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Volume 12, Number 38
October 12, 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.

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
Clinton to Press Russia on Iran. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Russia on October 12 hoping to win Moscow's backing for a strong stance on Iran's nuclear program and looking for progress on a new arms control pact. American officials say Iran will be at or near the top of Clinton's agenda when she meets Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on October 13. She plans to push for Russian support for new sanctions on Iran if it doesn't comply with demands to prove its nuclear program is peaceful. On Sunday, in London on the second leg of her current five-day overseas tour, Clinton warned Iran that the world "will not wait indefinitely" for proof it is not trying to develop atomic weapons. She said a recent meeting in Geneva in which Iran and six world powers resumed nuclear talks was "a constructive beginning, but it must be followed by action" from the Iranians. Read the article from the Associated Press here.

Iran Seeks Deal for Reactor. Four months ago, Iran discreetly contacted the United Nations-affiliated agency for nuclear energy to outline a worrisome situation: A research reactor in Tehran that produces medical isotopes that detect and treat the diseases of about 10,000 patients a week will run out of fuel by the end of 2010. Iran also had a request: Can you help us find a country that will sell us new fuel? On the face of it, Iran's query was a plaintive plea from a country under deep suspicion over its nuclear ambitions. But it also carried an unstated threat: If no country was willing to sell a stash of medium-enriched uranium to Iran, Tehran could say it had no choice but to produce the nuclear fuel itself -- in effect putting it one step closer to obtaining weapons-grade fuel. Now the Iranian request is at the center of an unusual deal, brokered largely by the United States that aims to buy time for a diplomatic solution to the impasse over Iran's nuclear ambitions. If it works, Iran will end up with fuel necessary to treat desperately ill patients -- and greatly reduce its stock of low-enriched uranium. But critics question why the United States would be assisting a nuclear pariah -- and giving it fuel that is even more enriched than its current holdings -- without even an agreement that Iran stop operating a uranium enrichment facility in violation of numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions. Read the full article from the Washington Post here.

New Bipartisan Poll Results on Iran. A new bipartisan poll commissioned by The Israel Project shows that an overwhelming number of Americans (81%) believe that Iran poses a serious threat to the United States, and that the international community should prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons (86%). Further, Americans agree (84%) that "even with all the problems the nation faces here at home, we must still work hard to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons." Read more here.

World Must Rise Up Against Iran Now. Marty Cooper, JCRC Director in Rhode Island, wrote for the Providence Journal, "Iran today is a regional threat - not just to Israel but also to its Arab neighbors. Iran has fomented unrest in neighboring Islamic countries and it has been particularly active in supporting Hezbollah, which all but controls Lebanon. A nuclear Iran is an international threat. Iran promotes and sponsors terrorism on a worldwide scale. It supplies its terrorist proxies with weapons, training, money and safe harbor. Do we really think that Iran will draw the line at nuclear weapons and not use them? Is that a chance we can responsibly take?  Thoughtful, concerned Rhode Islanders are advocating for meaningful action to halt Iran's march toward nuclear weapons. Congress is hearing and acting on our concerns. Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have drafted legislation to put pressure on the government of Iran." Read more here.
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Netanyahu Vows Never to Allow Israelis to be Charged with War Crimes. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on October 12 that he would never allow any of the Israel's leaders or soldiers to be put on trial for war crimes. Netanyahu opened his fiery speech at the inauguration of the Knesset's winter session by blasting the Goldstone Commission's report sponsored by the United Nations that accused Israel of committing war crimes during its war against militants in the Gaza Strip last year. Israel has the right to defend itself, Netanyahu declared, and would not acquiesce to a situation where wartime leaders or troops who participated in the operation stand trial. "This distorted report, written by this distorted committee, undermines Israel's right to defend itself. This report encourages terrorism and threatens peace," Netanyahu said. "Israel will not take risks for peace if it can't defend itself." Read the article from Haaretz here.

Turkey Plays Down Tensions with Israel. On October 12, Turkey urged Israeli officials to use "common sense" as it tried to play down diplomatic tensions between the two countries over joint military exercises. "It is wrong to derive a political meaning or conclusion from the postponing of the international part of the exercise," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Israel said on October 11 that air force exercises known as "Anatolian Eagle" were postponed because Turkey was excluding Israel. The NATO exercises were also scheduled to include the United States and Italy. Turkey is Israel's strongest Muslim ally in the Middle East. The two countries have enjoyed close military and economic ties for the past decade, but relations grew frosty after Israel's Gaza offensive in December and January. Turkey's foreign minister gave a cryptic answer when asked whether the decision to exclude Israel from the military exercise was linked to Turkish anger over Israel's incursion into Gaza. Read the article from CNN here.
Save Darfur
Pledge2Protect Conference.  Genocide Intervention Network's (GI-NET) student-led division, STAND, in collaboration with Save Darfur Coalition and The Enough Project, will bring together a powerful network of 1,000 students, community leaders and activists from across the country to Capitol Hill for the Pledge2Protect conference. The conference will be held November 6-9 in Washington D.C. and will educate, empower, and highlight activists who are driving the movement to prevent and stop genocide and mass atrocities. Pledge2Protect will be a forum for rigorous dialogue and exchange covering broad but carefully selected topics.  If you are interested in attending, you can find information at http://www.pledge2protect.net/.

Genocide in Darfur: Remnant or Current Reality?  New Jersey Forges a Pathway to Peace. The NJ Coalition Responds to the Crisis in Darfur is organizing a conference on October 16 at Kean University.  The Conference will provide updates on the current status of international diplomacy and the Obama administration's policy on Darfur and then explore effective ways for achieving peace and reconciliation. The day long conference will include:

• Panels on understanding the complex history of Darfur
• A discussion with refugee leaders
• A session on international diplomacy
• A panel on how to impact the U.S. national agenda in order to end the genocide in Darfur.

The conference's featured speakers include General (Retired) Scott Gration, US Envoy to Sudan

This event is free and open to the public and conveniently located to New York City.  To learn more please visit www.njdarfur.org.
This Week in Washington
This Week in Washington.  This week, Congress is in session and will consider several important pieces of legislation including health insurance reform.  The President will be in Washington this week.  The Supreme Court will hear several cases this week, but no private conference sessions are scheduled.  

Hate Crimes.  Last week, the House of Representatives approved the final version of the Defense Authorization bill which includes the Mathew Sheppard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  The Conference Report was approved by a vote of 281-146. This legislation has been a top JCPA priority for over a decade.  The Senate is expected to consider this legislation shortly and send the bill to the President.

Iran Sanctions Legislation.  On Tuesday the House will vote on H.R. 1327 Iran Sanctions Enabling Act of 2009, which authorizes state and local governments to divest from companies investing in Iran's petroleum and natural gas sector and protects fund managers who divest from such companies from potential lawsuits.  This bill was previously considered by the House in 2007.  At that time, the legislation was not considered by the Senate.  This bill is separate from Iran Refined Petroleum Sanction Act (IRPSA).

Military Commissions.  The Defense Authorization Act also includes significant amendments to the 2006 Military Commission Act.  These new provisions further align the military commissions process with the military's standard Courts Marital procedure.  Specifically, the new procedures will prohibit the use of evidence obtained through cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment-including torture-and refines the classified evidence procedures.  It also includes new restrictions on the use of hearsay testimony.  

Health Care Reform.  After debating more than one hundred amendments for over two weeks, last week the Senate Finance Committee finished marking-up Chairman Max Baucus' (D-MT) health care reform proposal. The Senate Finance Committee is now slated to hold a final vote in the Committee on October 13th. Senator Baucus's bill is the only proposal from the five Congressional committees with jurisdiction that does not include a public option, one of the key topics in the healthcare reform discussions. A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office found that Finance Committee's bill would provide affordable health care to millions of uninsured Americans without significantly adding to the federal deficit.

Once the bill passes the Committee, as expected, Senate Leadership will merge the Senate Finance Committee's bill with the legislation that previously passed the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Senate Leadership has indicated that they would like to have a package on the Senate floor within the next week. The House may not have a bill on the floor until the beginning of November.

Unemployment Statistics. On October 2nd the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their most recent jobs report. Employers shed jobs in September for the 21st straight month, and the national unemployment rate edged up to 9.8%. Further economic reports to be released later this month are expected to indicate economic growth in the United States and that the recession may have technically ended.  However, the labor market may continue to show signs of weakness as the unemployment rate continues to rise. 
JCPA Programs
Heckscher Tzedek and Your Community.  Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union Kosher Division and Rabbi Julie Schonfeld of the Rabbinic Assembly will participate in a panel discussion on business ethics and Heckscher Tzedek.  The panel will also feature a representative of the Rabbinical Assembly and moderated by Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.  

Additional confirmed speakers include: Yossi Klein Halevi, Dr. Horst Freitag, Consul General of Germany in New York, Dan Senor, Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Steven Windmueller, Hebrew Union College, Dena Sher, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Alex Meixner, Save Darfur Coalition, and many more…
Click here to register for the 2009 October Meetings.  All meetings will be held at the offices of UJA Federation of New York located at 130 East 59th Street in New York City.
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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