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Volume 12, Number 3
January 26, 2009

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

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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) is the united voice of the organized Jewish community.  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.

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

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Iran Initiative
Iran MPs Plan Gaza Visit to Praise Hamas Resistance Against 'Zionist offensive'. Five Iranian parliament members intend to visit the Gaza Strip to congratulate the Palestinians on their resistance against the "Zionist offensive." The Iranian lawmakers will tour parts of Gaza to evaluate the damage sustained during Israel's three-week-long Operation cast Lead. Iranian parliament member Mahmoud Ahmadi said the group also plans to meet with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, whom Ahmadi called "the legitimate Prime Minister of Palestine." Read the article from Haaretz here.

Obama Likely to Take Cautious Approach on Iran. U.S. President Barack Obama's outreach to Tehran is likely to be cautious ahead of June elections in Iran despite a promise in his inaugural address to engage anyone "willing to unclench your fist." The Obama administration is reviewing U.S. policy toward Iran but analysts expect no immediate shift in the current strategy to rein in Tehran's nuclear activities -- with more sanctions likely and small steps toward dialogue. "We're looking for ways that we can engage the Iranian people. The interests section is something that's under review as well," said State Department spokesman Robert Wood, referring to a diplomatic office the Bush administration decided "in principle" to open in Tehran but left up to Obama. Read the article from Reuters here.
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Livni: Obama Can Use Gaza Op Success to Alter Mideast Reality. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on January 26 that United States President Barack Obama could use Israel's success in its recent offensive against Hamas to change the reality in the Middle East. "The IDF operation in Gaza can and must serve as a turning point, not only restoring calm to the residents of the south, but also strengthening the regional processes which both Israel and the U.S. seek to advance," Livni told James Cunningham, the U.S. ambassador to Israel. The foreign minister made the comments in a meeting ahead of the new U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell's arrival in Israel on Wednesday, January 28. Read the full article from Haaretz here.

Crossings, 1,000 prisoners for Shalit.  Israel has offered to open the Gaza crossings and free 1,000 prisoners in exchange for captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, Ayman Taha, a member of the Hamas team currently holding talks in Cairo was quoted as saying January 26. Taha spoke to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram after meeting with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.  An Israeli defense official had said on Sunday that Jerusalem was considering linking the opening of the Gaza crossings with negotiations for Schalit's release. "The operation has created new understandings between us and Hamas," one Israeli official explained. "Hamas knows that if it renews attacks we will not be restrained." Read the article from the Jerusalem Post here.
Save Darfur
Be a Voice for Darfur. The Be a Voice for Darfur campaign is an effort to demonstrate that Darfur needs to be a priority from day one of President Obama's administration. The campaign aims to show the breadth of support for urgent action in Darfur by gathering more than 1 million signatures on postcards. The postcards will be delivered to President Obama urging him to keep his promise of "unstinting resolve" to end the Darfur Genocide at a rally in Washington DC on April 26 The Save Darfur Coalition and its partners will collect 1,000,000 signed postcards at events, places of worship, and over the internet. To support the campaign, the Save Darfur Coalition will organize the printing, distribution, collection and forwarding of the cards with options of co-branding from core partners. Postcards are free of charge and can be ordered by visiting www.addyourvoice.org/postcard.
This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington.  This week, Barack Obama took the oath of office to become the 44th President of the United States.  He was sworn in before a crowd of approximately 2 million people on the national mall.  Joe Biden, the long time Senator from Delaware, was sworn in as the Vice President of the United States.  Congress was also in session last week, considering several pieces of legislation. The Supreme Court was also in session last week, holding oral arguments and conferences.  

Inauguration of 44th President.  On January 20th, President Barack Obama took the oath of office becoming the 44th President of the United States and the first African-American to hold that position.  Approximately two million people gathered on the national mall to witness this historic event.  In his inaugural address, President Obama discussed the economic and diplomatic challenges that face the country.  The inauguration ceremony also included performances by Aretha Franklin, Yitzhak Pearlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, and Anthony McGill.  

President Obama's First Week.  In his first week in office, President Obama signed several Executive Orders and Presidential Memoranda that reversed several of the previous Administration's policies.  On his first day in office, President Obama issued several directives that limited the role of former lobbyists in his Administration and barred former administration officials from lobbying their former colleagues.   He also froze the salaries of top White House officials.  On Thursday, Mr. Obama's second day in office, he signed three executive orders and a memorandum designed to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay within a year, review the detention of the prisoners held at Guantanamo, end the Central Intelligence Agency's "enhanced interrogation program" by requiring the CIA to follow the Army Field Manual for Interrogations, and review the case of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, a legal resident of the U.S. who has been held as an enemy combatant in South Carolina for the past several years.  Mr. al-Marri's case is currently pending before the Supreme Court.  Finally, on Friday, President Obama, signed an executive order that overturned the "global gag rule" which restricted international development funding from agencies who discussed abortions with their patients.  

Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  Last week, the Senate approved the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which would reverse the Supreme Court's decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear.  This decision limited the ability for workers to challenge discriminatory wages.  The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was previously approved by the House of Representatives.  After a conference process, this legislation will be sent to the President.  

Secretary of State Clinton.  Hillary Clinton was confirmed as Secretary of State by the Senate last week with a vote of 94-2.  The next day, President Obama and Secretary Clinton announced two special envoys.  Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell will serve as a special envoy to the Middle East and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke will serve as special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Economic Recovery. Last week, three House committees approved their parts of the $825 billion economic recovery package:  Appropriations (approved on January 21, by a vote of 35-22); Ways and Means (approved on January 22, by a vote of 24-13); and Energy and Commerce (approved its part of the Recovery bill on January 22, by a vote of 34-17).  The full House will vote on the combined measure on Wednesday, January 28th, and the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committees will mark up their parts of an economic recovery bill on Tuesday, January 27th.

On Friday, January 23, the Senate Committees revealed their proposal for $365 billion in discretionary spending and $275 billion in tax provisions. The Senate bill is similar to its House counterpart in many respects, although there are some differences. For example, although both chambers include $87 billion for a temporary boost to FMAP (the federal government's share of Medicaid costs), the allocation formulas are different. While the House version allocated $20 billion for a SNAP/Food Stamp boost, the Senate version proposed $16.5 billion.

SCHIP. On January 14th, the House approved its version of the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA, HR 2) by a vote of 289-139. CHIPRA would extend healthcare to an addition four million children whose parents cannot afford health insurance, but do not qualify for Medicaid. The bill covers a total of 11 million children, and removes the bar that had disqualified legal immigrant children and pregnant women from receiving benefits during their first five years in the United States.

The Senate Finance Committee marked-up its version of the bill on January 15th and also included the provision to remove the five-year bar for legal immigrant children and pregnant women. The Senate will be debating SCHIP on the floor this evening.

ACTION! Please call your Senators TODAY and urge them to vote in favor of SCHIP. Ask them to speak in favor of SCHIP on the floor this evening. The message is simple:  There is no time to wait for this critical piece of legislation that will ensure 11 million children get the health care they need and deserve.  
Feel free to use the data from the Families USA Report, Yes We Can…Cover More than Four Million Children, provides a state-by-state breakdown of the number of kids who would gain coverage under the House CHIP bill.  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities also released a paper about the number of new children who would gain coverage under both the Senate and House CHIP bills. 

JCPA Programs
Hotel Deadline Extended to February 2nd!  Remember to get reserve your room at the Capital Hilton for the 2009 JCPA Plenum!  A block of rooms have been reserved for February 27, 2009 - March 3, 2009. Visit www.jcpaplenum.org to make your reservation with the JCPA room block.

Reserve a queen-sized deluxe room, 2 double beds deluxe room, or a 2 queen-sized bed deluxe room, all for only $239.00/ night.  This block closes on Monday, February 2nd so make your reservation now!

Capital Hilton
1001 16th Street NW
Washington, District of Columbia
USA 20036

Plenum Closing Reception.  Members of Congress are already confirming they will attend the 2009 JCPA Plenum Closing reception on Tuesday March 3rd on Capitol Hill -- You Should Too!  

JCPA has extended an invitation to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to address JCPA Plenum Delegates following their meetings with congressional leaders.  Our closing program will feature ranking House and Senate leaders and will be attended by many new and hold Congressional representatives looking to forge relationships with Jewish leaders.  

To register for the Plenum, visit www.jcpaplenum.org.
Plenum Speakers Include:
As always, our speakers will be the "best and the brightest."  We have confirmed: Ambassador Sallai Meridor, Robert Greenstein, Executive Director of Center for Budget and Policy Priorities; Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Council on Civil Rights; William Rapfogel, President of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty; Tom Dine, Search for Common Ground; Dr. Michael Ladeen, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies; Imam Mohamed Magid of the ADAMS Center, Jerry Fowler, Save Darfur Coalition; Roberta Cohen, Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights; Professor Yoram Peri; and David Makovsky, among many others. Professor Laurence Tribe will accept the 2009 Albert D. Chernin Award.
Invited speakers include: Secretary of Health and Human Services Designee Tom Daschle, Ambassador Wendy Sherman, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Lamar Alexander, and Senator Diane Feinstein.

Many of you have already registered.  We urge those of you who have yet to register to take advantage of the early-bird rate and make plans now to participate in the 2009 JCPA Plenum.
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.

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