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JCPA Insider
Volume 12, Number 14
April 27, 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
Op-Ed: Act to Stop a Nuclear Iran. Martin Raffel, JCPA's Senior Vice President, writes in JTA, "Why hasn't prevention of a nuclear-armed Iran become a priority of the highest order for the American Jewish community, particularly at the grass roots? Many national agencies, including mine, have long urged more intense activism. One hears many reasons for the relatively low-key response, including an overwhelming media focus on the domestic and global economic crisis. Iran does tend to be underplayed in the press. The story about a Chinese businessman being indicted for using New York banks to buy Iran materials to make nuclear weapons was buried deep inside The New York Times, while a human interest piece about the use of the Internet to return a lost camera made the front page. In addition, the Iraq "syndrome" has had a chilling effect on any possible U.S. intervention in the Middle East. Some in our community maintain that the Iranian threat just doesn't seem "real." After all, they say, "we have been hearing warnings for many years and nothing has happened yet. Even if they get a weapon, they would never use it, fearing an Israeli nuclear reprisal." Some things are so dreadful that we just do not want to think about them." Read the full op-ed here.
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Yom Ha'Zikaron and Yom Ha'Atzmaut Begin. Tonight, April 27, marks the beginning of Yom Ha'Zikaron, Israel's Memorial Day, when we commemorate all those who have fallen. On this day the entire nation remembers its debt and expresses eternal gratitude to its sons and daughters who gave their lives for the achievement of the country's independence and its continued existence. On Tuesday morning, ceremonies will commence at 43 IDF military cemeteries located throughout the country following a two-minute siren blast. Israel's flag, adorned with a black ribbon and memorial flame, is placed on each and every grave of those who fell in Israel's battles. A total of 22,570 men and women have been killed defending the Land of Israel since 1860.  In the past year, since Remembrance Day 2008, 133 members of the security forces have been killed in the service of the state. For remarks by President Shimon Peres on Yom Ha'Zikaron in Haaretz, click here.  Tomorrow night, April 28, we will shift from mourning to celebration of Yom Ha'Atzmaut, the State of Israel's 61st year of independence.  For more information from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, click here.  For links on Israeli holidays, history, photography and more, click here.

New Organization Promotes Israeli Arts. Founded in 2008, Omanoot, which means art in Hebrew, is a non-profit organization based in Tel Aviv, Israel. Omanoot's mission is to reveal the cultural, educational and diplomatic power of Israeli art including music, film, visual art and literature. The Omanoot website functions as an online hub of Israeli culture. Users will have free access to experience, purchase, and download various kinds of Israeli art. Omanoot also serves as a resource center for educators, creating unique and innovative lesson plans that teach Israeli art and culture to students in a meaningful way. In honor of Yom Ha'Zikaron and Yom Ha'Atzmaut, Omanoot prepared a lesson plan using Avraham Tal's music video of Adam Tzover Zichronot - A Man Collects Memories - which can be found on their mini-site here. The lesson speaks of the importance of memories, individual and collective, and the important role they play in our lives. Click here to visit the Omanoot website.

Israel is a Finalist in Eurovision Contest.
Israel is a finalist in this year's Eurovision contest with its song "There Must Be Another Way." The song, which is sung by Noa, a Jewish Israeli, and Mira Awad, an Arab musician and actress, promotes coexistence and peace. To hear the song and learn more about Noa and Mira click here. The duo will compete against 24 other countries in the finals on May 16.
Save Darfur
Encourage Vanguard Customers to Vote for Divestment from Funds that Aid Genocide.   Millions of Vanguard proxy ballots will be mailed and emailed to American households. The ballots provide Vanguard customers with a unique opportunity to vote for genocide-free investing.  For shareholders of 30 of its funds, a vote FOR Question 3 indicates they do not want Vanguard to invest their family savings in companies that substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity.  

Whether or not you are a customer, we need your help to get out the vote.  Please forward this email to friends and family and also use other means such as social networking sites, blogs, group meetings, and bulletin boards to spread the word.  We need to reach as many voters as possible since many people ignore proxy ballots assuming they contain no issues of interest.  Click here (or the link below) for materials you can use to help spread the word.

Whether you are a customer or not, please click here to send email to Vanguard telling them to immediately divest the problem companies and become more transparent about their policy on companies tied to human tights abuses.
This Week in Washington
This Week in Washington.  This week, Congress is in session and will consider several major pieces of legislation including FY2010 Budget and the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  President Obama is also in Washington this week.  The Supreme Court will also be in session this week and will hear oral arguments.  

FY2010 Budget. Last week, the budget conferees reached a tentative deal on some of the major sticking points between the House and Senate versions of the budget. This week, the House and Senate hope to finalize the FY2010 Budget Conference Report, with a formal conference meeting today, a House vote on Tuesday, and a Senate vote as early as Wednesday.

One of the biggest debates in the budget conference process was whether or not to include “reconciliation instructions,” for healthcare reform, and legislation changing the student loans process. Reconciliation is a “fast-track” procedure that would prevent the possibility of a filibuster on these large-scale reforms. While the Democrats say that it would only be a measure of last resort, Republicans argue that it signals an unwillingness to negotiate seriously and pass bipartisan legislation. The House-passed Budget included reconciliation instructions, while the Senate-passed version did not. Under the agreement reached last week, reconciliation instructions will be included.

Once the budget is adopted the House and Senate appropriations committees can begin marking up their annual discretionary spending bills.

Hate Crimes Bill. This week, the House of Representatives will consider the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  This critical piece of legislation would expand the federal definition of a hate crime to include those acts of violence committed because of a gender, gender-identity, sexual-orientation, or disability bias.  Further, it would provide additional federal resources to support and augment state and local efforts to fight bias.  This legislation has been a top priority of JCPA and many of our member agencies including ADL.  

Nominations. This week the Senate will vote on the confirmation of Governor Kathleen Sebelius to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
JCPA Programs
Remember to register for the JCPA June Meetings, June 7 & 8.  www.jewishpublicaffairs.org.

On Monday, June 8th, JCPA leadership will hear from Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev.  Shalev will discuss Israel's standing in the international community, including its relationship with the United Nations.  Ambassador Shalev will provide an "insider" view of how Israel, with the help of the United States and other allies, can improve the way the UN responds to Israel/Middle East-related matters.

Ambassador Gabriela Shalev has served as Israel's ambassador to the United Nations since September 8, 2008.  Previously, Shalev served as President of the Academic Council and Rector of Ono Academic College in Israel. Until her early retirement in 2002, she was a full professor of contract law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has taught contract law and comparative law in universities across the United States, Europe, and Canada. She is a leading expert in Israel in the fields of contract law and procurement contracts.

On Sunday, June 7th, JCPA's Task Forces on Israel, World Jewry, and International Human Rights and Jewish Security & The Bill of Rights will hold a joint session on interfaith relations.  

With the Lutheran, Episcopal, and Congregationalist churches all holding policy conventions this summer, the June meetings is a timely opportunity for a discussion on Jewish relations with these groups and their views on Israel and Middle East affairs. JCPA has confirmed Dr. Peter Petit, Interfaith Director at Muhlenberg College, to speak about what we can expect from these conventions and approaches the Jewish community should take to mitigate negative attitudes toward Israel.

Peter A. Pettit is director of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding and teaches in the Religion Studies department.  He has been active in Christian-Jewish dialogue for more than 25 years, giving leadership in local, national and international settings.  He is a contributor to the Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations, Seeing Judaism Anew and Covenantal Conversations, and co-authored Talking Points: Topics in Jewish-Christian Relations for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  His research and writing ranges across biblical studies, theology, liturgy and Israel studies, informing a broad array of presentation topics for lay and professional audiences.  His courses at Muhlenberg College focus on both the history and present dynamics of the Jewish-Christian relationship and include a travel seminar that traces post-Holocaust developments in the relationship in Europe.
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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