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Volume 13, Number 27
July 19, 2010

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In This Issue
Iran Initiative
Israel Advocacy Initiative
Save Darfur
This Week in Washington
COEJL
JCPA Programs

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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 an effective advocate for the issues that matter.  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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Iran Initiative
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Partially Withdraws from Gas Field Development.  As a result of new sanctions, the engineering arm of the Revolutionary Guard has had to partially cease development of a natural gas field.  "The move could reflect the strains on the domestic firms that have been tasked with the bulk of carrying out Iran's ambitious energy plans since many international companies have shunned working there over sanctions."  Read the complete reports from the Huffington Post here.
JCPA/Jewish Federations
Israel Advocacy Initiative

Support for Israel Near Record High.  A recent Gallup poll reveals new data on support for Israel in the United States.  "For the first time since 1991, more than 6 in 10 Americans -- 63% -- say their sympathies in the Middle East situation lie more with the Israelis than with the Palestinians."  Read the complete results of the Gallup poll here.

TIAA-CREF Resists Push to Divest Israel-Related Stocks.  The group Jewish Voice for Peace recently organized a petition requesting that TIAA-CREF, one of the largest financial services in the country, divest from Israel-related companies.  TIAA-CREF denied their request, refusing to participate in any divestment procedures noting that its policies there have been consistent with those of the U.S. government, which does not endorse a boycott of Israel. Read an article from Higher Ed on the story here.  "While TIAA-CREF acknowledges participants' varying views on Israeli and Palestinian policies and the Gaza Strip and West Bank, we are unable to alter our investment policy in accordance with those views" Read the complete response from TIAA-CREF here.


Support for Israel Does Not Cause Anti-U.S. Terrorism.  The Investigative Project on Terrorism examines what has been called the "linkage" theory, suggesting that the strong U.S.-Israel relationship hurts American security interests. The theory asks whether America should abandon its strongest ally in the Middle East.  Intelligence experts have said that "at best, this is academically dishonest, ignoring a laundry list of grievances that has been used to justify terrorism."  Read the complete analysis and debunking of the linkage theory from the Investigative Project on Terrorism here.
 
Obama Administration: Preserving Israel's Qualitative Military Edge is Crucial.  Andrew J. Shapiro, Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, recently laid out the administration's dedication to maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge. "Israel's QME is its ability to counter and defeat credible military threats from any individual state, coalition of states, or non-state actor, while sustaining minimal damages or casualties."  To read the full speech from the State Department website on what the administration is doing to guarantee Israel's QME click here.
 
Responses to Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly.  Several articles and op-ed pieces have been written in response to the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly. The church substantially revised its Middle East report, rejected divestment and apartheid language, and called for authentic balance in study and narrative.  The PCUSA recognized Israel's rights and security needs, amplified the voice of Palestinian Christian partners, condemned those who call for the destruction of any nation, and reiterated a longstanding stance linking U.S. foreign aid to settlements.   Click here to read the response from JCPA's Ethan Felson in the Washington Jewish Week.  Read the story from JTA here.  Read The Jewish Daily Forward's coverage of the story here.  Read the response from ADL's Abraham Foxman here. Read the response from Presbyterian leaders Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson and Rev. J.C. Austin here.

Save Darfur
Sudan ill-prepared for key votes next year.  Six months before a referendum that could split Sudan in two, the United States and other countries are doing too little to help prepare for the vote, according to a report issued Wednesday by advocacy groups. They also warn that if the vote goes badly, there is a risk of civil war resuming. Most experts say they think southern Sudan will vote to secede in the Jan. 9 referendum.  To read more, click here.
This Week in Washington

Congress is in session this week and is expected to vote on jobless benefits and consider Child Nutrition Reauthorization.  The President has returned from vacation with his family in Maine and will be in Washington this week.  The Supreme Court has ended its term for the summer and is not in session.


Help Ensure Full Funding for Child Nutrition Programs.  On July 15th, the House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee passed the Improving Nutrition for America's Children Act (H.R. 5502), its version of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill, in a bipartisan vote of 32-13. If enacted into law, this legislation would increase access to important feeding programs and enhance the nutritional quality of food served in school-based and preschool settings. In addition, this legislation would make improvements to child nutrition programs including the school lunch program, school breakfast program, afterschool snack and supper program, and summer feeding initiatives. On July 13, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Chair of the House Ed and Labor Committee, sent a letter to President Obama asking for his leadership on passing a strong Child Nutrition  Reauthorization bill by September 30th.  It is now of the utmost importance that funding be identified and the full House of Representatives pass the bill prior to the August recess.  

For more on the need for this legislation, this Sunday at 7 pm, Dateline NBC will feature "American Now: Friends and Neighbors," a series highlighting the pain of American families struggling with hunger, poverty, and unemployment.  This series offers a portrait of the families who are most in need of help from the Child Nutrition Reauthorization, Unemployment Insurance, and other assistance measures currently being discussed in Congress.  We encourage you to let your friends and family members know about this special series, which reinforces the need and messages underlying the JCPA's Confronting Poverty campaign.

ACTION: The JCPA encourages individuals to call their Representatives, Senators, and the White House and tell them to pass H.R. 5502 before the August recess in order to ensure that children receive expanded access to nutritional food through child nutrition programs.

President Obama Calls for Vote on Unemployment Insurance.  In a live address this morning, President Obama called on Congress to pass jobless benefits, including unemployment insurance, as soon as possible. Congress allowed unemployment insurance (UI) to expire in June, leaving 1.2 million workers without this important safety net. Unemployment Insurance has been included in a number of bills, including the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010 (H.R. 4213), which failed to pass the Senate. The House of Representatives passed another extension of UI benefits prior to the Fourth of July recess and, failing to take action on this last week, the Senate is expected to vote on that bill in the coming weeks. 

New Appointments to the Senate and OMB.  On Monday, Carte Goodwin will be sworn in to the Senate to replace the  late West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd.  With Byrd's passing last week, the Democrats lost the 60 vote supermajority needed to end a filibuster.  Mr. Goodwin's anticipated votes are expected to allow the Senate to move forward on Unemployment Insurance.   The Senate is also expected to confirm Jacob Lew, President Obama's nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget.  Lew, who would replace outgoing OMB Director Peter Orszag, held this position under President Clinton and currently serves as a Deputy Secretary at the State Department.

COEJL

New Strategy for Energy and Climate Legislation.  Democrats have started focusing on a smaller scale approach  to energy and climate reform after several months of deadlocked negotiations. Hopes for a more comprehensive approach on capping carbon seem to have been dashed for a more broadly preferred "step in the right direction" concept that limits carbon pollution by power plants only.  Senator Harry Reid and other leaders of the Democratic caucus have called for getting something signed prior to the August recess in order to show some level of success before mid-term elections in the fall. Wednesday, President Obama will be hosting several leaders  of the Democratic caucus at the White House for a lunch to discuss next steps in getting a scaled-down bill passed and signed.

Oil Spill Stopped for Now.  A new cap is on and the oil stopped but seepage on the seafloor could re-open it. After days of no oil leaking from the BP well in the Gulf and watching the pressure in the well rise to reasonable levels, seepage of hydrocarbons has been detected, indicating that it may have to be reopened soon to avoid making the situation worse.  See COEJL's Blog for updates on this and other related events.

Jewish Communal Leaders Respond to the Oil Spill. National Jewish leaders Rabbis David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Julie Schonfeld of the Conservative Movement's Rabbinical Assembly toured the Gulf Coast area to personally view the destruction and to determine the best ways to respond. They spoke to the COEJL community last Friday on a national conference call. Rabbi Saperstein also captured some of the briefings they received on video, which can be seen on YouTube. Also last week, several Jewish organizations joined others in writing to President Obama providing a set of recommendations in response to the oil spill crisis. Additionally, several resources appeared connecting the oil disaster to Tisha b'Av  and our upcoming remembering of the destruction of the Temples.

Support for Land and Water Conservation Fund Growing. The House Natural Resources Committee voted 27-21 in favor of legislation that would allocate $900 million worth of oil revenues annually toward protecting open spaces through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. These funds were mandated in 1965 to be spent on natural resource protection, yet Congress continues to underfund the effort. The CLEAR Act (Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act of 2009 - HR 3534), introduced last year by Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV), does several things, including provide permanent and full funding for land and water conservation. According to a new Zogby poll, support for using oil revenue to preserve natural areas, clean water, and access to outdoor recreation has grown in light of the recent Gulf oil spill.

JCPA Programs
Fighting Poverty With Faith Kicks Off.  The 2010 Fighting Poverty With Faith mobilization was launched Thursday.  The national conference call had excellent participation from faith community groups from across the country.   This year's  Fighting Poverty With Faith mobilization will help raise the profile of poverty issues leading up to the midterm elections as part of the longer term effort to cut domestic poverty by 50 percent by 2020.  Fighting Poverty With Faith is led by the JCPA, Catholic Charities, and the National Council of Churches in cooperation with over 30 other groups.  More information on the 2010 FPWF mobilization can be found  here.
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 an effective advocate for the issues that matter. 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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