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Volume 12, Number 40
November 2, 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
Ahmadinejad: Iran's Enemies a 'Mosquito'. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday, November 1, compared the power of Iran's enemies to a "mosquito," saying Iran now deals with the West over its nuclear activities from a position of power.The comment from Ahmadinejad came as Iran is negotiating with the West over a U.N.-backed proposal to ship its uranium abroad for further enrichment.The UN-brokered plan would require Iran to send 1.2 tons (or 1,100 kilograms) of low-enriched uranium - around 70 percent of its stockpile - to Russia in one batch by year's end, for processing to create more refined fuel for a Tehran research reactor. Iran has indicated that it may agree to send only "part" of its stockpile in several shipments. Should the talks fail to help Iran obtain the fuel from abroad, Iran has threatened to enrich uranium to the higher level needed to power the research reactor itself domestically. After further enrichment in Russia, France would convert the uranium into fuel rods that would be returned to Iran for use in the reactor in Tehran that produces medical isotopes. Ahmadinejad went on to say, "Given the negative record of Western powers, the Iranian government looks at the talks with no trust. But realities dictate to them to interact with the Iranian nation." Read the article from AP here.

Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle Program on Iran.  On October 21, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle held an educational symposium and panel discussion entitled, "Facing the Iranian Threat." The program was moderated by radio personality Dave Ross and the panel members included Israel Consul General Akiva Tor, Jerusalem Post correspondent Yaakov Katz, and AIPAC's deputy director of policy & government affairs Jeff Colman. The panelists provided a look at the political situation within Iran today; an in-depth analysis of the options related to a nuclear-armed Iran; its strategic threat to the United States, Israel and the world; and an understanding of how we can respond. For more information click here.
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Goldstone to Debate Gold at Brandeis.  On Thursday, November 5 at 5:00 PM EST, Richard Goldstone and Ambassador Dore Gold will be discussing the Goldstone Report. This will be the first time the Report is publically discussed by Goldstone and a senior Israeli official. The debate will be presented live on the Brandeis University website here.  Film of the forum will be archived on the Brandeis web site after the event. Click here to read more from the Boston Globe.

Secret Mission Rescues Yemen's Jews. About 60 Yemeni Jews have resettled in the U.S. since July and officials say another 100 could still come. There were an estimated 350 in Yemen before the operation began. Some of the remainder may go to Israel and some will stay behind, most in a government enclave. The secret evacuation of the Yemeni Jews -- considered by historians to be one of the oldest of the Jewish Diaspora communities -- is a sign of America's growing concern about this Arabian Peninsula land. The operation followed a year of mounting harassment, and was plotted with Jewish relief groups while Washington was signaling alarm about Yemen. In July, Gen. David Petraeus was dispatched to Yemen to encourage President Ali Abdullah Saleh to be more aggressive against al-Qaeda terrorists in the country. Last month, President Barack Obama wrote in a letter to President Saleh that Yemen's security is vital to the region and the U.S. Read the full article from the Wall Street Journal here.
Save Darfur
Opinion: Darfur is Too Important to Forget.  There has not been much mention of Darfur in the media this year - or the year before, for that matter. It is not because the situation has improved. However, the crisis in Darfur did receive media attention recently, when the Obama administration released its long-awaited policy on Sudan. Darfur activists welcomed this approach to address the ongoing crisis in Darfur and Sudan. President Barack Obama has long been an advocate for the people of Sudan, both as citizen and senator.

It is refreshing to know that achieving peace and stability in this war-torn region is still, with all of the other problems in the world, a priority. This newly released policy lays out three strategic objectives that are absolutely imperative to an effective strategy toward Sudan.

Click here to read the entire article.
This Week in Washington
This Week in Washington.  This week, Congress is in session and will consider several large pieces of legislation including a healthcare reform bill.  President Obama is in Washington this week.  The Supreme Court is in session this week and will hear oral arguments.  Secretary of State Hilary Clinton traveled to Israel last week. 

Hate Crimes.  Last week, President Barack Obama signed the Mathew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law.  This legislation has been a top JCPA priority for over a decade.  It expands the federal definition of hate crime to include those offenses based on gender, gender-identity, sexual orientation, or disability bias.  Further, it provides increased federal resources and authority to fully investigate and prosecute hate crimes.
 
Health Care Reform.  Last Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled the House of Representatives' version of the health care reform bill. The Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) is the result of combining and negotiating the three bills passed over the summer in the House. The bill was introduced by Democratic Leadership and a number of changes were made in order to accommodate the concerns of more moderate Democrats. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the bill will cost around $900 billion over ten years. CBO estimates the House bill would expand coverage to 96% of legal residents under the age of 65.  This legislation also attempts to strengthen Medicare and improve quality of care while also enhancing benefits. The bill also creates an employer mandate where employers must provide insurance to their employees or pay a penalty of 8% of payroll. This piece of legislation includes a number of exemptions and benchmarks to phase implementation.  A public plan is available through the insurance marketplaces know as "exchanges."  Lastly, this legislation would expand access by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions. Floor debate and a vote is expected in the coming days. The Senate is still negotiating its version of a health care reform bill. There are still a number of areas up for debate including a public option, how to pay for the package, how to ensure affordability, and what level of employer responsibility to demand.

Iran Sanctions. Last Wednesday, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee overwhelmingly approved the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (HR 2194).  This bill authorizes the President to impose sanctions on any entity that provides Iran with refined petroleum resources or engages in activity that could contribute to Iran's ability to import such resources. To view the bill, please click here.  This bill will now have to be approved by the House Financial Services Committee, the Oversight and Government Reforms Committee, and the Ways and Means Committees before it can make its way onto floor of the House of Representatives.

Last Thursday, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs unanimously approved the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act of 2009.   This bill is a combination of IRPSA, and the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, which enables state divestment efforts from companies investing in Iran's energy sector.  Additionally, the Senate legislation would ban all imports from Iran, strengthen export controls to stop the diversion of sensitive technology to Iran through third countries and mandate that the president file a report every six months on sanctionable activities. Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, has not set a date to bring the bill to the floor for a full vote.

Goldstone Report. The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote early this week on a nonbinding resolution condemning the Goldstone report.  The resolution, sponsored by the two top members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Howard Berman (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), charges that the report by South African jurist Richard Goldstone for the U.N. Human Rights Council is "irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy," in part because it was based on "a flawed and biased mandate," and that the militant group Hamas was able to "significantly shape the findings of the investigation."  To view the bill, please click here.

Climate Change Legislation.  The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held hearings last week on their draft legislation of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733). The bill is sponsored by Sen. John Kerry (MA-D) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA-D). Senate Leadership has attempted to take a bi-partisan approach, with Sen. Kerry working alongside Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC-R), in order to negotiate a bill with further reaching support. But the draft bill has encountered opposition. A number of amendments are up for debate in order to bring more Republicans on board, including off-shore drilling and building nuclear power plants.

The "Chairman's mark" includes a cap and trade policy that issues permits for greenhouse gas emissions, gradually lowers the amount of emissions allowed, and lets companies buy and sell permits to meet their needs. The Green Jobs Act also received funding in the mark.  There is also a provision that could potentially create millions of new jobs by requiring electric utility companies to invest in energy-efficiency renovations, like retro-fitting.

There are still a number of pieces up for debate pertaining to low-income consumers, the portion of the population who are most likely to carry the burden of the costs when energy costs go up, an expected result of any climate change/energy bill. Some protections for low-income households are included but the Senate bill as it currently is written falls short of providing sufficient resources to fully fund the most successful forms of low-income assistance. The House bill, passed earlier this summer, more fully protects these households. The Environment and Public Works Committee is set to mark-up/debate the bill on November 3rd.

Secretary Clinton in Israel. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Israel this weekend for meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.  Secretary Clinton said Saturday that Netanyahu had offered "unprecedented" concessions on West Bank settlement construction in an effort to restart peace talks.  Abbas however, rejected Israel's latest offer to curb most West Bank construction, as it fell well short of what has become a firm Palestinian demand of a complete settlement freeze for the resumption of direct talks with Israel.
JCPA Programs

2010 Plenum Registration is Now Open!  Please make plans to join us in Dallas, Texas on February 20 - 23 for the 2010 JCPA Plenum.  The theme of this year's Plenum is, B'Yachad: Building Bridges - Acting Together.  Plenum registration, hotel information, and program updates are now available at www.jcpaplenum.org.

Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, USA, is confirmed to speak at the 2010 JCPA Plenum on interfaith relations.  The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) clergyman and a long-time educator and ecumenical leader, is the ninth General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. Kinnamon brings a long record of ecumenical activity to his office. He was General Secretary of the Consultation on Church Union, which became Churches Uniting in Christ, from 1999 to 2002.

He was executive secretary of the WCC's Commission on Faith and Order from 1980 to 1983 and had a major role in drafting the World Council of Churches' major planning document, "Toward a Common Understanding and Vision of the WCC."  He has been the Allen and Dottie Miller Professor of Mission, Peace and Ecumenical Studies at Eden Theological Seminary since 2000. He was professor of Theology and Ecumenical Studies at Lexington, Ky., Theological Seminary from 1988 to 2000 and was dean of the seminary from 1988 to 1998.  Kinnamon was Assistant Professor of Theology at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, from 1983 to 1988 and Acting Dean from 1986 to 1988. He was a visiting professor at United Theological College and South Asian Theological Institute, Bangalore, India, in 1987 and 1997.

You can now follow Plenum on Twitter!  www.twitter.com/JCPAPlenum

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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