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Iran Initiative
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
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) 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

Iranian Cargo Appears to Break UN Ban. A ship detained by Cyprus appears to be carrying banned weapon-related material from Iran prohibited under United Nations resolutions, a senior Cypriot source said on February 7. The source said that was the advice Cyprus received from a United Nations panel monitoring compliance of sanctions. The Mediterranean island had sought guidance from the body earlier in the week after submitting a list of findings from the vessel, detained in Cyprus from Jan. 29...The United States, which earlier boarded the ship in the Red Sea, said its navy found weapons on board which it could not confiscate for legal reasons. Read the article from Reuters here.

Iran Business Registry.  On Wednesday, February 4, 2009, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) published the "Iran Business Registry (IBR)," a running database of reputable media and academic reports of international business in Iran.  Iran is uniquely susceptible to financial pressure and UANI hopes the IBR can educate investors, policymakers, and other individuals on companies reported to have been doing business in Iran.  To view UANI's IBR, please click here.

JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative

Israel Advocacy 2.0. The Israel Advocacy Initiative's Director Amos Kamil published an op-ed, Time for Israel Advocacy 2.0, in JTA. "A recent online search of the phrase "Zionism is racism" yielded 1.3 million web hits. "Israel + apartheid" turned up a cool 231,000 hits. Type the word "Israel" into Facebook or YouTube and more than likely you will be confronted with user-generated content created by people who do not hold pro-Israel views. Things are not much better over at the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. Palestinians and their sympathizers have added "al Nakba," an Arabic term meaning "the catastrophe," to the 1948 Arab-Israeli War entry. On Google Earth, sophisticated Palestinian 2.0 advocates have tagged many Israeli towns and cities with their Arabic names. Both Google and Wikipedia -- two Internet behemoths -- take cover behind editorial neutrality and free speech, remaining unmoved by Jewish community concerns. In short, our adversaries have gone 2.0 in their battle to delegitimize Israel, and the recent military operation in Gaza is yet another indication of how Palestinian activists are using the Web to manipulate the public affairs aspects of the debate." Read the full op-ed here.

Beyond the Banks. Thomas Friedman writes for the New York Times, "Visiting Israel, I've been peppered with questions from Israelis and Palestinians about where their peace process will fit in among President Obama's priorities. My guess, I've answered, is that President Obama has three immediate priorities: banks, banks and banks - and none of them are the West Bank. That said, once Obama is able to think afresh about the Middle East, he will find that the Bush team has left an interesting legacy here: 140,000 U.S. soldiers doing nation-building in Iraq and one U.S. soldier - actually a three-star U.S. Army general - doing nation-building in the West Bank. We need a better balance." Read the full column here.

Shalit and Hamas. Concerned voices have been heard in the Muqata in Ramallah over the past few days: Senior Palestinian Authority and Fatah officials are speaking openly of the end of an era if an agreement to free abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is reached. Palestinian officials say a Shalit deal would bring about early elections in the territories, and Hamas would win again - but this time it would win the Palestinian presidential election, too. Israel would then be forced to deal with a Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, they say…Despite the euphoria in Israel over the Gaza operation, on the Palestinian side at least, some 46.7 percent view the Gaza fighting as a Hamas victory and only 9.8 percent deemed Israel the victor. Some 37.4 percent thought there was no winner. Read the article from Haaretz here.

This was a war against the Hamas; not a war against the Palestinians. Mark Sofer, Israel's Ambassador to India, states, "One of the saddest aspects of the fighting in Gaza is that it never should have happened. We should never have been in the situation of a military confrontation in Gaza. That is particularly tragic. From our perspective, Israeli society is a split society in every which way, but on the question of Gaza, I think it was absolutely unanimous. Frankly, we had reached a point where it was impossible to go on like this any longer. The country, the southern part of the country, had been under a barrage of rockets, missiles and mortar shells for over six years. Somewhere in the region of 20,000-30,000 rockets fired at Israeli civilians in southern Israel saw up to 500,000 people permanently within 15 seconds of a bomb shelter. Over a period of time, this is an impossible situation for any country to stomach. If say, Kolkata was bombarded for a period of 6-7 years, by even crude missiles from another country or territory, how would India react?" Read the interview here.

This Week in Washington
This Week in Washington.  This week, President Obama visits Indiana and Florida to hold town-hall meetings regarding the economy.  Congress continues to debate the economic recovery package.  The Supreme Court will not be in session this week.  

Economic Recovery Package. Today, February 9, the Senate will continue to debate its version of the economic recovery package. Last Friday evening, February 6, a compromise was reached that cut approximately $108 billion from the original Senate bill in order to garner the 60 votes that will be necessary to cut off debate.  The appropriations component was reduced by $83 billion, healthcare provisions were scaled back by $7 billion, and the tax package was reduced by $18 billion. Cuts made to the original bill marked up by the Senate Appropriations and Finance Committees include:
  • Cutting $39 billion from the original $79 billion in the bill designed to provide fiscal relief to states and help them to avoid tax increases or cuts in critical services;
  • Zeroing out the $16 billion originally set aside to renovate, repair and build public schools as well as the $3.5 billion for higher education facility modernization and purchase of instructional equipment;
  • Halving the funding for Head Start and Early Head Start programs from $2.1 billion to $1.05 billion;
Senate leadership will vote to limit debate on that package tonight with a final vote on the substitute package scheduled for tomorrow at noon.  This evening, Obama will address the nation from Elkhart, Indiana, in order to emphasize the need for Congress to swiftly pass "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" (HR 1).
In the meantime, attention has already turned towards resolving the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill in conference. If passed, the Senate compromise would cost approximately $780 billion (not counting some of the previously adopted amendment that will increase the cost), while the version the House passed on January 28th would cost $819 billion. Congressional leaders hope to conclude the conference process this week and get a bill to President Obama's desk before the President's Day recess begins this weekend.

Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.  Last week, President Obama signed an executive order creating the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.   Joshua DuBois, a 26 year-old Pentecostal pastor, was named as the Executive Director of the office and a Special Assistant to the President.  Additionally, President Obama created the Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Council.  Fifteen members of the Council have already been named.  They include Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism; Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Executive Director of Sojourners; Richard Sterns, President of World Vision; and Judith Vredenburgh, President and CEO of Big Brothers / Big Sisters of America.

SCHIP. On Wednesday, February 4th, the House passed and President Obama signed the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA) into law. JCPA President, Rabbi Steve Gutow, attended the signing ceremony for this historic bill, which will 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.

Justice Ginsberg.  Last week, the Supreme Court announced that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has undergone surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from her pancreas.  She will remain in the hospital recovering for several days.  This is the second time Justice Ginsberg has battled cancer since being appointed to the Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. 
JCPA Programs
Remember to make your reservation at the Capital Hilton to attend the 2009 JCPA Plenum at www.jcpaplenum.org!    

Join the JCPA and more than 40 Members of Congress for the 2009 Plenum Closing Reception on Capitol Hill, Tuesday March 3rd!  

Meet members of the Senate and House of Representatives for our closing reception following Hill visits.  This is an opportunity for Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to get acquainted with leaders from the organized Jewish community.  
Many Congressional leaders have already responded they will be  attending including: Senior Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, Georgia Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss, and freshman Senator Jon Risch of Idaho.  

More than 30 Representatives have already confirmed their attendance including: Rep. Elijah Cummings, Rep. John Adler, Rep. Shelley Berkley, Rep. Allyson Schwartz, Rep. Dan Burton, Rep. Artur Davis, Rep. Susan Davis, Rep. Darrell Issa, Rep. Edward Markey, Rep. Niki Tsongas, Rep. John Yarmuth, and Rep. Don Young.  We are receiving more responses every day, so be sure to register.

JCPA Plenum to Address the Genocide in Darfur - Register at www.jcpaplenum.org   On Sunday, March 1st, JCPA will host a forum entitled Genocide: Can We Make "Never Again" More Than a Slogan? This panel will feature Jerry Fowler, President of the Save Darfur Coalition, and Roberta Cohen of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights.  The campaign to end the genocide in Darfur has inspired millions of Americans, including many in the Jewish community, into concerted action.  Despite these efforts, the international community has yet to respond effectively to the humanitarian disaster in the Sudan and crises taking place elsewhere.  This session will examine what can be done to create global mechanisms that will adequately address genocides and mass atrocities.   

The JCPA Plenum will also host a workshop entitled "B'tzelem Elokim: Anti-Genocide and Human Rights Programming."  All human beings are created in the image of G-d.  After five years, the genocide in Darfur still continues.  Millions have been left to fend for themselves and their families in refugee camps, many with limited food supplies and contaminated water.  Join us for a discussion about how the Jewish community should be engaging in activism focused on preventing atrocities committed against groups due to their ethnic, religious, and racial identity.

To learn about this session and others visit www.jcpaplenum.org to register for 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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