JACPAC News & Opinion Digest

September 4, 2014 

SEPT. 17-18


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Mark Your Calendars! Introducing Talking Points Chicago this October 6th! 
Details to Follow.

"No employer should be allowed to interfere with a women's access to contraception"
Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC)

"The Federal Government should not criminalize personal medical decisions between a woman and her doctor." 
Senator Mark Begich (D-AK)



Lunch with Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) 

September 12, 2014

Chicago, IL


An Evening with Alison Lundergan Grimes

Join the MadMitch Series Finale! 

September 23

Philadelphia, PA

For More Information, CLICK HERE


Call the JAC office for details on these and other upcoming events. 


Send Kroger a message to keep their employees, customers, and their families 
safe from the threat of gun violence by 
prohibiting people from openly carrying 
weapons in their stores.

This week, JAC revisits the past with some of our favorite photos. 
JAC member Laurie Lustbader with Congresswoman 
Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2) in December 2013

JAC staff members Dana Gordon and Marcia Balonick with First Lady Michelle Obama in 2013
JAC stands by Senate Candidate for Kentucky Alison Lundergan Grimes last October. (l to r: Linda Rae Sher, Joy Malkus, Senate Candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, Marcia Balonick, and Andrea Solow.)

JAC with Vice President Joe Biden in 2012. (l to r: Vice President Joe Biden, Betsy Sheerr, Linda Rae Sher, Dana Gordon, Janna Berk, and Dr. Jill Biden)

JAC Past President Betsy Sheerr with Senator Elizabeth Warren at Martha's Vineyard in 2013

Representative Tammy Duckworth with JAC Past President Gail Yamner in 2012

JAC with President Bill Clinton
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Janna Berk, President
Marcia Balonick, Executive Director
Joy Malkus, Research Director 

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 

A delegation of US House lawmakers meets with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Monday in Tel Aviv. (Israel Ministry of Defense)

US Lawmakers Flag Bipartisan Support for Israel

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

Flagging their unflinching bipartisan support for Israel, leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee pledged strengthened cooperation in countering common strategic threats. Visiting here less than a week after Israel's 50-day war in Gaza and just a day after it downed a Syrian-launched drone that had breached its northern border, lawmakers vowed to stand "side by side" with the "our only true friend in the Middle East."

Read Full Article


US Rejected Abbas's Peace Plan, PA Says

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

The plan, which envisages a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines within three years, was presented to US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday by Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat.


How Sotloff's Jewish, Israel connections were hushed up 

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

The Jewish and Israeli background of slain American journalist Steven Sotloff, who was beheaded by the Islamic State terrorist organization this week, has featured prominently in reports about his death. But in the many months of his captivity leading up to the execution, a gruesome video of which was released by IS on Tuesday, the reporter's friends and acquaintances made every effort to cover up that aspect of his biography, for fear that it would cost him his life. In Israel, a gag order was placed on the information.


USARMSHamas More Popular Among Palestinians Than Before War, Poll Finds

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

Hamas' popularity has surged in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since its latest conflict with Israel, according to a new poll. A Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey research poll released Tuesday showed that 61 percent of Palestinians would choose Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh for president if elections were held today, The Associated Press reported. Only 32 percent would vote for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, of the Fatah party, founded by Abbas' predecessor, Yasser Arafat.


A Different Sort of Dangerous: The New Jihadi Threat from Syria

The Islamic State, US Secretary of State John Kerry said, is a cancer that should not be allowed to spread. It advances a "genocidal agenda" and "no civilized country should shirk its responsibility to help stamp out this disease." For the past week, the Israeli army has watched as a different strain of that same malady set up camp along the border, hoisting the black al-Qaeda flag over the Quneitra crossing on the Golan Heights. Israeli farmers have been ordered back from the border, as the ongoing fighting has occasionally spilled over.

Read Full Article 

Israel-Jordan Gas Deal A Bulwark Against Jihadis: Expert

A huge deal to sell Israeli natural gas to Jordan could counter the threat of Islamic extremists there and strengthen the Western-oriented kingdom, according to a security expert. The agreement to sell Jordan natural gas worth $15 billion over the next 15 years is the third leg of a trilateral regional arrangement designed to shore up relations between Jerusalem, Amman and Cairo - and to ensure the survival of the regimes in two Arab nations, according to Brig. Gen. (Res.) Nitzan Nuriel, research associate at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, IDC Herzliya. "Israel will produce the gas, Egypt will liquefy it, and Jordan will benefit from it, along with Egypt and Israel," said Nuriel. "The people in all three countries will be very happy to have a secure supply of energy at a reasonable price."

Read Full Article 

Anti-Semitism & BDS

  Protesters display placards and banners as they take part in demonstration against Israeli airstrikes in Gaza in central London on July 19, 2014 against Gaza strikes. (CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)


IntolerenceA Dark Spectre in Europe

A range of feelings rippled throughout the Jewish community and its supporters in London last weekend; There was the jubilation that thousands of people were prepared to stand together in the face of rising anti-Semitism to show solidarity with Britain's 300,000 Jewish population. But then there was the disappointment this type of movement is still needed in our modern society. 

American Campuses in the Heat of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has found its way into conversation among college-aged students in America. Dialogue between those who hold conflicting viewpoints is undeniably important. But the manner in which the conversation occurs, however, is what many universities struggle with.
Reproductive Rights

txandlacourtReproductive Rights Proponents Score Court Victories in Texas and Louisiana

Since early 2011, state Republican officials have placed an enormous emphasis on restricting women's reproductive rights, and have generally been quite successful. But proponents of abortion rights have had one refuge: the courts. This was evident late Friday in Texas. 
Anti-Abortion Leader Admits Clinic Restrictions Are Not About Safety
The anti-abortion movement has long claimed that the aim of passing new abortion clinic regulations is to protect women's health and safety. But a leader in that movement admitted on Sunday the real motivation behind those laws is to block women's access to abortion. 
Planned Parenthood Dismisses 'Cynical' GOP Birth Control Proposal
Planned Parenthood and several Republican Senate candidates have finally found something they agree on: that birth control pills should be available over the counter. But the family planning provider has warned voters not to trust the candidates' sudden show of support for the policy, calling it an "empty gesture" designed to appeal to women voters. 


California Legislature Passes "Yes Means Yes" Bill
Planned Parenthood and several Republican Senate candidates have finally found something they agree on: that birth control pills should be available over the counter. But the family planning provider has warned voters not to trust the candidates' sudden show of support for the policy, calling it an "empty gesture" designed to appeal to women voters.
Columbia Student Pledges to Carry Mattress Every Day Till Alleged Rapist Leaves Campus
Columbia University senior Emma Sulkowicz, 21, says she was raped in her own bed at the beginning of her sophomore year. This week, two years after the alleged assault, Sulkowicz, a visual-arts major, has made a promise to carry her mattress around campus every day as part of her senior thesis. It is, she says, a symbol of the burden sexual-assault survivors carry with them every day. 


Separation of Religion & State
Two Tennessee state senators joined the conservative charge against the new framework for the AP U.S. History Exam last week, urging the state to review the new version of the test. Conservatives claim that the new framework for the exam leaves out key historical figures and events, such as the founding fathers and important military commanders.

Study: More Religion Means Less Scientific Innovation
Are science and religion doomed to eternal "warfare," or can they just get along? Philosophers, theologians, scientists, and atheists debate this subject endlessly (and often, angrily). We hear a lot less from economists on the matter, however. But in a recent paper, Princeton economist Roland Bénabou and two colleagues unveiled a surprising finding that would at least appear to bolster the "conflict" camp: Both across countries and also across US states, higher levels of religiosity are related to lower levels of scientific innovation.
Atheists Get the Shaft In New York Town After Supreme Court Ruling
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court gave its blessing to local governments that want to open their public meetings with religious prayer. It was a victory for the town board of Greece, N.Y., which stressed that it was fighting not just for Christian prayer but for the right of all people express their views regardless of their faith. In a 5-4 ruling along ideological lines, the Court ruled against the Jewish and atheist plaintiffs, who argued that the practice violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Less than four months later, the town of Greece has adopted an invocation policy that excludes non-religious citizens and potentially shuts out faiths that aren't well-established in the town, according to a top secular group.
Beyond the Core

Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords with Ron Barder at a "Get Out The Vote" Rally at the Rialto in 2012 (Momta Pomphat, Arizona Daily Star)


Gabrielle Giffords' Ad Push Aims to Aid Successor

Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is making a long-awaited push to help her successor, Democrat Ron Barber, in his closely watched race against Republican Martha McSally. Starting Wednesday, Giffords' pro-gun control super PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions, will start airing two TV commercials criticizing McSally for her opposition to legislation expanding background checks. The commercials are the first for the group, which Giffords formed last year.

Read Full Article 


voteridTexas Voter ID Law Goes To Trial

Dozens of lawyers will gather in a federal courtroom in Corpus Christi, Texas, on Tuesday for the start of a new challenge to the state's controversial voter ID law. The trial is expected to last two to three weeks, but it's unlikely to be the end of what's already been a long, convoluted journey for the Texas law - and many others like it. 

Black LGBT Activist Arrested for Distributing Voting Rights Information

Police in Charlotte, North Carolina, arrested a black LGBT activist and former state Senate candidate Monday, saying that he violated a city ordinance by distributing literature about voting rights and candidates on parked cars.  The arrest of Ty Turner, who was attending a Moral Mondays-affiliated rally at a park in Charlotte, was particularly poignant given that the event was held to condemn the state's record on voting rights and racial profiling. 


No, You Can't Claim Arctic Ice Is "Recovering"
The Daily Mail and Mail Online are to scientific accuracy what a sledgehammer is to an egg. Especially when it comes to global warming. David Rose is oftentimes the wielder of that sledgehammer. 
Political Byte

churchpoliticsPolitical ideologies of Churches and Religions in America 


Halfway House: GOP Falling Short In Midterms

Tepid fundraising, underperforming candidates and a lousy party brand are threatening to deprive House Republicans of the sweeping 2014 gains that some top party officials have been predicting this year. POLITICO interviewed more than a dozen top strategists from both parties about their outlook for the House in the midterms, and their assessment was nearly unanimous: Republicans are on track to expand their majority by only five or six seats, or roughly half their goal. The conversations covered everything from advertising strategies to fundraising to polling.

Read Full Article 


Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson Takes $100 Million Gamble on GOP Senate
Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is poised to donate close to $100 million this election cycle, with much of that total coming

 in untraceable "dark money" to conservative groups-a massive amount that could help decide which party controls the Senate next year. Several of the casino mogul's largest checks, in the mid-seven to low-eight figure range, are being sent to a quartet of conservative nonprofits that under IRS rules can mask donors' names, say three GOP operatives and donors familiar with his contributions.

Read Full Article 


Politics Counts: North Carolina's Voter Growth Could Help Kay Hagan
North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan's halting embrace of President Barak Obama this week showed the incumbent is in a dogfight to hold on to her seat in a state the president lost in 2012. But if the race stays as close as it is right now, voter registration data out of the state suggest Ms. Hagan might have at least a little bit of help lurking in the state's voter rolls.

Read Full Article 


Legendary Comic Joan Rivers Dead at 81

"I'll get it from the ADL for insulting the Jews, but if I had said the gypsies, the Jews would have complained they were left out," Joan Rivers says.

Can she tawk! And tawk and tawk. With her chin pulled up between her eyes, it's a wonder the comedienne, fashion personality and reality TV star's mouth still works. Making a diva's entrance in Sixth & I's sanctuary aisle flanked by security, Rivers spent an hour regaling an audience of avid fans with life stories, snarky comments and advice for the millennial crowd, who only know her from the E! network's Fashion Police and Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best? or her weekly YouTube series, In Bed With Joan. Middle-aged folks and older fans remember her early work from Johnny Carson's Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show.

Old City to Become Disabled Friendly, After 3,000 Years
Accessibility ramps and other improvements are being added throughout Jerusalem's Old City, allowing the disabled easier access to the Western Wall 3,000 years after Solomon built his Temple there, the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA) announced Tuesday. A special project of the Jerusalem Development Authority, the Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Office, the Jerusalem Municipality and Social Security, the project will see ramps built in the Jewish Quarter, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the City of David - places that were previously inaccessible to the handicapped. The project will cost, in total, roughly 20 million shekel ($5.75 million).  
Jewish Communities Decimated in Eastern Ukraine
International news media reports that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russia's President Vladimir Putin have reached a ceasefire agreement were greeted by skepticism by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee's Ukraine department. Its staff in Ukraine has been on emergency footing for months in attempting to ameliorate the dire situation of its clients in conflict-stricken eastern Ukraine.
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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.