2013 October » ADL Blogs
October 30, 2013

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

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.


  • 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.  


  • 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


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October 25, 2013

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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