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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.

  • Dusty

    Nar­row Bridge can­dles is owned by a mem­ber of the extrem­ist IJAN group, show­ing yet again, how will­ing JVP is to aid and abet any fringe group with an anti Israel agenda

  • GSWSyn­di­cate

    The whole boy­cott is a total sham. Proof of that is that none of the boy­cotters have thrown away their cell phones, their com­put­ers, droids, lap­tops etc (Intel inside), if they need angio­plasty, they get it, and the list goes on and on (par­tic­u­larly in tech­nol­ogy and med­i­cine). If they’re going to do a boy­cott, lets see a true boy­cott; if you need angio­plasty, let a neigh­bor do it. If you need chemo for can­cer, and want the med that does not cause nau­sea and the other side effects, tough it. A boy­cott is a boy­cott. You boy­cott ALL the busi­nesses, not a strug­gling can­dle maker which makes you look sil­lier and dumber than you are. Until you do a real boy­cott, the world will never take you seriously.