2013 October » ADL Blogs
October 30, 2013 2

Is Jewish Voice for Peace Edging Toward a Full Boycott of Israel?

Narrow Bridge Candles screenshot

An image on Nar­row Bridge Can­dles’ web­site calls for the company’s can­dles to “fuel flames of resistance.”

The Boston chap­ter of Jew­ish Voice for Peace posted a mes­sage on its Face­book page on Octo­ber 28th urg­ing its fol­low­ers to buy Hanukkah can­dles from a candle-making project called “Nar­row Bridge Can­dles” that sup­ports the “full Pales­tin­ian call for Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions.” The com­pany, which is based in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia, pro­duces dif­fer­ent kinds of can­dles needed for Jew­ish rit­u­als, includ­ing Shab­bat, Havadala and Hanukkah, so that Jews who are “in sol­i­dar­ity with Pales­tine” don’t have to pur­chase can­dles from Israel.

On its web­site, the project claims that Israel has a “monop­oly on Judaica.” In fact, many of the Hanukkah can­dles that are sold in the United States are pro­duced by two Jew­ish com­pa­nies in New York, Rite Lite in Brook­lyn and Ner Mitz­vah in New Square. Another pop­u­lar brand sold in the U.S. is actu­ally man­u­fac­tured in China. While we didn’t take the time to inves­ti­gate the mar­ket share for these com­pa­nies, suf­fice it to say that Israeli-made Hanukkah can­dles are not the only ones avail­able for purchase.

Hanukah candles Tel Aviv

Hanukkah can­dles made in Tel Aviv, Israel

More impor­tantly, JVP Boston’s sup­port for Nar­row Bridge Can­dles demon­strates the incon­sis­tency in JVP’s plat­form on BDS. In its 2011 state­ment regard­ing BDS, JVP-National, which was just named by ADL as a “Top Ten Anti-Israel Group,” stated clearly that the group “focuses our efforts on boy­cott and divest­ment cam­paigns that directly tar­get Israel’s occu­pa­tion of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its block­ade of the Gaza Strip.” This sug­gests that JVP was restrict­ing its pro-BDS advo­cacy to prod­ucts made in Israeli set­tle­ments and to multi­na­tional com­pa­nies that profit from the occupation.

 But Nar­row Bridge Can­dles sup­ports a boy­cott of prod­ucts made in Israel in gen­eral; no men­tion is made on its web­site of boy­cotting can­dles only made in Israeli set­tle­ments in the West Bank. Indeed, two of the most pop­u­lar candle-making com­pa­nies in Israel are based in Tel Aviv and Safed, cities that are part of Israel’s pre-1967 borders.

Var­i­ous mem­bers of JVP’s lead­er­ship have indi­cated in the past that the group might con­sider shift­ing from tar­geted BDS to an adop­tion of the Pales­tin­ian call for BDS, which advo­cates for a com­plete boy­cott. In a 2011 inter­view, both Rebecca Vilkomer­son, JVP’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, and Brant Rosen, a founder of its Rab­bini­cal Coun­cil, indi­cated that the group might even­tu­ally sup­port a full boy­cott. It remains to be seen if JVP-Boston’s endorse­ment of Nar­row Bridge Can­dles is a har­bin­ger of that shift or an aber­ra­tion of JVP’s pol­icy.

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October 28, 2013 1

Matthew Shepard And James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act Four Years Later: Demonstrating Its Value

This week marks the fourth anniver­sary of the sign­ing of the Matthew Shep­ard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Pre­ven­tion Act (HCPA).  The HCPA is the most impor­tant, com­pre­hen­sive, and inclu­sive hate crime enforce­ment law enacted in the past 40 years. In addi­tion, pas­sage of the act has sparked a wel­come round of police train­ing and out­reach – and the devel­op­ment of a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant new hate crime train­ing and pre­ven­tion resources. hate-crimes-prevention-act-HCPA

It is appro­pri­ate to pause to reflect on the extra­or­di­nar­ily broad coali­tion ADL was priv­i­leged to lead in sup­port the HCPA – includ­ing over 250 civil rights, edu­ca­tion, reli­gious, civic, and pro­fes­sional orga­ni­za­tions and, cru­cially, vir­tu­ally every major law enforce­ment orga­ni­za­tion in the coun­try. Orig­i­nally drafted in 1996, progress on the bill was stalled, Con­gress after Con­gress, because of per­sis­tent, adamant – and erro­neous – con­cerns about the impact of the bill’s cov­er­age of hate crimes directed at indi­vid­u­als because of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. In the end, even after 13 long years of advo­cacy, with the strong sup­port of Pres­i­dent Obama and Attor­ney Gen­eral Holder, the mea­sure still had to be attached to “must-pass” leg­is­la­tion – the Depart­ment of Defense FY 2010 Autho­riza­tion bill – in order to be enacted into law.

But now, four years later, advo­cates can­not doubt that the titanic efforts to enact the HCPA by Sen­ate and House cham­pi­ons and the hate crime coali­tion were worth­while. Here are high­lights of some of the impor­tant advances since the enact­ment of the HCPA, Pub­lic Law 111–84.

­Train­ing

  • Lawyers from the Depart­ment of Jus­tice (DoJ) Civil Rights Divi­sion, FBI agents, and pro­fes­sion­als from DoJ’s Com­mu­nity Rela­tions Ser­vice have trained thou­sands of state and local law enforce­ment offi­cials from more than a dozen states on the HCPA’s new tools and federal-state part­ner­ship opportunities.  

Enforce­ment

  • DoJ has inves­ti­gated dozens of cases and has brought indict­ments in about 20 cases, includ­ing sev­eral cases in states that lack their own hate crime laws.    
  • Under the expanded author­ity of the HCPA, Jus­tice Depart­ment lawyers have pro­vided foren­sic and other inves­tiga­tive assis­tance to state and local law enforce­ment offi­cials pros­e­cut­ing cases under their state laws. 
  • In coor­di­na­tion with sev­eral lead US Attor­neys, DoJ has vig­or­ously defended the HCPA in both facial and as applied con­sti­tu­tional challenges. 

Hate Crime Data Collection

Resources

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October 25, 2013 0

Iran To Hold “The Great Conference Of Death To America” In Tehran

As Iran­ian offi­cials renew talks with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the U.S., Britain, Ger­many, France, Rus­sia and China, sev­eral groups inside Iran who oppose the government’s recent diplo­matic over­tures are orga­niz­ing a con­fer­ence ded­i­cated to attack­ing America.death-to-america-conference-iran

The Novem­ber 2 event, whose Farsi title lit­er­ally trans­lates to “The Great Con­fer­ence of Death to Amer­ica,” will be part of the 11th annual Hezbol­lah Cyber con­fer­ence, a gath­er­ing of Iran­ian cyber activists who focus on “fight­ing with the Arro­gance.” Iran­ian offi­cials fre­quently refer to the U.S. as “the Arrogance.”

The con­fer­ence will be held in the com­plex that pre­vi­ously served as the U.S. embassy in Tehran. The con­fer­ence will fea­ture top­ics and dis­cus­sions that have been sta­ples of pre­vi­ous Iran­ian anti-American con­fer­ences, such as “US & Oppres­sion,” “US & Global Zion­ism” and “US & Dictatorship.”

The con­fer­ence will also award its “First Major Inter­na­tional Award of ‘Down with Amer­ica,’” which gives the first prize win­ner 100,000,000 rials ($4,000 USD). Par­tic­i­pants are encour­aged to sub­mit pho­tographs, posters and car­i­ca­tures that embody the conference’s theme through the event web­site. The sub­mis­sions will be part of a con­test and com­piled into a book that will appar­ently be shown in exhi­bi­tions at the conference.

Iran­ian state-run media has also been quick to denounce any mod­er­ate voices urg­ing the regime to drop its long-running anti-U.S. “Death to Amer­ica,” claim­ing instead that the chant is an essen­tial part of the Iran’s resis­tance toward the U.S.

The fresh winds of change brought in by the elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Rouhani may not yet be strong enough to push the cross-currents of anti-American sen­ti­ment out of Iran­ian soci­ety.

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