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Volume 12, Number 27
July 27, 2009

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

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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's Vulnerability to Foreign Economic Pressure. Patrick Clawson, Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Deputy Director for Research testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on July 22. "For several years, Iran's economy was cushioned from foreign pressure by the high price of oil. That has changed as oil prices have declined and Tehran's poor policies have exacerbated serious structural weaknesses. The most likely prospect is that during the next few years, Iran's economy will face serious problems. Foreign economic pressure could add to those problems. Furthermore, Iranian public opinion is likely to exaggerate the impact of the foreign pressure and to blame the Ahmadinejad government's hardline stance for the country's economic difficulties. Read more here.

Clinton Says Nuclear Aim of Iran Is Fruitless. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Iran's leaders on July 26 that if they were seeking nuclear weapons, "your pursuit is futile," and ruled out explicitly the possibility that the Obama administration would allow Iran to produce its own nuclear fuel, even under intense international inspection. Mrs. Clinton made her statement, on NBC's "Meet the Press," days after she raised the possibility of an American-created "defense umbrella" over the Middle East to counter Iran's efforts to build its power in the region by trying to develop weapons capacity. Soon after Mrs. Clinton spoke of the shield on Wednesday, senior members of the Obama administration tried to walk back her comments, saying that she was speaking "personally" and that such an umbrella had always been implied by America's strong interests in the region, including oil interests. Read more from the New York Times here.
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
US Calls for Arab World to Normalize Israel Ties. US Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell called on Arab states on July 27 to fully normalize ties with Israel, after meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on the latest leg of a regional tour. Mitchell told reporters after the talks that Washington was asking countries in the region to set the "context" for comprehensive peace negotiations between Israel and the Arab world. "By comprehensive I mean peace between Israel and Palestinians, between Israel and Syria, between Israel and Lebanon and the full normalization of relations between Israel and the countries of the region," he said. "We're not asking anyone to achieve full normalization at this time, we recognize that will come further down the road in this process," he said. But he added that the US administration wanted to see "meaningful steps by individual countries." Read more from AFP here.

Report: Hamas Summer Campers Re-Enact Abduction of Gilad Shalit. Children in Hamas summer camps reenacted the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in the presence of top Hamas officials, according to pictures obtained by The Jerusalem Post. According to Israeli defense officials, more than 120,000 Palestinian children are spending the summer in Hamas-run camps. In addition to religious studies, the children undergo semi-military training with toy guns. At a recent summer camp graduation ceremony, the children put on a show reenacting the June 2006 abduction of Shalit. Present was Osama Mazini, a senior Hamas political leader, who is in charge of the Shalit negotiations with Israel on behalf of the terrorist group. Read the article from The Jerusalem Post here.
Save Darfur
Chad's Domestic Crisis: The Achilles Heel for Peacemaking in Darfur. While the international community remains seized with the crisis in Sudan, the inadequacies of conflict resolution efforts in Chad - host to 250,000 Darfuri refugees - continues to negatively impact peacekeeping efforts, says a strategy paper from the Enough Project at the Center for American progress. The Enough Project's latest strategy paper argues that a comprehensive approach to peace in the region must deal aggressively with the persistent internal turmoil in Chad, where the United States is in a unique position to coordinate international pressure on the government to enact genuine political reforms. The following is a report from the Enough Project.  To read the report in its entirety, please click here.

Darfur Rebels Free Sudan Troops. A major rebel group in Darfur has let 60 prisoners go, says the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Fifty-five of the prisoners were from the armed forces while the other five were from the police, the ICRC said. They were released by the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) to the ICRC, and then handed over to the Sudanese authorities in Kutum, in North Darfur.  The handover is one of the biggest since the bitter conflict in Darfur began in 2003. A spokesman for the group said most of the prisoners were taken in clashes between Jem troops and government forces in the north-east of Darfur earlier this year.  Click here to read this entire article from BBC News.
This Week in Washington
This Week in Washington. This week, Healthcare Reform tops the Congressional agenda. President Obama is in Washington this week and will open bilateral discussions with Chinese officials. The Supreme Court had adjourned for summer and will return to session in October.  

Healthcare Timeline. Last week, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the Senate would not meet President Obama's requested timeline of passing healthcare reform before the August recess. Although the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee has passed its "Affordable Health Choices Act," the Senate Finance Committee has yet to release its draft of healthcare reform legislation. Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus continues negotiating with the Republicans on his committee in hopes of reaching a bipartisan deal, and has indicated that he expects that a mark-up can be held before the month-long recess beginning August 7th. Once the Finance Committee finishes its draft, their proposal must be combined with the Senate HELP draft, after which the negotiated version will be sent to the full Senate.

In the House, two of the three committees of jurisdiction (Education & Labor and Ways & Means) passed their legislation out of committee on July 17th. However, the House Energy & Commerce Committee halted its mark-up last week in the face of cost-related concerns of a group of Blue Dog Democrats, altering the timetable for House passage of health care reform legislation.

Defense Authorization. Last week, the Senate approved the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2010 by a vote of 87-7.   This legislation includes several important provisions such as the Leahy-Collins-Kennedy-Snowe Hate Crimes Amendment.  This legislation also revives and revises the Military Commissions Act of 2006.  New procedural safeguards would be added to the Military Commissions system to protect the rights of the defendants.  Additionally, the Senate approved an amendment by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and Senator John McCain, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee respectively, to reauthorize the F-22 fighter jet program.  President Bush, President Obama and Secretary Gates all opposed the continued production and purchase of F-22s.  However, many Representatives and Senators feared that halting F-22 production would shutter factories in their states and districts.  

Minimum Wage Increase. On Friday, July 24th, the federal minimum wage rose from $6.55/hour to $7.25/hour as the third and final installment of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. This boost will raise wages for an estimated 4.5 million workers in 31 states, providing an additional $1.6 billion annually in increased wages. As consumer spending has fallen in the face of rising unemployment and economic uncertainty, the minimum wage boost is expected to generate $5.5 billion in increased consumer spending over the next year due to a multiplier effect (Economic Policy Institute).

Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations. On Friday, July 24th, the House passed the FY2010 appropriations bill that will fund programs and policies from the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education. The bill provides a total of $163.4 billion for these programs, $11 billion more than the FY2009 level, with the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) getting a significant boost. The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to begin marking up its version of the Labor/HHS/Education bill on Tuesday, July 28th.

Adult Education and Workforce Training. On Thursday, July 16th, Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) introduced the "Adult Education and Economic Growth (AEEG) Act of 2009" (S. 1468 and H.R. 3238).  According to the National Commission on Adult Literacy, approximately half of the adult workforce (80 to 90 million people), do not have the basic education and skills necessary to obtain decent-wage jobs that can support a family. In response, this bill would make investments in education and training to help prepare adults to participate in the workforce. Provisions include: providing employers with a tax-credit designed to encourage investments in lower-skilled workers; increasing access to adult literacy, education and workforce skills programs; and ensuring that federal funding formulas are sensitive to the adult education and workforce needs of states.

Section Eight Voucher Reform Act of 2009 (SEVRA). On Thursday, July 23rd, the House Financial Services Committee passed SEVRA (HR 3045), moving forward a bill that would both improve the existing Section 8 program, as well as authorize 150,000 new vouchers. Section 8 is a program that offers rental assistance to approximately two million low-income families.
Lawrence Jackson-Rosen. The JCPA said goodbye last week to Lawrence Jackson-Rosen, executive assistant to Steve Gutow.  Lawrence will be moving to Ft. Lauderdale in the coming weeks.  We wish him all the best.
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!

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