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JCPA Insider
Volume 12, Number 15
May 4, 2009

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In This Issue
Iran Initiative
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Save Darfur
Interfaith Encounter
This Week in Washington
Condolences
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
Ahmadinejad: Zionist Regime Will Be Uprooted. Israel must "stop its crimes" against the Palestinians or "the strong hand of nations will root them out," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  said May 3 in a speech in the Iranian city of Karaj. The website of the Iranian IRIB news agency quoted him as saying that, "The era of aggression of the Zionist regime and its supporters has come to an end" and emphasizing that "just as (Israel) was created, it can be dismantled." He denied Israel's legitimacy, saying that "for 60 years, they have told lies and tried to defraud nations in order to create the germ called the Zionist regime" and added that "Zionism contributes nothing other than aggression, mass murder, terror and threats." In reference to the political situation in the region, Ahmadinejad asserted that "recently, the Zionist entity gave the Palestinian people an ultimatum to leave their homes in order to destroy them and place a pack of professional thieves, who come from other places in the world, in their place." Slamming the international community, he asked "where is the United Nations Secretary-General to transfer the cry of the Palestinian people to the ears of the world? Where are the supporters of human rights and democracy?" Read the full article here.

Of Limits and Ahmadinejad. Laura Kam writes in an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post," Yesh gvul is Hebrew for there is a limit - and I reached mine sitting in the UN Plenary in Geneva listening to Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I am a daughter of two Holocaust survivors. My grandparents (the ones who survived) and all of my aunts and uncles were Holocaust survivors. Their friends were almost all Holocaust survivors as well. I too, in my way, have lived the Holocaust and on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, listening to Ahmadinejad question the veracity of the Holocaust offended me to the very depths of my soul in a way that was shocking, even to myself. That the Iranian president had the audacity to use the platform afforded him at the UN to refer to the Holocaust as "the pretext of Jewish suffering... in order to establish a totally racist government in occupied Palestine" was a moral travesty in and of itself. Given the background of my own family and the history European Jewry, such a statement can hardly be exceeded in the depth of its insidiousness. It is one thing to read Ahmadinejad's blatant and outrageous layout of historical facts in the news, but it definitely is a different experience seeing this man walking up a stage in close proximity and talking literally to the world. Suddenly my heart pounded widely and I almost felt suffocated knowing that the president of Iran, whose nation is working furiously to develop nuclear weapons that will target the very place where half of the world's Jewish people now reside, was dismissing the veracity of Israel's existence." To read the full article click here.
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Michael Oren Appointed Israel's Ambassador to the US. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman met this weekend to agree on the appointment of Dr. Michael Oren to the post of Israel's ambassador to the United States. He is expected to replace the current ambassador, Salai Meridor, in the coming weeks. The change will coincide with Netanyahu's first state visit to Washington, scheduled for May 16th-19th, and Oren will likely accompany the Prime Minister in his meetings with the American leadership. Meridor asked to resign from him post following the elections and the change of leadership in Israel. Netanyahu and Lieberman agreed on Oren's appointment this weekend, after Lieberman met with and approved Netanyahu's candidate. Read the full article from Ynet here.

In Israel, Solar Power that Won't Need Subsidies. In a country that ranks among the world's highest for average number of sunny days per year, solar energy has long been seen as a key natural resource here. All the more fitting that on the eve of its Independence Day Israel launched what it said was the first solar farm of its kind, billed as a breakthrough that will make it affordable to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. The technology, a system of rotating dishes made up of mirrors, is capable of harnessing up to 75 percent of incoming sunlight - roughly five times the capacity of traditional solar panels. In addition, using mirrors to reduce the number of photovoltaic cells needed, it makes the cost of solar energy roughly comparable to fossil fuels. While this technology has been implemented elsewhere, Israeli start-up ZenithSolar - working in conjunction with Israel's Ben-Gurion University - is a pioneer in combining it with a water-based cooling system that increases the photovoltaic cells' efficiency and produces thermal energy to boot. Read the full article here.
Save Darfur

Going to Jail to Fight for Genocide:  By Rabbi David Saperstein and John Prendergast.  Despite what some UN diplomats and squeamish academics might be saying, the genocide by attrition continues in Darfur, through the use of rape and denial of humanitarian assistance as weapons of war. There are no gas chambers; there are not even the dramatic village burnings of 2003-5 Darfur. But the conditions designed to bring about the destruction - in whole or in part - of particular groups of people on the basis of their identity continues….  To read the entire article please click here.

Interfaith Encounter
JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow in Israel on Interfaith Trip.    Rabbi Steve Gutow is in Jerusalem with a delegation of religious leaders from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities.  The group will be meeting with the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land and other leading religious voices in Israel and the Palestinian territories. The trip is sponsored by the Middle East Partnership Initiative of the U.S. Department of State and coordinated by the Interfaith Cooperative Initiative.
This Week in Washington
This Week in Washington.  Last week marked President Obama's 100th day in office.  This week, President Obama is expected to be in Washington most of the week.  Congress is also in session and will consider several pieces of economic regulation legislation.  The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments this week.  

Retirement of Justice Souter.  Last week, Associate Justice David Souter announced that he plans to retire at the end of the 2008-2009 Supreme Court Session in June.  President Obama plans to have his successor in place by the time the Court convenes in October for the 2009-2010 Session.  This would be President Obama's first chance to nominate a Supreme Court Justice.  Justice Souter was nominated to the Supreme Court by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.  

Hate Crimes Bill.  Last week, the House of Representatives voted 249-175 (http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll223.xml)to approve to adopt the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA).  This bill would expand federal hate crimes protections for vulnerable populations and provide increased federal resources to deter, investigate, and prosecute bias-motivated violence.  This legislation has been a top priority of the Jewish community for over a decade.  Many of JCPA's member agencies, especially ADL, have been deeply engaged in advocated for the passage of this bill.  A companion version LLEHCPA was introduced by Senator Ted Kennedy in the Senate last week as well.  This bill, known as the Matthew Sheppard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, has already attracted 35 co-sponsors.  For more information about this bill, please visit JCPA's STOP THE HATE website.

Budget. Last week, the House and Senate passed the FY2010 Budget Resolution.  The final conference report included a discretionary spending cap that would allow for modest, but above-baseline investments in human needs. It also created a reserve fund for Child Nutrition Programs, and accommodated the possibility of healthcare reform this year. Now that the budget blueprint has passed the House and Senate appropriations committees can begin marking up their annual spending bills, and committees with jurisdiction over healthcare should begin mark-up of health reform legislation before the Memorial Day recess.  

Bankruptcy Reform. Last week, the Senate defeated a proposal that would have given bankruptcy judges the opportunity to change mortgage loan terms to help keep people in their homes. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) had offered the amendment to a housing bill (S 896), but it failed by a vote of 45-51. The House had passed a similar provision in early March, but many Senators expressed reservations with the proposal because it was not limited to sub-prime loans.
Condolences
Maurice Raffel, z"l.  The JCPA sends condolences to JCPA Senior Vice President Martin Raffel and his family on the passing of his father, Maurice Raffel, last week.  Notes of condolence may be sent to Martin c/o JCPA, 116 E. 27th St., 10th floor, New York, NY 10016.  May his memory be for a blessing.
JCPA Programs
2009 June Task Force & Board of Directors Meetings.  Visit www.jewishpublicaffairs.org to register for the June meetings to be held June 7 & 8 at the UJA Federation of New York.  

At the 2009 June Board Meeting:   JCPA leadership will hear from Israeli UN Ambassador 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.

At the Task Force Meetings: JCPA's Task Force on Israel, World Jewry and International Human Rights will offer an analysis of the Netanyahu and Obama administrations, their new policy directions, and diplomacy between our two nations.  This panel will be composed of journalists representing the American, Israeli, and Arab vantage points.   Confirmed to participate is Ami Eden, Executive Editor of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA).  Also scheduled at the task force meeting will be a discussion on Iran's upcoming elections and an analysis of President Obama's new policy approaches toward Iran.

JCPA's Task Force on Jewish Security and The Bill of Rights will hold a discussion on new policies adopted by the Obama administration on torture and the release of White House memos from the Bush administration and closing of Guantanamo Bay Prison.  
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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