A Jewish charity, headed by a member of the UC Berkeley Board of Visitors, was found to have contributed funds to Canary Mission, a pro-Israel website that compiles a blacklist of college students, professors and organizations said to have criticized Israel, as first reported by The Forward.
Jaclyn Safier, president of the Helen Diller Family Foundation, has been a member of the campus Board of Visitors, which advises the administration, since 2015. In 2016, the foundation worked with a nonprofit association called the Central Fund of Israel to donate $100,000 to Canary Mission, according to The Forward.
The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, of which the Helen Diller Family Foundation is a supporting organization, said in a press release that this was a “one-time grant” and neither organization will contribute to the website in the future.
“In 2017, we strengthened the implementation of our review process and determined that the Central Fund of Israel is not in compliance with our guidelines,” the release stated. “Both the Helen Diller Family Foundation and the Federation will not support the Canary Mission in the future.”
Canary Mission has been a source of controversy since its creation in 2015. Its stated goal is to “combat the rise in anti-Semitism on college campuses,” and it has posted hundreds of names, photos and affiliations of college students and professors said to have criticized Israel or supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The profiles compiled by Canary Mission have allegedly been used in interrogations by Israeli security officials, according to The Forward.
Multiple current campus students and alumni are included on the website’s blacklist, as well as campus lecturer Hatem Bazian, who was publicly criticized in November 2017 for retweeting an anti-Semitic post on Twitter.
“By shining a light on hate groups and their members, the public is better informed about bigotry on their campuses and in their communities,” Canary Mission’s website states.
Shira Klasky-Gamer, co-president of J Street U at Berkeley, said this website is not representative of a pro-Israel voice and harms the work of pro-Israel activists by allegedly targeting students and creating “an atmosphere of fear” that prevents dialogue on college campuses. She added that the Jewish Community Federation had previously funded Canary Mission and that J Street U had prompted the foundation to cease these donations and promote transparency in its finances.
Klasky-Gamer said she was not aware of the connection between Canary Mission and the campus Board of Visitors and could not comment on Safier’s involvement.
“We believe that students must be able to express their political perspectives without fear of intimidation or retribution,” campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said in an email. “The decision in 2017 to cut off all support for this organization was appropriate.”