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Volume 12, Number 17
May 18, 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
Netanyhu and Obama Have a Shared Interest in Iran. Can the United States and its European allies peacefully prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons? And if not, would Israel try to do so militarily, even if doing so greatly angered President Barack Obama? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Washington today. These questions could well make or break his premiership and Mr. Obama's presidency. With increasing vigor and resources, the clerical regime has advanced a massive -- and until 2002 clandestine -- program for producing fissile material. It's a good bet that the Europeans have never really believed that Iran could be deterred from developing a bomb by either engagement or sanctions acceptable to all of the EU's members. Nevertheless, the Europeans have tried, offering generous trade and credit terms while psychologically stroking the Islamic Republic. Read the op-ed from the Wall Street Journal here.

Iranian Leader: Don't Vote for pro-Western candidates. Iran's supreme leader urged the public Monday not to vote for pro-Western candidates in the June 12 presidential election, though he gave no clear indication of whether he is supporting hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The critical election pits Ahmadinejad against reformist challengers at a time when the United States - under the Obama administration - is pursuing dialogue with its longtime adversary after years of shunning Iran. The reformists seek an easing of social and political restrictions at home and better ties with the West. They see a strong opportunity to unseat Ahmadinejad, who has become increasingly unpopular because of Iran's economic woes. Critics also say he has needlessly enflamed world anger with his statements casting doubt on the Holocaust and calling U.N. resolutions "worthless papers. Challenging his re-election bid are a conservative former Revolutionary Guards commander and two reformist candidates who have attacked him over his handling of the economy and for pursuing a hard-line foreign policy that they say has plunged Iran deeper into international isolation. Read the article here.

An Iranian in Israel. The plane has landed at Ben Gurion Airport and I am trying to prepare myself for what is to come. I am going to be interrogated for several hours. I know this for a fact and I try to think of the questions they will ask and the answers I will give. The very first question, however, surprises me: "Are you Jewish?" I thought they would be more subtle about it. No, I answer, and I'm guided to the 'non-Jew' line. The officer takes a look at my passport, and asks me to wait. After a few minutes, he comes back and asks for my Iranian passport. How do they know I have an Iranian passport on me?... Walking around the streets of Tel Aviv, I am struck by the Western nature of life: modern cars, recycling cages for water bottles, clean air, tanned people, juice stands, palm trees, girls in bikinis. There are no signs of war, religious extremism, or any other characteristics this part of the world is known for. The cafés are bustling with people drinking, singing, and having a good time. Can Israel be such a normal country? Click here to read more.
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
President Obama and PM Netanyahu Meet. During his first meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, US President Barack Obama stressed his commitment to a two-state solution to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict, first reports said.  Obama told Netanyahu he believed in the vision of two states living side by side in peace and would work to this end. The president also said he aimed, if possible, to reach this goal before the end of his term. On Iran, Obama said he would not impose a deadline on the American outreach to Iran. This position was in line with previous statements by the US administration. Netanyahu said the Palestinians should rule themselves, but did not mention a Palestinian state. The much-anticipated meeting between Netanyahu and Obama extended for approximately a half-hour more than it was scheduled to last. While Iran and the Palestinian track dominated the talks, diplomatic officials said that what was even more crucial to establish in the first meeting between the two new leaders was trust and confidence in one another. Read coverage from the Jerusalem Post here.

Hamas Wants Acceptance Without Changing Ideology. Leaders of Hamas have begun reaching out to the West with conciliatory words, saying the Islamic militant group wants to be part of a Mideast solution and raising the possibility they would someday accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In the most significant statement so far, Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal told British lawmakers recently that the group is open to "real peace." In Gaza, the Hamas government said last week it is ready to discuss "any approaches and proposals that can lead the region out of its current situation." In a recent interview, Hamas lawmaker Yehiye Moussa said the group is "not demanding to destroy Israel." West Bank legislator Mahmoud Ramahi added that Hamas is ready to talk to the West - stressing the group has nothing in common with the virulently anti-Western al-Qaida. Read the article from the AP here.
Save Darfur
Genocide Step.  Back in 2007, then-candidate Barack Obama minced no words when it came to Sudan. "When you see a genocide, whether it's in Rwanda or Bosnia or in Darfur, that's a stain on all of us," he said. "That's a stain on our souls." Obama is now president, and Darfur is still a mess. What is taking place there today is not simple to describe. People are no longer being killed at the alarming rate of 2003 and 2004. Yet the region continues to attract the world's attention because two million people remain housed in camps where they live on the brink of disease and starvation, with little hope of returning home in the near future. In Germany, Cambodia, and Rwanda, genocides came to a halt when genocidaires were chased from power.  Click here to read this entire article from the New Republic.

First Darfur rebel to appear before Hague court.  A Darfur rebel leader accused of killing African Union peacekeepers in 2007 is expected to appear before the International Criminal Court on Monday and is already in The Hague, the ICC said on Sunday.  Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, who has denied the charges, has shown a willingness to attend the court in response to its summons, the court said in a statement. He flew in to the Netherlands on Sunday.  He would be the first rebel to stand before the ICC after the court's prosecutor accused him and two others of what AU officials called the bloodiest assault on peacekeepers since the Darfur conflict began in 2003.  To read more please click this link.

This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington.  This week, President Barack Obama will be in Washington and will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.  Congress will be in session and will consider several important pieces of legislation including credit card reform.  The Supreme Court will be in session this week but will not hear oral arguments. 

U.S. Congress: This week, The Senate will continue to debate and consider a bill to reform credit card regulations.  The House will vote on several large pieces of legislation including the reauthorization bills for the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration.  The House will also consider a bill that would facilitate the growth of small businesses. 

Climate Change: The House Energy and Commerce Committee is marking up the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. This bill would institute a "Cap and Trade" system to reduce carbon emissions and fight global warming.


JCPA Programs

2009 JCPA Task Force and Board Meetings.  Click Here to register

June 7 - 8, 2009
UJA-Federation of New York
130 East 59th Street New York, NY


At the Task Force Meetings

Israel, World Jewry, & International Human Rights:
ON Sunday, June 7th, 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.

JCPA will host a panel discussing the relationship between 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 serve on this panel is Ami Eden, Editor-in-Chief of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) and Allison Hoffman, recently named a senior writer at Nextbook, an online magazine of Jewish news, arts and culture.  She was previously the New York correspondent for The Jerusalem Post, where she covered the United Nations, New York politics, Jewish communities, and legal and cultural affairs.

Lastly, the IWJIHR task force will hear from Felice Gaer of AJC's Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights.  Felice will discuss the Obama administration and its human rights policies and approaches, including Durban II, the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Darfur and other issues related to international human rights.

Jewish Security & The Bill of Rights:
JCPA has 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. Additionally, task force members will hear from Barbara Weinstein, Legislative Director at the Religious Action Center (RAC).  Barbara will give an analysis on President Obama's appointment to replace Supreme Court Justice Souter and an overall report on the courts.

Equal Opportunity & Social Justice:
The EOSJ taskforce meeting will include a presentation on our upcoming national interfaith mobilization, Fighting Poverty with Faith.  One area where there seems to be a growing consensus among faith-based organizations is the need to promote job creation as a pathway out of poverty. We will discuss how a mobilization around green jobs (the focus of this year's campaign) has strong potential to engage our congregations, member agencies, constituents and affiliates. As we transition to a clean-energy economy and address global climate change, the Jewish community has a unique opportunity to advocate for green jobs and to highlight the needs of (and opportunities for) low-income and minority communities in this transition.

JCPA June Board of Directors Meeting
JCPA leadership will hear from Israeli UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev at Monday's Board meeting.  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

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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