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Volume 13, Number 44
November 15, 2010

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In This Issue
Rabbi Gutow at NCC
Iran Initiative
Israel Advocacy Initiative
Civility Campaign
Save Darfur
This Week in Washington
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.  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.

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Rabbi Gutow speech at NCC
Last week, Rabbi Steve Gutow spoke at the National Council of Churches Centennial.  In his speech before the Interfaith Luncheon, Rabbi Gutow stressed mutual respect, and said that "personal relationships among Christians, Muslims and Jews could be more important than dialogue."  The speech can be read here. You can read more from the NCC here.
Iran Initiative
Iran Arrests Five Lawyers Involved in Human Rights Activities.  In its latest attempt to suppress human rights activists, Iran detained five lawyers involved in the opposition after last year’s election.  “Tehran general prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said three of the lawyers were arrested when they returned from a trip to Turkey, the semi-official Fars news agency reported… Analysts say such arrests are part of an intensified clampdown on activists, dissidents, journalists and lawyers to uproot the opposition. The authorities deny they jail critics.” To read the complete article from Reuters click here.  

Iranian Arms Shipment Stopped in Nigeria.  A recent arms shipment emerging from Iran was intercepted by Nigerian authorities, demanding an explanation from Iranian officials.  “The interception of the weapons had drawn sharp criticism of Iran from Nigeria. In a 2007 resolution stepping up sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, the UN Security Council banned Iranian arms exports, forbidding the sale or supply of weapons by Iran, whether directly or indirectly. It requires nations to prevent any such transfers and prevent their citizens from obtaining any weapons from Iran.”  To read the complete article from YNet click here
JCPA/Jewish Federations
Israel Advocacy Initiative
Netanyahu Agrees to New Settlement Freeze.  Last week, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Secretary of State Clinton for more than seven hours to discuss ways to renew stalled peace talks, and agreed to a new 90 day settlement freeze.  “In return, the Israelis would receive 20 advanced American fighter jets and other unspecified military aid, as well as American promises to oppose any Palestinian attempt to obtain international recognition of statehood in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza without Israeli agreement.”  To read the complete article from the New York Times click here.

University of Houston Hillel Produces Israel Advocacy Video.
  University of Houston students recently hit the streets to find out what their peers know about Israel.  Students asked, “Which was the first country in all of Asia to protect homosexuality with anti-discrimination laws?” “How many times has an Arab Israeli been elected to the Knesset?”  To view the video on the Houston Hillel website click here.
Fighting poverty with Faith
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, contact Elana Fox, 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 this 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 Fox (efox@thejcpa.org) by Tuesday, November 16th.
Civility campaign
View “Toward Civility: A Community Conversation.” The November 1 panel moderated by Noam Neusner is now online.  Nationally recognized Jewish leaders discuss the nature of the problem and what the Jewish community should be doing to encourage civil and reasonable dialogue about the vital issues. Panelists included: Blu Greenberg, Louise Greilsheimer, Rabbi Steve Gutow, Rabbi Doug Kahn, Geoffrey Lewis, Jane Schiff, Dr. Carl Sheingold, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, and Rabbi Melissa Weintraub. The panel was moderated by Noam Neusner and chaired by Robert Siskin.   You can view the video at www.jewishpublicaffairs.org/Civility

Civility Discussion at Lion of Judah Conference.  On November 10, JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow and Vice President Ethan Felson, and Encounter Co-Executive Director Rabbi Melissa Weintraub spoke at the International Lion of Judah Conference in New Orleans about making the Jewish community a model of civility and respect in discourse.  

“Can a Pledge Lead to Civility?” Last week, the Washington Jewish Week published an article highlighting the JCPA’s Statement on Civility. Citing a protest at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly, the article decries this episode as an example of confrontations taking place within large gatherings of the Jewish community. The Statement notes that “Community events and public discussions are often interrupted by raised voices, personal insults, and outrageous charges.”  Noam Neusner, former adviser to President George W. Bush and a key drafter of the Statement maintained that “We’re not trying to turn the community into the shushing corner of the library.” Instead, as JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow remarked, the Statement and the JCPA civility campaign will help train Jewish leaders and organizations to model civil discourse: “If you train organizations and leaders [on polite conversation] it will be far more on their minds.”

You can view the article here.

“Americans of all faiths see a civility problem in U.S. politics.” Religion News Service published an article last week drawing attention to the increasing number of Americans who believe that the national political system has “a civility problem.” An RNS poll result indicating that “four out of five Americans, regardless of party or religious affiliation, think the lack of respectful discourse in our political system is a serious problem” reflects similar sentiments held by religious leaders, including JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. While Americans rightfully fear terrorism and the slow economic recovery, Gutow stressed that “24/7 cable news channels and the blogosphere have encouraged and magnified negative, fear-based rhetoric.” Echoing the JCPA’s recently released Statement on Civility, Rabbi Gutow also commented that he does not “think this country, and…our community, are going to make good decisions if people can’t talk to each other rationally and pragmatically.” “We need to lean back, talk to each other, look each other in the eye and respect each other’s humanity.”
You can view the article here:
Call In Day for Darfur. The Save Darfur Coalition and the Genocide Intervention Network are hosting a National Call-In Day on November 16.  Call 1-800 genocide to ask Secretary Clinton to appoint a high level diplomat for Darfur.  The hotline will provide you with talking points and connect you to Congress or the White House. 
This Week in Washington
This Week in Washington.  The President is in Washington this week.  The Supreme Court is in session but not hearing arguments.  The “lame duck” session of Congress begins on Monday as Senators and Representatives return from the midterm election recess.  Two new Senators, Chris Coons (D-DE) and Joe Manchin III (D-WV) were sworn in on Monday afternoon.  Among the issues expected to be considered are a number of JCPA legislative priorities, including an extension of Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (as part of the Department of Defense authorization), the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and the DREAM Act.  We encourage you to ask your Members of Congress to support these highly important bills. For more information on any of these, feel free to contact Elyssa Koidin (ekoidin@thejcpa.org) in our Washington office.

Child Nutrition. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (S. 3307), during a “lame duck” session of Congress, likely after Thanksgiving. After much negotiation, it seems as if those Members of Congress (led by Representatives DeLauro (CT-D) and McGovern (MA-D)) concerned with SNAP funds being used as a partial offset for S. 3307 have reached an agreement with the White House and House leadership to support the bill while still finding ways to restore the SNAP cuts and protect them from further reductions.

November 15 and 16 are National Call in Days, and the JCPA is encouraging constituents to reach out to your Representatives. You can send a letter to your Representative here or call them using Feeding America’s hotline at 1-877-698-8228.

Today Rabbi Steve Gutow published an op-ed on the topic of the child nutrition bill in the Huffington Post.

Anti-hunger and faith organizations sent a letter to House leadership late last week encouraging them to move the child nutrition bill forward and to protect further SNAP cuts. Nearly 200 national groups (including the JCPA) and over 1,000 state and local groups signed on. A final copy of the letter can be found here.

Today the Department of Agriculture released the “Household Food Security in the United States, 2009.” The report found that 14.7% of households (17.4 million) were food insecure at least some of the time during 2009. 5.7% of households experienced very low food security. This amount remains essentially unchanged from 2008, which was the largest increase of food insecure households since the creation of the study. 4.2 million (10.6%) households with children were food insecure at times throughout the year. The typical food-secure household spent 33% more for food than the typical food insecure household of the same size. A full copy of the report can be found here.

Paycheck Fairness Act.  Later this week the Senate will vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 3772/ S. 182). This piece of legislation will deter wage discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963, strengthen penalties for violators of civil rights laws, and educate employees and employers about the law. Advocates, including the National Council of Jewish Women, are encouraging people to contact their Senators to express support for this bill.

CEDAW. On November 18th, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary will hold a hearing on the U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). CEDAW is the only international human rights treaty to focus exclusively on the rights of women. It has been ratified by 186 of 193 countries worldwide with the United States joining Iran, Sudan, and Somalia, as one of only seven countries that have failed to ratify CEDAW. The treaty protects fundamental human rights, addressing violence against women, the right to vote, sex trafficking, and access to education, among other issues.  The JCPA has submitted an organizational statement to the Committee.

Jobs. The federal unemployment benefits will expire on November 30th in the absence of Congressional action. If no extension takes place, 2 million workers will face premature elimination of benefits. In 2009, unemployment insurance prevented 3.3 million Americans from falling below the poverty line.  During the lame duck session, Congress will debate whether or not to extend the federal unemployment insurance benefits for an entire year. A one year extension guarantees that struggling families will not have to continually worry that their benefits will expire due to Congressional inaction. The Center for American Progress has put together this creative animated piece that explains the importance of unemployment insurance benefits to our economy.

Advocates around the country will be holding a call-in day for unemployment insurance on Tuesday, November 16th. Our colleagues at the Religious Action Center (RAC) have posted these talking points, complete with a call-in number to Congress.

Hate Crimes Indictments.  The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which the JCPA supported, was passed in October of last year.  Today, the first indictments under that law came in New Mexico.  The press release from JCPA member agency, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which praises the indictments and the law for “providing law enforcement officials charged with responding to bias-motivated violence with appropriate legal tools to meet that challenge” can be read here.
Energy May Find Hope with Lame Duck Congress. Despite the upcoming change of Congress, efforts for clean energy policy  are still alive with at least one measure to see congressional action this week and a handful of climate and energy bills by year's end. An alternative vehicles bill (S. 3815) will receive a procedural vote this week. Lawmakers will also push for a renewable electricity mandate, an oil-spill response bill and an extension of expiring tax credits. Earlier efforts to pass the renewable electricity standard (RES) stalled, so Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-NDN, joined a last-ditch effort with Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., the Energy Committee chairman, and Sen. Sam Brownback, R-KS, to pass the legislation. COEJL applauds their bipartisan effort to move RES forward. With Chanukah coming up and energy matters on our mind, COEJL and the Religious Action Center have put together a gift resource guide and fun program material to engage communities to help save energy for the festival of lights and beyond. Check out our Chanukah Energy Program & Gift Guide and make this Chanukah a green one.
Save the Date: March 9th, 2011 Energy Forum in DC. COEJL is hosting an Energy Forum in Washington D.C. following the JCPA Plenum. We will bring Jews around the country together to work toward a better future, healthier environment, and more secure energy future. Join national leaders, communal professionals and environmental experts. More details soon.
Mazel tov to Larry and Margo Gold on the birth of their first grandchild, Jackson Asher Gold, born November 9, 2010.
The JCPA offers condolences to board member Geri Palast on the recent passing of her father, Gil Palast.  Note of condolence can be sent to Geri c/o Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc.  110 William Street #2602, New York, NY 10038.
JCPA Programs

2011 Plenum Registration is now officially OPEN at www.jcpaplenum.org!

The JCPA Plenum is a three-day conference hosting over 400 delegates from across the country.  Delegates participate and exchange ideas at plenary sessions, forums and workshops designed to enhance advocacy in their communities.

The 2011 theme is Destination Justice: Framing the Future for America and for Israel

A strong future for America and peace for Israel depend on how well the Jewish community advocates collectively.  Let’s come together to advance our agenda on Israel, social justice, the environment, and defending civil liberties.  JCPA plans to offer sessions on countering the delegitimization of Israel campaign; Preventing a nuclear-armed Iran; Civility in our national political dialogue; Confronting poverty and much more.  Remember to keep checking the website for updates on topics and confirmed speakers.

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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