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Volume 11, Number 40
November 24, 2008

 

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In This Issue
Iran Initiative
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
JCPA in Israel
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
European Concerns About Iran.  What worries the Europeans, but particularly the French, who hold the European Union's rotating presidency until Jan. 1, is what Obama intends to do once he is in the White House.  Wary of challenging Obama's current reservoir of international prestige and support, the European leadership's concerns on Iran are only half-articulated.  But they go to fears of being cut out of the process in the direct U.S.-Iran talks Obama has promised and losing a means to bring pressure against eventual military action.  What do Obama's campaign pledges about talking to Iran "directly" and "without preconditions" mean now?  And how influential are U.S. experts who argue he should run around Russia's chokehold on the UN Security Council's initiatives and sanctions by starting head-on, "all options on the table" negotiations with the mullahs?  The Europeans, who talk to the Iranians directly and participate in the Council's deliberations concerning Tehran, are not sure.  Read the full article from the International Herald Tribune here.

Iranian Blogger Arrested.  When Fareed Zakaria and I created PostGlobal in June 2006, one of the first people we asked to join our panel of global commentators was an Iranian blogger named Hossein Derakhshan. He was a natural choice--smart, outspoken, unpredictable, fearless. He already had a wide following among young Iranians, inside and outside Iran, and we wanted to share his views with a wider audience. He returned to Tehran a few weeks ago, after living mostly in Canada since 2000, and we were looking forward to seeing what this iconoclastic voice would say about his native country. Last weekend we learned that Derakhshan has been arrested and accused of spying for Israel. He had traveled there in 2007, openly and publicly -- writing about his experiences for his own weblog, "Editor: Myself." We fear that his real crime in the eyes of the Iranian authorities was that he dared to visit the Jewish state and write about its people as human beings -- as opposed to the demons of Iranian official propaganda. Read the full story from the Washington Post here.
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Israel Reopens Gaza Border Crossings.  Israel partially opened its border crossings with the Gaza Strip on November 24 to allow the transfer of humanitarian aid, following a reduction in rocket attacks from the strip over the past few days.  The border crossings have been all but completely shut for 19 days amid a deteriorating five-month-old truce, with only one convoy of 33 trucks with essential humanitarian supplies entering the strip one week ago.  The move came a day after Hamas was quoted by the Palestinian news agency Ma'an as saying militants groups had reached a deal with Israel to resume the cease-fire if the crossings were opened.  Read the article from Haaretz here.

Ambassadors of Humanity.  Anat Meidan writes for Yediot Ahronot, "About 25 Gazans are hospitalized at the Ashkelon hospital.  They arrive here after the hospital coordinates their transfer with Gaza medical facilities.  This dialogue goes on all the time, even when the Qassams rain down. Nobody is keeping a score here.  The war for saving lives is the only determining criteria, even when an endless war aimed at ending life rages outside. While outside the hospital we see a war of destruction and killing, inside the hospital there is a war for the lives of patients, regardless of their national identity.  If, heaven forbid, a Qassam will land at the hospital, Gazans will likely celebrate the great achievement.  Nobody would think for a moment about Strip residents who are healing there.  It seems surrealistic and delusional, and some will say it's unthinkable, but Barzilai's model is the only moral answer to the chaos around us.  This model is the way to build humane and normative neighborly relations within a mad, sick, and inhumane reality."  Read the editorial here.

'Scrubs' star Zach Braff falls in love with Tel Aviv.  Zach Braff went to Jerusalem, Jaffa and Eilat, "all the touristy things," he says, but spent most of his time in Tel Aviv.  "The best way to travel abroad is to live with the locals," he says.  "I'm enjoying getting to pretend that I'm an Israeli living in Tel Aviv with my friend.  He has a really nice place, we sit with his friends in cafes, talking with them. I love it so much."…  Braff says that when you come here, "you just feel this amazing sense of community.  We hear so much about Israel and politics with the Palestinians and you feel so separate from it.  So I really wanted to see for myself."  He says he was "lucky" to be able to come and see things firsthand and to talk to Israelis.  "As a Jew I think it's really important to come to this place.  There is such a tremendous sense of community, tremendous bond for obvious reasons.  I don't know if Israelis have a sense of it because they live here, but I love it."  Read the article from Haaretz here.
JCPA in Israel
JCPA Leadership in Israel.  JCPA National Chair Andrea Weinstein, President and CEO Steve Gutow and Senior Vice President Martin Raffel returned last week from Israel where they held private consultations with Israeli government officials, members of Knesset, the US Consul General in Jerusalem, non-profit groups promoting civic equality and harmonious relations between Jews and Arabs, as well as leading journalists and Middle East experts.  The purpose of their visit was to get a firsthand impression of the social, economic and political situation in Israel today.  Their interlocutors were particularly interested in discussing President-elect Obama and the impact his administration may have on foreign policy issues.  The three JCPA leaders also attended the UJC General Assembly in Jerusalem, at which each had a role in the program.
This Week in Washington
This Week in Washington.  This week, Members of Congress will return to their districts and states for the Thanksgiving recess.  Congress is expected to reconvene in early December to discuss proposals to aid the Auto industry.  President Bush is in Washington this week.  The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments this week.

Guantanamo Detainees.  Last week, Judge Richard Leon of the District Court in the District of Columbia ruled that the government should release five Algerian detainees currently held at the Guantanamo detention facility.  Judge Leon ruled that a sixth detainee should continue to be held in military custody.  These rulings were a result of the habeas corpus petitions filed on behalf of these detainees who were captured in Bosnia.  Earlier this year, in the landmark case Boumediene v. Bush, the Supreme Court ruled that the detainees in held at Guantanamo should have the ability to challenge their detentions before an impartial judge.  Further, the Court found that the current process established by Congress was not sufficient.  Lakhdar Boumediene was one of the detainees cleared for release.  Judge Leon's ruling included a rebuke of the current military detention program.  Further, he implored the government not to appeal his ruling.  

Auto industry.  Last week, the executives of Ford, GM, and Chrysler testified before Congress to ask for a $25 billion bridge loan to sustain the auto industry.  Congress has requested a detailed plan from the automakers as to how this loan will help the companies retool to be competitive in the long-run, and both chambers will likely re-convene in December to consider the merits of "Big Three" automakers' proposals.

Economic Stimulus.  Today President-elect Obama held a news conference to announce his economic team and outline his administration's immediately plans to jumpstart the economy.  He said that the first order of business would be an economic stimulus package, which Congress hopes to have ready for him to sign as soon as he takes the oath of office. President-Elect Obama has not yet put a price on the package, but many have estimated that it could be as much as $500-$700 billion.

President-Elect Obama Reaffirms Commitment to US Action on Climate Change.  On November 18, President-Elect Obama delivered a message to the Bi-Partisan Governors Global Climate Summit in California.  In it, he supported aggressive US steps to address climate change.  In particular, he committed to establish "strong annual targets" to reduce global warming emissions by 80 percent by 2050, which is consistent with the level of cuts the science indicates is needed to stop the worst effects of global warming.  The President-elect also committed to invest $15 billion a year to fuel private sector efforts to build a clean energy future. Click here to view a video of Obama's remarks.
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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