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Volume 12, Number 13
April 20, 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

Delegates Walk-Out on Ahmadinejad at Durban Conference. A stream of delegates from France and other European nations walked out of a United Nations conference in Geneva on April 20 in protest during a speech by the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who criticized the formation of a "racist government" in the Middle East in a clear reference to Israel. Sharpening the dispute over the Iranian presence, Israel also recalled its ambassador to Switzerland for "consultations" on Monday in protest against the conference and a meeting held Sunday between the Swiss president, Hans-Rudolf Merz, and Mr. Ahmadinejad. As Mr. Ahmadinejad took the podium, two protesters, wearing colored wigs and shouting "Racist!" attempted to disrupt the beginning of Mr. Ahmadinejad's speech but were quickly hauled out by security officers, and he continued speaking. In his remarks, Mr. Ahmadinejad said the formation of the state of Israel left "an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering" in order "to establish a totally racist government." In response, dozens of delegates stood up and filed out of the room. Cheers erupted from the audience galleries. Read the full article from the New York Times here.

Clowns Interrupt Ahmadinejad. Three clowns interrupted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech in Geneva just as he was taking the podium on April 20. The rainbow-colored wig-wearing youngsters were Rafael Haddad, Jonathan Hayoun and Jeremy Cohen, three Jewish French students from L'Union des Etudiants Juifs de France (UFJ), the union of Jewish French students. They positioned themselves at opposite ends of the hall when Ahmadinejad took the stage, and as he uttered his first words whipped out the clown wigs from their pockets and yelled 'racist' at the Iranian president. The students said they wore clown outfits in order to "show that this speech and the entire conference is a circus." Later in Ahmadinejad's speech, Israeli students shouted "you are the racist" from the balcony of the conference hall. Boaz Toporovsky, head of the Israeli Student Organization and two female students succeeded in infiltrating the hall from one of the balcony doors after being refused entrance at the main floor. Read the article from the Jerusalem Post here.

Iran Jails American Journalist as US Spy. An Iranian-American journalist branded a US spy has been jailed for eight years by Iran after a brief trial held behind closed doors. Roxana Saberi, 31, who was arrested in January and went on trial this week, denies the charge and plans to go on a hunger strike, her father said. Ms Saberi has reported for a number of foreign news organisations including the BBC, NPR radio and Fox News. A spokesman said the US president was "deeply disappointed" at the outcome. The journalist originally faced the less serious accusation of buying alcohol, and later of working as a journalist without a valid press card. Then, in a period of less than two weeks, the charge of spying was introduced, and she was tried by the Revolutionary Court and sentenced. No evidence of espionage was made public.  Read the full article from the BBC here.

JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Thank Countries That Decided Not To Attend Durban II.  The United States, Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, and Poland decided not to attend the Durban Conference in Geneva in protest of the inclusion of anti-Israel language and sentiments. Please write letters and make phone calls to the representatives of all these countries and communicate our acknowledgement and appreciation of their decision. For a list of contacts for each country please see a full list here.

UN Watch Turns the Tables on Libya at Durban. UNWatch brought a victim of Qaddafi torture to confront the Libyan chair on Libya's brutal torture and scapegoating of five Bulgairan nurses and a Palestinian doctor. The chair, Mrs. Najjat al-Hajjaji, chaired the Durban II Preparatory Committee for the past two years and was just elected chair of the Durban II Main Committee. More information and the video clip can be found here.

Israeli Ambassador to Switzerland Recalled. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman decided this morning (Monday, April 20 2009) to recall Israeli ambassador to Switzerland Ilan Elgar home for consultations in protest against the meeting of Hans-Rudolph Metz, President of the Swiss Confederation, with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. "The meeting of a president of a democratic country with a notorious Holocaust denier such as the Iranian president, who has openly declared his intention of wiping Israel off the map, is not in keeping with the values represented by Switzerland - values that are supposed to be displayed at the UN Conference Against Racism (Durban 2), which opened today in Geneva. The incident is further aggravated by the fact that the meeting took place on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day when we commemorate the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust." Read the press release from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.

Saving Shanghai's Jewish Past, Headstone by Headstone.
In Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, Western philanthropists and volunteers are restoring dozens of historic Jewish cemeteries. But in Shanghai, there are none to restore. The four cemeteries that once served this city's small but prosperous Jewish community disappeared in the late 1960s during China's Cultural Revolution. The sites were paved over to build a factory, park, hotel and Muslim cemetery, their history forgotten. Israeli photojournalist Dvir Bar-Gal is trying to change that. While the cemeteries may be gone, since 2001 Bar-Gal has made it his mission to track down as many of the original headstones as possible. He has located 85 and hopes to use them in a memorial to Shanghai's Jewish past. The project has kept Bar-Gal in Shanghai for more than seven years, and he is waiting for government permission to erect the memorial. The clock is ticking, he says. Read the article from JTA here.
Save Darfur
Sudan to Allow Return of Darfur Aid.  The Sudanese government has agreed to allow some aid groups back into the war-torn western Darfur region, more than a month after over a dozen aid groups were expelled from the area, a visiting US senator says. "Thanks to the leadership of the [US] president's special envoy, General Scott Gration, and thanks to the willingness of the government here to engage in a new dialogue with us, some of that capacity for humanitarian assistance will be restored," John Kerry said on Thursday.  Kerry was speaking to reporters in Khartoum on Thursday after meeting senior members of the Sudanese government.  Click here to read the full article.
This Week in Washington
This Week in Washington.  This week, Congress is in session and will consider several important pieces of legislation.  The Senate will also consider the nomination of Ambassador Christopher Hill to be the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq.  President Obama has returned from his trip to Latin America and will be in Washington.  The Supreme Court is in session and will hear oral arguments in several civil rights cases this week.  

Hate Crimes.  This week, the House Judiciary Committee will consider the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention (LLEHCPA).  This legislation has been a top priority for JCPA and our member agencies for over a decade.  ADL has been a national leader on this issue.  This bill would expand federal hate crimes laws to include crimes committed based on a gender, gender-identity, sexual orientation or disability bias.  It would also provide additional federal resources designed to support local law enforcement efforts and authorize the federal Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute hate crimes cases when local authorities are either unable or unwilling to do so.  

JCPA has recently launched our STOP THE HATE initiative to push for the passage of this legislation.  To take action and email your members of congress, please click here.

Civil Rights Cases. 
The Supreme Court will hear two important civil rights cases this week: RICCI V. DESTEFANO and NORTHWEST AUSTIN MUN. UTIL. V. HOLDER.  The Ricci Case directly challenges the New Haven, CT's decision to throw out an employment test results.  The results of this test would effectively prevent the promotion of minority candidates.  The second case, poses the constitutionality of the recent extension of Section 5 (preclearance provisions) of the Voting Rights Act.  Both arguments will be heard by the Supreme Court on Wednesday, April 22, 2009.  
Budget Conference Report Negotiations. This week, the House and Senate will begin negotiating a FY2010 Budget Conference Report, which will serve as a blueprint for spending and revenue collection for the year. Before breaking for a two-week recess, the House and Senate each passed their own budget resolutions the week of March 30. While the outlines are largely similar, there are some key differences that require compromise in order to arrive at a final budget resolution. Major points of negotiation include: discretionary spending levels, budget reconciliation on healthcare reform, and pay-as-you-go rules. The House-passed budget resolution sets aside $8 billion more than the Senate for discretionary spending, and includes instructions for budget reconciliation on healthcare reform. This means that the Democrats could win on healthcare reform votes by a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes typically needed to stave off a filibuster. The House budget resolution also includes language that calls for passage of a statutory "pay-as-you-go" bill, which means that tax cuts or entitlement spending increases would have to be offset, while the Senate resolution does not contain language calling for such a statute. President Obama is expected to issue a more detailed budget request the week of May 4th, and Congress could pass the final budget resolution as late as Memorial Day.
JCPA Programs
JCPA 2009 June Task Force and Board of Directors Meetings
Sunday June 7 & Monday June 8, 2009

UJA-Federation of New York
130 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022
 
SUNDAY - June 7th
1:00 - 5:30p.m.    Task Force Meetings (concurrent)
                     Equal Opportunity & Social Justice
                     Israel, World Jewry, & International Human Rights
                     Jewish Security & The Bill of Rights
5:30p.m.         Reception
(Task force meeting agendas and materials will be sent under separate cover.)

6:00 - 9p.m.        Executive Committee Dinner
(By invitation - committee members only)


MONDAY - June 8th
8:30 - 9:45 a.m.    Plenum Planning Meeting
(By invitation - committee members only)
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.    Board of Directors Meeting
(Lunch will be served.  Task force members are invited and encouraged to attend the Board of Directors meeting.)

Click Here to Register for the Meetings Online!

Hotel Reservations.  A limited block of hotel rooms is available on a first come, first serve basis at the following hotel.  The deadline for reservations is listed below - after that date all rooms will be released for general sale, and reservations will be based on availability.  If you plan to arrive early, we suggest that you request an early check in or give your arrival time to the hotel.
 
Radisson Lexington Hotel, 511 Lexington Avenue, New York (at 48th Street).  Rates are $219 net, single/double occupancy for Saturday, June 6th and $199 net single/double occupancy for Sunday, June 7th.  For reservations, please call (212) 755-4400 or (800) 333-3333 and ask for 0906JCPA06 room block.  The reservation deadline is Thursday May 7th.
 
Please do not hesitate to contact the JCPA office with any questions.
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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