JACPAC News & Opinion Digest

May 31, 2013   

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Upcoming JAC Events

June 6
2013 JAC Power of Women Luncheon
with Special Guest Kerry Kennedy
Chicago, IL

Talking Points HP will resume in the fall. Thank you to everyone who joined us this year to hear our diverse and dynamic speakers. Want to host a Talking Points near you? Contact the JAC office!

Want to host an event in your area?  Contact the JAC office.  

Upcoming Candidate Events

June 11th
Reception with
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA)
Washington, DC
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June 24th
Reception with
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL)
Chicago, IL
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June 30th
Reception with Senator
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Winnetka, IL
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Want to host an event in your area?  Contact the JAC office.  

on the following issue:  

Urge your Representative to support background checks and co-sponsor HR 1565. 
NOTE: We have 175+ co-sponsors and need 218 - please call today!
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See JAC's Action Alerts here.

This week's issue highlights the following significant developments here and in the Middle East:
  • Secretary of State John Kerry outlined his vision for the reviving Mid-East peace talks.   
  • Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told West Point graduates that sexual assaults in the Army would be a "profound betrayal" of their oaths.


    Is Separation violated if a town council opens its meetings with a Christian prayer?  The Supreme Court will weigh in. 

  • Immigration reform, including provisions for refugees, heads to the full Senate.

  • Even southern states are leaning towards background checks.  
  • Where lowest and highest meet - a statue of the Dead Sea now sits on Everest.



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 Janna Berk.


Check out the all-new Open Mic for comments, opinions, essays, and more from JAC members. 

Israel & The Middle East 
Assad Warns Israel, Claiming a Stockpile of Russian Weapons  
President Bashar al-Assad of Syria displayed a new level of defiance on Thursday, warning Israel that he could permit attacks on the Golan Heights and suggesting that he had secured plenty of weapons from Russia - possibly including an advanced missile system - as his opponents faltered politically and Hezbollah fighters infused force into his military campaign to crush the Syrian insurgency.

kerryKerry's gamble  
Secretary of State John Kerry tried to explain at a press conference at Ben-Gurion International Airport why he had been investing most of his time over the past months in a desperate attempt to renew the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.


Congressmen urge UN to nix Iran from heading nuke disarmament panel  

Letter signed by 72 lawmakers questions ability of Tehran to lead Conference on Disarmament, in light of own nuclear program and terror financing.

Read Full Article

Senate resolution: US will back Israeli force on Iran

With the support of 99 senators both Republican and Democrat, a resolution passed Congress's upper chamber on Wednesday declaring US support for Israeli military action against Iran's nuclear facilities.
Read Full Article

Iran's nuclear designs are the greater Middle East threat, by Ambassador Michael Oren
The world is, understandably, focused on the Middle East. The map of the region - drawn a century ago by European powers to reflect imperial interests rather than ethnic realities - is unraveling. Syrians and Iraqis are being massacred, and Jordan is flooded with the half-million who have fled. Turkey, a formidable power, also struggles to meet the challenges of refugees and terrorist attacks. Russia, meanwhile, seems bent on supplying Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with deadly weapons such as the S-300 anti-aircraft system. This will enable Assad to enforce a no-fly zone over all of Syria and even parts of neighboring countries.
Read Full Article

Israeli Plan to Conscript Ultra-Orthodox Advances
Under popular pressure to fulfill campaign promises to make the burdens of citizenship more equitably shared, an Israeli government committee on Wednesday approved a proposal to phase out wholesale exemptions from military service for ultra-Orthodox Jewish men.
Read Full Article

Secretary John Kerry's Remarks to Special Program on Breaking the Impasse World Economic Forum

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/05/09/4031477/islamic-cleric-in-gaza-rejects.htmlstorylink=cpy
I spent the last week traveling through the Middle East and Africa, and I have spoken with national leaders, business leaders, community leaders, and young people. I just had a session with young people at the University of Addis Ababa earlier this morning. And we talked with them, as I have talked with all of these leaders, about the enormous choices that are before us - weighty decisions that confront us in the aftermath of the Arab Awakening - decisions that we need to make and reach before the demographic tipping points just around the corner begin to overwhelm us.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/05/09/4031477/islamic-cleric-in-gaza-rejects.htmlstorylink=cpy
Read Full Article

Asia Is Becoming Israel's New Frontier - Here's Why
When we think of Israel, we usually think of the Middle East (its neighborhood), North America (its close ally the United States) and Europe (the long history of Ashkenazi Jews). Rarely do we think about Israel and Asia, even less about Asia as Israel's new frontier.
Read Full Article

Reproductive Rights
hagelHagel: Sexual assault 'a profound betrayal'

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/04/01/4156563/abortion-clinic-to-open-in-wichita.html#storylink=cpy
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point on Saturday that sexual assaults would be a "a profound betrayal" of their oaths to the Army

Abortion Opponents Try to Spin Murder Case Into Legislation
As predicted, abortion opponents on Capitol Hill are wasting no time in their efforts to turn publicity over the recent murder conviction of abortion provider Kermit Gosnell to their legislative advantage.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/03/20/4133089/kansas-abortion-bill-is-cruel.html#storylink=cpy
Read Full Article 

In Memory of Dr. Tiller, on the Fourth Anniversary of His Death 
I am a family doctor and I was a proud colleague of Dr. George Tiller's. It is difficult to believe four years have passed since his murder.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/03/20/4133089/kansas-abortion-bill-is-cruel.html#storylink=cpy

Supreme Court Won't Review Indiana's Case Against Planned Parenthood

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to review a lower court decision that prevents the state of Indiana from cutting Planned Parenthood out of its Medicaid program. 

Read Full Article 

Congressmembers Work To Prevent Anti-Choice 'Crisis Pregnancy Centers' From Misleading Women  
At the end of last week, three Democratic legislators renewed their efforts to protect women from right-wing crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), anti-abortion front groups that often use misleading advertising to market themselves as women's health clinics. Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) have reintroduced the "Stop Deceptive Advertising For Women's Services Act," which would hold those facilities accountable for any deceptive marketing tactics that falsely advertise abortion services they don't actually provide.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/03/20/4133089/kansas-abortion-bill-is-cruel.html#storylink=cpy
Read Full Article

Congressman: Women Should Be Forced To Give Birth To Fetuses With No Brain Function 

At a congressional committee hearing to discuss a proposed measure to criminalize abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a Texas lawmaker told a woman who made the difficult choice to terminate a non-viable pregnancy that she should have carried the fetus to term anyway - even though an MRI had already revealed that he was missing a large part of his brain and didn't have much chance of survival. 

State Rep. Doug Cox: The GOP and abortion legislation 

All of the new Oklahoma laws aimed at limiting abortion and contraception are great for the Republican family that lives in a gingerbread house with a two-car garage, two planned kids and a dog. In the real world, they are less than perfect. 

Separation of Religion & State
cityprayerJustices to weigh whether prayers at meetings violate separation of church, state

The Supreme Court said Monday that it will review whether a New York town council that starts most of its meetings with a Christian prayer violates the separation of church and state. 

Read Full Article

Mississippi public high school forces students to attend student-led Christian presentation proselytizing to students; ongoing dispute ignites church/state issues

Northwest Rankin High School says a student led presentation that students were forced to attend and forbidden to leave told students to accept Jesus and "find their hope in Jesus" was non-denominational; some students say it was.  The dispute has caused a major argument regarding separation of church and state. 

Read Full Article

Federal Appeals Case Brings Contraception Coverage Mandate Back Into Spotlight

Over the past year or so, several dozen business owners have sued the federal government over a provision in the 2010 Affordable Care Act that requires many employers to include free coverage of contraceptive services in their employees' health insurance plans. The business owners contend that, like religious institutions, they should not be forced to pay for services that conflict with their religiously based objections to birth control, sterilization or emergency contraception. 

Read Full Article
Political Byte

In tornado's wake, Capitol Hill lawmakers grapple with questions about aid

Prayers on Capitol Hill for the victims of a massive tornado in Oklahoma quickly turned to questions on Tuesday about whether Congress would need to appropriate funds for disaster relief, and whether they should be offset with other spending cuts.
Read Full Article 

immigrationreformImmigration reform bill heads to full Senate

A sweeping bipartisan plan to overhaul the nation's immigration system headed to the Senate floor after a key committee approved it Tuesday, but not before tilting the bill to the political right with amendments designed to attract more Republican support. 
Read Full Article

Elizabeth Warren Is Turning Out as Good as Promised

The Massachusetts senator is now championing legislation that would cut the student loan rate to the near zero that the big banks enjoy when borrowing money.
Read Full Article

A proposal for moms-to-be (like abortion rules, it's for their own good)

Having an abortion is a momentous decision. And a growing number of states are expressing concern for women who are contemplating that choice.
Read Full Article
Gun Violence Prevention

This Is How the NRA Ends: A bigger, richer, meaner gun-control movement has arrived

n April 17, the bill to expand background checks on gun buyers failed in the Senate, and the fatalistic shrugs in Washington were so numerous they were nearly audible. The legislation had been a modest bipartisan compromise, supported by 90 percent of the public and lobbied for hard by the president. A group backed by Michael Bloomberg had spent $12 million on ads pressuring senators to vote "yes." When the bill fell short-by just five votes-it seemed to confirm a Beltway article of faith: There's no point messing with the National Rifle Association (NRA). And that, many assumed, was the last we'd be hearing about gun reform.
Read Full Article

gunsouthPoll: Southern states back expanded gun purchase background checks

Even solidly red states show bipartisan support for expanded gun purchase background checks, a new poll finds.

everestSchlepping art from Earth's lowest point to its highest - almost 

A band of nine Israelis, including a local politician, a sculptor, and a camera crew, set out last week on an eccentric mission to Everest, determined to grace the highest place on earth with a statue made of rocks from the lowest point on Earth, the Dead Sea. A silhouette of the famed saltwater lake, the statue was ultimately erected at the mountain's base - 18 miles from the summit.
Read Full Article

Israelis developing 'Google Glass' for the blind    
In the not-so-distant future, people blinded by retinitis pigmentosa may be using Israeli technology to see beyond shadows once again.
Read Full Article 

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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!



Janna Berk, 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.