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Volume 12, Number 28
August 3, 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.


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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
U.S. Weighs Iran Sanctions if Talks are Rejected. The Obama administration is talking with allies and Congress about the possibility of imposing an extreme economic sanction against Iran if it fails to respond to President Obama's offer to negotiate on its nuclear program: cutting off the country's imports of gasoline and other refined oil products.The option of acting against companies around the world that supply Iran with 40 percent of its gasoline has been broached with European allies and Israel, officials from those countries said. Legislation that would give Mr. Obama that authority already has 71 sponsors in the Senate and similar legislation is expected to sail through the House.In a visit to Israel last week, Mr. Obama's national security adviser, James L. Jones, mentioned the prospect to Israeli officials, they said. The White House refused Sunday to confirm or deny the contents of Mr. Jones's discussions. But other administration officials said that they believed his goal was to reinforce Mr. Obama's argument that the Israeli government should stop dropping hints about conducting a military attack against Iran's nuclear facilities if no progress is made this year, and to give the administration time to impose what Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calls "crippling sanctions" that might force Iran to negotiate. Read the article from the New York Times here.

On Iran, Do Nothing, Yet. Farred Zakaria writes in Newsweek, "What is happening in Iran? On the surface, the country has returned to normalcy. Demonstrations have become infrequent, and have been quickly dispersed. But underneath the calm, there is intense activity and the beginnings of a political opposition. In the past week, Mir Hossein Mousavi, the candidate who officially lost last month's presidential election, has announced his intention to create a "large-scale social movement" to oppose the government and press for a more open political system. Mohammad Khatami, the reformist former president, has called for a referendum on the government. Another powerful former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has criticized the regime's handling of the election and post-election "crisis." All three have demanded the release of politicians and journalists imprisoned over the past month and held without charges. (Those prisoners include Maziar Bahari, NEWSWEEK's Tehran correspondent, a Canadian citizen, and an internationally recognized documentary filmmaker.) These are not dissidents in the wilderness. Between them, the three men have been at the pinnacle of power for most of the Islamic Republic's existence. "  Read the article from Newsweek here.

Death of a Doctrine. Michael Gerson writes for the Washington Post, "The Obama administration lacks a foreign policy ideology as a matter of ideology. Speaking recently at the Council on Foreign Relations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted, "Rigid ideologies and old formulas don't apply." The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans -- tempered by pragmatism, proud of its ad hockery and willing to consider everything on a case-by-case basis.  But even lacking an ideology, the administration does have a doctrine. The defining principle of President Obama's foreign policy is engagement with America's adversaries. Much of the president's public diplomacy has been designed to clear a path for such talks -- expressing respect for legitimate grievances, apologizing for past wrongs and offering dialogue without preconditions…The Obama administration's public campaign of engaging enemies is headed toward an entirely unintended consequence. Eventually it will raise expectations for action. As the extended hand is slapped again and again, the goals of North Korea and Iran will be fully revealed and the cost to American credibility will rise. Already the administration has given Iran a September deadline to respond to the offer of talks and has threatened "crippling action" if Iran achieves nuclear capabilities. Congress is preparing sanctions on Iranian refined petroleum, which would escalate tensions significantly. This is the paradox of the Obama doctrine. By attempting to engage North Korea and Iran so visibly, Obama is dramatically exposing the limits of engagement -- and building the case for confrontation. " Read the article from the Washington Post here.
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
The Operation in Gaza - Factual and Legal Aspects. On July 30, the Government of Israel released a detailed paper addressing a wide range of factual and international legal issues relating to the military operation undertaken by the Israel Defence Forces in Gaza in December 2008 - January 2009. The Paper, 160 pages long, describes in detail the context of the Gaza Operation. It documents the Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians in the years prior to the Operation and the increasing range of Hamas rocket and mortar attacks, as well as Israel's efforts to prevent the attacks and avoid the conflict. The Paper contains an extensive legal analysis of the legal principles and of State practice regarding the use of force and examines in detail the application of the principles of necessity, distinction and proportionality. In particular, with photographic and video evidence, it documents the tactics adopted by Hamas in launching attacks from within civilian populations and describes the IDF precautions and efforts to limit civilian harm in such situations. Read the Executive Summary here from the MFA.

Israeli Company Develops Seaweed-Based Gel to Protect the Heart. It is the most expensive seaweed known to medical history: a new heart-healing gel based on brown seaweed has just been rewarded with a record investment deal. The Israeli company BioLineRx, founded in 2003, just released the news that one if its two compounds - the BL-1040 - to repair damaged heart muscles after cardiac arrest, has been licensed by the New Jersey-based company doesn't include royalties, about 11-15%," Bar tells ISRAEL21c. It's the first big deal for BioLineRx. The latest trial, Bar continues, is a clinical trial consisting of 23 patients in Germany and Belgium. "They are doing fine," she says. Toxicity tests have shown the product is safe, and "we did have some hints on its efficacy," she adds, stressing the main points were safety. Read the article from the MFA here.
Save Darfur

Darfur Fast for Life.  The Jewish Community Relations Bureau of American Jewish Committee in Kansas City is inviting community members to join local rabbis and others in a one-day fast on Thursday August 13th.  This fast is to call attention to the need for aid for victims of genocide in Darfur.  Only water will be consumed during this period.  The day of fasting will conclude with a study session and a break-fast at the Jewish Community Campus.  There will also be an opportunity to write to elected officials in the evening.  If you live in the Kansas City area and wish to participate, please email jcrbajc@jewishkc.org.

Moved By Faith: A Call for Peace in Sudan. 
Current events in Sudan are dire, and it is critical that the faith community revive engagement with Sudan not only in their local community, but also internationally. The weekend of August 28th-30th, just before the U.S. takes the Presidency of the UN Security Council in September, communities of faith will unite in prayer and action for Sudan. Sign up as a Congregation of Conscience for forthcoming details. Please visit our Faith Outreach page for additional resources and materials.

Legislative Update.  On July 29th, the House of Representatives unanimously approved H. Con. Res. 159, which marks the 5th anniversary of Congress' declaration that genocide was taking place in Darfur.  The resolution further urges (1) the United States to work with other nations to support a negotiated settlement to the conflict; (2) UN member states to provide sufficient resources to support a fully deployed and resourced African Union/United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID); and (3) the parties to the conflict in Darfur to cease attacks upon civilians and humanitarian and peacekeeping operations and to commit to finding a political situation in Darfur.  H. Con. Res. 159 has been sent to the Senate for its consideration.

This Week in Washington
This Week in Washington.  This week, President Obama is in Washington.  Shortly, he and his family will head to Martha's Vineyard for a summer vacation.  The House of Representatives has adjourned for the August Recess.  The Senate will remain in session for one more week.  The Supreme Court is not currently in session.  

Sotomayor Nomination.  The Senate is scheduled to vote this week on Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court.  She was nominated by President Barack Obama to replace Justice David Souter on the high court.  Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-6 to approve Judge Sotomayor.  

Healthcare Reform.   On July 31, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed healthcare reform legislation, "America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009" (HR 3200) out of committee by a vote of 31-28.  Chairman Henry Waxman indicated that he will have a second mark-up after the August recess to consider some minor amendments, after which the full House will debate the legislation. The House Ways & Means and Education & Labor Committees had already passed the bill out of committee earlier in July.  The Senate Finance Committee has not yet released its healthcare reform bill, but continues to negotiate with the hopes of marking up a bipartisan bill after the recess.
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.

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