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Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs

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JACPAC's News & Opinion Digest

February 17, 2012  

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This week's issue highlights the following significant developments here and in the Middle East:
  • Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu paid an historic visit to Cyprus this week.      
  • House Democrats walked out of a hearing on contraception coverage when no women were allowed to give testimony. 
  • New York's Mayor Bloomberg defends the new ban on religious services in public schools.
  • House members trying for Senate seats are not finding easy races this year. 
  • CPAC included 'white nationalists' at this year's conference, sharing the dais with elected officials. 
  • A beautiful story of a young girl in Jakarta - not your usual Bat Mitzvah.   



Remember to check out our blog to keep up with current issues and opinion and to sort fact from fiction on the Internet.  Be sure to read Presidential Ponderings, thoughts and observations from JACPAC President Gail Yamner. 

Israel & The Middle East
 No surprises in India and Georgia attacks
Neither the timing nor the location of the simultaneous attacks on Israeli diplomats in New Delhi and Tbilisi were hardly surprising.

Containment Won't Work Against Iran
Mutually assured destruction might be more of an incentive than a deterrent for Ahmadinejad and those around him.
Behind the Headlines: Doha Agreement between Hamas and Fatah - A barrier to peace
Hamas and Fatah, the ruling faction in the Palestinian Authority, signed an agreement in Doha, Qatar on 6 February 2012 to form an interim unity government. According to the agreement, Palestinian Authority (PA) President and leader of Fatah Mahmoud Abbas will head the government, replacing the current prime minister, Salam Fayyad, who is supported by the West.

Bashar al-Assad vs. the Syrian People
What began in March 2011 as an attempt to suppress peaceful antigovernment demonstrations has evolved into a war -- one that Bashar al-Assad is now waging against armed groups and the Syrian people with utter determination and extreme violence.

Egypt and the US: The end of a beautiful friendship?
A year ago, Egypt was America's staunchest ally in the Arab world and the bulwark of its policy against the axis of evil led by Tehran. The strong strategic bond between the two countries was upheld by the millions of dollars in American aid allocated to Egypt following the peace treaty with Israel: In 2010, $1.3 billion in military aid and $250 million for civilian purposes. Egyptian army officers studied and trained in the United States and every other year, the two armies held joint military exercises code-named "Bright Star."

cyprusIsraeli leader pays historic visit to Cyprus in reflection of shifting regional ties
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a historic visit to Cyprus on Thursday, aiming to strengthen what he declared to be a "natural relationship" between the two countries in a volatile and quickly changing region.  


Reproductive Rights
hearingHouse Democrats Walk Out Of One-Sided Hearing on Contraception, Calling It An 'Autocratic Regime'

Three Democrats walked out of a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on religious liberty and the birth control rule on Thursday to protest Chairman Darrell Issa's (R-Calif.) refusal to allow a progressive woman to testify in favor of the Obama administration's contraception rule. The morning panel at the hearing consisted exclusively of men from conservative religious organizations.


The Republican War on Contraception
Last year was not a great one for abortion rights. First, congressional Republicans attempted to deny statutory rape victims access to Medicaid-funded abortions (twice). Then GOP-dominated state legislatures pushed record numbers of laws limiting abortion rights, including proposals that could have treated killing abortion providers as "justifiable homicide." Yet in the past six months, social conservatives have widened their offensive, and their new target is clear: Not satisfied with making it harder to obtain legal abortions, they want to limit access to birth control, too.

Personhood Bill Resembling Failed Mississippi Measure Advances in Virginia House
The GOP-controlled Virginia House of Delegates Monday advanced a "fetal personhood" bill that would give legal rights to a human fertilized egg and a measure that would require women seeking abortions to first undergo trans-vaginal ultrasound tests. Delegates rejected an amendment that would have ensured contraception remains legal once the personhood bill goes into effect.

The 'Morning After' Pill: How It Works And Who Uses It
Access to emergency contraception has swirled at the center of a recent flurry of debate over insurance coverage. It's a pill women can take if their birth control fails or they forget to use it.
Birth Control, Bishops and Religious Authority 
The Obama administration's ruling requiring certain Catholic institutions like hospitals and universities to offer health insurance covering birth control prompted a furious response from the Catholic bishops.

schoolsBloomberg Defends Decision Prohibiting Religious Groups From Worshiping In Schools
As the final day of worshiping in public schools came and went on Sunday, Mayor Bloomberg defended the city's ban on worship services in public schools citing the decision as one of the "basics of this country."

Political Bytes

houseMembers of the House Face Uphill Battles for Senate        

The race in North Dakota for a Senate seat being vacated by a retiring Democrat, Kent Conrad, was supposed to be a cakewalk for Republicans.

Obama Administration's Contraception Ruling Fits with Re-Election Needs
According to a memo published by the moderate think tank, Third Way, and highlighted by The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza, the 2012 election will come down to a fight over truly independent voters who cast ballots for Obama in 2008. If Obama can hang on to these voters, he wins.

The Suburban Swingers
The battle for the House will focus on a shrinking number of fickle suburban seats..
Right Wing Watch

cpacThe Delicate Dance Of Disassociating Oneself From 'White Nationalist' Groups At CPAC
Although much of the attention is on the main stage at each year's Conservative Political Action Conference, it's the side events where the real kookiness occurs. These events can give CPAC organizers and attendees a headache as they try to walk the line between accepting certain groups under the umbrella of the conservative movement, but also trying to make it clear they don't want to associate themselves with some of those groups' more questionable qualities.

jakartaA deaf Indonesian 12-year-old is not your typical bat mitzvah    

This wasn't your typical bat mitzvah. It took place in Jakarta, Indonesia, a majority Muslim country with a Jewish community that is thought to number in the double digits.   


Defense Ministry Team Visits the Van District in Eastern Turkey 

Yesterday (Monday), 13.2.12, a Defense Ministry team visited the Van district in Turkey. The team was led by Dudu Chen, head of the Emergency Preparedness Department, and Marcel Aviv, Coordinator of the Humanitarian Aid mission for the earthquake in Turkey. Three months ago a catastrophic
earthquake hit the region; hundreds of people died and thousands of others lost their homes.

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If you have not renewed your membership, please consider doing so today, to help us pursue a strong US-Israel relationship, reproductive rights, and separation of religion and state.  Together we can make this a better world!



Gail Yamner, President
Marcia Balonick, Executive Director
Joy Malkus, Research Director 

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Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC) is a national network committed to the special relationship between the US and Israel and a social agenda that includes reproductive rights and separation of religion and state.  JACPAC supported US Senate and House candidates who uphold this agenda and maintains ongoing dialogue with those it helps elect.  In addition, JACPAC serves as a political resource for the Jewish community, furnishing information about candidates, elections and issues.