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Volume 12, Number 34
September 14, 2009

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In This Issue
Iran Initiative
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Save Darfur
Environment
This Week in Washington
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
National Jewish Leadership Advocacy Day on Iran.  On Thursday, September 10, 2009, more than three hundred Jewish leaders, representing more than thirty Jewish Community Relations Councils and Federations from across the country, gathered in Washington, D.C. to participate in the National Jewish Leadership Advocacy Day on Iran, the first event of its kind.  The JCPA and its Israel Advocacy Initiative, a joint project of UJC and JCPA, played leading roles in organizing the event, in partnership with the National Inter-Agency Task Force on Iran. JCPA Chair Andrea Weinstein had the privilege of introducing House Majority Leader Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland to the participants. Rabbi Steve Gutow, JCPA President and CEO, spoke about pursuing a peaceful end to this issue.  The goal of the event was to urge implementation of strong economic and diplomatic measures directed at the Iranian regime and the expeditious adoption of key legislative initiatives now before Congress, including the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act.  To read, "Preparing For 'Plan C' On Iran," a piece on the event published by the Jewish Week, please click here. To read the press statement issued by the National Inter-Agency Task Force on Iran, please click here, and to see the photo release, please click here.
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative

Probe of Asaf Ramon Crash. Israel Air Force Capt. Asaf Ramon, 21, was killed Sunday, September 13 when the F-16A Falcon jet he was flying crashed during a routine training flight near the southern Hebron Hills. Ramon is the son of Col. Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut, who died during the disastrous Earth reentry of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003. Like his son, Col. Ramon was an F-16 pilot. Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan ordered an official inquiry and an immediate halt to all F-16 training flights until further notice, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. Col. Ilan Boger, a fighter pilot and former commander of the base at Ramat David, was appointed head of the committee of inquiry.There was no immediate comment on the cause of the crash. However, the main focus of the investigation is on human factors, and there is a high probability that some physiological problem may have led to the crash. Read the full article from Haaretz here.

German Court Fines Student for Showing Israeli Flag. A German university student reportedly will appeal a fine for displaying an Israeli flag in response to an anti-Israel demonstration.The student had displayed the flag during a Jan. 17 protest of Israel's Operation Cast Lead by some 1,600 people in the city of Bochum. According to the Bochum district court, which levied the fine of more than $400 last week, the student and her friends held their own demonstration without official permission.The pro-Israel students displayed the flag along with a banner decrying anti-Semitism expressed under the guise of Israel bashing. They also handed out flyers bearing the messages "Against Anti-Semitism and Fascism" and "Solidarity with Israel." Police stopped the pro-Israel students quickly and led them away from the demonstrators, who were from local Muslim groups. Read the article from JTA here.

Save Darfur
UN: Threat of New North-South Sudan Conflict Remains.  A new conflict could erupt in Sudan if its former civil war foes fail to agree on how to manage a 2011 referendum on whether the south should secede from the north, a U.N. official said on Friday.  North and south Sudan fought a two-decade war that ended with a peace deal in 2005 but tensions remain and time is running out to prepare for two deadlines in the accord -- a national election scheduled for 2010 and the referendum across the country's southern regions in 2011.  Click here.

Clooney Vows Not To Give Up on Darfur.  Actor George Clooney lamented on Saturday the ongoing failure to secure a lasting peace in Sudan's Darfur region, but vowed to keep shining a light on the country's problems.  "I'd love to say we're succeeding, but we're not. We're failing pretty miserably. We're failing in Darfur," Clooney said.  "We gotta keep trying," he added.  Clooney has used his stardom to draw attention to the plight of people in the western Sudanese region, which has been wracked by one of the world's most devastating ethnic conflicts.  He was in Toronto this week promoting his latest films "Up in the Air" and "Men Who Stare at Goats."
ENVIRONMENT
A Call for Jews to Observe Shabbat Noach, October 23-24, as "Global Climate Healing Shabbat.  The Jewish Council for Public Affairs has joined with a broad spectrum of Jewish organizations to urge that this fall, our own affiliated congregations and rabbis and all others as well join to observe Shabbat Noach on October 23-24 -- when Jews around the world read the Torah  portion about the Flood, Noah, the Ark, and the Rainbow  --   as "Global Climate Healing Shabbat."

A number of experts on the global climate crisis, led by Bill McKibben, have called for world-wide actions on October 24 to protect our planet from climate disaster.  So we also encourage interfaith as well as Jewish work during the week before Shabbat Noach and on the weekend,  with special prayers, sermons,  Torah commentary/ midrash, songs, lectures, debates, panel discussions, resolutions,  meals, nature-walks, stories for children, invitations to public officials and environmental activists, and other means of bringing Jewish commitment to bear on healing the earth from the dangers that over-use of fossil fuels is bringing upon us all.

Please join us and register your intent to create a local event (even if you are just beginning to plan) in both these places:  http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/602/t/4180/event/index.jsp?event_KEY=50242 and http://www.350.org/oct24.
This Week in Washington
This Week in Washington.  This week, Congress is in session and continuing to work on important initiatives such as Health Insurance Reform.  President Obama is also in Washington this week.  The Supreme Court is not in session this week.  Also this week, JCPA is chairing two cabinet level meetings.  The first meeting with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will focus on ending childhood hunger by 2015.  The second meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius will focus on healthcare reform and other anti-poverty measures.

New Poverty Data. On Thursday, September 10th, the Census Bureau released new data, revealing for the first time the impact of the recession on poverty, family income, and the uninsured. The data showed that in 2008, the U.S. official poverty rate rose from 12.5 percent to 13.2 percent; in real terms that means that last year, 2.5 million people in the United States fell into a state of true material deprivation, from 37.3 million to 39.8 million. The U.S. Census Bureau also announced that real median household income in the United States fell 3.6 percent between 2007 and 2008, from $52,163 to $50,303, and that the number of people without health insurance rose from 45.7 million in 2007 to 46.3 million in 2008. And this is just the data from 2008. Since that time, the unemployment rate has risen from 7.6 percent in January of this year to 9.7 percent in August, promising that the 2009 numbers that will be released next summer will be even worse.

Health Insurance Reform Update. Last week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) released a draft outlining his framework for healthcare reform. Notably, the proposal called for non-profit healthcare cooperatives instead of a public option and proposed expanding Medicaid to cover all people under 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Line.  The other four committees of jurisdiction (Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; House Ways and Means, Education and Labor, and Energy and Commerce Committees) all finished marking up their bills before the August recess. Senator Baucus has indicated that he will release legislative language this week, and after weeks of bipartisan negotiations, has stressed that he will move his proposal forward beginning next week with or without bipartisan support.
 
Last week, on September 9th, President Obama also spoke before a joint session of Congress, outlining the principles he would like to see in health insurance reform. He called for a deficit-neutral bill, which he estimates would cost about $900 billion over 10 years. In his speech, Obama spoke about principles including: an individual and employer mandate, insurance reforms that would prevent companies from denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition or dropping coverage if a person becomes ill. He also spoke of the moral mandate for health insurance reform, citing a letter that Senator Ted Kennedy had written to him before he died.
JCPA Programs
Registration is Now Open for the 2009 October Meetings.  On Sunday October 25 and Monday October 26 JCPA leadership will meeting in New York City for the 2009 October JCPA Task Force and Board of Directors meetings.  This event is set to take place at the UJA Federation of New York located at 130 East 59th Street in NYC.  Click here to register and to view the meeting schedule.

2010 JCPA Plenum.  "B'Yachad: Building Bridges - Working Together".  The 2010 JCPA Plenum is set to take place February 20-23, 2010 in Dallas, Texas.  Registration is now open at www.jcpaplenum.org.
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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