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Volume 12, Number 31
August 24, 2009

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

Behind the Headlines: Iran's Terrorist Defense Minister. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs writes, "Iran once again revealed to the world the true nature of its regime and the actual intentions of its leadership. It did so by appointing a terrorist wanted by Interpol to be its Minister of Defense.  On Wednesday, August 19, President Ahmadinejad announced that Ahmad Vahidi was nominated to be Iran's defense minister…. Iran's promotion of Vahidi to minister of defense should not fail to shock those of good conscience around the world.Vahidi is no ordinary terrorist. He is one of five prominent Iranians wanted by Interpol for the suicide bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Argentina (AMIA). In that horrific attack in the morning of 18 July 1994, a large part of that building was destroyed, killing 85 innocent Argentinian citizens and wounding 240." Read the article here.

Iranians to Fund Research in Effort to Expose U.S. Human Rights Abuses. Iranian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Sunday, August 23 for a bill creating a $20 million fund intended in part to expose human rights violations by the United States, the ILNA news agency reported. Passage of the bill suggests the depth of mistrust that remains between the nations as Iran faces a September deadline to respond to President Obama's offer for talks. Iranian lawmakers said the legislation was in retaliation for what they consider similar action by the United States.  The U.S. Senate passed a bill in July that would allocate $30 million for technologies to allow the U.S. government's Farsi-language satellite and radio stations to bypass Iranian government efforts to jam their broadcasts. An additional $20 million would be set aside for developing Web sites and other technologies that will improve Iranian access to censored information. An additional $5 million is authorized for documenting information about human rights in Iran. Read the article from the Washington Post here.

JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative

NGO: Academic should quit Cast Lead inquiry. A European non-government organization has called on the UN to remove a British academic from its recent inquiry into alleged human rights, over statements made rejecting Israel's right to self-defense against rocket attacks. Geneva-based UN Watch submitted a 28-page legal brief to the UN last week calling on the UN fact-finding mission to disqualify London School of Economics law professor Christine Chinkin over prior statements she made that bring her impartiality in question. According to the NGO, in previous statements Chinkin has "categorically rejected" Israel's right to self-defense against rocket attacks from Gaza and accused Israel of "aggression" and "prima facie war crimes." UN Watch was referring to a letter published in the Sunday Times newspaper in January, during Operation Cast Lead, in which Chinkin - an expert in human rights, international and UN law - declares Israel as the aggressor and perpetrator of "war crimes." Read the article from the Jerusalem Post here.

Hamas to Expel Gaza Schoolgirls Not Wearing Islamic Dress. Female students in the Gaza Strip will be required to wear head coverings and full-length robes beginning this school year, the Hamas rules of the Gaza Strip announced on August 24. According to the new regulations, any female student that does not attend class in the proper attire will be sent home. The ministry also has ruled that male teachers cannot teach in girls' schools and women are not allowed to teach at boys' schools. These guidelines join an increasing amount of reports from Gaza residents saying that modesty patrols were forcing women to wear head coverings, especially at Gaza's beaches, and that they were inspecting isolated cars in order to prevent unmarried couples being alone together. Senior Hamas officials had claimed, in the wake of Hamas' June 2007 Gaza takeover, that the organization did not have any intention to turn the Sharia, Islamic religious law into official state regulations. Read the article from Haaretz here.

Lebanese FM: Lebanon Will Never Negotiate with Israel. Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh said on August 23 that Beirut would never negotiate with Israel over the return of captured land, reiterating the government's stance that Lebanon would be the last Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Jerusalem. "There will be neither direct nor indirect negotiations with Israel," Salloukh told The Daily Star of Lebanon. "Israel should have withdrawn [from captured territory] from the first minute of Resolution 1701. They should implement all UN resolutions." The Lebanese official was referring to the resolution which brought a cease-fire in the 2006 Lebanon war. Salloukh also deemed President Shimon Peres' assertions that Hezbollah has stockpiled some 80,000 rockets as "lies." Read the article from Haaretz here.

Save Darfur
Four Darfur Rebel Groups Reach Unity Deal. Four prominent Darfur rebel groups are forming a unified front to engage in future peace talks with Sudan's government, and urging other factions to join them. The front still faces big obstacles as members try to patch up differences that doomed previous unity efforts.  Four of the more than 20 Darfur rebel splinter groups have pledged to settle internal differences that have hampered efforts to negotiate a peace deal with Khartoum on ending a six-year civil war. The deal was reached during US-backed talks in Ethiopia's capital over the past several days.  President Obama's special envoy to Sudan J. Scott Gration was present for the signing. He called rebel unity a prerequisite for political talks on stopping a war the United Nations says has killed 300,000 people and displaced millions more.  To read the entire article from Voice of America please click here.
This Week in Washington
This Week in Washington.This week, Members of Congress are in their districts for the August District Work Period.  Congress will reconvene in September after Labor Day.  President Obama is vacationing with his family in Martha's Vineyard.  The Supreme Court is not in session this week and will officially open its 2009 Session in October. 

Torture.  The Justice Department is expected to release the 2004 CIA Inspector General's Report on interrogation this week.  A New York District Court Judge ordered the release of the report (with classified information redacted) in response to an ACLU lawsuit.  Similarly, the Justice Department's internal ethics watchdog, Office of Professional Responsibility, is poised to recommend to the Attorney General that the Department of Justice reopen several interrogations related inquires.  Many of these cases were originally referred to the Justice Department by the CIA's Inspector General. 

Healthcare Phone Call with President Obama. On Wednesday, August 19th, approximately 140,000 people joined a historic national conference call with President Barack Obama and the American faith community on healthcare reform.  JCPA co-sponsored this call along with over thirty religious denominations and organizations that cut across race and religious tradition.
President Obama and his Domestic Policy Director Melody Barnes addressed the moral dimension of the health care debate, recognizing the important role of the faith community in finally achieving health care reform.

The call helped launch a massive "40 Days for Health Reform" (www.faithforhealth.org) campaign to mobilize people of faith to press Congress to finish work on health care reform when they return after Labor Day Recess.  A recording of the call is available at www.faithforhealth.org or www.blogtalkradio.com/40mins4health, which live-streamed the call.  More information about the 40 Day Campaign for Health Care Reform is available at www.faithforhealth.org, including the call co-sponsors.
Condolences
Saul Simon. The JCPA expresses its condolences to Paula Simon, executive director of the Milwaukee Council on Jewish Community Relations, on the loss of her father, Saul Simon.  Condolences may be sent to Paula care of the MJCCR, 1360 North Prospect Avenue, 2nd Floor, Milwaukee, WI    53202-3091.  Contributions may be made to Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger, or Skirball Hospice, a program of the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging. 
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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