The Mapping Project, an antisemitic website that calls for the “dismantling” of organizations key to the infrastructure of the Massachusetts Jewish community, has garnered broad support from U.S. State Department-designated terror group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Iranian government-controlled Press TV. This endorsement is representative of an entrenched dynamic via which PFLP, Press TV and some U.S. anti-Zionist activists offer mutual support, admiration and distribution of materials.
PFLP and Press TV are joined in their support of The Mapping Project by several U.S.-based anti-Zionist groups, including National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), BDS Boston and the Democratic Socialists of America’s (DSA) Palestine Solidarity Working Group Steering Committee. In an implicit acknowledgement that The Mapping Project could lead to violence, the official international BDS Movement has distanced itself from the project, citing its opposition to violence.
PFLP’s backing of The Mapping Project was explained in a June 24 statement enthusiastically supporting the initiative, adding its own call to “expose the supporters of the Zionist entity.” PFLP is responsible for several airplane hijackings as well as numerous terror attacks against Israeli civilians in Israel and the West Bank, including a bombing in 2019 that killed 17-year-old Israeli Rina Shnerb, and a 2014 attack in a Jerusalem synagogue that killed four.
On June 26, the Iranian government-controlled Press TV published a column that was deeply sympathetic to the Mapping Project. Press TV is the Iranian regime’s primary propaganda tool, disseminating its messages in English worldwide. It has long featured antisemitic voices and content. Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of antisemitism and terrorism.
The Mapping Project lists nearly 500 organizations, at least 41 of which are Jewish, that they allege support “the colonization of Palestine and harms that we see as linked, such as policing, US imperialism, and displacement/ethnic cleansing.” The Jewish organizations they name serve as the cornerstone of The Mapping Project, as the site devotes disproportionate space to critiquing them. A connection to the Jewish organizations or 'Zionism' is typically referenced as a reason for inclusion of non-Jewish groups. They state: “These entities exist in the physical world and can be disrupted in the physical world.”
Expressions of support for PFLP and willingness to work with Press TV on the part of some U.S.-based anti-Israel activists represents, at best, their utter disregard for the PFLP’s history of violence and for Press TV’s history of state-sponsored dissemination of antisemitic propaganda. But in some cases, anti-Zionist activists support, or at least excuse, the violence perpetrated by PFLP.
Examples of activism involving PFLP, Press TV and U.S.-based anti-Israel figures and organizations include:
- May 15, 2022: A Brooklyn Nakba Day rally hosted by Samidoun, PYM and Within Our Lifetime featured a table displaying a book by PFLP. The PFLP flag was also spotted among the crowd of marchers.
- Dec. 2021: In a post on Telegram, PFLP gave a nod to BDS and similar anti-Israel organizations: “Our struggle on the international front; It is strengthened by extending bridges of relations with all countries, forces, institutions and committees, foremost of which is the Palestinian and international boycott movement (BDS), and all solidarity campaigns.”
- February 2021: On the National SJP conference plenary, a speaker lionized Leila Khaled, calling her a “fighter” and “martyr.”
- September 2020: Prof. Rabab Abdulhadi (SFSU) was reported by Bay Area local newspaper XPRESS to have stated: “We really idolize somebody like Leila Khaled, somebody who actually stands up for herself, speaks for herself, actually goes to a plane and hijacks it …” That month, Prof. Abdulhadi invited Leila Khaled to speak virtually in her class.
- August 2020: Three protestors held Hezbollah and PFLP flags at an anti-Israel rally in New York City hosted by Within Our Lifetime-United for Palestine, Palestinian Youth Movement, NY4Palestine, Samidoun and others.
- March 2020: On Instagram, National Students for Justice in Palestine posted a photo of Leila Khaled posing with a gun and applauded her militant action in accompanying commentary.
- April 2019: Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) at Kent State University spray-painted “P.L.F.P. [sic]” and PFLP’s logo on “the rock” (a prominent campus landmark). YDSA members posted a photo of “the rock” with their graffiti on their official Facebook page.
- January 2019: At a panel event at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, speaker Noss Petashnik, who was introduced as an affiliate of SJP and Jewish Voice for Peace, remarked that “women have been visible in armed resistance in Palestine. One woman I want to give special mention to is Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP]…I mention her specifically because I remember reading her biography and feeling inspired by her story.”
- August 2017: JVP hosted and honored PFLP member Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted in an Israeli court in 1970 for being involved in a 1969 bombing that killed two Hebrew University students.
- May 2016: According to The Hill, a 2016 tour in the Palestinian Territories offered to American activists by social justice activist group Dream Defenders was led by a guide reportedly affiliated with PFLP. Dream Defenders previously promoted the PFLP in its 2014 “Blacked Out History” campaign, which presented the PFLP alongside other “revolutionary organizations from around the world.” The curriculum stated that the PFLP “wants to be free from global imperialism. They want liberation. They want equal rights. Just like the Dream Defenders.”
In addition to many instances in which members of SJP, JVP and other anti-Israel groups have shared Press TV materials on social media, some anti-Zionist activists have made appearances on video on Press TV programs:
- April 2022: Executive Director of Bay Area-based Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC) Lara Kiswani and PYM’s Omar Zahzah and Nadya Tannous
- November 2021: Samidoun activist Charlotte Kates
- October 2021: CodePink activist Danaka Katovich
- July 2021: Electronic Intifada reporter Asa Winstanley
- December 2019: San Francisco State University Prof. Rabab Abdulhadi (board member of BDS-affiliated U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel)