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Volume 12, Number 36
September 29, 2009

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In This Issue
Iran Initiative
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Save Darfur
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.


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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
Thousands Participate in Stand For Freedom in Iran Events Around the World. Anchored by a central rally in New York City, thousands of concerned activists gathered Thursday, September 24, at rallies and events across the country to show solidarity with the Iranian people in their quest for human rights and religious and political freedom.   The New York rally was organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and the UJA-Federation of New York in coalition with a broad range of political, religious and ethnic groups.  The events corresponded with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's participation in the United Nation's General Assembly. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs and its Israel Advocacy Initiative , a joint project of UJC/The Jewish Federations of North America and the JCPA, were among the lead organizers of the "Stand for Freedom in Iran" events.  Rallies and events were held in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City, Rhode Island, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.  Jewish Community Relations Councils in Columbus, Charlotte, Denver, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix and Pittsburgh also organized activities.  Internationally, Jewish groups in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Holland, Norway, South Africa, Italy, Uruguay and Vienna are also coordinating actions in support of the Iranian people. Click here to read the full press release. 

Illinois Divests $133 million in Anti-nuclear Iran Initiative. Illinois State Sen. Jeff Schoenberg and Rep. Lou Lang announced Sept. 24 the results of a significant state-level effort to curb Iran's nuclear threat: the divestment of $133 million in state pension funds from foreign companies doing business with Iran's energy sector. Illinois has been at the forefront of efforts to stop Iran's nuclear program. In fact, the state passed the nation's second divestment bill in 2007. The Illinois bill also was the first to require foreign companies seeking business with the state to indicate if they are doing business with Iran's energy sector. "The law declares simply the state's readiness not just to speak out against Iran's recklessness but to act to curb it as well," Schoenberg said at a press conference announcing the results of divestment. "As long as the Iranian leadership continues to pursue nuclear weapons in defiance of international law, we are absolutely compelled to withhold our public investments from this rogue country." Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago'sJewish Community Relations Council and its Government Affairs Office in Springfield played a key role in securing support for the legislation. They also worked with business associations generally opposed to divestment to remain neutral on the Illinois law and with the state pension boards' compliance and general counsel officers on implementation and reporting. "While others are calling for action and talking about what to do, Illinois already has acted and has emerged as a leader in this area," said JUF Executive Vice President Michael Kotzin, who also spoke at the press conference. Read the full article here.

Iran Must Be Pressured to Change its Behavior. Max Kleinman, Executive Vice President of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest New Jersey wrote in an op-ed in the NJ Star Ledger, "According to our ambassador at the International Atomic Energy Agency and other sources, Iran has enough enriched uranium to begin weaponizing a bomb. The question is how long it will take for Iran to produce one. Estimates range from three months to a year. Iran has also developed the ballistic missile technology to launch rockets at a distance of 2,400 miles, which would engulf the Middle East and most of Europe. In short, a nuclear-armed Iran would be a disaster for the world. Iran's illegitimate government has executed thousands of Baha'i, homosexuals, women who do not obey Sharia law and children. Conversion to Christianity is a capital offense. Most recently, Iranian authorities have slain dozens of demonstrators contesting the recent election results and imprisoned thousands more. A nuclear-armed Iran would put 250,000 of our troops in harm's way and destabilize moderate Sunni regimes along with any Middle-Eastern peace process. A nuclear-armed Iran would supply its terrorist proxies, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and others with nuclear materials to potentially develop dirty bombs. With its recent alliance with Venezuela, its tentacles have spread into our own hemisphere." Read the full op-ed here.

Iran Must Stop Repression, Nuclear-weapons Pursuit. In conjunction with the Stand for Freedom in Iran events held around the country on September 24, Steve Hunegs, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas and Pirouz Irani, a member of Minnesota Iranian-Americans for Democracy in Iran, wrote an op-ed for the MinnPost. "For many, the recent history of Iranian oppression in the wake of the June elections is well known. Following state-sponsored election fraud, Iranian security forces and their allies in the feared Basij militia violently broke up pro-democracy rallies, stormed university campuses, and beat, imprisoned and murdered Iranian civilians who dared protest. Moreover, the government expelled foreign journalists from the country and obstructed Internet traffic in a fruitless attempt to hide their crimes from the world. Within five weeks of the election, according to various human-rights organizations, Iranian security forces killed as many as 249 protestors. Iranian officials also admitted detaining at least 4,000 protesters for exercising their right to peaceful freedom of expression and association in June 2009. This post-election repression amplifies the Iranian government's longstanding and well-documented record as one of the world's worst human rights abusers. Since the 1979 revolution, thousands of Iranian citizens have been executed. Some estimates put this number at 20,000 or higher. According to Amnesty International, Iran holds the distinction of being one of the last countries in the world that continues to execute juvenile offenders. The execution of members of the Iranian GLBT community is another example of Iran's violent intolerance. Human-rights groups and observers have also documented the frequent torture, including rape, of political prisoners in Iran. Read the full op-ed here.
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Palestinian Official: Still Not Ready for Direct Talks with Israel. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on September 29 played down expectations for U.S. President Barack Obama's latest attempt to restart regional peace talks, saying key differences with Israel make it difficult for negotiations to resume. Erekat spoke ahead of talks in Washington this week with Obama's special Mideast envoy, George Mitchell. The former U.S. senator is holding separate meetings with Israeli and Palestinians teams in hopes of reviving the long-stalled peace talks. Erekat reiterated the Palestinians' insistence that Israel stop all settlement construction in the West Bank, and stressed there would be no direct talks with the Israelis during this week's trip to Washington. "There will not be Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in Washington," Erekat said. "There will be parallel American-Israeli negotiations and Palestinian-American negotiations." Read the article from Haaretz here.

The Green Bedouin. It's not an easy task, but one young Israeli Bedouin has taken on the daunting challenge of bringing environmental awareness to his people. The first thing visitors to the Bedouin town of Rahat notice is the litter. Household garbage lies strewn at the sides of treeless streets. When the wind picks up, plastic bags, newspapers and sacks billow across the surrounding desert wasteland. Discarded construction materials mar the landscape."First you have to understand why they throw litter everywhere," says environmentalist Ahmed Amrani, who was recently appointed municipal chief of staff of Rahat. "They don't see it as a crime. Awareness is the key - not punishment. I regularly lecture to local teenagers on 'Islam and the environment,' when I emphasize the need to protect the land from a religious perspective." Established in 1972, Rahat has grown substantially over the years and is home to some 48,000 residents. Israel's poorest city and the Negev's second largest, it has the highest rate of unemployment in the country - about 12 percent. Nearly 80% of its residents live below the poverty line. Some 60% are under the age of 18. They are served by one dilapidated sports field, a very neglected park and not a single playground. Amrani is undeterred. His goal is to clean up his town and he's set about the task with great vigor. Already the 29-year-old has a number of successes under his belt, like setting up a green organization - the Green Rahat Association, or convincing all the local school principals to include a green project in this year's curriculum, as well as some serious neighborhood improvement projects. Read the article from Israel21c here.
Save Darfur
Sudan faces 'historic crossroads'.  The leader of southern Sudan says the country is at a "historic crossroads", as it gears up for a national vote and a secession referendum for the south.  Salva Kiir also raised the prospect of conflict between north and south resuming despite a 2005 peace deal.  "We don't want to go back to war but people have to be alerted [sic] always," he told a conference of opponents of President Omar al-Bashir.  Meanwhile, the president has ended years of censorship on newspapers.  Until now, state censors inspected newspapers before they were published and removed articles they did not approve of.  The presidential decree ending this came after journalists pledged to sign up to a new code of ethics.  Click here to read the entire article from BBC.
This Week in Washington
This Week in Washington.  This week Congress is in session and will be discussing several important pieces of legislation including healthcare insurance reform.  President Obama will visit Copenhagen to visit urge the International Olympic Committee to site the 2016 Summer Games in Chicago.  The Supreme Court will not return to session until October. 

Health Insurance Reform.
  This week the Senate Finance Committee will consider a healthcare reform bill sponsored by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT).  Two different versions of the "public option" will be offered as amendments during these hearings and will receive considerable attention.  Four of the five Congressional committees with jurisdiction over healthcare have completed already completed their work.  The Finance Committee is the final committee to consider this legislation. 

Tay-Sachs Awareness Month.  This week, the House of Representatives will vote on a resolution supporting the creation of a Tay-Sachs Awareness Month.  This resolution (H. Res. 692) was sponsored by Representative Michael Arcuri (D-NY).  Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Sharrod Brown (D-OH).
JCPA Programs
JCPA to Address Religion in Public Schools at 2009 October Meetings.  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 - Acting 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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