Canary Mission launched a website database in 2015, which it claimed "documents individuals and organizations that promote hatred of the USA, Israel and Jews on North American college campuses." The site has brought many challenges to their equation of pro-Palestinian activists, students, and professors on college campuses with far-right white supremacists. The secretive nature of the site has created legitimate suspicion among campus leaders and organizations that spies are infiltrating their activities. The Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA) condemned Canary Mission at their 2018 meeting for its defamatory attacks against college students and faculty that threaten the academic freedom of Palestinian and other scholars.
These threats against academic freedom are also threats against democracy, which have consequences that reach far beyond the university. Josh Nathan-Kazis, writing in The Forward, documents how a pro-Palestinian advocacy group leader and a Columbia University law professor have each been interrogated at the Israeli border by the enforcement officers using their Canary Mission profiles. Such actions not only threaten the right of academics, advocates, and activists to travel to Israel, but also endanger free and open inquiry about Israel and Palestine, their history, and current politics.
By Josh Nathan-Kazis