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JCPA Insider
Volume 13, Number 43
November 08, 2010

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In This Issue
Over 1000 For Civility
Iran Initiative
Israel Advocacy Initiative
Civility Campaign
Fighting Poverty With Faith
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 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.  For more information, contact Max Mulcahy at 212.684.9815 or mmulcahy@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.

Our Supporters

Over 1000 For Civility
Over 1,000 Jewish Leaders Sign Civility Statement. . . and counting.  Pledging to treat others with honor and dignity as models for civil discourse, over 1,000 Jewish leaders from over 400 Jewish institutions have signed the JCPA's Statement on Civility.  Join them at www.civilitystatement.org and encourage your family, friends, colleagues, and others in your community to do the same.  The Statement embraces the message of Eilu v’elu divrei Elokim chayim, “both these and those are the words of the living God,” by calling on everyone to engage in civil discourse and to treat individuals respectfully, even when disagreement occurs. 
Iran Initiative

Ahmadinejad’s Visit to Lebanon Should Raise Concerns.  The American Jewish Committee’s Director of Communications, Kenneth Bandler, argues that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent visit to Lebanon should raise concerns for western governments. “Displaying the Iran-Hizbullah alliance, using that beleaguered nation as the platform to berate Israel, should worry Western governments as much as Iran’s nuclear program.”  To read the complete op-ed in The Jerusalem Post click here.

Iran Punishes Middle Class.  Iran’s middle class, which played a crucial role in last year’s opposition movement, will soon be hit hard by the regimes decision to cut subsidies. “The subsidy overhaul lays bare a deep rift between the Islamic Republic's leaders and the influential middle class over what kind of country Iran should be… Late last month, hundreds of checkpoints concentrated in middle-class areas of the capital were set up as a show of strength, manned by paramilitaries carrying automatic rifles.”  To read the complete story in The Washington Post click here

JCPA/Jewish Federations
Israel Advocacy Initiative

Delegitimization Movement Must be Undermined. NGO Monitor has stated its support for the Israel Action Network’s efforts to combat the deligitimization of Israel. “To emerge victorious in this political war, the network must be armed with detailed information about the opposition, and implement an effective counterstrategy on this basis. This involves distributing information to college students and active community members, so they can name and shame the groups that lead and fund demonization.  NGO Monitor and other groups can provide the Israel Action Network with this information without reinventing this particular wheel.”  To read the complete op-ed in The Jerusalem Post click here.

Vice President Joe Biden Speaks at JFNA General Assembly.  In his address to the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly, Vice President Joe Biden spoke about the “unbreakable bond” between the U.S. and Israel.  “Speaking before an audience of approximately 4,000 at the opening plenary of the annual federations conference in New Orleans, Biden said tensions that may seem to exist between the Obama administration and Israel do not imply a weakening of ties between the two countries.”  To read the complete article from JTA click here.

JCPA at JFNA General Assembly
JCPA Leaders Join JFNA General Assembly. The Jewish Federations of North America is holding their annual General Assembly in New Orleans this week.  Opening with a speech from Vice President Biden, the GA has also heard from Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, among many others.  Both Biden and Netanyahu praised JFNA for the new Israel Action Network, an initiative with the JCPA to counter delegitimization of Israel across North America.  The JCPA has also participated in a number of the sessions.  On Sunday, Ethan Felson spoke at “Confronting Israel's Delegitimizers: The Jewish Community Responds” and Rabbi Steve Gutow took part in “The Global Assault on Israel's Legitimacy: How Do We Respond?”  On Monday, Josh Protas was part of a panel for “Leading the Jewish Community Response to Poverty and the Recession”, Martin Raffel was part of “U.S.-Israel Relations in a Changing World” which was chaired by JCPA’s Conrad Giles, and Rabbi Gutow spoke at “Funding Jewish Social Justice: Perspectives from Donors”.  JCPA’s Midge Perlman Shafton will be speaking during “Iran at a Crossroads: The Jewish Community Responds” on Tuesday. 
Civility campaign

“America needs a civility campaign.” In articles published in JTA and The Washington Post “On Faith” blog last week, JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow discussed the fallout from what he called in JTA “one of the least civil election campaigns in memory.” Citing name calling, smear tactics, mud-slinging, and fact distortion as dominating public events and the political atmosphere as a whole, Gutow, in JTA, called for “changing the political atmosphere” and for everyone to “actively seek and promote civil modes of discourse and codes of conduct.” In the Washington Post, Gutow stressed the need to “to plan our public events carefully…[and] defend each other from attack…even when faced with smears and falsehoods.” “We must not only…talk, but also…listen.” By stating that “Democracy simply cannot function without a respectful exchange of ideas,” Gutow maintained the importance of employing civil discourse in upholding the democratic ideals on which our governance system is based.

Civility at Lion of Judah Conference.  At Wednesday’s Lion of Judah Conference in New Orleans, Rabbi Steve Gutow, Rabbi Melissa Weintraub, and Ethan Felson will speak about making the Jewish community a model of civility and respect in discourse.  Last week, Rabbis Gutow and Weintraub participated in a panel discussion on civility as part of the Civility Campaign roll out at the JCPA Task Force Meetings in New York City. 

Fighting poverty with Faith

Fighting Poverty with Faith is big news!  The Half in Ten campaign published an article last week highlighting the Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization JCPA’s anti-poverty work.  Read the article here.

Over the weekend, Detroit hosted a hugely successful Interfaith Health Fair, where Jewish and Muslim health care providers came together to provide free health screenings to underemployed Detroit residents.  Read more about the event here and here.

The Fighting Poverty with Faith closing event will be held on November 22 at 4pm in the Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, DC. We invite you to join with members of Congress, recipients of Fighting Poverty with Faith services and faith leaders as we proclaim the conclusion of a successful Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization, and the importance of remaining engaged in fighting poverty within and among our faith communities.  For more information and to RSVP, contact Elana Fox at efox@thejcpa.org.

Post-Election Conference Call on Poverty. Join the Confronting Poverty campaign’s Poverty Clusters for a post-election conference call to discuss the importance of continued Jewish anti-poverty advocacy and how communities might modify existing advocacy efforts for heightened impact in the new Congress.  Joyce Garver Keller of Ohio Jewish Communities will be the featured speaker.

The conference call will take place on Wednesday, November 17 at 3pm ET.  The call in number is 1-218-936-4700, access code 379527.  If you plan to participate, please RSVP to Elana (efox@thejcpa.org) by Tuesday, November 16th.

This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington.  This is the last week of recess before Congress returns for a “lame duck” session on November 15th.  The President is leaving India today to continue a 10 day trip to Asian democracies this week.  The Supreme Court is in session and is hearing oral arguments this week.  

Midterm Elections.  Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives last week as the midterm elections brought in an expected slate of new Members of Congress.  Republicans gained 60 seats to put them at 239 members, 21 over the 218 needed for a majority. Democrats have 187 seats, with 9 still undecided.   In 37 US Senate contests, the Democratic majority decreased to 53.  Senate Republicans gained 6 seats for a total of 46, with the Alaska race still undecided.  The total number of Jewish Members of Congress declined to 12 in the Senate and 29 in the House.

Child Nutrition.  Congress is expected to return for a “lame duck” session the week of November 15th. It is likely that the House of Representatives will consider the child nutrition bill, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (S. 3307). In anticipation of this important vote the JCPA is encouraging individuals to send a letter to their Representative. In addition a letter is being circulated to the anti-hunger and faith community. The JCPA is one of the original signers. We encourage local and state organizations to sign on as well. Please feel free to circulate this letter to your local network. The letter can be found here. To sign on please email Elyssa at ekoidin@thejcpa.org by 10am on November 12th.

Secretary Vilsack of the United States Department of Agriculture will be hosting a call with advocates in the field on November 15th at 2pm EST. Please RSVP here and the call-in information will be forwarded to you later in the week by the JCPA. November 15th and 16thwill also be a National Call In Day to Congress. (More information will be provided in next week’s Insider).

For more ideas on how to get your community involved in the child nutrition bill please see last week’s Confronting Poverty piece.

Unemployment Statistics. The Labor Department released the October jobless figures on November 5. The Bureau for Labor Statistics reported that for the sixth month in a row the unemployment rate has remained essentially unchanged at 9.6%. 151,000 new jobs were created in October. The unemployment number currently stands at 14.8 million individuals. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) remained unchanged at 6.2 million. For the full report please go here.

On November 30th the unemployment extension will expire. Millions of jobless Americans have relied on this safety net program to make ends meet. Congress is expected to debate and vote on a further extension but all sources indicate that the passage of this bill will be a difficult challenge. Our friends at NELP (National Employment Law Project) are also circulating a petition calling on Congress to extend unemployment insurance.

Post-Election Environmental Analysis.  Thirty Congress members who supported climate and energy legislation were voted out of Congress, but whether that was a key factor remains a source of debate. It is expected that the new Republican majority in the House will seek to slow and prevent major climate legislation and EPA regulation on greenhouse gasses while the larger Republican minority in the Senate is expected to advocate for judicial nominations more in line with their base in their efforts to do so. However, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the new congressional outlook is in fact quite favorable for the wind industry overall. Many incoming freshmen hail from states with growing wind power industries and interests. This could make support for wind power and legislation for a renewable electricity standard  (RES) bi-partisan while also helping create new green jobs.

Support Land and Water Conservation Fund. Although the focus now is already on the next Congress, the current Congress returns to session on November 15th and they will continue to legislate for the short time they remain in office. That’s why COEJL is involved in an important effort to support funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  The Fund was established in 1965 to take contributions from oil companies and use them to fund the conservation of natural resources. It supports parks, recreation, monuments, water, and wildlife in every single state, has bipartisan support and is funded without using tax dollars. Yet, since its inception the Fund has never received sufficient appropriations. Join COEJL today in this important campaign to urge Congress to preserve our land and water natural resources upon their return on November 15th.

Chanukah and energy go hand in hand. During the holiday of Chanukah, we celebrate the miracle of one day’s worth of oil and light lasting for eight days. With this in mind, COEJL and the Religious Action Center, along with a network of Jewish organizations, will provide a gift resource guide and program material to extend and save energy for the festival of lights and beyond. Check our special page for upcoming details. For more information about an energy-related issue, check out the interfaith blog “After the Spill: Religious Communities Restoring the Gulf,” an online project of the Religious Action Center, COEJL, and 15 other Jewish and Christian partners in the Gulf and across North America committed to long-term Gulf restoration following the BP oil spill disaster.
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.  For more information, contact Max Mulcahy at 212.684.9815 or mmulcahy@thejcpa.org.

We thank you for your generous support!

Contribute Now!

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