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Volume 11, Number 36
October 28, 2008

 

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In This Issue
Iran Initiative
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Save Darfur
Interfaith Encounter
This Week in Washington

 

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JCPA speaks to you each week, alerting you to what the community relations field is doing to safeguard the rights of Jews here, in Israel, and around the world and to protect, preserve and promote a just, democratic and pluralistic American society. For three generations, we have brought together diverse voices in the Jewish community to unite a strong Jewish public policy force.

We hope you will continue to enjoy our three weekly emails.

 

About Us
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), the united voice of the organized Jewish community, was formally established as National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC) in 1944 by the Council of Jewish Federations. NJCRAC, designed to be the public affairs branch of the organized Jewish community, changed its name in 1997 to the Jewish Council for Public Affairs to more accurately reflect its mission.

For over half a century, the JCPA has served as an effective mechanism to identify issues, formulate policy, develop strategies and programs, and has given expression to a strongly united Jewish communal voice. By virtue of the JCPA's unique position and structure, our ability to reach out and motivate Jews and non-Jews alike to action is unparalleled. Through our network of 14 national and 125 local equal and independent partner agencies, the JCPA serves as a catalyst that heightens community awareness, encourages civic and social involvement, and deliberates key issues of importance to the Jewish community.
Iran Initiative

UN Nuclear Chief Says Iran Blocking Progress. The U.N. nuclear chief said October 27 that Iran is blocking his watchdog agency from verifying whether the nation has any ambitions for nuclear weaponry. "I regret that we are still not in a position to achieve full clarity regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran," Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the U.N. General Assembly. He urged Iran to do more to ensure "transparency," but emphasized the Vienna-based IAEA "does not in any way seek to pry into Iran's conventional or missile-related military activities." Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee countered that the U.N. Security Council's demand that his nation suspend uranium enrichment is "illegal." Click here to read this article from the Washington Post.

Iran is Job One. Until he retired from the State Department earlier this year, Nicholas Burns was, as undersecretary of state for political affairs, the lead U.S. negotiator on Iran. And how many times, during his three years in this role, did he meet with an Iranian? Not once. Burns wasn't allowed to. His presence was supposed to be the reward if the Iranians suspended uranium enrichment and sat down at the table. Burns, now 52, joined the State Department in 1980. He's among a generation of U.S. diplomats who have never set foot in Iran, the rising power of the Middle East, even with oil at $70 rather than double that. Let me put this bluntly: If we're serious about the Middle East, this has got to change. To read this editorial from Roger Cohen of the New York Times click here.

JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative

General Elections to Be Held in Israel in Mid-February. On October 28 a spokeswoman for the Knesset, Hila Mizrachi, said elections have been tentatively set for February 10. But she said there remains a possibility that lawmakers will pass legislation moving the date a week later, to February 17. The announcement came after members of the ruling Kadima party moved to shorten the time frame for the upcoming general elections, bringing the election date closer. Party MKs opted to forego a three-week interim period before the 90-day countdown to a nation-wide vote. The 21-day period gives parties the chance to propose a new prime ministerial candidate to form a government. The elections were announced by President Shimon Peres after newly elected Kadima leader Tzipi Livni informed him that she had been unable to form a government. Livni was elected last month to replace outgoing prime minister Ehud Olmert, who is stepping down amid multiple allegations of corruption. To read the full article from Ha'aretz click here.

Institute for Curriculum Services Featured in a New Book. The Institute for Curriculum Services (ICS) - a joint project of the San Francisco JCRC and the JCPA to promote accurate and unbiased instructional materials on Jews, Judaism, and Israel - is being featured in a new book titled The Trouble With Textbooks: Distorting History and Religion. The book, written by Gary Tobin and Dennis Ybarra, discusses some of the problems identified by ICS and endorses the organization's work with the different publishers as the "prominent voice representing Jewish NGOs" on this issue. For more information contact Aliza Craimer Elias, ICS's Director of Program Development and National Outreach at acraimer@icsresources.org, or visit ICS's brand new and comprehensive website at www.icsresources.org.

Save Darfur

Sudanese Forces, Rebels clash in North Darfur. Sudanese government forces and a rebel faction have clashed in north Darfur, two rebel groups said on Friday. Mohamed Abdullah, a commander with a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) headed by Abdel-Wahed Mohamed el-Nur, said his group lost two fighters but captured a number of government vehicles and weapons in the clash on Thursday. A spokesman for the Sudanese military could not confirm the incident but said the army had troops operating in north Darfur. Noureddine Mezni, a spokesman for the joint United Nations/African Union peacekeeping force (UNAMID), said: "We have initial information about clashes in the area. We are monitoring the situation." He did not give further details. The clashes came a week after Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir launched a national initiative to end the five-year-old conflict. Rebel groups boycotted the event. Click here to read this entire article from Reuters.

Interfaith Encounter

JCPA Expresses Concern for Christians in India, Iraq. On October 20, 2008, the JCPA issued a press release on the recent religious violence in India and Iraq.  "It is with great concern that we hear the news of religious persecution towards Christians in India and Iraq," said Rabbi Steve Gutow, executive director of JCPA. "The recent escalation of violence toward these Christian minorities, resulting in humiliation, self-inflicted exile and death, needs to end swiftly to protect their lives and freedoms."  To read the entire press release, please click here.

This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington.  In the next week, Washington will be consumed by the November 4 election.  Congress has recessed for the campaign period but is expected to reconvene in the middle of November for a lame-duck session.  The Supreme Court will not be hearing oral arguments this week. 

November 4th Election.  In seven days, Americans across the country will go to the polls and cast their ballots for the 44th President of the United States and 111th Congress.  This election seems to be a historic contest.  This is the first time since 1928 that a sitting President or Vice-President is not running for the Presidency.  It is also the first time U.S. history that both parties' nominees are sitting U.S. Senators.  Equally ground breaking, this is the first time in American history that an African-American has been nominated by a major political party for President and only the second time that such a party has had a woman  on a national ticket. 

In many states, through early voting programs, ballots have already been cast.  34 states allow some type of early voting. 

JCPA strongly encourages all eligible voters to participate in this election. 

Senator Stevens Conviction.  Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) was convicted of seven counts of lying on his financial disclosure forms to conceal gifts.  This verdict was decided by a jury in Washington, DC just eight days before Sen. Stevens name is set to appear on the ballot as he runs for reelection.   This is the first time in 27 years that a sitting Senator has been convicted of a criminal act by a federal jury.  

Hate Crimes Statistics.  This week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released the 2007 hate crimes statistics.  Although the overall number of hate crimes decreased slightly, there are several trends of concern.  According to the FBI, for the fourth year in a row, the number of reported crimes directed against Hispanics increased - from 576 in 2006 to 595 in 2007.  Equally disturbing, the number of hate crimes directed at gay men and lesbians increased almost six percent - from 1,195 in 2006 to 1,265 in 2007.  Meanwhile, religion-based crimes decreased from 1,462 in 2006 to 1,400 in 2007, but the number of reported anti-Jewish crimes increased slightly, from 967 in 2006 to 969 in 2007.  Reported crimes against Muslims decreased from 156 to 115, the lowest level since 2000.

Economic Recovery. In response to the economic problems facing families and business, Congress is working towards passing an economic recovery package to create jobs, stimulate the economy and restore investor and consumer confidence. The House of Representatives has been holding a series of hearings to discern what are the best public policies to mitigate the impact of the oncoming recession. Today, the House Small Business Committee held a hearing and tomorrow, the House Ways and Means and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees will both hold hearings on components of an economic recovery package. Support is building for such action. A USA Today survey found that 74 percent of economists believe that the US should pass an economic recovery package and a bipartisan coalition of local and state officials has also called for similar action on the economy.

Dingell and Boucher Release Draft Climate Bill.  Earlier this month (Oct. 7), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee John Dingell and the Chair of the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, Rep. Rick Boucher, released a draft of their climate legislation.  This legislation will likely serve as a basis for what the House considers next year.  The bill would amend the Clean Air Act and establish a national "cap and trade" program.  The bill calls for carbon reductions of six percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.  It allows for banking and borrowing of allowances, and calls for a "strategic reserve" of allowances to be available and auctioned periodically if the price of allowances reaches a certain threshold.  Other provisions call for 30 percent gains in energy efficiency by 2010 and 50 percent by 2020.  The draft does not yet determine whether pollution permits will initially be auctioned or distributed free of charge.  Read an Executive Summary of the legislation here.

Contribute to JCPA

JCPA speaks to you each week, alerting you to what the community relations field is doing to safeguard the rights of Jews here, in Israel, and around the world and to protect, preserve and promote a just, democratic and pluralistic American society. For three generations, we have brought together diverse voices in the Jewish community to unite a strong Jewish public policy force.

We hope you will continue to enjoy our three weekly emails.

Contribute Now!

Please consider a gift of $500, $100, or any other amount that you can, so that JCPA can enhance our efforts to provide information and resources to your community, and to mobilize our national network in support of Israel and of all the public issues we care about so dearly. Click here to make a contribution to the JCPA. Contributions can also be sent to JCPA, 116 E. 27th, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10016 or click here and we will send you a contribution envelope.

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