JACPAC News & Opinion Digest

December 19, 2014 

JAC at White House Hannukah Party
JAC at White House Hanukkah Party

JAC at White House Hanukkah Party with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer (l to r: Lori Friend, Marcia Balonick, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, Linda Rae Sher)    

JAC Members Stefanie Rubinstein and Lisa Rubinstein at the White House Hanukkah Party

JAC at  the Library of Congress (l to r: Marcia Balonick, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Hollis Wein, Linda Rae Sher, and Lori Friend)



JAC celebrated the 2nd night of Hanukkah with President and Mrs. Obama at the White House's annual Hannukah Party.  Munching on the White House famous latkes, JAC mingled with Jewish leaders from across the country.


Before the candles were lit, President Obama spoke, "the Hanukkah story teaches us that our light can shine brighter than we could ever imagine with faith, and its up to us to provide that first spark."  He also said the "light of hope must outlast the fire of hate."


It was wonderful to gather in the White House with Jewish leaders from around the country, light the menorah and say the Shehecheyanu, said to celebrate special occasions. We are so fortunate that, as Jews in this country, we can enjoy the full freedoms of our democracy; and that is just one of the miracles we celebrate this Hanukkah.


Earlier in the day, JAC attended a special White House briefing on the release of Alan Gross, the Mideast, rising anti-semitism, and Iran. These issues were of the utmost concern to the guests assembled. The briefing was detailed filled and the questions were far ranging. The White House knows that the Jewish community is involved and attuned to the issues of the day.




 Talking Points Palm Beach

Details to follow


Want to host a JAC event in your area? Call the JAC office to help coordinate.

Congressional Leaders Taking a Stand on Gun Control

December 14, 2014 marked the 2nd anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shootings.  Since then, there have been at least 100 school shootings. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Christopher Murphy (D-CT) and Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) have taken the lead on pushing for common sense gun laws.


(l to r: Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT))


Blumenthal introduced the Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act, a bill that would protect domestic violence survivors from gun violence. Murphy has also co-sponsored this bill.


Esty, and other House Democrats, introduced the "Promoting Healthy Minds for Safer Communities Act of 2014"  that would increase federal resources for mental health intervention services. The House approved an amendment sponsored by Esty and Rep. Mike Thompson, (D-CA) that would add nearly $20 million to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check program.


"We can and we must do better as a nation to stop the scourge of gun violence," Elizabeth Esty said.


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Happy Hanukkah!
Six13 - Chanukah (Shake It Off)
Six13 - Hanukkah (Shake It Off)

This week's issue highlights these key developments here and in the Middle East.
  • Alan Gross returns home for Hanukkah.
  •  Obama signs legislation ending Nazi Benefit Checks
  • Supreme Court declines appellate decision blocking abortion law
  • NRA loses battle and Vivek Murthy is Obama's Surgeon General
  • and so much more! 
This week's EZ Read brings you these stories and some that may have slipped past your news feed.
Israel & The Middle East 

Alan Gross thanked President Obama for winning his freedom, calling it the best Hanukkah gift ever for him and his family. (Photo by Getty Images)


sanctionsAlan Gross Praises Release From Cuban Jail as Hanukkah 'Blessing'

Alan Gross, newly released after five years in a Cuban prison, thanked his wife, his lawyer, the Jewish community, President Obama, and numerous others in helping secure his freedom. Speaking at a news conference Wednesday in Washington, Gross opened his statement with a Hanukkah greeting and a thank you to Obama. 


Congress Omnibus Includes New Iran Oversight, Increased Defense Spending on Israel

The US will eliminate funding to the Palestinian Authority should it move forward with a bid for statehood at the United Nations without Israeli consent, according to a new omnibus spending bill Congress passed over the weekend. 


Hamas Removed From EU's Terrorism Blacklist

An EU court has struck off the Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas from the bloc's list of terrorist organizations. It said the 2001 listing was influenced by the media and the internet. 

US Says It Will Not Support a Palestinian UN Bid

State Department spokesperson indicated Washington likely to veto text calling for Israeli withdrawal to 1967 lines by the end of 2017.

Anti-Semitism & BDS



Harvard President Calls for Probe into Halting SodaStream Purchases

Harvard University's president has requested an investigation into the decision by the university's dining service to stop buying SodaStream equipment. Drew Faust asked for an investigation into the decision, Provost Alan Garber told The Harvard Crimson student newspaper on Wednesday night.
Read Full Article
Reproductive Rights

sixthingsSupreme Court Declines to Review Appellate Decision Blocking Arizona Abortion Law

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to review a lower court decision blocking an Arizona law that abortion-rights supporters said would have virtually eliminated medical abortions in the state.

Read Full Article   
States Slap Pregnant Women with Harsher Jail Sentences

States like Wisconsin and Tennessee are handing down stiff jail time to mothers-to-be caught with drugs-far harsher penalties than for men caught in the same situation.

Read Full Article
Montana Dress Code Tells Female Legislators to Watch Their Hemlines and Necklines
Montana is cracking down on what legislators wear into the chamber - and the recommendations for women are raising eyebrows. The guidelines, approved by Republican leaders in the Montana state Legislature, advise lawmakers that their dress code is "business formal," which for men means a suit and tie, and dress shoes or "dress boots." For women, it's a little more detailed. 

This GOP Lawmaker Wants a Woman to Get Permission From the Father Before Having an Abortion

A Missouri Republican is pushing a bill that would allow a man who gets a woman pregnant to stop her from having an abortion. The measure would force a woman who wants an abortion to obtain written permission from the father first-unless she was the victim of "legitimate rape."

Separation of Religion & State
religioustestLegislature Must Reject Vouchers
Inherent in the argument for "school choice," the movement to allow students to use tax dollars to attend private and religious schools, is the notion that public schools are ailing.
Beyond the Core

Nearly a year after the Senate failed to expand gun background checks as a response to the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, it looked as though the National Rifle Association had claimed another scalp. Dr. Vivek Murthy, President Barack Obama's pick for surgeon general, had been approved by a Senate committee in late February, only to be engulfed in controversy when a 2012 tweet was uncovered in which he declared guns a "health-care" issue.

Read Full Article  


Hanukkah is the Holiday of Renewable Energy

Though it's not often told this way, Hanukkah is a holiday that celebrates the miracle of renewable energy-the renewable energy of the Maccabees in their fight against Antiochus, and the renewable energy of some special, organic olive oil that kept the Temple's eternal flame alight for eight days instead of just one.

Read Full Article 

Political Byte
'Nuclear Option' Helps Obama Reshape the Courts For A Generation

President Barack Obama can thank outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for triggering the "nuclear option" in November 2013 and securing him one of the most robust judicial legacies of any modern president.

Read Full Article

NaziObama Signs Legislation Ending Nazi Benefits Checks

President Barak Obama on Thursday capped a swift and forceful response to an Associated Press investigation by signing into law a measure that bars Nazi war criminals from receiving U.S. Social Security benefits.


Photo credit by Hollis Wein


sanctionsJerusalem School Hit by Arson Creates Menorah Used at White House Hanukkah Event

The special menorah at the White House Hanukka Reception on Wednesday was commissioned from the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Arab-Jewish Bilingual School in Jerusalem that was 

 last month. Three men, who according to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), belong to the Jewish extremist group Lehava, were charged with the attack. 

pandasHighlighting Campus Sexual Assault, Jewish Groups Have Taken a Lead 

Jewish campus groups were ready for the painful national dialogue that took place in the wake of murky rape allegations at the University of Virginia. That's because organizations like Hillel and historically Jewish Greek houses such as Alpha Epsilon Pi, Zeta Beta Tau and Sigma Delta Tau had been having the conversations for months before the explosive Rolling Stone story made national headlines.

Read Full Article

Debbie Wasserman Schultz's 'Lower Guilt" Latkes

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz - South Florida congresswoman, chair of the Democratic National Committee, mother of three school-age children - is also, apparently, something of maven in the kitchen. Wasserman Schultz (aka @cleancookingcongresswoman) maintains an Instagram account devoted to her culinary adventures, and was tweeting over the weekend about, what else, latkes.

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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.