JACPAC News & Opinion Digest

January 10, 2014 

JAC Around Town
aroundtownJAC met with several elected officials, candidates and leaders around the country.

JAC's 2014 Women of Power Luncheon co-chair Laurie Lustbader with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) in Chicago.

Marcia Balonick, JAC's Executive Director, recently met with Rep. Ron Barber in Tuscon, Arizona.

On Our Radar

Federal Legislation we are watching:

* Federal 20-week abortion
* Unemployment Benefits 
* Employment  
   Non-discrimination Act
* Sexual Assault in the

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

Join Our Mailing List
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 
Stay informed,
share your knowledge.

See JAC's Action Alerts

* source Slate.com

Upcoming JAC Events

Talking Points HP
with Shannon Watts of
Moms Demand Action
January 24th
Deerfield, IL
RSVP Today

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.  

Elections Matter
This week we profile Senator Kay Hagan, who is facing a tough re-election campaign in North Carolina.

North Carolina is a pick-up hope for the Republicans; JAC supports Hagan and her strong votes on our core issues. In a state that has recently passed stringent anti-choice legislation, Hagan has declared, "I am a strong supporter of a woman's right to choose."     
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.
Don't Miss Out!

If you're interested in US policy on Israel and Iran, we recommend that you read
Steve Sheffey's
weekly Chicagoland Pro-Israel Political Update. Steve was an elected Obama delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention, is a former president of CityPAC, a Chicago-based pro-Israel political action committee. You can sign up to receive his Sunday morning newsletter here.

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 Open Mic
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:
This week's EZ Read brings you these stories and some that may have slipped past your news feed.
Israel & The Middle East 
peaceIsrael awaits Netanyahu verdict on Kerry framework

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/05/09/4031477/islamic-cleric-in-gaza-rejects.htmlstorylink=cpy
At 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 5, the US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro woke the chairman of the Labor Party, Knesset member Isaac Herzog. Shapiro asked Herzog over the phone if he would be willing to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry the next day. A few hours later, the chairman of the opposition was having breakfast with Kerry, who had just returned to Israel after a visit to Saudi Arabia and Jordan. He was full of energy and determined to achieve the impossible and reach a diplomatic agreement. Herzog was impressed by Kerry's genuine concern about what might happen in the region if the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians do not advance on a more concrete track.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/05/09/4031477/islamic-cleric-in-gaza-rejects.htmlstorylink=cpy
Read Full Article
Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo: Jerusalem Post)
A diplomatic insurance policy against Iran,
by Sen. Robert Menendez
A diplomatic breakthrough resulting in a peaceful and verifiable termination of Iran's nuclear weapons program is the preferred outcome of the Obama administration's negotiations with Iran. Backing up this achievement by taking out a diplomatic insurance policy is an act of reasonable pragmatism.

Reject boycott of Israel

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/05/09/4031477/islamic-cleric-in-gaza-rejects.htmlstorylink=cpy
An American academic organization is poised to begin sweeping a respected segment of academia into the dustbin of intellectual and moral irrelevancy. An American academic organization is poised to begin sweeping a respected segment of academia into the dustbin of intellectual and moral irrelevancy.At its annual meeting this week, the 30,000-member Modern Language Association will hold a session aimed at strategizing how to mount academic boycotts against Israel, and will consider a resolution critical of Israel for the violation of academic rights while ignoring the immensely greater violations of academic rights, as well as far more basic and universal rights, in dozens of countries around the world. This could well presage a future MLA resolution to boycott Israeli universities.  
Read Full Article
Reproductive Rights
abortiontaxHouse Republicans Kick Off 2014 With Renewed Focus On Abortion, Birth Control

As the Senate takes up a measure to extend unemployment insurance, Republicans in the House of Representatives are looking to make 2014 another banner year for anti-abortion laws.

A panel of 12 men on the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on a bill Thursday that would deny tax subsidies to women and small businesses who purchase health insurance plans that include abortion coverage. The bill only makes an exception for rape and incest victims and women who would die without abortion care, which opponents say could prompt the IRS to audit any woman who claims one of these exceptions. 

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/03/20/4133089/kansas-abortion-bill-is-cruel.html#storylink=cpy
Six questions about the contraception mandate and the Supreme Court
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's New Year's Eve order temporarily blocking implementation of the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate for certain faith-based nonprofits capped a year of intensifying fighting over the controversial provision. But 2014 promises to be even more crucial in determining the fate of the mandate, which requires most employers who offer health insurance to their workers to provide free contraceptive services for female employees.

Read Full Article   

The rapid surge of state abortion restrictions - in one chart

Abortion was at the forefront of the state legislative debate during the past three years -- so much so that states added more restrictions to the books from 2011-2013 than during the entire preceding decade, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit reproductive health research organization that tracks such things. More than 200 abortion restriction laws were passed and signed into law from 2011 to 2013, according to Guttmacher's data. That's a very sharp uptick from the pace of the previous decade: From 2001 to 2010, 189 such laws were enacted , the data show.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/03/20/4133089/kansas-abortion-bill-is-cruel.html#storylink=cpy
Read Full Article
2011-2013 saw more abortion restrictions than the previous decade.
Separation of Religion & State
lifesupportPregnant and Forced to Stay on Life Support 
The diagnosis was crushing and irrevocable. At 33, Marlise Munoz was brain-dead after collapsing on her kitchen floor in November from what appeared to be a blood clot in her lungs.

But as her parents and her husband prepared to say their final goodbyes in the intensive care unit at John Peter Smith Hospital here and to honor her wish not to be left on life support, they were stunned when a doctor told them the hospital was not going to comply with their instructions. Mrs. Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant, the doctor said, and Texas is one of more than two dozen states that prohibit, with varying degrees of strictness, medical officials from cutting off life support to a pregnant patient.

Read Full Article
States where living wills can be ignored if you are pregnant. (source: Huffington Post)
3 Notre Dame students weigh in on school's lawsuit against health care law

Three students who say the University of Notre Dame should include contraception in its health care coverage are seeking to intervene in their school's lawsuit challenging the federal government's birth-control mandate. The three unidentified women said in their motion Wednesday that they are entitled to participate in the lawsuit because they will be directly affected by its outcome.  

Read Full Article
Political Byte
seatsThe 30 House Seats Most Likely to Flip Parties
Ten months from Election Day, uncertainty is the watchword in the House of Representatives. Democrats look very unlikely to pick up the 17 seats they would need to retake the House majority, and they could lose seats, with the generic-ballot average settling into a slim Republican advantage after a tumultuous fall. But the speed of earlier movement against both parties shows why it would be foolish to assume what's true today will be true in 10 months..


Anti-Abortion Republicans Are Largely Quiet As Israel Adopts Liberal Abortion Law 

Israel adopted this week one of the most liberal abortion laws in the world, and will now provide government funding for non-medical abortions for Israeli women aged 20 to 33. But Washington's most anti-abortion lawmakers are largely silent on the new policy. These same members of Congress are also some of Israel's loudest defenders, highlighting a peculiar aspect of the relationship between many of Israel's ardent U.S. supporters and Israel's domestic political landscape.

Read Full Article


Liberal Senate Democrats who are launching a new effort to seize the political offensive on climate change say they have enthusiastic backing from the chamber's Democratic leadership team. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse on Thursday announced a new Climate Action Task Force.

Whitehouse told reporters at a briefing that Majority Leader Harry Reid supports their efforts to raise the visibility of the topic.

Gun Violence Prevention
publichealthOur View: Time to address gun violence as a public health issue  

Amid all the interviews with the survivors of gun violence in David Barnhart's new documentary, "Trigger," there is a startling statistic cited in the film: 1 percent of gun shops sell 60 percent of the guns used in crimes. A few months ago, PolitiFact Rhode Island decided to check out a similar claim being offered by U.S. Rep. James Langevin during a panel discussion on gun violence at the annual meeting of the Rhode Island Public Health Association.

Read Full Article 

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/02/5875831/gun-violence-goes-on-and-so-does.html#storylink=cpy     
Beyond The Core
gabbyGabby Giffords: Skydive is my way of saying 'I'm alive'

Gabrielle Giffords couldn't help but see beauty as she took to the skies to mark the third anniversary of the mass shooting that left a bullet in her head and six people dead.

"Oh, wonderful sky. Gorgeous mountain. Blue skies. I like a lot," she told TODAY's Savannah Guthrie on Thursday in an exclusive interview about her skydiving adventure. "A lot of fun. Peaceful, so peaceful."

Gabby Giffords: Skydive Is My Way Of Saying 'I'm Alive'
Gabby Giffords: Skydive Is My Way Of Saying 'I'm Alive'

COMMENTARY: Jewish wisdom and the progressive agenda, by Rabbi Jack Moline  

Those who arrive for morning worship earliest recite a teaching from the Talmud designed to remind them of the foundational values of a good Jewish life even before the prayers begin in earnest."These are the things that benefit a person in life and form a sustaining fund in the world beyond," it begins. They are: honoring parents, acting with compassion, frequenting the study hall, welcoming visitors, visiting the sick, providing for a bride, burying the dead, prayer and making peace between two people.

Here's the Facinating Origin of Many Jewish Last Names  

Ashkenazic Jews were among the last Europeans to take family names. Some German-speaking Jews took last names as early as the 17th century, but the overwhelming majority of Jews lived in Eastern Europe and did not take last names until compelled to do so. The process began in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1787 and ended in Czarist Russia in 1844.   
Read Full Article

israelistudentsIsraeli kids donate warm clothes to Syran refugees 

Pounds and pounds of sweaters, coats, blankets and other warming winter gear are on their way to Syrian refugees from a surprising source: a multi-ethnic Israeli high school located on a military base in the north, not far from the Syrian border.

Our members count on JACPAC to provide information on current events, candidates, and elections.  JACPAC depends on membership support to make this possible.


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.