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Volume 13, Number 24
June 2

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In This Issue
Mission to Birmingham
Iran Initiative
Israel Advocacy Initiative
This Week in Washington
COEJL
Congratulations

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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!


About Us

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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Mission to Birmingham
Birmingham Mission.  The JCPA's 3rd Annual African-American/Jewish Community Leaders Mission concluded last Wednesday after four days in warm and welcoming Birmingham, AL.  Through conversations with community educators, advocates and leaders, the mission participants learned a great deal about how Birmingham is confronting its tragic past.  Alabama remains a state with a high poverty rate, but many of Birmingham's organizations are bringing together citizens of all races to build relationships and tackle social and economic issues.  Each of the participants hopes to engage their own community in dialogue and activism upon their return.  To view pictures from this year's mission to Birmingham, please view our Facebook page.   Next year's mission will take place in Detroit.  Please contact Public Policy Fellow Jeff Wojciechowski at jwojciechowski@thejcpa.org to receive additional details.
Iran Initiative
Peres: Russia has Shown a Serious Change on Iran. During a visit by Estonian President Thomas Hendrik Ilves, Israeli President Shimon Peres welcomed a statement made earlier by Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev, calling a CIA report on Iran "worrying."  "There is no doubt," Peres said, "that this declaration cannot be taken lightly, because until now, Russia had doubts about Iran's seriousness and ability to build a nuclear bomb. Therefore, Medvedev's declaration is a serious change, and Israel appreciates this development." Read the complete statement by Peres here and Medvedev's statement here.
JCPA/Jewish Federations
Israel Advocacy Initiative

Stephen B. Nasatir Writes about Gilad Shalit in the Chicago Tribune. Stephen Nasatir, President of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, argues that in addition to Gilad Shalit, Hamas continues to hold the citizens of Gaza hostage with its continued support of terror and the destruction of Israel.  "Gilad Shalit isn't the only prisoner of Hamas. Captive with him are all Israelis and Palestinians who desire an end to the cynical, escalating assault being perpetrated in the name of human rights. All who are genuinely concerned about peace should raise their voices on behalf of all who are held hostage."  Read Nasatir's complete article here.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Issues Statement on Gilad Shalit.  At the Israeli government's weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu issued a statement on the government's efforts to free Shalit, and their continuous engagement with the Shalit family.  "Our heart is with Gilad and with his family. Four years after his abduction, I call on the international community to stand beside the State of Israel and support our unequivocal and just demand that our abducted soldier be returned immediately."  Read the Prime Minister's complete statement here.

Yossi Beilin Expresses his Concern to the Commissioner of the Presbyterian Church (USA) 219th General Assembly.  As a former cabinet member and current peace activist, Yossi Beilin, expressed his concern with regards to the PC(USA) Middle East Study Committee report.  According to Beilin, the report unfairly places the burden of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Israel, and ignores the ongoing threats under which the Israeli people live.  "Narratives and activism that appear to target Israelis or exclude recognition of any of Israel's positive contributions to peace only make the people of my country, including the most progressive and moderate of us, feel isolated, insecure and less capable of encouraging the kinds of concessions and risks for peace that I have long strongly advocated." Read Beilin's complete letter here

This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington.  Congress is in session this week and is expected to continue to try to finish with pending issues as they move towards the 4th of July recess and will commemorate the passing of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), the longest serving member of Congress, on Monday morning.  President Obama is in Washington this week.  The Supreme Court is in session and will deliver the final decisions of the term.

Congress Approves New Iran Sanctions.  Last week, both chambers agreed to new and tougher sanctions on Iran.  Coming on the heels of similar sanctions by the UN and EU, the legislation expands existing sanctions to cover a range of financial institutions and businesses, petroleum companies, and directs the Obama administration to freeze the assets of Iranians, including Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, who are active in weapons proliferation and terrorism.  Read the Washington Post article about new US sanctions here. Read the JCPA press release on this development here.


Kagan Confirmation Hearings Begin.  The Senate Judiciary Committee began their confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan on Monday.  Kagan was nominated to fill the seat of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.  She currently serves as Solicitor General, our nation's chief lawyer before the Supreme Court, and before this was the first female dean of Harvard Law School and a domestic policy advisor to President Clinton.  For background on Elana Kagan and news as the hearings continue, be sure to visit our Elana Kagan Center on our webpage here.

Free Gilad Shalit.  4 years after his capture by Hamas, the House on Thursday passed a resolution calling on Hamas to immediately and unconditionally free Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.  The resolution, H.Res. 1359, passed overwhelmingly by a voice vote and now similar action is expected in the Senate where a bill was introduced by Senators Gillibrand (D-NY) and Voinovich (R-OH).  Click HERE to tell your Senator that Gilad Shalit continues to be held without access to the Red Cross or his family and to vote to tell Hamas to return him home to Israel and his loved ones.

House Passes New Campaign Finance Law.  Responding to January's controversial Supreme Court decision lifting restrictions on political activity by companies and unions, the House last week passed the DISCLOSE Act to curb such campaign spending.  The bill tightens disclosure requirements by corporations and mandates that a company's CEO appear in any campaign ad that they finance. 

Supreme Court Rules on Faith Discrimination.  On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that public universities could require all official student organizations to be open to all students regardless of faith or sexual orientation.   The case, Christian Legal Society Chapter of California, Hastings College of the Law v. Martinez involved a student group, the Christian Legal Society, which required members to sign a "Statement of Faith" that included a prohibition on certain sexual behavior.   In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Court stated that such a requirement violated Hastings College's nondiscrimination policy which required registered student groups to be open to all comers.  The Court's decision can be read here.  The JCPA joined with the Anti-Defamation League, People for the American Way Foundation, American Association of University Women, Human Rights Campaign, and National Council of Jewish Women to file an amicus brief in support of the university's policy.  The brief can be read here.   The JCPA's statement on this decision can be read here.

In a separate case also decided on Monday, McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Court scaled back the ability of states and localities to restrict the 2nd Amendment's guarantee to the right to bear arms.  The 5-4 decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, ruled that the 14th Amendment prohibited the states from infringing on 2nd Amendment protections included in the Bill of Right.  Building on the 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, this ruling will seriously restrict a State's ability to regulate gun ownership.  The decision can be read here.

Jobs Bill.  Last Thursday, after weeks of debate and negotiation, the tax extenders bill failed to achieve the 60 votes needed to end debate in the Senate.  In response, the Senate leadership has pulled the legislation from consideration.  Opposition to the bill was mainly attributed to the $33 billion that the emergency funding would have added to the federal deficit.  The bill, which failed in a 57-41 vote, had already been altered significantly from its original state.  While the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) Emergency Fund, National Housing Trust Fund and summer youth jobs all remained in the bill, significant cuts had been made to FMAP (federal matching funds for states' Medicaid programs) and Unemployment Insurance.  COBRA subsidies (federal assistance to purchase health insurance for jobless workers and their families) were removed from the bill altogether.  The legislation's future is unclear at this time.

COEJL
Keeping focus on comprehensive energy and climate legislation. The Democratic Caucus met to plot the course for pushing through energy policy. Betting that the Gulf disaster will energize public support, they hope to make it difficult for Republicans and moderate Democrats to block legislation before midterm elections. While various plans are still being considered (click here for more about the plans), the principle of "polluters pay" promises to make a winning comprehensive bill. COEJL wrote senators last week, urging them to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation this year and avoid energy-only legislation that would not sufficiently address the issues that will affect our world environmentally, economically and politically for generations.

As the Oil Turns. President Obama's moratorium on deep water drilling was struck down in Federal court. Dow Jones News Service reported that Judge Feldman, the judge responsible for the decision sold his holdings in Exxon Mobile on June 22, just before hearing the moratorium case. According to the federal courts administration, Judge Feldman also owned stocks in at least 17 oil and gas companies, which is making people question whether he should have recused himself from this and related litigation. The Obama administration has said it will file an appeal and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that a tougher moratorium measure might be in the works later this week. Obama plans to meet with a bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday to talk about moving energy and climate legislation. Wednesday, Congress will also continue several hearings on expansive energy legislation, oil regulation, and financial requirements for drillers. The current $75 million cap for environmental liability from an oil spill will also be debated. Some lawmakers have called for a $10 billion cap, while others have said companies should face no cap at all for damages caused.

Red Sea Oil Spill Affects Israel's Coast.  The leak, which Egyptian government spokesman Magdy Rady described as "limited," was caused by a spill from an offshore platform in Jebel al-Zayt, north of the Red Sea resort town of Hurghada. Israelis and Jordanians are concerned about environmental impacts on one of the world's most renowned coral reef regions, the economic effects on tourism, and the appearance of a news cover-up.

Calling Energy Activists and Communities - Let us know what you're doing so we can feature it! Community Relations Councils and partner organizations now have an opportunity to feature their environmental and energy work through COEJL's Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign. We would love to share what you are doing with the broader Jewish community through our weekly "COEJL In Contact" (dmarks@coejl.org) newsletter, our blog "To Till and to Tend,"  and the new COEJL Talks fan page on Facebook.  We look forward to keeping working with you to build our shared network of energy activists.
Congratulations
Congratulations to JCPA Board Member Jim Rosenstein on receiving the Pennsylvania Bar's Sir Francis Bacon Award.  This is a well deserved honor and we wish him a hearty Mazel Tov. 
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 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!

Contribute Now!

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