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Brandeis University listed on Mapping Project website

University president Ron Liebowitz sent an email to the Brandeis community discussing the Boston area group known as the Mapping Project, according to an email sent on June 14. The Mapping Project is an initiative that looks at organizations and institutions in the greater Massachusetts area and their connection to the colonization of Palestine, according to their website

Liebowitz wrote in the email that the project “alleges evil connections between Jewish and pro-Israel groups across Massachusetts with politicians, the police and the media, and targets, by name, individual Jewish citizens.” Liebowitz then goes on to say that the project “uses well-worn antisemitic tropes to link these groups … to a range of conspiracies and sinister activities.” 

The university is among the educational institutions listed on the Mapping Project website. The Mapping Project page on Brandeis University writes that Brandeis “offers its students multiple programs and initiatives which celebrate Israel and whitewash over the realities of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the homeland and theft of Palestinian resources.” 

A main point of the Mapping Project is to look at “policing, US imperialism and displacement/ethinic cleansing” in the connection between Massachusetts institutions and Palestine, according to their webpage

The Mapping Project criticizes Brandeis’ connections to Israeli universities and the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, mentioning that the center “regularly partners with Boston area Zionist organizations, including The Consulate General of Israel to New England, and Hadassah, to host propagandistic, pro-Israel events on the Brandeis campus.” The page links to examples of what they call propagandistic events, including conversations with Israeli artists in the “Studio Israel: Conversation Series.” 

The university’s Crown Center for Middle East Studies—a center whose goal is to balance research on the modern Middle East meeting high academic bars, according to their website—is also discussed on the Mapping Project page. 

According to the project, the center bears the name of an individual “whose family made their $3.6 billion dollar fortune through ventures including owning a 20 percent stake in the US weapons developer General Dynamics.” The Crown Center’s research is reflective of a broad geopolitical landscape—according to their webpage—they conduct research involving “Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the smaller GCC states, as well as Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya.” 

This section also mentions Professor Shai Feldman (POL)—the founding director of the Crown Centerand his connections to the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies which “employs former Israeli military officials as staff members,” according to the JCSS website. Feldman worked at the Crown Center from its formation in 2005, according to a BrandeisNOW article

The Mapping Project also discusses the Myra Kraft Seminar in Israel, which has been part of the Hornstein Program curriculum for over 30 years, according to the university’s webpage. It focuses its discussion on the seminar’s visits to “Israel’s apartheid and annexation wall which fragments Palestinian communities in the West Bank” and “meetings between young Israeli adults and young Jewish adults from abroad” in the West Bank. According to the university’s webpage, the seminar is intended to provide “​​an incomparable opportunity for [students] to explore Israel in its 8th decade through thought-provoking dialogues, speakers, experiential activities, wide-ranging field visits, and personal and group reflections.” 

Other local organizations and businesses included in the Mapping Project include Raytheon in Waltham, which the Project denounces for being complicit in “colonialism, ecological harm, health harm, militarization, policing, the prison-industrial complex, surveillance, US imperialism and Zionism.” Brandeis University students have previously criticized the company for its impact on the war industry. In a 2020 article by The Brandeis Hoot, Brandeis student Arthi Jacob ’21 explained how the campus group Brandeis Dissenters aims to “change the national narrative about what it means to be involved with companies like [Raytheon], even tangentially.”

The Mapping Project separates institutions, government agencies and companies they deem “harmful” by the harms they supposedly cause. The harms listed on the website are: Zionism, U.S. imperialism, surveillance, propaganda/normalization, privatization, prison-industrial complex, policing, militarization, health harm, ethnic cleansing/displacement (‘gentrification’), ecological harm, colonialism and ableism. 

Liebowitz concludes his email by writing that “the normalization of antisemitic stereotypes has fueled hateful attacks on the Jewish community for more than a millennium, and we must be unequivocal in our denunciation of all who perpetuate them.” 

The Mapping Project writes on their page that their interactive map is intended to show “concrete connections between anti-colonial struggles and local struggles against displacement and for life-affirming building of communities.” The group does not have any donors, according to their page. The goal of the organization is not only to identify institutions that they deem to “enact devastation” by their definitions in order to “dismantle them.”

Other universities included on the Mapping Project website are Berklee College of Music, Boston University, Emerson College, Harvard Law School, MIT, Suffolk University and Wellesley College. 

The Hoot reached out to the Mapping Project for further comments but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

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