Massachusetts Mapping Project’s Unseen Dangers

COMMENTARY Homeland Security

Massachusetts Mapping Project’s Unseen Dangers

Mar 17, 2023 4 min read
James Jay Carafano

Senior Counselor to the President and E.W. Richardson Fellow

James Jay Carafano is a leading expert in national security and foreign policy challenges.
Jewish high school Gann Academy in Waltham, MA, is one of the Jewish organizations that the Massachusetts Mapping Project says should be dismantled. Suzanne Kreiter / The Boston Globe / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

A new investigative report...suggests that the project is run not by local antisemites but by foreign state actors.

These troubling facts make one wonder what the Massachusetts Mapping Project means when it aims to “identify strategic vulnerabilities of key hubs of power.”

All the above arguments point to the glaringly obvious conclusion to those willing to see it: The Mapping Project is the product of a foreign agenda.

Launched last June, the Massachusetts Mapping Project has called to “dismantle” dozens of Jewish American organizations, including synagogues, schools, and homes for people with disabilities. The anonymous website purports to be run by a group of young, anti-Israel activists from the Boston area.

But a new investigative report released by a coalition of more than 20 organizations led by the Zachor Legal Institute suggests that the project is run not by local antisemites but by foreign state actors. Its true goal, the report concludes, is “fomenting civil unrest, destabilizing, dismantling, and ultimately upending American society and the established political order.”

A key indicator, the report explains, is that nearly 300 of the roughly 500 entities listed on the website as needing to be dismantled are U.S. security and defense institutions. They include FBI and Homeland Security Department offices, police stations, Air Force bases and other military installations. The project contends that these entities are complicit in “harms” such as colonialism, militarization, policing, the prison-industrial complex, surveillance, and U.S. imperialism.

The website states: “The U.S. Army and the U.S. military broadly exist to enforce the United States’ hegemonic and unilateral control over global affairs, through physical occupations of territory, mass murder … and the intentional and planned destabilization of nations.”

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Likewise, it posits that the “primary role of [the American] police is to maintain colonial and capitalist power relationships through violence and coercion.”

But it’s not just these institutions that the Mapping Project unjustly vilifies; it’s the United States itself. Among other things, it maligns the U.S. as a “cannibalistic enterprise” and “the greatest threat to life on the planet.”

Lest you think these are just the ramblings of some millennial keyboard warrior yearning for peaceful resistance, the Mapping Project’s social media accounts are littered with overt support for violence, such as tweeting pictures of police vehicles being firebombed. In fact, a protest it coordinated this past November saw participants openly expressing support for terrorism.

These troubling facts make one wonder what the Massachusetts Mapping Project means when it aims to “identify strategic vulnerabilities of key hubs of power and effectively organize different communities … in order to build strategic oppositional community power.”

Perhaps more troubling than the project’s agenda is the possible mastermind behind it. The coalition report suggests that “Iranian elements may be involved in the Mapping Project in some capacity via a proxy group, private contractor, or civilian intelligence unit.”

The evidence for this includes endorsements of the project by Iranian government-owned TV and Iranian proxy groups, the remarkable, too-good-to-be-true similarities it shares with an anonymous pro-Iran group called the JISR Collective, and repeated collaborations with terror-linked organizations that have active branches in Iran.

This month, it was revealed that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has been “mapping” the Jewish diaspora in the United Kingdom for an assassination campaign that will be triggered if Israel attacks its nuclear facilities, which provides further evidence that Iran is actively involved in a similar campaign in the U.S.

In November, MI5 Director General Ken McCallum said 10 Iranian assassination plots had been foiled in the U.K. in the space of a year. He did not say, however, whether Jews had been targeted.

As Rebekah Koffler, a former analyst at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, told Fox News: “It is my professional assessment that there’s a high probability of Iran’s involvement in this heinous project. The project’s stated goals, antisemitic narrative, and methodology employed to galvanize support from extremist sympathizers are consistent with the tradecraft of Iranian intelligence tradecraft and Iran’s declared policy to target U.S. persons.”

Even if you don’t subscribe to the theory of Iranian involvement in the project, there are clear signs that it is foreign in nature and not the product of a ragtag group of local social justice extremists.

The coalition report notes that the Mapping Project exhibits two different types of antisemitism typically associated with diametrically opposing political ideologies. The first type is “classic antisemitism,” associated with the far right and Nazi-like bigotry. The other is the “new antisemitism” of those on the far left who work to delegitimize, demonize, and employ double standards toward the Jewish state of Israel.

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“The fact that two distinct forms of extreme Jew-hate can coexist simultaneously within one entity is highly irregular and indicates a non-Western—particularly non-American—worldview,” the report observes. “This raises the likelihood of the project having foreign origins or involvement from a foreign entity.”

Moreover, the Mapping Project uses a commercially available geographic information system to map out its targeted entities. It collates that data with disparaging allegations the project makes about them, often running thousands of words long. Although GIS is occasionally taught to university students in relevant disciplines, the site’s multilayered design, combined with the copious amounts of data uploaded, is highly reminiscent of maps commonly created by militaries worldwide using the technology. The coalition maintains that 1,800 other entities have been mapped out and uploaded to the website’s metadata, likely as future targets.

What kind of “multigenerational collective of volunteers,” as the project claims to be, could tackle a project of this magnitude?

All the above arguments point to the glaringly obvious conclusion to those willing to see it: The Mapping Project is the product of a foreign agenda.

These and other concerns highlighted by the coalition should jump-start investigations of the project by the Justice Department and FBI. Washington must determine with absolute certainty the true objective of the Mapping Project and any links to foreign entities. If the coalition report’s suspicions are vindicated, Washington must move swiftly to quash this heinous project.

This piece originally appeared in The Washington Times