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Volume 12, Number 45
December 21, 2009

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In This Issue
Iran Initiative
JCPA/UJC Israel Advocacy Initiative
Save Darfur
This Week in Washington
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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 more than sixty years, the JCPA has identified issues, formulated policy, developed strategies and programs, and given expression to a strongly united Jewish communal voice. JCPA's has an unparalleled capacity to mobilize grassroots activism, through our network of 14 national and 125 local member 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.

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Iran Initiative
Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act Passes in the House. The House of Representatives approved legislation on December 15 to impose sanctions on foreign companies that help supply gasoline to Iran, a move lawmakers hope will deter Tehran from pursuing its nuclear program. The bill authorizes President Barack Obama to levy sanctions on energy companies that directly provide gasoline to Iran along with the firms that provide insurance and tankers to facilitate the fuel shipments. The Senate is likely to approve a similar bill, but a vote is not expected until early next year. The legislation would expand an existing U.S. law that seeks to punish foreign companies that invest more than $20 million a year in Iran's energy sector. "This bill has one overriding goal: To prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability," said Representative Howard Berman (D-CA), Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and sponsor of the legislation. Read the full article from Reuters here.  To see the Jewish Council for Public Affairs' press release on the vote, click here.

Big Crowds of Mourners Chant Anti-Government Slogans During Funeral of Iran's Leading Dissident Cleric. 
Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who died on Saturday night at age 87, was viewed as the spiritual patron of an opposition movement that blossomed after a disputed presidential election in June and has proved resilient despite repeated efforts to suppress it. The reformist website Jaras said hundreds of thousands of people joined a procession for Montazeri, an architect of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed shah. He later became a fierce critic of its present hard-line leadership.  To read the full New York Times article, click here.

JCPA/jewish federations
Israel Advocacy Initiative

Israel Takes the Lead in World's Water Technologies. In a country with scarce water resources, Israel has always had to take an innovative approach to water use and management. Now that innovation is paying off. Since Netafim first began selling the Israeli invention of drip irrigation, Israel has become one of the world's leading powerhouses in water technology, with hundreds of cutting edge water and sustainable energy companies offering a vast range of new technologies. Many of the most exciting companies emerging today are start-ups. These include Takadu, which has developed a unique technology that enables water utilities to detect and send alerts about leaks in water networks; Applied Cleantech which views sewage as a treasure trove, and has a wastewater treatment process that recycles municipal sewage into usable commodities; and Solaris Synergy, a company that has developed a system of mirrors that concentrates the sun on special solar collectors that can float on any body of water.  Read more from Israel21c here.

Residents of Sderot Light Hanukkah Menorah Made From Hollowed Qassam Rockets. The lighting was organized by Yeshiva Hesder Sderot, a Jewish school that combines Torah study with army service.  Sderot, a city of almost 20,000 residents, is less than a mile from the Gaza Strip.  More than 10,000 rockets have been fired at Jewish population centers there during the last eight years.  The menorah was visible from most of Sderot.  To see the full article from worldnetdaily.com, click here.
Save Darfur

Sudan Vote Amid Surge in Violence.  A growing wave of tribal violence and increased political tensions threatens to re-ignite Africa's bloodiest civil wars.  More than 2,000 people have died and 250,000 been displaced this year as a result of tribal conflicts in Southern Sudan, making 2009 the most violent year in the region since the end of Sudan's decades-long civil war. With thousands of people streaming into refugee camps in scenes reminiscent of genocidal fighting in the western state of Darfur, the aid agency Medecins Sans Fronteres (Doctors Without Borders or MSF) has called for urgent international intervention.  Click here to read the entire article from the National Post.

Five Year Anniversary of the Signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). To mark this January 9 anniversary, a global effort is being launched to draw international attention to this critical time for Sudan. That morning, several cities around the world will host events as part of a coordinated global day of drumming-centered events and action. Save Darfur Coalition and a coalition of partners are currently creating a video of a variety of drummers, some famous and others not, which will be shown at the United States events as well as in approximately 15 other countries. Join us on this global day to stand in solidarity with the people in Sudan and the Sudanese Diaspora. For more information about an event in your city and how you can be involved, contact will@savedarfur.org.

Hanukah and Copenhagen End but COEJL Ramps Up. This year, our festival of lights began in the middle of the world's largest ever debate about our global use of energy and carbon consumption. For insight on Hanukah lights in Copenhagen, check out this Washington Post op-ed by COEJL's new director, Sybil Sanchez. For more about COEJL's new efforts and focus, check out this recent profile in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

From Copenhagen to Washington. On Friday evening, President Obama told the press that "three components -- transparency, mitigation and finance -- form the basis of the common approach that the United States and our partners embraced here in Copenhagen." To read his remarks, click here. Now that both Hanukah and the Copenhagen Conference are over, our work is cut out for us. As COEJL has stated, Copenhagen is a first step and the global climate change debate is now moving to the U.S. Senate

EPA Greenhouse Gases Endangerment Finding. Earlier this month, the EPA found that the current and projected concentrations of the six key well-mixed greenhouse gases--carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)--in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations and that the combined emissions of these well-mixed greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle engines contribute to the greenhouse gas pollution which threatens public health and welfare. To read about the EPA's policy, click here. To read Rabbi David Saperstein's response to this finding, visit.
This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington.  The largest winter storm on record pummeled Washington this weekend leaving behind over twenty inches of snow.  It was the perfect backdrop for the Congressional debate that continued around the clock.  In two late night votes, the Senate approved the defense spending bill and a critical parliamentary motion on healthcare reform.  President Obama was in Washington after returning from Copenhagen for the UN sponsored climate change talks.  

Health Care Reform.  In the early hours of the morning on Monday, the Senate took the first of three procedural votes necessary to consider its health care reform bill, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 (H.R. 3590). The motion was approved by a vote of 60-40.

The legislation, a product of months of negotiations, would cost $871 billion over 10 years and  provide health insurance coverage to 31 million Americans who are currently uninsured  by expanding Medicaid, setting up a national insurance marketplace that includes private plans nationally administered by the same federal agency that oversees federal employee benefits. In addition, the legislation includes insurance reforms such as prohibiting the practice of denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

A final vote is expected to take place at 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve. If the Senate passes its bill, it will then need to be reconciled with the House of Representatives' health care legislation,  Affordable Healthcare for America Act (H.R. 3962) a process that is expected to last through January.

Jobs.  Last week Congress passed the FY2010 defense spending bill (H.R. 3326). This piece of legislation funds all armed services and defense programs. The bill also included an extension of unemployment insurance benefits, extra funding for state administration of SNAP/Food Stamps, and an extension of COBRA health insurance subsidies for jobless workers.

A further extension of these programs, originally introduced in the American Recovery and Renew Act, is likely to be part of a larger jobs package when Congress reconvenes in January. The President is expected to sign the Department of Defense spending bill into law in the coming days.

JCPA Programs
Many Exciting Sessions Planned at the 2010 JCPA Plenum!  Register at www.jcpaplenum.org! Plenum delegates will hear from diplomats, scholars, and policy experts on the leading issues facing the nation and the American Jewish community.  Many important speakers have been confirmed such as H.E. Ambassador Michael Oren, Professor Nadine Strossen, Abe Foxman, Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, Lee Cullum and more.  To read about these speakers and all sessions planned for the 2010 Plenum visit 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.

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