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Boycotting Israel? There’s an App for That

A Jewish MIT graduate student involved with the International Solidarity Movement has developed software to help anti-Israel activists know what not to buy.

by
Lee Kaplan

Bio

May 7, 2010 - 12:00 am
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Josh Levinger, a member of the taxpayer-supported MIT Media Lab, originally began the “Boycott Toolkit” as his Ph.D. thesis. He later expanded his work to create “Virtual Gaza,” a way for anti-Israel activists to promote the idea that Hamas-run Gaza is suffering under an Israeli “siege.”

In June 2009, Levinger attended a computer conference in Amman, Jordan, with various Arab groups. Afterwards, he spent three weeks interviewing with assorted Israeli and Arab radical leftist groups, including Birthright Unplugged and the EU-funded B’tselem. These ISM-affiliated organizations invite Jewish students to tour the West Bank and Gaza, convincing them that Israel persecutes the Palestinian population and expropriates their land. The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is influenced by PLO and Hamas factions, and its leadership has admitted working with other terrorist groups as well, such as the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Islamic Jihad.

According to Levinger, he spent the entire month of July 2009 in the Holy Land “thinking about ways to expose/oppose the Occupation.” While there, he participated in a riot in the West Bank village of Ni’ilin.

Levinger wrote on the Virtual Gaza website:

Israel has been gradually tightening its stranglehold on the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, sealing its border and cutting off adequate food, fuel, and medical supplies, bringing the economy and infrastructure to the point of collapse.

Israel maintains (and provides evidence) that this viewpoint is propaganda and that the the opposite is true.

In October of 2009, Levinger attended the J Street conference in the United States. (J Street promotes itself as a pro-Israel alternative to AIPAC, but receives partial funding from Saudi Arabia and Iranian interests.) And this past April, Levinger lectured to students for the Palestine@MIT club during MIT’s Palestine Awareness Week, an event advertised on the United for Peace and Justice (UPJ) website. The UPJ is the renamed Communist Party, USA.

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