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JCPA Insider
Volume 13, Number 7
February 16, 2010

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In This Issue
JCPA Communications Note
JCPA Plenum
Iran Initiative
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.

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JCPA COMMUNICATIONS NOTE
The JCPA Insider will not be published next week due to the  JCPA Plenum. Please check the JCPA website, www.jewishpublicaffairs.org, following the Plenum for session highlights and selected audio.
JCPA PLENUM
Jewish Leaders from the Across United States to Converge in Dallas to Encourage Civility Among Themselves, Interfaith Partners.  Hundreds of Jewish leaders from across the United States will gather in Dallas from February 20 to 23 at the 2010 Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) Plenum to gather and address the organized Jewish community's domestic and international priorities.  Dallas is the home of JCPA Chair Andrea Weinstein and the birthplace of JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow.  Click here to read the full press release.  To learn more about the JCPA Plenum speakers and program, visit www.jcpaplenum.org.
Iran Initiative
As Clinton Presses Allies, Sharp Words Traded With Iran. Locked in a sharpening confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reiterated concerns about Tehran's intentions on February 16, suggesting that evidence pointed to Iran seeking nuclear weapons. Speaking in Jidda as she prepared to end a three-day regional visit, Mrs. Clinton said that it would create "quite dangerous" problems if Iran acquired a nuclear weapon, potentially setting off a nuclear arms race. Mrs. Clinton offered a list of Iranian actions that, she said, contradicted its protestations of peaceful intent, including the disclosure last year of a hitherto secret nuclear facility near Qum. "You have to ask yourself: why are they doing this?" Mrs. Clinton said. Referring to Iran's insistence that it is not seeking nuclear weapons, she said, "The evidence doesn't support that." At a news conference in Tehran on February 16, reports said, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated that Iran was ready to suspend enrichment if it could exchange its low-enriched uranium stockpile for processed fuel rods from abroad. But he said the swap should be "simultaneous" - a demand already dismissed by the United States and its allies. Mrs. Clinton's comments seemed to amplify the verbal sparring that began February 15 when she said Iran was drifting toward a military dictatorship with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps gathering ever greater political, military and economic power. By way of a response, the Iranian foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, said that America itself answered to the description of a military dictatorship. Read more from the New York Times here.

Iran Mulling Family Visit for Detained Americans. Iranian authorities are considering a request by the families of three detained Americans to visit them in prison, Iran's top human rights official said February 16. Mohammad Javad Larijani - the secretary general of Iran's High Council for Human Rights and a member of one of the country's most influential families - said his office has recommended that the request be granted. "We are working on that with the security people and judges," he told reporters in Geneva. "We have recommended that the families should be able to see them, and I hope that this will be done." In a statement, the families welcomed the announcement. The families of the three detained Americans - Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal - say they were hiking in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region in July when they accidentally crossed the border into Iran. Read the full article from the Associated Press here.
JCPA/Jewish Federations
Israel Advocacy Initiative
With Security Tight, Pe'er Advances in Dubai. Israel's Shahar Pe'er reached the third round of a tennis tournament in Dubai a year after being denied a visa to compete there. Competing amid tight security, Pe'er defeated Virginia Razzano of France, 6-2, 6-2, in slightly over an hour on February 16 at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships. A day earlier Pe'er, who is ranked No. 22 in the world but is unseeded in the tournament, upset 13th-seeded Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 to advance.  Pe'er is restricted to traveling from the tennis courts to her hotel. She is also separated from the rest of the players and has her own dressing room and gym, according to reports. Spectators of Peer's matches must be screened by metal detectors. "It was a very important victory for me," Pe'er said after the Wickmayer match. "I felt very proud to be representing Israel in a country that does not recognize it." She went on to say that "It's more than beating Yanina, it was more of me handling all the stuff around and able to put everything on the side and just play tennis, and do what I like to do, and just concentrate on the [match] and not the politics." Last year, a day before Pe'er was set to leave for Dubai, the United Arab Emirates denied her a visa. The World Tennis Association fined the tournament organizers $300,000, and secured assurances that Pe'er would be able to participate in this year's tournament. Read the article from JTA here.

Biden Scheduled to Visit Israel. Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Israel and areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority. "The vice president will meet with key leaders in Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Jordan," a White House statement said, adding that the trip will occur during the week of March 8. "During the trip, the vice president will discuss the full range of bilateral and regional issues." The Obama administration is intensifying its efforts to renew Israeli-Palestinian talks and to increase pressure on Iran to make its nuclear workings more transparent.  In a statement released February 15 from the Prime Minister's Office in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu said Biden's trip will be "an important visit to the region" and called the vice president "a true friend of Israel and the peace process."  Read the article from JTA here.
Save Darfur
Sudan's Politics: A Vital Election.  In April Africa's largest country goes to the polls for its first national election since 1986. The election was forced on President Omar al-Bashir's regime in Khartoum in 2005, the price that it had to pay for signing a peace deal with its southern rebels in January of that year. In those far-off, optimistic days many presumed that these elections would finally sweep away Mr Bashir's regime, which came to power in a coup in 1989, and usher in a new era of democracy and federalism. After all, having waged two savage counter-insurgency wars in the western region of Darfur and in the south, Mr Bashir is undoubtedly loathed by many of his own countrymen. However, if the final selection of presidential candidates is anything to go by, it won't be that simple.  Click here to read more from the Economist.
This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington.  This week, Congress is on recess for the Presidents' Day holiday.  President Obama is in Washington and Secretary of State Clinton is visiting the Middle East.  The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments this week. 

Jobs.  Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics released January's unemployment numbers.  Although the unemployment rate dropped from 10 percent to 9.7 percent, more than 6 million people have been out of work for six or more months. Two programs that help jobless workers are Unemployment Insurance and COBRA-both are due to expire at the end of the month. While the benefits will officially end on February 28th, this week notices will begin being sent to workers informing them of the termination of their benefits.  If Congress does not take final action by February 22nd, states will no longer be in a position to reverse the process which may lead to unnecessary confusion for many beneficiaries.  Millions of workers may also experience a gap in benefits. It could take two to three months before unemployed workers are placed back on the benefits list.

The Senate is expected to vote on an extension of Unemployment Insurance and COBRA benefits next week when it returns to session.

Healthcare. On February 25th the White House will hold a bi-partisan health care summit. A list of the invited attendees can be found here.

Secretary Clinton warns of Revolutionary Guard's growing influence in Iran.  Iran is increasingly acquiring the attributes of a "military dictatorship," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asserted repeatedly Monday, pointing to how the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has increased its influence over the country's economic, military and political life. Clinton's statements, made first in Qatar, then to reporters traveling with her, and again after meeting with Saudi King Abdullah at his desert winter retreat, were seen as an effort to build support for new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

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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