academic freedom, in which Israel’s defenders have played a disproportionate role, are all too common on campuses across the country, with devastating results. They have led to the intimidation of students, the silencing or firing of faculty and the cancellation of classes.”
Last week, my email inbox and Twitter feeds were flooded with hateful messages impugning my integrity. The source of this invective was a shadowy organization called Canary Mission, which maintains what it hopes will function as a blacklist of professors and students it accuses of “promoting hatred of the USA, Israel and Jews on college campuses.” My public criticism of Israel’s policies of military occupation and apartheid — its unequal treatment of Palestinians — has earned me a spot on the list, there being no distinction, apparently, between criticism of the policies of a foreign power and “hatred” of an entire ethnic group.
Were I a more junior professor, or untenured — or a student — the charges it levels, although they are untrue, could be damaging. And that is the point: In language only recently excised from its website, Canary Mission makes explicit its intention “to ensure that today’s radicals are not tomorrow’s employees.” Daniel Pipes — a prominent member of what the Center for American Progress calls “the Islamophobia misinformation experts” — writes approvingly of the project: Students should understand that “attacking” Israel “can damage … future careers.”