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Volume 12, Number 19
June 1, 2009

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In This Issue
Iran Initiative
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Save Darfur
What's Happening
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
Iran and Hezbollah Plotted Embassy Attack. A trial under way in Azerbaijan of two Hizbullah members and four Azeri collaborators accused of plotting an attack on the Israeli Embassy in Baku, has shed light on a wider effort by Iran to destabilize moderate Muslim states, an Israeli defense official told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.  According to reports published May 31 in the London-based Arabic daily A-Sharq al-Awsat and elsewhere, Azeri officials have accused Iran and Hizbullah of ordering the attack to avenge the February 2008 assassination of senior Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus.  "This was an attempt to strike Israel in a new place," the Israeli defense official told the Post. "Iran and Hizbullah are always looking for places in which a convenient infrastructure exists. They are looking for people willing to help."  Azerbaijan, which borders Iran, is a pro-Western Muslim country - the type of government the Iranians would be pleased to see toppled in an Islamic revolution, the official added.  Read the article from the Jerusalem Post here.

Elections: Rival Candidates Rip Ahmadinejad on Foreign Policy. In a presidential campaign most analysts predicted would hinge on domestic bread-and-butter issues, foreign policy has emerged as a major battleground -- and a potential Achilles' heel -- for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. With campaigns in full swing ahead of the June 12 vote, challengers have publicly criticized Ahmadinejad on topics long considered off-limits for debate in Iran, such as his stance on the country's nuclear program and his vitriol about Israel.  Reformist challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi accused the president of so sullying the nation that Iranian passports are now on par with those of Somalia, a hub of poverty, piracy and terrorism.  "Our people have not given you the right to disgrace them," he told supporters during a campaign stop in the city of Isfahan. Mehdi Karroubi, another liberal challenger, took on the president's handling of the nuclear program, which the West believes is meant to eventually produce weapons, saying Iran needs to be more transparent and rational in pursuing its goals abroad. "We have to deal with the world differently," he said. Read the full article from the Chicago Tribune here.

Homemade Bomb Aboard Plane Raises Tensions Ahead of Iranian Elections. Rising political tensions in Iran ahead of watershed presidential elections on June 12 intensified May 31 with the discovery of a homemade bomb on board a domestic airliner. The incident closely followed a fatal attack on a mosque that hardline Iranian leaders blamed on the US, Israel and Britain. Iranian news reports said the device was found shortly after a Tehran-bound Kish Air flight with 131 passengers on board took off from Ahvaz, in Khuzestan province in south-west Iran. The bomb was defused after the plane made an emergency landing, Fars news agency said. Read the article from the Guardian here.
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
NY Parade Salutes Israel and Gilad Shalit. Tens of thousands marched down Fifth Avenue in New York on Sunday, May 31 before nearly one million spectators in the annual tribute to Israel, with a special salute to kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.  In less than four weeks, three years will have passed since Gaza terrorists kidnapped the young soldier in a murderous cross-border raid at the Kerem Shalom crossing, where two of his comrades were killed and a fourth was severely wounded. Shalit's parents, Noam and Aviva paraded with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the same time Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that former senior Mossad intelligence officer Haggai Hadas will take over the job of handling delicate negotiations for his release. Read the article from Israel National News here. Video footage can be seen here.

Former Mossad Operative to Head Shalit Swap Talks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced May 31 that he has appointed former senior Mossad intelligence agency operative Haggai Hadas to head negotiations with Hamas over the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit.  Hadas, 56, who spoke with Shalit's father, Noam Shalit, shortly before his appointment was announced, is scheduled to begin his new job this morning with a round of talks with experts and officials, including Ofer Dekel, who was former prime minister Ehud Olmert's representative on the Shalit talks. The wording of the announcement on Hadas' appointment shows the emphasis of his role could be operational no less than holding negotiations with Shalit's abductors, mediated by foreign officials, mainly Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. Read the full article from Ha'aretz here.

The Egypt Speech: Obama's Watershed Moment. J. Scott Carpenter writes for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, "On June 4, President Barack Obama will give a seminal speech in Egypt that will define not only his approach to the "Muslim world" but also his administration's aspirations for ending the Arab-Israeli conflict and bringing Iran in from the cold. Until now, he and his administration have been engaged in behind-the-scenes diplomacy designed to shape the environment for an integrated strategy toward the Middle East. Although the speech will give Americans and the international community the first real indication of what the president actually plans to do, raised expectations in the region and at home will be difficult to meet, and the risks from negative effects from what he will (and will not) say are real." Read analysis from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy here.
Save Darfur
Tracking the War on Women in Darfur.  Seated on a woven mat in a refugee camp in eastern Chad, Dr. Sondra Crosby of the Boston Medical Center listened with mounting distress as the women of Darfur came forward, one by one over 12 days, to tell her their stories of rape, beatings, hunger, and humiliation.  Their suffering had begun in the ravaged villages of their native Darfur in western Sudan after war broke out in 2003, but it didn't stop when they fled across the border into what they hoped would be the safety of refugee camps in eastern Chad. It goes on still, leaving thousands of women facing the specter of sexual assault each time they leave camp to collect firewood or visit the local market.  Click here to read the entire article from the Boston Globe.

JCPA's Task Force on Israel, World Jewry, and International Human Rights to Hear from Felice Gaer on Darfur and Other International Human Rights Abuses.  On Sunday, June 7th, JCPA leadership will hear from Felice Gaer, director of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights at American Jewish Committee.  Felice will discuss the Obama administration and its human rights policies including: Durban II, the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Darfur, and other issues related to human rights.  In addition to her role at AJC, Gaer is former vice chair of the Committee Against Torture, the United Nations treaty-monitoring body that reviews government compliance with the Convention Against Torture, a treaty ratified by more than 130 countries. Nominated by the U.S. and elected by the ratifying states in 1999 and again in 2003, Gaer is the first American to serve as an independent expert on this official UN treaty body.
What's Happening
Murder of Dr. George Tiller. Yesterday, Dr. George Tiller, a doctor who provided abortions in Wichita, KS, was shot and killed while in church. Dr. Tiller had faced threats for years because of his willingness to assist women in making this private healthcare decision.  JCPA extends our thoughts and prayers to his family.
This Week in Washington
Healthcare Reform. Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus and Senate HELP Committee Chairman Ted Kennedy have both indicated that they are committed to marking up healthcare reform legislation this month in their respective committees. Over the past month, both chairman have held several hearings and "walk-throughs" of health reform policy, and are now preparing to consider and amend the bill. The goal is the have a bill that incorporates elements of both mark-ups on the Senate floor in July.  Currently, some of the major sticking points in garnering bipartisan support are how to finance health reform, and inclusion of a public, government-run option (similar to Medicare) that people could choose from among many private options.

General Motors. Today, General Motors declared bankruptcy in an effort to reorganize and ultimately save the company. As part of this process, the government will provide GM with approximately $30.1 billion and claim a 60 percent share of the company. The government has stated that it intends to relinquish its shares as soon as conditions permit, and will neither play a role in day-to-day management nor serve on the board. However, the government will play a role in major governance issues such as voting on the selection of a board of directors and weighing in on major transactions. The goal is for GM to emerge from bankruptcy in 60-90 days.
Condolences
Ruth B. Goldberg z"l.  The JCPA sends heartfelt condolences to Rochester CRC Director Isobel Goldberg Goldman and her family on the loss of her mother, Ruth B. Goldberg.  May her memory be for a blessing.
JCPA Programs
There is still time to register for JCPA's June Task Force and Board Meetings.  The Task Force meetings are scheduled for Sunday, June 7th from 1:00 to 5:30pm at the offices of UJA Federation of New York located at 130 East 59th Street at Lexington Avenue.  To register visit www.jewishpublicaffairs.org

The Board of Directors meeting will be held Monday, June 8th will feature Ambassador Gabriela Shalev, Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations.  During her presentation she 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.

Monday's program will also include a presentation by Dan Cantor, Executive Director of the Working Families Party.  Dan will discuss the Green Jobs/Green Homes New York initiative and how green jobs can be a pathway out of poverty for millions of Americans.
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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