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Volume 13, Number 9
March 8, 2010

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Iran Initiative
Israel Advocacy Initiative
This Week in Washington

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The JCPA Needs you!  With a nationwide network of JCRCs and Federations and the strength of 14 national Jewish organizations, the JCPA is the Jewish community's most effective advocate for the issues that matter most.  Our annual Leadership Appeal campaign seeks to raise $200,000 in 2010.  We know you care about the JCPA and the work that we do on behalf of the Jewish community here, in Israel and around the world.  Your support is crucial to our success.  To make a gift to the JCPA, please click here.  If you can multiply your gift by planing a parlor meeting in your home for friends and colleagues, contact Dana Hartman, Development Associate at 212.684.6953 or dhartman@thejcpa.org.

We thank you for your generous support!


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Iran Initiative
U.S. Enriches Companies Defying Its Policy on Iran. Records show that the federal government has awarded more than $107 billion in contract payments, grants and other benefits over the past decade to foreign and multinational American companies while they were doing business in Iran, despite Washington's efforts to discourage investment there. That includes nearly $15 billion paid to companies that defied American sanctions law by making large investments that helped Iran develop its vast oil and gas reserves. For years, the United States has been pressing other nations to join its efforts to squeeze the Iranian economy, in hopes of reining in Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Now, with the nuclear standoff hardening and Iran rebuffing American diplomatic outreach, the Obama administration is trying to win a tough new round of United Nations sanctions. But a New York Times analysis of federal records, company reports and other documents shows that both the Obama and Bush administrations have sent mixed messages to the corporate world when it comes to doing business in Iran, rewarding companies whose commercial interests conflict with American security goals. Read the article from the New York Times here and a statement from the American Jewish Committee on the issue here.

Treasury Department Allows Internet Exports to Iran, Sudan, and Cuba. The Treasury Department is allowing the export of Internet communications services such as instant messaging, e-mail and Web browsing to Iran, Sudan and Cuba to help people in those countries communicate. Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin said March 8 that the change to existing trade sanctions Monday is intended to help people, "exercise their most basic rights."Protesters in Iran have used online tools, such as instant messaging and Twitter, to pass information about actions against the governing regime. Read more from the AP here.
JCPA/Jewish Federations
Israel Advocacy Initiative
Biden in Israel After Pledging U.S. Support on Iran. Vice President Joe Biden began a visit to Israel and the West Bank on Monday, March 8.  Biden, the most senior U.S. official to visit Israel since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, is widely expected to caution his hosts not to attack Iran preemptively while world powers pursue fresh sanctions against Tehran. He made no comment on his arrival at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion airport and had no publicly scheduled meetings before talks on Tuesday, March 9 with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. Biden meets Palestinian leaders in the West Bank on Wednesday. In an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth before leaving for Israel, Biden stressed U.S. efforts to drum up greater diplomatic pressure on the Iranians, as well as unilateral measures imposed by the U.S. Treasury. Asked about the prospect of an Israeli attack, he said: "Though I cannot answer the hypothetical questions you raised about Iran, I can promise the Israeli people that we will confront, as allies, any security challenge it will face. A nuclear-armed Iran would constitute a threat not only to Israel -- it would also constitute a threat to the United States."Read more from Reuters here.

Study Evening to Address Problem of Spitting on Christians in Jerusalem. The Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI), Kehillat Yedidya, and The Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations (JCJCR) will be hosting a study evening on March 15 in Jerusalem entitled, "Why Do Some Jews Spit on Christians in the Old City?" They will address the issue as well as provide background information and plans for action against this problem. In December 2009, the JCPA Leadership Mission participants met with senior Israeli officials as well as leading scholars and raised concerns about the issue of Jews spitting on Christians in Jerusalem.
This Week in Washington
This Week in Washington.  This week Congress is in session and considering several pieces of legislation including a jobs bill.  The House this week will consider the impeachment of Judge G. Thomas Porteous, Jr., of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, for high crimes and misdemeanors.  The House will also vote on a concurrent resolution authored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich which is designed to force the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.  President Obama is in Washington and Vice President Biden will visit Israel for four days this week.  The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments this week.  

Biden Arrives in Israel on Trip to Restart Peace Talks.  Vice President Joseph Biden arrived in Israel on Monday, culminating a two-month procession of high-ranking Americans seeking to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and persuade Israel to help efforts to impose sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program rather than pursue military action.  Mr. Biden is due to stay through Friday, meeting Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian leaders.  On Friday at 11:30 AM local time (4:30 AM ET) the Vice President will deliver a speech at Tel Aviv University entitled "The Enduring Partnership Between the United States and Israel." Afterwards, the Vice President will answer questions from university students in the audience.  To read the full New York Times article on the Vice President's visit, please click here.

Israel, Palestinians Agree to Resume Indirect Peace Talks.  Israel and the Palestinians agreed Monday to resume indirect peace negotiations mediated by the United States, said President Obama's Middle East envoy, George Mitchell.  Mitchell, who shuttled between Israeli and Palestinian officials the past few days, said he would return to the region next week to continue discussions on the "structure and scope" of the negotiations. Mitchell released the statement two hours after Vice President Biden arrived in Israel for a four-day visit.  To read the full Washington Post article, click here.

Jobs Bill.  The new jobs report released on Friday said unemployment for the month of February held steady at 9.7%. Still, 36,000 jobs were lost in the previous month. With those numbers in mind, the Senate is set to vote on its second jobs bill in the next week. The $150 billion jobs bill is partially paid for and includes a 1-year extension of Unemployment Insurance (UI) and COBRA, money to help states fund Medicaid (FMAP), and help for private pension funds that were crippled by the economic recession. The Senate is expected to continue voting on amendments, with final passage expected by the end of the week.

U.S. Senate Passes Resolution Supporting Peace and Stability Efforts in Sudan.  On Thursday, March 4, the United States Senate passed S.Res. 404; a bipartisan resolution with 21 cosponsors urging greater international engagement to push for full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan, credible elections in April, and protection for civilians against rising violence.  U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, who originally introduced the resolution, released the following statement, which can be read by clicking here.

U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs Holds Hearing on "Middle East Peace: Ground Truths, Challenges Ahead."  Senator John Kerry (D-MA) presided over the hearing, which included former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt Daniel Kurtzer, the American Task Force for Palestine's Ziad Asali, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's David Makovsky, and the International Crisis Group's Rob Malley.  Each witness was given five minutes for their opening remarks on the current issues surrounding the Israeli-Arab conflict.  This was followed by a question and answer period in which several committee members asked the witnesses about the best way to move forward in bringing about a peaceful solution to the conflict.  To read the full testimony from each witness or to hear a recording of the hearing, click here.

ACTION ALERT:  Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
The Senate is set to vote on an amendment tomorrow (Tuesday, March 9th) that would create jobs and help families in need by:
     *Extending the TANF Emergency Fund for an additional 6 months and provide an addition $1.3 billion in funding
    *Providing $1.3 billion in funding for WIA (Workforce Investment Act) young activities, including summer jobs for youth.

Please call your Senators and tell them the vote YES on the Kerry/Murray amendment to help struggling families and create more jobs.
Contribute to JCPA

The JCPA Needs You!  With a nationwide network of JCRCs and Federations and the strength of 14 national Jewish organizations, the JCPA is the Jewish community's most effective advocate for the issues that matter most.  Our annual Leadership Appeal campaign seeks to raise $200,000 in 2010.  We know you care about the JCPA and the work that we do on behalf of the Jewish community here, in Israel and around the world.  Your support is crucial to our success.  To make a gift to the JCPA, please click here.  If you can multiply your gift by planning a parlor meeting in your home for friends and colleagues, contact Dana Hartman, Development Associate at 212.684.6953 or dhartman@thejcpa.org.

We thank you for your generous support!

Contribute Now!

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