Another Blacklist Emerges


In the Fall of 2014 I posted several entries to this blog (see here, here, and here) suggesting that “recent attempts to enforce standards of ‘civility’ at colleges and universities, often . . . in response to pro-Palestinian expression, recalled previous efforts in the 1940s and 1950s to exclude alleged communists from the protections of academic freedom.”  Specifically, I highlighted the activities of the Amcha Initiative, an organization “dedicated to investigating, documenting, educating about, and combating antisemitism at institutions of higher education in America.”  Amcha published a list of 218 faculty members in Middle East studies at U.S. colleges and universities who signed a petition calling for an academic boycott of Israel and called on people to “share this list with your family, friends, and associates via email, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, or word-of-mouth.”  The organization asked, “How can professors who are so biased against the Jewish state accurately or fairly teach students about Israel or the Arab-Israel conflict?”

At the time I noted that “this is not precisely a blacklist, but it comes perilously close to being one and should be criticized for that reason.”  A statement by many prominent faculty members in Jewish Studies included a similar warning.  Now, however, a genuine blacklisting site has emerged, which is potentially far more dangerous for academic freedom.  Called Canary Mission, it too is directed against individuals and organizations that allegedly promote “hatred of the USA, Israel and Jews on college campuses in North America.”

Here is the website’s own description of itself and its mission:

The Canary Mission database was created in order to document people and groups that are promoting hatred of the USA, Israel and the Jewish people, particularly on college campuses in North America.

  • Canary Mission is run by students and concerned citizens motivated by a desire to combat the rise in anti-Semitism on college campuses. The purpose of the website is to expose those who promote lies and attacks on Israel and the Jewish people. We pursue our mission by presenting the actions and records of individuals and organizations at the vanguard of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. By shining a light on hate group members and their activities, the public will become better informed about those involved in hate movements in their communities.

  • Canary Mission believes that we all have the right to know if an individual has been affiliated with movements that seek the destruction of Israel, routinely engage in anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions, and promote hatred of Jews.

  • Canary Mission provides freely available material gathered from publicly available sources. We have organized this information in a concise and easily searchable format for the easy access of the general public and anyone interested in tracking hate movements on college campuses.

The website includes an “ethics policy” which explains how its database has been compiled:

1. All Individual and Organizational profile subjects have shown themselves to be either one or more of the following:

a. Anti-Semitic according to the U.S. State Department’s Definition

b. Supporters of terrorism, terrorists or terrorist organizations e.g. Hamas, PFLP, Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Al Qaeda

c. Violating the personal safety of Jews or supporters of Israel

d. Disrupting Jewish or pro-Israel speakers or events

e. Inciting violence or hatred towards Jews, Israel or supporters of Israel

f. Using language or speech that demonizes Jews, Israel or supporters of Israel

g. Promoting BDS in any of its forms, including:

– BDS against the State of Israel, Israeli products or Israeli companies

– BDS against individuals, companies or institutions that trade with or have a working relationship with Israeli companies or institutions

– The academic or cultural boycott of Israel

h. Part of, or supporting of, events or organizations that violate the above points a-g

2. All information written on Individual and Organizational profiles is aggregated from open sources on the internet i.e. tweets, posts, articles etc.

Let me be clear.  I am not an advocate of BDS and, like the AAUP, I oppose academic boycotts in general and the academic boycott of Israel in particular.  With respect to this issue more broadly, however, my sole focus has been on protecting the rights to be heard of both critics and defenders of either the boycott or Israeli policy.  As the chair of AAUP’s Committee A I have also tried to keep my personal views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict private, lest there be some chance that they could be misattributed to the AAUP, which has and should have no position on this conflict at all.

That said, it must be acknowledged that Canary Mission is nothing but a blacklist, pure and simple.  It echoes the long-discredited and horrific blacklists of the McCarthy era.  It is shockingly reminiscent of the 1950s anti-Communist newsletter Counterattack, which published the original blacklist of the entertainment industry, Red Channels Those identified in Red Channels were denied employment across much or all of the movie and broadcast industries unless and until they cleared their names, the customary requirement being that they testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and name names, which the vast majority refused to do.  The blacklists in those days spread as well to academia, as Ellen Schrecker and Marjorie Heins, among others, have so vividly documented.  (See also the AAUP’s sadly belated 1956 report, “Academic Freedom and Tenure in the Quest for National Security.”)

In discussing the Amcha Initiative list nearly two years ago, I wrote:

Certainly the principles of academic freedom should not bar private citizens from criticizing ideas and positions advanced by faculty members, whether  individually or in groups.  And it should not prevent those citizens, in the case of public institutions, from raising concerns with university officials and even legislators.  But just as I believe boycott advocates have the right to press their case, but I oppose academic boycotts, so too do I think that Amcha has the right to criticize the views of faculty members but should not be organizing a kind of counter-boycott, which is what this list effectively does.

Moreover, there is considerable evidence that lists of this kind can have serious negative consequences for the academic freedom not only of those on the list but of all faculty members.  To be sure, it is the responsibility of college and university administrators and trustees to resist efforts to establish political litmus tests for faculty and insofar as they fail to do this and bow to outside pressures it is those administrators who are guilty of violating academic freedom, not those who have pressured them.

I also asked “how Amcha would respond if a similar organization dedicated to combating anti-Islamic views published a list of faculty members who had publicly supported Israeli government actions or simply opposed the academic boycott.”  Moreover, soon after the American Studies Association (ASA) endorsed the call for an academic boycott of Israel, AAUP issued several statements (here, here, and here) opposing dangerous legislative efforts designed to “punish” the ASA and other advocates of the academic boycott.  I also posted an entry on this blog entitled, “How NOT to Oppose the Academic Boycott of Israel.”

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the Canary Mission site is its posting of the names and contact information of students as well as faculty members.  Obviously, the intention here is, among other things, to hinder the admission of such student activists to graduate programs.  In response to Canary Mission, therefore, a group of graduate admissions officers, many associated with the BDS movement but others not, has issued a statement worth reposting here:

As faculty who serve, have served, or are likely to serve on an admissions committee at graduate and undergraduate university programs across the country, we unequivocally assert that the Canary Mission website should not be trusted as a resource to evaluate students’ qualifications for admission. We condemn Canary Mission as an effort to intimidate and blacklist students and faculty who stand for justice for Palestinians.

Canary Mission is a website and social media initiative designed to slander student, faculty, and community activists for Palestinian rights as extremist, anti-Semitic, and sympathetic to terrorism. By publicizing the names, social media accounts, employment history, and other personal information about student activists, Canary Mission mobilizes a small online community of pro-Israel advocates to harass and threaten these activists. Over the past six weeks, the now two-year old Canary Mission site has added over 100 new students to its blacklist [1]. As of this writing, in the first half of 2016, Canary Mission has on over 30 occasions tweeted the names of employers in order to rally their followers to intimidate students [2]. In a few cases, Canary Mission also has contacted the prospective graduate schools of these students, claiming without evidence that the students are anti-Semites, terrorists, or both [3]. The goal of this campaign is to use fear and intimidation to pressure activists to cease their human rights advocacy. Though the creators of Canary Mission remain anonymous, it has been linked to, and utilized by, such well-known individuals as Daniel Pipes [4] and David Horowitz [5], who have been labeled as purveyors of hate speech by the Southern Poverty Law Center [6] [7].

Although, as individual faculty, we hold a range of viewpoints on Israel-Palestine, we recognize that student advocacy for Palestinian human rights is not inherently anti-Semitic, and that such advocacy represents a cherished and protected form of free speech that is welcome on college campuses. We reject the McCarthyist tactics used by Canary Mission. Canary Mission’s aim is to damage these students’ futures, and to punish them for their principled human rights activism. We urge our fellow admissions faculty, as well as university administrators, prospective employers, and all others, to join us in signing below and standing against such bullying and attempts to shut down civic engagement and freedom of speech.

[1] On June 13, the site had listed 426 students on its blacklist. By July 28, the number had risen to 539.
[2] Sourced from Canary Mission’s Twitter and substantiated by accounts from students.
[3] Sourced from personal account to the organizers of this sign-on letter.

Robin D.G. Kelley
Professor and Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History , UCLALisa Duggan
Professor, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis , NYU

Margaret Ferguson
Distinguished Prof. of English and 2014 President of the MLA, UC Davis

Timothy Brennan
Samuel Russell Chair in the Humanities, University of Minnesota

Ann Cvetkovich
Garwood Centennial Professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Texas-Austin

Colin Dayan
Professor of Humanities and Law , Vanderbilt University

Ashley Dawson
Professor of English, CUNY Staten Island

Richard Falk
Professor of Law (Emeritus), Princeton

Terri Ginsberg
Assistant Professor & Director of Film, American University in Cairo

David Lloyd
Professor of English, UC Riverside

Sunaina Maira
Professor of Asian American Studies, UC Davis

Bill Mullen
Professor of English and American Studies, Purdue University

David Palumbo-Liu
Professor of Comparative Literature, Stanford University

Steven Salaita
Edward W. Said Chair of American Studies, American University in Beirut

S. Shankar
Professor of English, University of Hawaii

Neferti Tadiar
Professor and Chair of Women’s Studies , Barnard College

Craig Wilse
Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies, George Mason University

Cynthia Franklin
Professor of English, University of Hawaii

William Messing
Professor of Mathematics, University of Minnesota

David Simpson
Distinguished Professor of English, UC Davis

Snehal Shingavi
Associate Professor of English, University of Texas

Laura Lyons
Dean of Languages, Linguistics and Literature, University of Hawaii

Stathis Gourgouris
Professor of Classics, English, and Comparative Literature & Society, Columbia University

Daniel Boyarin
Taubmann Professor of Talmudic Culture, Near Eastern Studies and Rhetoric, University of California at Berkeley

Rebecca Scheckler
Educational Technologist, School of Nursing, Radford University

James Schamus
Professor of Professional Practice, School of the Arts, Columbia University

Olivier Le Cour Grandmaison
Political Science, Université d’Evry-Val-d’Essonne

Eve Spangler
Associate Professor of Sociology, Boston College

Lewis Pepper
Research Professor, Barry Commoner Center, Queens College City University of New York

Merrill Cole
Associate Professor of English, Western Illinois University

Jane Killgore
Clinical OB/GYN Faculty, University of North Dakota

Mohamad Issa
Professor of Physics (Retired), Qatar University

Clea McNeely
Associate Professor of Public Health, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Beverly Voloshin
Professor of English, San Francisco State University
2009 President of the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Assoc.

Brinkley Messick
Professor, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University

Baruch Boxer
Professor Emeritus of Geography and Human Ecology, Rutgers University

Thomas Hayes
Lecturer, Film Division, Ohio University

Doug Thorpe
Professor, English, Seattle Pacific University

H. John McDargh, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Theology, Boston College

Caren Kaplan
Professor, American Studies, UC Davis

Gordon Fellman
Professor of Sociology, Brandeis University

Zachary Lockman
Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and of History, New York University

Jeffrey Skoller
Assoc. Professor, Film & Media Studies, UC Berkeley

James C Faris
Director Emeritus, University of Connecticut Program in Middle East Languages and Area Studies
Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut

James Petras
Bartle Professor Emeritus, Binghamton University

Suzette Rey

Mark LeVine
Professor, Dept of History, UC Irvine

Rebecca Alpert
Professor of Religion, Temple University

Alex Lubin
Professor American Studies, University of New Mexico

David Dubnau
Professor, Public Health Research Institute, New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers University

Catriona Rueda Esquibel
Professor, Race & Resistance Studies, San Francisco State University

Shamma Boyarin
Professor English Department, University of Victoria

Christopher Dole
Associate Professor of Anthropology, Amherst College

Howard Winant
Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara

Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi
Senior Scholar, Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies, San Francisco State University

Mehdi Husaini
Lecturer (Retired), Teesside University

Beth Harris
Associate Professor (Retired), Ithaca College

John David Zuern
Associate Professor of English, University of Hawaii

Jonathan K. Kamakawiwoʻole Osorio
Professor of Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa

Joan W. Scott
Adjunct Professor of History, Graduate Center, CUNY

Rosalind Petchesky
Distinguished Professor Emerita of Political Science, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY

Adam Miyashiro
Assistant Professor of Literature, Stockton University

Candace Fujikane
Associate Professor of English, University of Hawaii

Paul Lyons
Professor of English, University of Hawaii

Peter Arnade
Dean, College of Arts and Humanities, University of Hawaii Manoa

Cornelia Butler Flora
Distinguished Professor Emerita Sociology, Iowa State University

Kathleen Sands
American Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Robert Warrior
Professor of American Studies and English, University of Kansas/University of Illinois

Tiffany Davis
Assistant Professor, Sociology, Chicago State University

George Yudice
Professor, Modern Languages and Literatures, University of Miami

Melissa Weiner
Associate Professor, Sociology, College of the Holy Cross

Ammiel Alcalay
Professor Classical, Middle Eastern & Asian Languages & Cultures; English, Queens College; The
Graduate Center, CUNY

Eric Cheyfitz
Ernest I. White Professor of American Studies and Humane Letters, Cornell University

Cristina Bacchilega
Professor of English & Graduate Program Director, University of Hawaii

Russell Vandenbroucke
Director, Peace, Justice & Conflict Transformation Program; Professor of Theatre Arts, University of Louisville

Suvir Kaul
A M Rosenthal Professor, University of Pennsylvania

Beverly Stoeltje
Professor Emerita, Anthropology & Folklore, Indiana University

Jessica Winegar
Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University

John Rieder
Professor of English and Department Chair, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Lucas Klein
Assistant Professor, School of Chinese, University of Hong Kong

Fred Myers
Professor of Anthropology, New York University

Shana Minkin
Assistant Professor of International and Global Studies, University of the South

Gloria Goodwin Raheja
Professor of Anthropology, University of Minnesota

Ann Rudinow Saetnan
Professor of Sociology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Bonnie Honig
Nancy Duke Lewis Professor, Political Science and Modern Culture and Media, Brown University

Angela Zito
Associate Professor, Anthropology, NYU

Zakia Ssalime
Associate Professor, Rutgers

David E. Rohrlich
Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Boston University

Leonard Sklar
Professor, Earth and Climate Sciences Department, San Francisco State University

Christa Salamandra
Associate Professor of Anthropology, City University of New York

Lincoln Shlensky
Associate Professor of English, University of Victoria

Neepa Majumdar
Associate Professor, English and Film Studies, University of Pittsburgh

Ann Smock
Professor Emerita, French, UC Berkeley

Michel Habib
Professor of Finance, University of Zurich

Omnia El Shakry
Associate Professor of History, UC Davis

Rochelle Davis
Associate Professor, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Eric Anderson
Systems Scientist, Computer Science Department, Carnegie Mellon University

Mary N. Layoun
Professor of Comparative Literature, Department of Comparative Literature & Folklore Studies University of Wisconsin, Madison

Eric Smoodin
Professor, American Studies, UC Davis

Helen Lauer
Professor, Dept of Philosophy & Religious Studies, University of Dar es Salaam

Nicole Sunday Grove
Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Herman De Ley
Professor (Retired), Philosophy and Moral Science, Ghent University

Willie van Peer
Professor of Intercultural Hermeneutics, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany

Pranav Jani
Associate Professor, English, The Ohio State University

Naomi Schiller
Assistant Professor, Brooklyn College, CUNY

Philip Gasper
Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Notre Dame de Namur University

Alison M Jaggar
College Professor of Distinction, Philosophy and Women and Gender Studies, University of Colorado at Boulder

Eleanor Roffman
Professor Emerita, Lesley University

Salah D Hassan
Associate Professor, Michigan State University

Richard Waller
Departments of History and International Relations (Retired), Bucknell University

David Klein
Professor of Mathematics, California State University Northridge

Alan Wald
H.Chander Davis Collegiate Professor (Emeritus), University of Michigan

Angela Miller
Professor, Art History, Washington University

Tithi Bhattacharya
Associate Professor of History, Purdue University

Jonathan Graubart
Professor of Political Science, San Diego State University

Amy Hagopian, PhD
Director, Community Oriented Public Health Practice MPH Degree Program, University of Washington

Philip Metres
Professor, Department of English, Director, Peace, Justice and Human Rights Program, John Carroll University

Jodi Melamed
Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies, Marquette University

Georgette Loup
Professor, Department of English, University of New Orleans

Sarah Babb
Professor, Department of Sociology Boston College

Hamid Naficy
Professor, Radio-TV-Film, Northwestern University

Stuart McLean
Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of Minnesota

John Mearsheimer
R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

Marilyn Frye
University Distinguished Professor Emerita, Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University

Robert Trawick
Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, St. Thomas Aquinas College

Kimberly Hoang
Assistant Professor, University of Chicago

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd
Professor of Political Science, Northwestern University

David Moshman
Professor Emeritus, Educational Psychology University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Christa Salamandra
Associate Professor of Anthropology, City University of New York

Carole McGranahan
Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Colorado

Stephen Walt
Professor of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui
Professor of American Studies and Anthropology, Wesleyan University

Emrah Yildiz
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Middle East & North African Studies, Northwestern University

Jonathan Wyrtzen
Associate Professor of Sociology, Yale University

M. Brinton Lykes
Professor, Community-Cultural Psychology, Lynch School of Education, Boston College

Anthony Alessandrini
Professor of English & Middle Eastern Studies, City University of New York

Rev. James M. Weiss
Associate Professor, Department of Theology, Boston College

Toby C. Jones
Associate Professor of History Rutgers University, New Brunswick

Soheil Asefi
Graduate Student/Political Science, The New School for Social Research

Suneela Mubayi
PhD Candidate, Middle East & Islamic Studies, NYU

SOM I Joseph
PhD Candidate, Sociology, Paris Descartes

Patricia Alessandrini
Lecturer in Sonic Arts Goldsmiths, University of London

Juliet Schor
Professor of Sociology, Boston College

E. Wayne Ross
Professor, Faculty of Education University of British Columbia

Amy Kaplan
Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania

Lisa Stampnitzky
Lecturer in Politics, University of Sheffield

Derek R. Ford
Assistant Professor, Education Studies, DePauw University

Jodi Dean
Donald R. Harter Chair of Humanities and Social Sciences, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Brian Hennigan
Adjunct Professor, Department of Geography, Syracuse University

Regina Morantz-Sanchez
Professor, Department of History, University of Michigan

Ziad Suidan
Part-time Lecturer, Haigazian University

Alexis Rinck
Undergraduate student political science and sociology, Syracuse University

Shira Robinson
Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, The George Washington University

Nassim Noroozi
PhD Candidate, DISE, McGill University

Jordy Rosenberg
Associate Professor Department of English, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Wayne Au
Associate Professor, School of Educational Studies, University of Washington Bothell

Frances Trix
Professor Emerita, Linguistics & Anthropology, Indiana University

Jigna Desai
Professor, Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, University of Minnesota

Stacey Sexton
Graduate Student, EPRA/SPP, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Nicola Perugini
Lecturer, University of Edinburgh

Lynne Joyrich
Professor and Chair, Modern Culture and Media, Brown University

Samer Abboud
Associate Professor, International Studies, Arcadia University

Amy Cox
Director, International Peace and Conflict Resolution MA Program, Arcadia University

Sam Rocha
Assistant Professor of Philosophy of Education, University of British Columbia

Susette Min
Associate Professor, Asian American Studies, UC Davis

Helen Scott
Associate Professor, English, University of Vermont

Naomi Braine
Associate Professor, Sociology Department, Brooklyn College, CUNY

Sherine Hamdy
Associate Professor Department of Anthropology, Brown University

Kenneth E. Bauzon
Professor of Political Science, Saint Joseph’s College New York

C. Heike Schotten
Associate Professor, Political Science, University of Massachusetts Boston

Andres Fabian Henao Castro
Assistant Professor, Political Science, University of Massachusetts Boston

Dana Cloud
Professor, Communication and Rhetorical Studies, Syracuse University

Michael A. Iasilli
Doctoral Student, St. John’s University

Jim Holstun
Professor of English, University at Buffalo

Michael C. Desch
Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Notre Dame

Gordon Beeferman
PhD candidate, Music, New York University

I must admit that this petition was the first I had heard of Canary Mission.  Hopefully, it will be the last.  This despicable blacklist should be condemned and its “information” ignored.  It does not reflect honorably on its sponsors or, more important, on the many decent individuals who are genuinely concerned about anti-semitism and who may support or defend Israel without sinking to the McCarthyite level of the Canary Mission.

8 thoughts on “Another Blacklist Emerges

  1. This issue is of particular importance to NTT faculty and all those with no union protection. It recalls the case of Douglas Giles at Roosevelt U in Chicago in the mid-2000’s, who was successfully defended by his union, Roosevelt Adjunct Faculty Org, unlike most such cases which never get any publicity at all and people are very afraid of blacklists, which are most easily applied to contingent part-time faculty in a particular metro area.

  2. Pingback: Anti-Israel blacklisters complain they are unfairly being blacklisted

  3. Please explain how aggregating publicly reported information is a blacklist. One would think that those who publicly express their hatred for Jews would be proud to stand up and be counted. I suppose what you are really revealing is that you would use such information in making your own academic decisions.

    Have you no shame?

    • MIK has of course conflated the objection of zionist policies and actions with hatred of the jewish people…
      this purposeful ignorance of the actual intentions of the individuals concerned with justice and the well being of an abused and honorable people smacks of the methods used by occupiers and deniers of the rights of all humans… have you no humanity? or is it just the blather and nonsense of the false patriot seeking an undeserved position of authority… the usage of the information as a weapon against the names listed is nothing but misguided and illogical attempts to gain some ground in academic circles… goals that espouse a course of action denying the first amendment rights and violating the privacy of lawfully protesting people expose the fallacy of this congress of haters and fools…

  4. Pingback: Defend Campus Free Speech: Oppose Canary Mission’s Blacklisting of Students and Scholars | MLA Members for Justice in Palestine

  5. Pingback: New attack on free speech: Pro-Israel groups wage war on campus freedom - BDS News, Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS), Pro BDS - SPME Scholars for Peace in the Middle East

  6. Pingback: Against Canary Mission: Statement Condemning the Blacklisting of pro-BDS Student Activists | MLA Members for Justice in Palestine

  7. Pingback: Ugly Blacklist Posters Spur Resistance | ACADEME BLOG

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