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JCPA Insider
Volume 12, Number 16
May 11, 2009

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In This Issue
Iran Initiative
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Save Darfur
Interfaith Encounter
This Week in Washington
Congratulations
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

Iranian-American Journalist Freed. The Iranian-American journalist jailed in Iran, Roxana Saberi, has been freed from prison after having her sentence for spying reduced. Lawyers for the 31-year-old, whose imprisoning sparked a global outcry, said she left Tehran's Evin jail hours after her eight-year term was cut. She will be able to leave the country but has been banned from working as a journalist in Iran for five years. She was freed following an appeal hearing earlier on Monday which lasted five hours - far longer than the original trial. Some accounts of the hearing said Ms Saberi - looking a little bewildered - had visibly lost weight from the two-week hunger strike that she only recently ended.  Details of the evidence against her have still not been made public, and it is not clear why the appeal hearing was brought forward. Read the article from the BBC here.


Iran Bans Nobel Laureate's Aide from Traveling. Iran has banned an aide to Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi and a peace activist from travelling abroad, Ebadi's rights group the Human Rights Defenders Centre said on its website on May 10. Narges Mohammadi, deputy head of the centre, and Soraya Azizpanah were stopped on Friday at Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport as they were headed to Guatemala, the group said. It said the two women were on way to Guatemala to speak about the role of women in democracy at a conference being held from May 10 to 12. "They were prevented from travelling after their passports were stamped... and they were about to board," it said. "Officials seized their passports and they have to report to the revolutionary court." The centre founded by five prominent human rights lawyer and headed by Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel peace winner, has faced mounting pressure in recent months and its office was shut down in a police raid in December. The centre's former secretary Jinous Sobhani was detained for about two months for links with the banned Bahai faith and released on bail in March. The group is an outspoken critic of the human rights situation in Iran. Read the article from the AFP here.


Report: Iran Could Have Enough Material For Nukes in Months. A U.S. Senate report released May 7 says some experts predict Iran could have enough material for a nuclear bomb in six months. The staff report of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says efforts so far to stop Iran's nuclear program have failed and that the real status of Iran's nuclear program is unknown.  "There is no sign that Iran's leaders have ordered up a bomb. But unclassified interviews conducted by a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff make clear that Iran has moved closer to completing the three components for a nuclear weapon-fissile material, warhead design and delivery system," the report says. "... A foreign intelligence agency and some U.N. officials estimated that Iran could reconfigure its centrifuge cascades and produce enough weapons-grade material for a bomb within six months." Read the article from CNN here.

JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative

The Hamas 'Peace' Gambit. Charles Krauthammer writes for the Washington Post, "The Times conducted a five-hour interview with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal at his Damascus headquarters. Mirabile dictu, they're offering a peace plan with a two-state solution. Except. The offer is not a peace but a truce that expires after 10 years. Meaning that after Israel has fatally weakened itself by settling millions of hostile Arab refugees in its midst, and after a decade of Hamas arming itself within a Palestinian state that narrows Israel to eight miles wide -- Hamas restarts the war against a country it remains pledged to eradicate. There is a phrase for such a peace: the peace of the grave. Westerners may be stupid, but Hamas is not. It sees the new American administration making overtures to Iran and Syria. It sees Europe, led by Britain, beginning to accept Hezbollah. It sees itself as next in line. And it knows what to do. Yasser Arafat wrote the playbook." Read the full op-ed here.


The Journal of Israel Innovation. A new publication has been launched to feature cutting-edge innovation emerging from Israel. The Journal of Israel Innovation (JII) is an international publication featuring developments in Israel's top business sectors including life sciences, cleantech and renewable energy, agritech and functional foods, nanotechnology and other emerging knowledge-based sectors. According to Founder Robin JR Blatt, who serves as an Officer and Adjunct Faculty Member at the Harvard School of Public Health and is the Publisher of The Journal of BioLaw & Business, "Israeli researchers and entrepreneurs are developing tremendous technologies that are improving global public health. The Journal of Israel Innovation is designed to feature new technologies, showcase innovation underway and catalyze collaborations and accelerate the introduction of technology to improve global public health and the environment."  For more information please contact robinblatt@biogenuity.com or visit http://www.biolawbusiness.com.
 

A Palestinian Remembers the Holocaust. A few weeks ago, the world commemorated Holocaust Day with memorials, moments of silence, and time taken to remember the lives of loved ones lost. For years this day has been a source of internal conflict for me as a Palestinian, so this year my wife Marie and I decided to hold our own memorial by doing something I have put off for a long time: we watched the movie "Schindler's List." It was my first time seeing the movie, which tells the story of a German man who risked his life to save hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust. Although it may seem strange for a Palestinian to take time out to remember the Holocaust, I felt it was an important step for me. I needed to connect with the pain of those who suffered, and I needed to go beyond nationality to acknowledge the loss of human life. I must admit that growing up I did not know much about the Holocaust. As Palestinians, we simply did not learn about it. Read the article from Ha'aretz here.

Save Darfur
Mia Farrow ends Darfur fast, Branson takes over.  Actress Mia Farrow, ailing after almost two weeks on a hunger strike, announced on Friday that British billionaire Richard Branson would take over her protest in solidarity with people in Sudan's conflict-torn Darfur region.  A Farrow spokesman said her health had deteriorated in the past few days and her doctor requested that she end the liquids-only fast she began 12 days ago to protest Khartoum's expulsion of more than a dozen aid agencies from Darfur.  Farrow asked Branson to take over the fast, her statement said, adding that the British entrepreneur had accepted and would begin a three-day hunger strike on Friday.  "We all need to stand up and demand that international aid is restored and that the people of Darfur are protected and given the chance to live in peace," Branson was quoted as saying in the statement.  Click here to read the entire article.  Click here to read the entire article.
Interfaith Encounter
Please see JCPA's Latest Press Release on the Pope's Journey to the Middle East.  The Pope's visit to the Middle East this week highlights the remarkable strides that have and continue to occur in the Catholic-Jewish and Vatican-Israel relationships, said a leading Jewish advocacy organization. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) extends its warm wishes to Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of his first official visit to Israel since becoming Pope in 2005.  Click here to read JCPA's entire statement.
This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington.  This week, Congress is in session and considering several important pieces of legislation.  The President is in Washington during the first half of the week and will travel to Arizona, New Mexico and Indiana.  He will deliver addresses to the graduating classes of Arizona State University and Notre Dame University.  The Supreme Court is in session this week, but will not be hearing oral arguments. 

Greening Schools.  This week, the House of Representatives will consider legislation that would establish a grant program to upgrade and weatherize school facilities.  These grants would help school districts improve their buildings so that they use less energy and are more sustainable.  This bill would authorize $6.4 billion for the 2010 Fiscal Year.

War Supplemental.  This week, the House is expected to consider a $96.7 billion war supplemental spending bill.  This legislation will fund the ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.   It also includes $400 million for counter-insurgency operations in Pakistan. 

Credit Card Bill.  The Senate is scheduled to debate a credit card reform bill this week.  A bipartisan substitute amendment will be offered to this bill.  Though the exact language is not yet finalized, a similar bill includes provisions that would prevent credit card companies from arbitrarily raising interest rates and marketing their credit cards to minors.  The legislation also included increased penalties for "abusive" credit card company policies. 

Congratulations
Urban League to Honor Birmingham JCRC Project.  The Birmingham JCRC is to be honored at the Urban League's 14th Annual Multi-Racial Friendship event which recognizes individuals in the greater Birmingham area who have maintained longstanding and/or ongoing relationships with persons of another racial and/or ethnic background.

For the first time, the Urban League has selected a group to receive this honor. The group is "Sisters/Chaverim," an African-American and Jewish women's dialogue group that has evolved through the Birmingham Jewish Federation's Jewish Community Relations Committee (JCRC).

The group, an outgrowth of a JCRC program with leaders from Birmingham's African-American community, has been meeting regularly and programming together for the past year. The League offered particular recognition to BJF Assistant Executive Director Joyce Spielberger, for her leadership and dedication to the group's continuous work towards stronger relations between the local Jewish and African American communities.

JCPA Programs

Visit www.jewishpublicaffairs.org to register for the 2009 June meetings.  The task force meetings will be held on Sunday, June 7th followed by the Board meeting on Monday June 8th.  All meets are held at the UJA Federation of New York located at 130 East 59th Street in New York City.

JCPA's Task Force on Israel, World Jewry, and International Human Rights will hear from Michael Singh, associate fellow of The Washington Institute and former senior director for Middle East affairs on the National Security Council (NSC).  Michael will speak about Iran's upcoming elections and the new approaches taken by the Obama administration. Michael's full bio can be found here.

JCPA has also confirmed Gabor Rona, International Legal Director of Human Rights First, to speak before JCPA's Task Force on Jewish Security & The Bill of Rights on Sunday June 7th.  He will discuss President Obama's decision to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp and the future of detainees and their legal status.  President Obama has withdrawn support for many of the interrogation techniques endorsed by the previous administration and released classified memos on the use of water boarding and other techniques in violation of the Geneva Convention.  Gabor will give us his thoughts on these actions taken by the President and how the United States will address the issue of detainees in a post-Guantanamo era.

Additional confirmed speakers include: Ambassador Gabriela Shalev who will address JCPA leadership at the 2009 June Board meeting.  Confirmed to speak at the meeting of the task forces include Barbara Weinstein, Legislative Director at the Religious Action Center, Ami Eden, Editor-in-Chief of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and many more…..

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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