“Canary Mission” is a group that publishes on its website personal files of institutions, students, and academics who criticize Israel, displays their personal data such as their names, professions, and photos, and archives the photos, videos, and publications in which they criticized Israel.
The group considers its page a “blacklist” that accuses its members of “supporting terrorism, anti-Semitism, and hatred of America and Israel.” Some of these activists consider that what “Canary Mission” is doing is “terrorism and extremism itself.”
“Canary Mission” is funded by a group of wealthy Jews in the United States who support the Israeli occupation.
Origin and establishment
“Canary Mission” is a group that originated secretly in Israel, according to a survey conducted by American journalist James Bamford. It collects photos and information of students and professors in American colleges who declare their support for the Palestinian cause and oppose Zionism, or declare strong hostility to Israel, and describes them as anti-Semites.
This harms the career prospects of students and professors whose files are listed on the “Canary Mission” website. James Bamford also confirms that the group has a direct connection to the Israeli government.
The group's official page has portals to access the files of students, professors, and organizations listed on the blacklist. It lists Al Jazeera Arabic and English channels and the AG Plus website among the organizations it considers anti-Semitic and supportive of terrorism.
There used to be one group of people we could all agree were off-limits: kids with cancer. Apparently not. When @WOLPalestine leader @NerdeenKiswanithe force behind the protests, shutdowns & vile antisemitism on the streets of NY, says, “By Any Means Necessary,” she means it. https://t.co/vASCgQNGcm
— Canary Mission (@canarymission) January 18, 2024
Canary Mission was run anonymously, giving it a “creepy” and opaque development, but the fine veneer of anonymity created by the site was later removed by journalists, most notably Josh Nathan Cazis and James Bamford.
Journalist Bamford, who conducted a survey of the group, defines it as “a massive blacklisting and personal information gathering operation directed by Israel that targets students and professors who criticize Israeli policies, then charges and slanders them with the aim of embarrassing, humiliating, harming them, and creating obstacles to their future employment.”
American Colonel Owen Ray says that what Canary Mission is doing in publicizing personal information is “miserable political blackmail and discourages political discourse.”
The group's first video appeared in April 2015. The two-minute clip shows pictures of Jews with yellow stars on their clothes, followed by pictures of women wearing hijab and waving Palestinian flags. The video concludes by saying, “It is your duty to ensure that today's extremists will not be tomorrow's employees.” .
Canary Mission financing
Canary Mission tried to keep its funding sources secret, but it was exposed due to an error in a tax form, which showed that one of the group’s most prominent financiers was the American billionaire Sanford Diller, a wealthy Californian and a right-winger who supports Israel and is hostile to Islam and blacks.
Diller, who died in 2018, is also considered the most famous supporter of the former US president Donald TrumpHe was also a supporter of many anti-Islamic institutions in the United States, most notably the American Freedom Act Center.
The Diller Foundation had donated $100,000 at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 – through the Jewish Community Union – to a mysterious Israeli organization called “Megamot Shalom,” which was later revealed to be a front for “Canary Mission.” The “Megamot Shalom” organization cannot be traced because its headquarters are in Beit Shams, west of occupied Jerusalem.
Canary Mission's funding depends primarily on donations raised to Jewish charities, including the Jewish Community Foundation (JCF) in Los Angeles.
JCF in Los Angeles manages assets worth $1.3 billion, represented the Jewish Federation in San Francisco, and distributed millions to right-wing groups supporting the occupation, but at the same time it refuses donations to Jewish human rights groups opposed to the occupation.
Another contributor, whose name was not announced – according to the foundation's rules – donated a quarter of a million dollars to the foundation, which is considered the front of “Canary Mission.”
Mention the name of a memberAIPACBillionaire Adam Milstein – famous for focusing his volunteer work in support of Israel – is among the funders of the Canary Mission group.
Milstein served in the Israeli army during what the occupation calls the “Yom Kippur War” (October War 1973) and one of the founders of the Israeli-American Council. He is a member of the management of a number of Jewish organizations in Los Angeles. He also shows clear support for Israel on his social media accounts.
His supportive relationship with the “Canary Mission” group is evident through the republication of its posts on the “X” platform, and he also participates in the process of incitement against supporters of the Palestinian cause.
“The Americans who provide money to the group are committing a serious crime by acting as agents of a foreign power,” journalist Bamford told The Nation.
Just days after Oct. 7, @JVPPhilly activist Anissa Weinraub blames Israel for the massacre & brags how protesters sang the “song” Lo Yisa Goy (Nation shall not lift up sword against nation; They shall never again know war). The “song” is a verse from Isaiah 2:4. Weinraub… pic.twitter.com/fgvmqNBUAG
— Canary Mission (@canarymission) January 17, 2024
“They step aside” and goals
The “Canary Mission” group aims to intimidate and threaten anyone who displays an anti-Israel or supportive position for Palestine, by contacting them and telling them that their names are on the blacklist.
Having your name on the blacklist means: difficulty getting a job after graduation, or difficulty advancing through the professional ranks if you are a professor, and you may be banned from practicing the profession.
Canary Mission describes its work – on its official page – as “documenting people and groups promoting hatred of America, Israel, and Jews in North America, and exposing that hatred.”
She also confirms that her goal is to combat anti-Semitism in university spaces, as she collects data from publicly available content and formats it into a summary that is easily accessible to the general public, she says.
The group claims that its site is subject to moral policies, which is that the individual is anti-Semitic or a supporter of terrorism or terrorist organizations, according to the definition of the US State Department.
In addition to other standards, the most important of which are violating the personal safety of Jews or supporters of Israel, disrupting Jewish or pro-Israel speakers or events, inciting violence or hatred toward Jews, Israel, or supporters of Israel, or using language or speech that defames Jews, Israel, or supporters of Israel. As well as promoting or enabling the boycott movement in any way.
Canary Mission's work includes linking the social media profiles of the activists it targets to their profiles on the group's website. RJ, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of California, said that after he was added to the blacklist, he began receiving threatening messages on his Facebook account.
Afif Aqrabawi is an @WITH faculty member. Just three days after the horrific massacre of 1,200 Israelis by Hamas, Aqrabawi said, “Incredible how Western governments will gaslight their own populations to support Nazism, disguised as Israeli self-defense.” https://t.co/XbI1rixnpr pic.twitter.com/DT4lDRSJmP
— Canary Mission (@canarymission) January 16, 2024
anti “step aside”
Bill Mullen, professor of American studies at the French University of Bordeaux, wrote a book entitled “Against the Canary Mission” and said that it is “one of the most important pro-Israel groups and the most effective in intimidating activists.” He attributed this to “it is present everywhere on the Internet and operates 24 hours a day, 7 Days a week, it is powerful and constantly renews and updates its data.”
“In my opinion, I had to continue with the same force and stronger than before,” said Omar Zahzah, one of the first people to be listed on the site while Students for Justice in Palestine was organizing an activity at the University of California. He added, “Historically, resistance must continue, regardless of appearances.” “Material dire.”
Many activists – who were blacklisted by the Canary Mission group – say they have suffered from anxiety, and find themselves retreating from pro-Palestine advocacy as a result.
A survey – conducted by a group against “Canary Mission” among more than 60 people on the group's website – found that 43% of participants said that they had reduced their activity due to the blacklist, while 42% said that they had suffered severe anxiety due to their status on the site.
The group mostly goes after non-white people, who are often already disadvantaged in a job market rife with discrimination, making their blacklisting even more harmful.
Moreover, Palestinians and Arabs on the Canary Mission blacklist say it reinforces harmful stereotypes, especially since student files are the first to appear in a search engine. Google When searching by student name.