JACPAC News & Opinion Digest

December 6, 2013   

JAC Around Town
aroundtownJAC was honored to attend the White House Hanukkah Party with President and Michelle Obama.

We also had a fabulous time at the Library of Congress for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Hanukkah Celebration.

We enjoyed lunch with Senators Warren and Durbin in Chicago.

On Our Radar

Federal Legislation we are watching:

* Federal 20-week abortion

* Employment  
   Non-discrimination Act
* Sexual Assault in the

* Syrian Chemical Weapons
* Voting Rights Act
* Farm Bill - food aid (SNAP)
* HR 1565 - Public Safety &  
   2nd Amendment Rights Act

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One year since the tragedy at Newtown, over 11,000 people killed by gun violence*, 10 more schools have seen shootings, and Congress has remained mostly silent.

Call today and demand an end to the silence. Common Sense Gun Legislation must be passed. 
Your voice DOES make a difference.
Call today. 
(202) 224-3121 
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share your knowledge.

See JAC's Action Alerts

* source Slate.com

Upcoming JAC Events

Talking Points HP
December 12
"Do Words Kill?"
Mike Abramowitz of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Membership Meeting
January 2014
Details to follow

Louisville Meeting
January 2014
Details to follow

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

Upcoming Candidate Events

Meet & Greet with
Rep. Brad Schneider
December 15th
11:00-1:00 pm
Highland Park, IL

RSVP to the JAC office at 847.433.5999  

People You Should Know
This week we profile Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, who faces a challenging race in 2014.  read more
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Why It Matters: 
Voter ID Laws  
34 states have voter ID requirements.
While it may seem reasonable that voting in U.S. elections requires a government-issued I.D., there are three main reasons we oppose such laws.
  1. Voter I.D. laws disproportionately affect the poor, the elderly, young adults, & minorities. These are the groups with the least access to government offices to obtain an I.D. 15% to 25% of the people in each of these groups do not currently have a government-issued I.D.
  2. Voter I.D. laws disproportionately affect women, as most women who marry take their husband's name. If a woman's name is not properly or consistently updated, it can prevent her from exercising her right to vote.
  3. 3: Voter fraud is extremely rare in this country, with fewer than 0.00000013% of known cases. To spend time and money fighting something that effectively doesn't exist is a monumental waste of resources.
How did your elected officials vote? Find out in the JAC Education Foundation's Jewish Community Voter Guide.

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.


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for comments, opinions, essays, and more from JAC members.


Have something you want to say, submit it to Open Mic today!

This week's issue highlights these key developments here and in the Middle East:
  • Sec. of State Kerry reaffirmed that Israel's security is at the top of the US agenda with Iran. 
  • The renewed "personhood" campaign could have disastrous consequences.     
  • A look at the Justices who will decide the birth-control mandate. 
  • The GOP is targeting key Senate seats in 2014.
  • The House renewed a ban on plastic guns.   
  • The Right is simply wrong about food stamps.
  • Just in time for Hanukkah, a Hasmonean period building has been unearthed in Jerusalem.   
  • JAC around town  
  • and so much more! 
This week's EZ Read brings you these stories and some that may have slipped past your news feed.

JAC mourns the loss of Nelson Mandela. May his memory be an inspiration and blessing for all.
Israel & The Middle East 
kerryKerry: Israel's security at the top of US agenda in Iran nuclear talks
Statements by PM Netanyahu & US Secretary of State Kerry Following their Meeting 
Statements by PM Netanyahu & US Secretary of State Kerry Following their Meeting
The bond between the US and Israel is "unbreakable," and while there may be tactical differences between the two countries occasionally, the long term strategy for Israel's security and peace in the region is the same, US Secretary of State John Kerry said in Jerusalem Thursday.     

Israeli-U.S. ties "unscathed" after Iran nuclear deal: Israel defense minister

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/05/09/4031477/islamic-cleric-in-gaza-rejects.htmlstorylink=cpy
Israel's defense minister dismissed reports of a diplomatic fallout with the United States over a newly-struck interim accord on Iran's nuclear program, claiming that sharp divisions between the allies had not harmed bilateral ties.  

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

Middle East Mess Isn't About Settlements 

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

In an interview with Charles Gati in Politico Magazine, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as national security adviser to Jimmy Carter, proves once again that he is a man of profound religious faith. He worships at the Church of Linkage, which holds that Israel's settlement policy on the West Bank is the primary cause of Middle East instability and a principal cause -- if not the main cause -- of the U.S.'s troubles in the Muslim world. But there is danger in thinking that the removal of these settlements would bring about a liberal, enlightened Middle East. The danger is analytical: If you don't understand what ails the Middle East, how can you possibly fix it?

Read Full Article

Israel's New Strategic Position 

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

Israel has expressed serious concerns over the preliminary U.S.-Iranian agreement, which in theory will lift sanctions levied against Tehran and end its nuclear program. That was to be expected. Less obvious is why the Israeli government is concerned and how it will change Israel's strategic position. Israel's current strategic position is excellent. [T]he situation that has existed since the Camp David Accords were signed remains in place. Israel's frontiers are secure from conventional military attack. In addition, the Palestinians are divided among themselves, and while ineffective, intermittent rocket attacks from Gaza are likely, there is no Intifada underway in the West Bank.

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

IDF providing humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians living near Israel border  

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

The Israel Defense Forces has been providing humanitarian aid to Syrians living near the border, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon revealed on Tuesday during a tour of the frontier. According to Ya'alon, Israel has sent water and food, including baby foods, across the border, and has been helping the Syrians prepare for winter.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/05/09/4031477/islamic-cleric-in-gaza-rejects.htmlstorylink=cpy
Read Full Article
Reproductive Rights
Bishops Sued Over Anti-Abortion Policies at Catholic Hospitals

The American Civil Liberties Union announced on Monday that it had filed a lawsuit against the nation's Roman Catholic bishops, arguing that their anti-abortion directives to Catholic hospitals hamper proper care of pregnant women in medical distress, leading to medical negligence. The suit was filed in federal court in Michigan on Friday on behalf of a woman who says she did not receive accurate information or care at a Catholic hospital there, exposing her to dangerous infections after her water broke at 18 weeks of pregnancy. 

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

Nationwide, at least 73 abortion clinics have shut down or stopped providing the procedure since 2011 amid a Republican-led push to legislate new restrictions on the industry.

Read Full Article    


The conservative crusade to declare everything a "person"-corporations, fertilized eggs-will have disastrous consequences.
Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v. Sebelius and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius-a pair of cases probing whether the religious rights of a for-profit corporate entity allow it to refuse to provide for employees insurance that would include certain forms of birth control. In so doing, the court may now be forced to reckon with the question of whether the same corporate personhood that includes the right to free speech also encompasses rights to religious conscience. In other words, Corporate Personhood is back! And this time, it's got God on its side. 
Read Full Article

Michigan abortion insurance measure moves to Legislature, which can vote or leave to voters  

Michigan's Republican-controlled Legislature soon could decide to ban abortion coverage from all health insurance plans unless a separate policy is bought, and this time abortion foes will not have to worry about a veto from Gov. Rick Snyder.  If passed, the governor cannot veto the law. If not passed, the measure goes to voters next November.  

Miss. abortion clinic owner stands firms amid battle
Abortion clinic owner Diane Derzis has stared down protesters, laughed off those who call her "baby killer" and smiled through clenched teeth while bantering with people who want to close her centers in the South. She has been an abortion rights advocate for decades and owned clinics since 1996, but Derzis is facing some of the biggest political and legal pressure she has ever seen. She spars with pastors and politicians alike, and her latest fight is to keep open her Mississippi clinic, the last one remaining in the state. 
Separation of Religion & State
hobbylobbyWhite House faces tough Supreme Court fight on ObamaCare mandate

The Obama administration faces a tough task in convincing the Supreme Court to rule in favor of ObamaCare's contraception mandate, according to legal experts. They say Chief Justice John Roberts's court, which upheld the health law in a landmark 2012 decision, has generally set a high bar for limiting religious rights.
In addition, Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the court's swing vote, authored a 1993 decision that exempted a religious group from following laws it said were contradictory with its beliefs.

Read Full Article

Why Are Conservative Christians Suing To Increase Abortions?  
The Supreme Court's decision to hear two cases about the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate is likely to popularize a word many Americans have never heard before: abortifacients.
The Green family, who owns two of the businesses represented in the contraception case the nation's highest court will hear next year, aren't Catholics who oppose all birth control. They are fundamentalist Christians who believe the mandate that all health insurance provided by private companies must include coverage of  Plan B and the "morning after" pill violates their religious beliefs. And that belief is, apparently, that emergency contraception is an abortifacient. 
Read Full Article

Bill Nye: Future of U.S. economy at stake in Texas Board of Education evolution debate  

Members of the Texas Board of Education who don't want evolution taught in the state's schools have to contend with there being a legend on the other side of the issue - none other than Bill Nye, "the Science Guy."

Read Full Article
Political Byte
senateGOP targets blue states in battle for Senate

In 2012, Democrats snagged Senate seats from Republicans in states where the GOP should have prevailed with relative ease. In 2014, Republicans want to show they can play that game, too. The GOP could conceivably capture the Senate by winning in seven states currently represented by Democrats but that Mitt Romney carried. But running the table in those states is a very tall task, party strategists freely acknowledge, so they're working to expand the map of competitive races like Iowa, Michigan, Colorado and several others.  

Read Full Article   


The real 'Alpha House': Yes, this is where some Senators actually live

Paint peeling off the walls. Sheets for curtains. Broken blinds. A mangled wicker chair made settable with a board. An ancient stove with a giant hole. And there's also the pile of underwear in the living room. What looks and feels like the most rundown frat house on campus is actually the Capitol Hill home of some of the most powerful men in Washington.

Read Full Article  

Gun Violence Prevention
JAC stands with Moms Demand Action in calling for No More Silence  
December 14, 2013, will mark the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is partnering with Mayors Against Illegal Guns to commemorate the anniversary with No More Silence, a campaign to honor the victims and show our resolve never to be silent again about gun violence.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/02/5875831/gun-violence-goes-on-and-so-does.html#storylink=cpy     
Moms Demand Action: No More Silence

Meaningful Progress on 23 Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence:
On January 16, 2013, President Obama announced 23 executive actions to reduce gun violence. Today, we have completed or made significant progress on every one of them. Take a look at what we've done -- and pass it on.
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/02/5875831/gun-violence-goes-on-and-so-does.html#storylink=cpy     
Read Full Article

plasticgunsHouse Passes Ban On Plastic Guns As Senate Eyes Broader Reforms
Something bizarre happened in the House of Representatives on Tuesday: Republicans quietly passed gun control legislation. The bill, which renews the 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act, faced so little opposition in the House that it was only debated for 10 minutes and passed on a voice vote. It's the only gun-related measure to get a House vote since Democrats launched a major push for action on gun violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting late last year.
Beyond The Core

snapGOP debunked on food stamps: Everything they say about SNAP is wrong

Hilary Hoynes is a University of California at Berkeley economist who wrote a particularly notable paper last year. Instead of increasing dependency, as conservative critics have repeatedly claimed, Hoyen's paper showed that, for women at least, food stamp use during pregnancy and early childhood has exactly the opposite impact of what conservatives allege: It actually increases economic self-sufficiency when children grow up, in the next generation.  


Warner Bros. Finds Its Wonder Woman for 'Batman vs. Superman'

Isreali-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast as Wonder Woman in Batman vs. Superman, the follow-up to Man of Steel.

hanukkahUnprecedented finding from Hasmonean period unearthed in City of David

Despite over 100 years of exhaustive excavations throughout Jerusalem's City of David, archeologists have been unable to find a single significant structure from the Hasmonean period, until now.  

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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.