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Volume 12, Number 6
February 23, 2009

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In This Issue
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Save Darfur
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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JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Editorial: The Clownish United Nations Human Rights Council Hits New Heights of Absurdity. What do these have in common: genocide in Darfur; child soldiers in Chad and Congo; compulsory sterilization of women in China; suppression of dissent in Cuba, Iran, Syria and Russia; rape as a political weapon in Zimbabwe; sex trafficking in Asia; denial of human rights to minorities and women in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries? Answer: None of those gross abuses has drawn the notice of the United Nations Human Rights Council. No, the council has had other matters to attend to, the vast majority of which focused on Israel. Pretty much whenever an Israeli soldier has responded to terrorism, the group has cranked out a formal condemnation. Twenty in less than three years. Read the editorial from the New York Daily News here.

Op-Ed: Gaza Has Been Hit Hard, But Does it Make Any Difference? The death toll is staggering, but what many Gazans find most amazing is the ratio of Israeli war dead to Palestinian. For each of the 13 Israelis (three civilians and ten soldiers) who died during operation Cast Lead, more than a hundred Palestinians died."Is an Israeli life really worth a hundred of us?" asked a hawker called Mahmoud, next to a bombed mosque. I knew Gaza well before the attacks, so when Israel ended its ban on foreign journalists reaching Gaza on the day the ceasefire was announced, I was able to see for myself. One thing was clear. Gaza City 2009 is not Stalingrad 1944. There had been no carpet bombing of large areas, no firebombing of complete suburbs. Targets had been selected and then hit, often several times, but almost always with precision munitions. Buildings nearby had been damaged and there had been some clear mistakes, like the firebombing of the UN aid headquarters. But, in most the cases, I saw the primary target had borne the brunt. Read the article from the Telegraph here.

Israeli Response to Amnesty International Report. In response to questions by the media, following is the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs response to Amnesty International's report on use of weapons in Operation Cast Lead. Initial study of the report indicates that it presents a biased version of the events, and does not adhere to professional criteria and objectivity. Click here to read the response.
Save Darfur
An inkling of Hope, Justice for Darfur.  The pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court is soon expected to formally announce an arrest warrant against the president of Sudan, Omar Al Bashir, for crimes in Darfur. When word reaches Darfuri refugees over short-wave radio, a rare cry of jubilation will echo across their sprawling camps. As 33-year-old Amira of Oure Cassoni camp told me: "Only if Omar Al Bashir is arrested can there be peace in Sudan."  In the short term, Amira's hope is unlikely to be fulfilled. It is the Sudanese government's responsibility to execute the arrest warrant, and it will not hand over its own president anytime soon. And yet the court's announcement should not be dismissed as (yet more) words in lieu of action.  Click here to read the entire op-ed by Rebecca Hamilton in the Boston Globe, Saturday February 21st.
This Week in Washington
This Week in Washington.  This week, Congress returns from the President's Day Recess to consider several important bills.  On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama will address a joint session of Congress.  He will focus primarily on current economic conditions.  The Supreme Court will resume hearing oral arguments this week.  

DC Voting Rights.  The United States Senate is scheduled to debate S. 160, District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009.  This legislation would permanently expand the House of Representatives to 437 Representatives.  The District of Columbia would receive one permanent Representative.  Utah would receive the second seat until reapportionment after the 2010 census.  Currently, the District of Columbia is only represented in Congress by non-voting Delegate.  This legislation would replace the District's delegate with a full, voting Representative.   A similar piece of legislation was considered in the past Congress but was derailed by Senate filibuster.  The House Judiciary Committee is expected to consider a companion version of the Senate bill, H.R. 157 this week as well.  

Economic Recovery Package. On Monday, February 16th, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. According to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, 74.2 percent of the bill's $787.2 billion total would go into the economy by the end of FY2010.  

FY2009 Appropriations. This week, the House is scheduled to debate an omnibus bill that combines the nine remaining FY2009 appropriations bills. The Senate is slated to take up the same measure later this week or early next week. Due to a stand-off between Congress and the President over funding levels last fall, Congress chose to wait until President Obama took office before completing work on the bills. Last year, President Bush signed the appropriations bills for Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs, while the rest of the government was funded on a continuing resolution that will expire on March 6th. The remaining nine FY2009 bills will cost roughly $410 billion.

Fiscal Responsibility Summit and FY2010 Budget. Today, President Obama is convening a "fiscal responsibility summit" to discuss long-term budget issues. Policymakers from both parties and watchdog groups will break out into groups focusing on healthcare, Social Security, defense spending, the budget process and government procurement. On Thursday, February 26th, President Obama will release his top-line budget for FY2010. Because this is a newly-elected administration, this document will outline the President's priorities for FY2010, although the more-detailed budget will not be available until late March or early April. Thursday's release is expected to contain top-line budget figures highlighting how much the president would like to spend in each department as well as major policy proposals for each agency.  President Obama has indicated that he intends to incorporate all of the war supplemental and emergency appropriations (that had previously not been incorporated into budget estimates) to present a more realistic deficit picture.
JCPA Plenum
Senator Amy Klobuchar is confirmed to speak at the JCPA Plenum. Senator Klobuchar will address Plenum delegates on green jobs and the economy. In 2006, Amy Klobuchar became the first woman elected to represent the State of Minnesota in the U. S. Senate. Amy quickly established herself as a leader determined to get results. On issues from consumer protection to renewable energy; from developing our rural economy to combating climate change to reforming our government, Amy has been a strong advocate for middle-class families and Minnesota values. Amy introduced legislation to secure health and education benefits for our nation's veterans. She took on the cell phone companies for more consumer-friendly policies. And she helped pass the most sweeping ethics reform since Watergate. Her work has gained national recognition. Working Mother Magazine named her as a 2008 "Best in Congress" for her efforts on behalf of working families. The American Prospect named her a "woman to watch." The Washington Post has described Klobuchar as "a rising star" and "a leading proponent of efforts to combat climate change," not to mention "the funniest new member of Congress." Join us for this session on Tuesday, March 3rd at the JCPA Plenum.  

To see the entire roster of Plenum speakers and to register, visit www.jcpaplenum.org.
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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