JACPAC News & Opinion Digest

January 9, 2015  

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of France and world - the senseless violence and intolerance must stop. May the shelter of peace be spread over us all this Shabbat and always.

2015 Swearings-In 

JAC trudged through the snow and across the Capitol to attend the Congressional swearings-in of many of our friends on Tuesday in Washington, DC. One of the highlights was to see Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) take the oath of office. He will be the only newly-elected Democratic Senator for the 114th Congress. Peters' race was one of the most competitive in the country, and JAC was thrilled to see him take his place in the Senate with his new colleagues.

We also had the chance to meet some of the new Members of Congress, including Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), and Brenda Lawrence (D-MI). Representatives were happy to see that JAC was in Washington lending our support and congratulations. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said: "Wow. JAC is everywhere," after seeing us at so many events on the Hill. It was also a chance to visit with JAC friends Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Longtime JAC friend Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) even made an impromtu visit with JAC one night at dinner and joined us for coffee.

Freshman Rep. Mark Takai (D-HI) led JAC on a private nighttime tour of the Capitol. We were treated to a special opportunity to learn about the Capitol's unique history and to view the beautiful artwork that fills the building. The highlight of the tour was when Rep. Takai led us onto the House floor - just like Members!

JAC members went to Washington, DC for the swearings-in of the 114th Congress.

With Matt Nosanchuk, Jewish Liaison for Obama Administration
(l to r: Gail Yamner, Janna Berk, Betsy Sheerr, Dana Gordon,
Hollis Wein, Susan Berk)    

With Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL)
(l to r: Janna Berk, Hollis Wein, Dana Gordon, Susan Berk)     

With Rep. Mark Takai (D-HI) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
(l to r: Rep. Takai, Janna Berk, Hollis Wein, Susan Berk,
Dana Gordon)

With Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)
(front l to r: Susan Berk, Sen. Durbin, Dana Gordon
back l to r: Hollis Wein, Janna Berk, Betsy Sheerr,
Gail Yamner, Linda Rae Sher)

With Senator Cory Booker
(l to r: Janna Berk, Susan Berk, Dana Gordon,
Sen. Booker, AnnDee Levy, Hollis Wein) 

  Betsy Sheerr with Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)

With Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
(l to r: Dana Gordon, Susan Berk, Janna Berk, Sen. Klobuchar,
Hollis Wein, AnnDee Levy)

With Ambassador David Saperstein and Rep. Steny Hoyer
(l to r: AnnDee Levy, Betsy Sheerr, Ambassador Saperstein,
 Linda Rae Sher, Rep. Hoyer, Susan Berk, Gail Yamner)

With Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) and Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA)
(l to r: Hollis Wein, Susan Berk, Rep. Ruiz, Rep. Aguilar
Dana Gordon, Janna Berk)

  Betsy Sheer with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

With Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL)
(l to r: Gail Yamner, Janna Berk, Rep. Bustos, Susan Berk,
Linda Rae Sher)   



Israel Briefing

with Gidi Grinstein 

Director of the Reut Institute 

Thursday, January 29 

4:00 pm 

at the home of

Betsy & Richard Sheerr 

West Palm Beach, FL 


Special Dinner with

Gidi Grinstein

Thursday, January 29

6:30 - 8:00 pm

Avocado Grill

West Palm Beach, FL

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

Tell the House:
Tell them to vote NO on HR36 (The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act).  
(Not sure who your Representative is? Click here.) 
  • This bill relies on the discredited idea that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks
  • Goes against Roe v Wade by outlawing abortions several weeks before a fetus is viable outside the womb
  • A similar bill was ruled unconstitutional in Arizona
  • Many tests that detect fetal anomalies are taken at or after the 20th week of pregnancy
  • HR36 prevents women from making decisions that are right for their bodies and their families

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 

Poll: 49 Percent of Israelis Want Netanyahu to Remain Prime Minister 

A Channel 1 poll released on Monday revealed that 49 percent of Israeli voters believe current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should keep his job, with 33 percent expressing a preference for Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog. 

Stop Giving Palestinians a Pass, by Dennis Ross 
Since 2000, there have been three serious negotiations that culminated in offers to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" Bill Clinton's parameters in 2000, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's offer in 2008, and Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts last year. In each case, a proposal on all the core issues was made to Palestinian leaders and the answer was either "no" or no response. They determined that the cost of saying "yes," or even of making a counteroffer that required concessions, was too high.

Read Full Article    


statehoodPalestinians Seen Gaining Momentum in Quest for Statehood
When the Palestinians sought statehood at the United Nations in 2011, it was widely dismissed as a symbolic gambit to skirt negotiations with Israel and Washington's influence over the long-running conflict. But the Palestinians have begun to translate a series of such symbolic steps, culminating in last week's move to join the International Criminal Court, into a strategy that has begun to create pressure on Israel.
Preventing Iranian nukes without further sanctions 
The Republican Senate's consideration of additional Iranian sanctions legislation stems from concerns about the absence of an acceptable agreement with Iran after all these months of negotiations, as well as fears that temporary extensions of limited sanctions relief have allowed the Iranian economy a chance to recover somewhat and has provided material encouragement to potential Iranian economic partners. But new legislation is unneeded and would be counterproductive.

Read Full Article   

Anti-Semitism & BDS

Jewish cartoonist Gorges Wolinski among 12 dead in Paris shooting 

An attack on the Paris headquarters of a French satirical magazine has left at least 12 people dead, including the Jewish caricaturist Georges Wolinski. 
Read Full Article 

Understanding the Charlie Hebdo shooting 
Stephane Charbonnier, a lead editor of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and one of the 12 people murdered in the attack on the magazine's office on Wednesday, gave a quote to Le Monde in 2012 that is rapidly becoming his epitaph. Speaking about threats against the magazine over its cartoons portraying the Prophet Mohammed, he said, "What I'm about to say is maybe a little pompous, but I'd rather die standing up than live on my knees."    
Read Full Article

The Frightening Reality For the Jews of France  

Two days after heavily-armed gunmen killed 12 people at the Paris offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, two gunmen took hostages at a kosher supermarket in a Paris. The number of casualties in today's incident hasn't been confirmed, but the suspects are believed to have been behind yesterday's murder of a police officer, and are reportedly connected to the brothers responsible for the Charlie Hebdo massacre. The deadly siege on the kosher supermarket, which occurred on a Friday afternoon, when Jewish shoppers would likely be purchasing last-minute items for Shabbat, is not without context. Marc Weitzmann's sadly prescient five-part series, France's Toxic Hate, which details the rise of extremism throughout France and its anti-Semitic tendencies, is a helpful primer.

Reproductive Rights
abortionbanCongress Introduces A National Abortion Ban on Its Very First Day Back 

Republicans in Congress are wasting no time following through on the anti-abortion agenda the GOP laid out after winning significant gains in the 2014 midterm elections. 

Read Full Article   
What the Battle Over Abortion Will Look Like in 2015 

The recent surge in abortion laws -- more were enacted between 2011 and 2013 than in the previous decade -- met both success and defeat in court challenges in 2014. That fight over women's access to abortion likely will continue in the months to come, as both houses of the U.S. Congress will be Republican-led, as will even more state houses. What issues will be at the battle lines?

Read Full Article
The Abortion Debate Needs to Change: Instead of Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice, Let's Be Pro-Women 

It's difficult to reconcile an abortion as a healthy alternative to childbirth, especially when you consider the science that suggests women who give birth are generally happy afterwards. But, it's even more difficult to reconcile how the U.S. is backtracking to a time when women were forced underground after not being able to find safe and legal reproductive care. Somewhere along the line, it became fashionable (again) to distrust and dehumanize women who want an abortion. 

Kirsten Gillibrand gears up for another round 

A dozen colleagues promised Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in March that if the Pentagon didn't shape up, they would reconsider her proposal to take sexual assault cases out of the chain of command. Ten months later, she's coming to collect.

Separation of Religion & State
'Death Knell' to Anti-Eruv Church-State Argument?
After six years, the legal battle over an eruv in the Hamptons may finally be coming to a close - and the effects of the federal appeals court decision are far reaching. One Tuesday, a federal appeals court affirmed a lower court's decision that the ritual boundary created by attaching plastic strips, called lechies, to utility poles in Westhampton Beach, NY, does not violate the First Amendment. 

Read Full Article   


Photo Source: ABC News


cuomoRousing Remarks: Remembering Mario Cuomo's Powerful Speech on Religion and Politics 

Two memorable speeches were delivered in the early 1980s on separation of church and state. The first was by U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and was given - at all places - before an audience at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. But about a year later, another politician delivered and equally impressive speech, and it also grabbed some headlines. This was New York Governor Mario Cuomo's address to Notre Dame University on Sept. 13, 1984.  

Read Full Article 

Beyond the Core
Giffords meets with Obama on 4-year anniversary of Tuscon shooting


Fight on Guns Is Being Taken to State Ballots 

The gun control movement, blocked in Congress and facing mounting losses in federal elections, is tweaking its name, refining its goals ans using the same-sex marriage movement as a model to take the fight to voters on the state level.

Read Full Article  


New Michigan law will compel county clerks to issue concealed weapons permits to stalkers and spouse abusers 

A new law awaiting Governor Rick Snyder's signature would force county clerks in Michigan to issues concealed weapons permits to people covered by Personal Protection Orders (PPOs) unless the PPO explicity forbids them from carrying a firearm. If signed into law, Michigan will become a true "shall issue" state where governing municipalities have no discretion as to which people may be issued gun permits.

Read Full Article 


Source: Freepressers.com


keystoneSenate sets up showdown with Obama over Keystone pipeline 

The Senate and President Obama launched down a collision course Tuesday over the Keystone XL oil pipeline, with 60 lawmakers introducing a new bill to approve the controversial project and the White House promising to veto it.

Read Full Article   

Political Byte
womensenateThe Secret History of Women in the Senate  

In the entire history of the United States Senate, a mere 44 women have served. Ever.  Those few who were elected to a club they were never meant to join, and their history in the chamber is marked by sexism both spectacular and small. Even today, the women of the Senate are confronted with a kind of floating, often subtle, but corrosive sexism, a sense of not belonging that it both pervasive and so counter to the narrative of real, if stubbornly slow, progress that many are reluctant to acknowledge this persistent secret. 

Read Full Article

California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer to Retire   

California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, a tenacious liberal whose election to the Senate in 1992 heralded a new era for women at the upper reached of political power, announced Thursday she will not seek re-election to a new term next year.

The new Congress is 80 percent white, 80 percent male and 92 percent Christian

The 114th Congress, which gets to work on Tuesday, is one of the most diverse in American history, comprised of nearly 20 percent women and just over 17 percent of which is non-white. Which means, of course, that four out of five members of Congress are white and four out of five are men.

vaccineIsraeli Company's Vaccine Blocks 90% of Cancer Types

An Israeli biotech company is developing a vaccine for cancer that it says can help prevent the return of the lethal disease for 90% of the different types of cancer.

How Iran Kept Its Jews    

Early in his reign, the ayatollah received a secret visit from six Jews - a visit that may have saved thousands.

Read Full Article

Thurgood Marshall's Improbable But Brilliant Choice  

With a new generation experiencing the bloody 1965 civil rights protests in the movie Selma and the hardening racial division over police treatment of African-Americans arising from the Michale Brown and Eric Garner cases, it's worth remembering that demonstrations and significant changes in the law go hand in hand. Though we credit Martin Luther King, Jr. and those who put their lives on the line in the great Selma to Montgomery march - as we should - it is worth noting that those events, which led to the historic Voting Rights Act, took place because a lawyer, Jack Greenberg, then director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, persuaded a federal judge to permit King and his allies to go forward. 

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.