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Volume 12, Number 23
June 29, 2009

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In This Issue
Iran Initiative
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Summing Up the Supremes
Save Darfur
Interfaith Encounter
This Week in Washington
Congratulations
Condolences

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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 Calls Obama Meddler. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on June 25 called the U.S. president inexperienced, compared him unfavorably to President George W. Bush and suggested he apologize for "interfering in Iran's affairs." "Do you think that this kind of behavior is going to solve any of your problems? It will only make people think you are someone like Bush," the semiofficial Fars news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying. "You are at the beginning of your way and you are gaining experience, and we do not wish the scandals of the Bush era to be repeated during your term of office," the Iranian leader said. Read the article from CNN here.

The Sounds of Silence on Iran. Mona Eltahawy writes for the Washington Post, "Do you hear the silence from the Arab world over events in Iran? Let's start with Arab leaders, who are experts at vote rigging -- if they hold elections at all. What could they possibly say about the Iranian election, or the allegations of vote fraud, without sounding hypocritical? Nor would they rush to congratulate longtime nemesis Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the leader of a regional rival with nuclear ambitions.  The Arabs are quiet, but their silence is surely tempered with discomfort. The demographics of most Arab nations mirror those of Iran: The majority of Arabs are young. It's likely that many young Arabs watching thousands of Iranians demanding to be heard, Arabs who are suffocating under dictators of their own, thought, "That's me." For some, the silence is the sound of despair, for in Iran we are seeing the implosion of the politics of cutting off our nose to spite our face. Let's look at the Arab world's legacy: A succession of Arab leaders were known simply for standing up to America and Israel. It did not matter what they did to their own people, the human rights violations, the mass graves, the stifling of the media and most forms of expression. Standing up to the United States and Israel was enough." Read the op-ed here.

Chicago Hosts Community Forums on Preventing a Nuclear Armed Iran.  On June 23, the Chicago JCRC organized a public forum to discuss the Iranian nuclear program and how the Jewish community is responding. The program featured Henry Sokolski, a nationally recognized expert on Iran's nuclear program, who recently wrote for the National Review, "How Not to Restrain Iran."  To view that piece, please click here. To view a video of the JCRC event with Sokolski, please click here.  Sokolski was visiting Chicago primarily for a special private forum co-sponsored by JCRC, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Bipartisan Policy Center. This event focused on reaching significant non-Jewish audiences, which is the programmatic priority of JCRC's Iran Watch initiative.  Two days after Sokolski's visit to Chicago, the Chicago Tribune published "Iran?  It's the nukes."  To read this editorial, please click here.
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Remember My Son, Says Noam Shalit. The father of Gilad Shalit urged fellow Israelis on June 25 to think of his son's plight in Hamas captivity, three years after the soldier was snatched from an Israel Defense Forces post by Gaza militants. "My request today, June 25, 2009, is for every person in the country, man and woman, young and old, to close their eyes for three minutes. Three minutes only, and to wait until these minutes are over, and in this time for everyone to try to think of what my son Gilad is going through," Noam Shalit told Army Radio. Read the Haaretz article here.
    
Hamas Rejects Idea of Demilitarized Palestinian State. Hamas' senior political leader Khaled Mashaal said on Thursday that his organization is willing to cooperate with any international effort to end the occupation but would never accept the notion of a demilitarized Palestinian state."The Palestinian people reject the Israeli position on a demilitarized state, on the refugees, on Jerusalem, and on the Jewish state," the exiled Mashaal said in Damascus, referring to Israel's demand any future Palestinian state recognize it as a Jewish nation."A demilitarized state is a pathetic state, not a serious national entity. The Palestinians will not accept Jerusalem as a unified city under Jewish control," said Mashaal, adding that the Palestinians were dedicated to returning the refugees to their homes. Recognizing Israel as a Jewish state "would erase the right of return to lands taken in 1948." Mashaal also spoke of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. "Netanyahu's only chance to free the soldier is through a serious prisoner exchange agreement," said Mashaal. "So far Israel's stubbornness has derailed the indirect negotiations and most of the other efforts in past years. We will continue to do everything to free the prisoners. Hamas is committed to freeing all 12,000 prisoners." Read the article from Ynet here.
SUMMING UP THE SUPREMES
Supreme Court Wrap-Up.  Please join us for the second annual "Summing up the Supremes: Perspectives of a Court-Watcher and an Advocate" national conference call.  This year's call, sponsored by the JCPA, American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Hadassah, National Council of Jewish Women and the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, will feature two distinguished experts:

Emily Bazelon is a Senior Research Scholar in Law and Truman Capote Fellow for Creative Writing and Law at Yale Law School.  She is a Senior Editor at Slate magazine, where she writes about law and family, edits columns on health and law, and contributes to Slate's women's blog, XX Factor, and its legal blog, Convictions.  Ms. Bazelon is a graduate of both Yale College and Yale Law School where she was an editor on The Yale Law Journal. 

Erwin Chemerinsky is the Founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of California, Irvine, School of Law - Irvine, CA.  He frequently argues appellate cases before the US Supreme Court and the US Courts of Appeals.  He is lecturer at the Federal Judicial Center, the National Judicial College, the Center for Civic Education, and the Constitutional Rights Foundation and is a legal commentator and consultant for numerous media outlets.



For the call-in information, please RSVP here.  We encourage questions from our participants.  To submit questions for our panelists, please click here.

Save Darfur
White House Boosts Effort to Salvage North-South Peace in Sudan.  The Obama administration stepped up its efforts yesterday to salvage a four-year-old peace accord for Sudan, convening officials from 32 countries and international organizations amid fears that Africa's longest-running civil war could resume. The conference came after years in which the world's attention was focused on a separate Sudanese conflict, in the western region of Darfur. In the meantime, implementation of the agreement ending the country's north-south fight has lagged. "Time is urgent. It's time to move forward," retired Air Force Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, the U.S. special envoy to Sudan, urged officials who packed a conference room at Washington's Park Hyatt hotel. They included representatives from the U.N. Security Council's five veto-wielding powers, the foreign ministers of Ethiopia and Kenya, and large delegations from the two Sudanese sides.   Click here to read this entire article from the Washington Post.

Darfur Rebels Say Civilians Killed in Sudan Raid.  Darfur rebels on Sunday accused Sudan government forces of a bombing raid on their territory which killed at least eight civilians, as mediators step up pressure for a settlement in the violent western region.  Fighters from the insurgent Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) said military planes bombed land they controlled near the settlement of Hashaba in remote North Darfur around midday on Saturday.  SLA founder Abdel Wahed Mohamed Ahmed al-Nur told Reuters his commanders reported eight civilians were killed in Hashaba, about 70km (43 miles) west of the North Darfur state capital, El Fasher. Another SLA commander reported over 20 casualties.  Sudan's armed forced were not immediately available to comment and it was impossible to verify the figure independently. United Nations sources could not confirm the reports.  Click here to read the entire article.
Interfaith Encounter
Jews and Evangelicals meet in DC.  The JCPA co-convened a major national conversation with Jewish and Evangelical Christian leaders.  The two-day program included text study, examinations of what we have in common as faith communities and what divides us, how we understand issues such the Jewish people's return to sovereignty in the ancient Jewish homeland, and how we discuss our differences.   The meeting was initiated by Rabbi Yehiel Poupko from the JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and David Neff, Editor of Christianity Today.  Co-chairs were Neff and JCPA President Steve Gutow.  The Religious Action Center hosted the gathering.
This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington.  This week Members of Congress will be in their districts for the Congressional July 4th Recess.  President Obama will be in Washington this week.  This week is the last week of the October 2008 Supreme Court Term.  

Climate Change Bill. On Friday June 26th, the House passed by a vote of 219 to 212 the "American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009" (H.R. 2454).  The bill would establish a "cap-and-trade" system to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The bill provides mechanisms to protect low-income consumers from increased costs of energy that will result from putting a price on carbon emissions; it also includes some international adaptation provisions. In addition, the legislation is expected to create hundreds of thousands of "green jobs" while assisting community institutions in becoming more energy-efficient. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is expected to start marking up a Senate version of the bill after Congress returns from the July 4th recess.  
 
Immigration Reform.  On Thursday, June 25th, President Obama held an immigration reform summit with Vice President Obama, key cabinet members, and bipartisan members of Congress to discuss reforming our nation's immigration system. The President indicated his commitment to have comprehensive immigration reform signed into law during the 111th Congress, with his preferred timeline being late 2009/early 2010. After the meeting, the President asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to lead a workgroup on immigration reform to address some of the sticking points. To view the President's comments following the meeting, please click here.

Health Care Reform.  Last week the House and Senate both continued work on healthcare reform. In the House, the Committees on  Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor held hearings on their joint draft health care reform bill, which can be viewed here -- and are slated to mark-up the bill next week after the July 4th recess. The Senate HELP Committee spent its second week marking up the "Affordable Choices Act," and Senator Chris Dodd, who is leading the process in Senator Kennedy's absence, has indicated that the Committee will likely release more specific language during this week's recess and continue the mark-up next week. The Senate Finance Committee is still negotiating its draft and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has signaled his intention to keep the bill under $1 trillion over 10 years.

ACTION!  As Congress heads home for a week long recess, it is evident that the single largest action that has been discussed since their return from Memorial Day has been health reform.  The Jewish Council on Public Affairs and United Jewish Communities have partnered to create materials on the key issues during this historic reform process to ensure that the Jewish community speaks with a unified voice.  

Below, please find advocacy materials developed jointly by JCPA/UJC that you can use during this recess period if you already have visits with your members of Congress:
•    A Template Letter to Congress for Federations and JCRCs

•    Talking Points

•    An "Elevator" Speech

Souter Retirement.  Justice David Souter officially retired today from the Supreme Court.  He was nominated by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.  Justice Souter plans to return to his home in New Hampshire for his retirement.  President Barack Obama has nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals to replace Justice Souter on the Supreme Court.  For more information about Judge Sotomayor's nomination, please visit the JCPA's Sotomayor Nomination Website.

Congratulations
Institute for Curriculum Studies.  The Institute for Curriculum Services, a project of the JCPA and the San Francisco JCRC, was recently selected as the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation's Program of the Year.  To see the short video shown at the award ceremony, click here.
Condolences
Anne Zima, z"l.  The JCPA sends condolences to Shelly Shapiro, CRC Director in Northeastern NY, on the death of her mother, Anne Zima.
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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