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The Mapping Project

Boston University

Boston University (BU) is a large private university located in Boston. BU hosts multiple Zionist programs and initiatives, collaborates with the US Department of Homeland Security's regime of tracking, detention, and deportation of Black and Brown migrants, and is a major contributor to the displacement of Black and Brown residents from Boston area neighborhoods ('gentrification').

Support for Israel

Boston University maintains an exchange (study abroad) program with Tel-Aviv university, about which BU states: "In the program with Tel Aviv University, students have the opportunity to study international and comparative law topics and, in particular, courses in Israeli law and politics and Jewish law." The Israeli legal and political system BU sends students to learn about through this program includes over discriminatory 65 laws which according to the Palestinian rights group Adalah "limit the rights of Palestinians in all areas of life, from citizenship rights to the right to political participation, land and housing rights, education rights, cultural and language rights, religious rights, and due process rights during detention." As one example, Israel's "Citizenship and Entry into Israel" law "prohibits Israel’s interior minister from granting residency or citizenship to Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza who marry citizens of Israel," and "explicitly states that its purpose is to ensure a Jewish demographic majority." Similarly, Israel's recently passed "Jewish Nation-State Law" (a "basic law," with the implicit power of constitutionality within the Israeli legal system) states explicitly that "The exercise of the right to national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish People," and that the Israeli state "views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value, and shall act to encourage and promote its establishment and strengthening." Through its exchange program with Tel Aviv University, BU encourages its students to shape their understandings of law and politics from these and other openly ethnocratic and racist legal and political structures.

Boston University hosts the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies, which includes the "Israel Studies Initiative." Amongst the leaders of the Israel Studies Initiative is Dr. David Lehrer. According to the Elie Wiesel Center's most recent Annual Report, Leher "worked as a business consultant for Israeli collective settlements (kibbutzim)" and "twice served as an emissary for the Jewish Agency for Israel in the United States" before joining the Wiesel Center to "spearhead a new initiative on Israel and Environmental Studies with academic undergraduate courses on Israel, natural resource management, geopolitics, and international cooperation." The Wiesel Center's Annual Report further notes "The Elie Wiesel Center now seeks to expand Israel Studies into the applied sciences, where Israel is a hub of major innovations," language which parrots Israeli state efforts to "brand Israel" as environmentally friendly ("greenwashing) and as a hub of "innovation" (a "start-up nation"), in and attempt to whitewash over Israel's colonial subjugation of Palestinians and systematic theft of Palestinian land and resources. Recent undergraduate and graduate courses offered through the Elie Wiesel Center include "Advanced Modern Hebrew: Voices in Israeli Society," "Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" and "Israeli Culture through Film." As their titles suggest, these courses celebrate Israel, while advancing the false framework of "conflict" between Israelis and Palestinians in order to obscure the realities of the grossly asymmetric power relationships between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians under Israel's current system of colonial expansion and legal apartheid. Students pursuing a minor in Jewish Studies at the Wiesel Center are "strongly encouraged" to study abroad in Israel.

Boston University also hosts a chapter TAMID Group, established at BU in 2013. TAMID Group is a national Zionist organization which describes itself as "a comprehensive business and technology group that uses Israel as an economic lens to consult leading companies on the forefront of innovation," and which directs students to engage in "Experiential Learning Through Business in Israel," through opportunities including the TAMID Fellowship (an eight-week internship in Israel working for an Israeli business), TAMID Consulting (in which student teams remotely solve "challenging" business problems for Israeli companies), and the TAMID Investment Fund (in which students participate in a competition with chapters from other universities managing an investment portfolio made up of Israeli companies). By directing Boston University students into these programs, TAMID contributes to the ongoing Israeli state effort to "brand Israel" as a "start-up nation" and a hub of "innovation" in and attempt to whitewash over the realities of Israel's colonial subjugation of Palestinians and systematic theft of Palestinian land and resources. TAMID Group was fully funded by the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) until March 2018.

Along with TAMID, Boston University hosts the IAC Mishelanu fellowship and the IACT (Inspired, Active, Committed and Transformed) program. IAC Mishelanu is a fellowship program run by the Israeli-American Council for the stated purpose of cultivating "pro-Israel leadership" on Boston area college campuses. IACT is a program designed and funded by Combined Jewish Philanthropies to “strengthen and transform Jewish life and Israel advocacy on campuses through the expansion of Birthright Israel and the active engagement of Birthright Israel participants in new programs." WickedLocal reports that as of 2020, IACT is operational "at 29 local Hillels around the country" where the program "supports a coordinator on each campus dedicated to recruiting students for Birthright Israel trips and inspiring them to become active in Jewish life and Israel activities once back on campus."

Moreover, Boston University maintains an active chapter of Hillel. Boston University Hillel puts on programing for students that celebrates Israel and whitewashes Israel's crimes (see for example: hereherehere, and here), while encouraging students to participate in all-expenses-paid "Birthright" propaganda trips to Israel (see here, here, and here). According to its website, BU Hillel's staff currently includes: Rabbi Jevin Eagle (Executive Director and University Chaplain), Ethan Sobel (Managing Director), Deborah Glickman (Senior Director of Finance and Operations), Micaela Sheinhait (Development Manager), Rabbi Yitzi Ehrenberg (Claude Chomski Orthodox Educator), Yael Eichhorn (Jewish Life Coordinator), and Jesse Steinman (Springboard Innovation Fellow). BU Hillel's Board of Directors are listed here.

In 2017, the chief of the Boston University Police Department participated in a “counterterrorism seminar” in Israel, as part of an all-expenses-paid delegation of US law enforcement to Israel sponsored by the New England chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The New England Chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sponsors annual all-expenses-paid delegations to Israel for high-ranking New England police, ICE, FBI, and other security officials, where these officials meet with Israeli military, police, and intelligence agencies, with whom they train and exchange tactics including surveillance, racial profiling, crowd control, and the containment of protests. Starting in the Fall of 2021, Boston University Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) launched a (still ongoing) campaign demanding that Boston University "apologize for its participation in the 2017 trip, commit to ending its participation in military and police training in Israel, and pledge it will not send BUPD on any future military trainings," as well as demanding that BU "disclose if [BUPD] has participated in military trainings in the past, if so when and how often" and provide "transparency regarding BUPD's budgeting, training, and authority."

Boston University's $3.35 billion endowment is likely invested in numerous companies and institutions that provide material and ideological support for the Zionist project, however Boston University is not transparent about the investment of its endowment.

Support for police

The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) holds its yearly Senior Management Institute (SMIP) for police at the Boston University School of Law. PERF describes its Senior Management Institute in the following way:

SMIP is a program of the Police Executive Research Forum that provides senior police executives with intensive training in the latest management concepts and practices used in business and government. It also features discussions of the most challenging issues facing law enforcement executives today. A demanding three-week course, SMIP brings together a faculty from top universities, successful law enforcement chief executives, and subject matter experts from the private sector. It is designed for mid- to upper-level police executives who ultimately will lead police agencies throughout the United States and other participating countries. SMIP’s curriculum addresses the issues that demand the attention of today’s forward-thinking law enforcement leaders. Classes normally are held at the Boston University School of Law, where participants learn and reside in the university’s modern classrooms and residence hall, and PERF hopes and expects that Boston University will be able to host SMIP in 2022."

According to an article published the Boston Phoenix in 2011: 

Founded in 1977, PERF currently performs research funded mainly through government contracts with the Department of Homeland Security and donations from companies such as Motorola and Lockheed-Martin. PERF runs its police executive training course, SMIP, on the Boston University campus each summer, with professors from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government teaching courses in leadership, crisis management, and organizational theory. Its board of directors includes police chiefs from across the country.

PERF is known to have coordinated calls between police chiefs and US Department of Homeland Security officials for the purpose of discussing and sharing information about the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. As the SF Bay Guardian reported, PERF has also published a manual entitled "Managing Major Events: Best Practices from the Field," which includes advice about planting undercover "grab and arrest" squads in crowds at protests along with other tactics familiar from documented instances of police repression that have occurred at large scale political protests over recent decades. 

Support for US tracking, detention, and deportation of migrants

Boston University collaborates with the US Department of Homeland Security, supporting US DHS's regime of tracking, detention, and deportation of Black and Brown migrants. Boston University participates in Northeastern University's "DHS Center of Excellence" (COE) called ALERT ("Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats"), a consortium of nine universities and industry partners who receive grants and other support from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop technology to support DHS projects of mass surveillance and intelligence sharing.

According to an annual report on the program, ALERT supports DHS to "quickly adapt to new research and education priorities related to the daunting mission of DHS to protect our nation from terrorist threats." ALERT includes educational programming targeted to "pre-college, undergraduate, graduate and career professional components" respectively, and includes a "High-Tech Tools and Toys Lab," "an Engineering Leadership Program focusing on Department of Homeland Security Topics," and "workshops and short courses." In 2021, ALERT won a $36 million contract from DHS to build a surveillance system called SENTRY (Soft target Engineering to Neutralize the Threat RealitY). The system promises to turn schools, sporting events, and city spaces into a panopticon that will "integrate elements such as crowd-scanning sensors mounted atop light poles, video feeds, cell phone traffic, aerial drone footage, and social media posts."

Contribution to displacement ('gentrification')

Boston University owns 305 parcels of land which collectively occupy 175 acres of real estate. The land Boston University owns along with the structures build upon it are collectively valued at $3.59 billion (see: MassGIS statewide parcels dataset, 2021). Boston University's expansive presence in the city (along with that of other university and corporate giants like it) has caused local housing, rental, and general living costs to skyrocket (see image below), driving out working class residents, disproportionately Black and Brown, who are no longer able to afford to live in the neighborhoods they have called home for years if not decades. A large portion of Boston University's 33,678 students are transplants from outside the city, transplants who are, on average, whiter and wealthier than the people whose neighborhoods they move into. Boston University professor James Pasto explains that this "studentification" of local housing markets leads to a dramatic spike in property values, further noting that "When a residential area becomes predominantly populated by students, those students are displacing another population.” In addition to students, the countless academic jobs and research opportunities Boston University creates attract a majority-white professional class of transplant workers into the city, workers who are able to afford higher living costs relative to preexisting residents, further driving up area rental, housing, and living costs and further propelling the displacement of working class residents, disproportionately Black and Brown, from their homes and communities.

(Image source: here)

1 Silber Way, Boston, MA 02215

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