JACPAC News & Opinion Digest

January 23, 2015  

President Obama's State of the Union Address

On Choice...
"We still may not agree on a woman's right to choose, but surely we can agree it's a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs."

On Anti-Semitism...
"As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we're threatened...It's why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world...That's why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We do these things not only be
cause they're right, but because they make us safer.
Read Full Speech


Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)


Sen. Murray was recently selected by Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to join the Senate Democratic leadership as the Conference Secretary.  She is the first female Senator to serve from the State of Washington when she was elected in 1992.  Known as the "mom in tennis shoes", Murray has fought for women's reproductive rights and freedom of choice throughout her public career.

She sponsored The Emergency Contraception Access and Education Act, which would require hospitals that receive federal money to provide rape victims with emergency contraception.  She has said that reproductive rights are an integral part of reproductive health care. One of her priorities as a Senator -- and as a mother -- is to ensure that all women in this country have the opportunity to make decisions about their bodies and their health. Murray believes the government must not interfere with a woman's private decision, and she is concerned when attempts are made to restrict a woman from making her own choices.

Murray has also always worked in the Senate to promote a strong U.S-Israel partnership.



 Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL-2)

Rep. Kelly is a leading champion in the House to curb gun violence in this country.  She recently authored the first-ever Congressional analysis of the country's gun violence epidemic, "The 2014 Kelly Report on Gun Violence in America."  "No community is immune to gun violence. Gun violence isn't an urban issue, it's an American public health epidemic," she said. "It's time that Congress put saving American lives at the top of the national agenda by passing common sense gun legislation to make our country safer from gun violence."

She co-sponsored legislation calling comprehensive and enforceable background checks on all commercial gun sales, including those at gun shows and over the internet.

JAC can also count on Kelly to fight for women's reproductive rights.  She has earned a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America.  "I believe in a woman's right to choose and in her right to make her own decisions about her body and her healthcare," Kelly has said.  "I will work to preserve abortion rights and expand access to birth control as these are essential components of women's reproductive health.

jacaroundtownThe weather may still be cold and snowy, but at JAC we are already thinking of Spring. Planning is well underway for our annual Power of Women Spring Luncheon.  Watch your e-mails for updates.

(l to r: Jacki Parmacek, Marcia Balonick, Linda Rae Sher)

(l to r: Luncheon Chairs Susan Berk and Ilene Tucker) 

(l to r: Wendy Abrams and Lynda Canel)

Palm Beach Gardens

Dinner and Israel Briefing

with Gidi Grinstein

Director of the Reut Institute

Thursday, January 29

6 pm

Club House at Marisol




Coffee with Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL)

Monday, February 2

9-11 am

Home of Richard and Betsy Sheerr



Los Angeles

Coffee with Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL)

Friday, February 6

11 am to 1 pm

Home of AnnDee Levy


Northbrook, IL 
Talking Points HP with 
Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL) 
Monday, February 9
10 - 11:30 am
Home of Lisa Rubinstein

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

The Week in Legislation

H.R. 36 The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (20-week abortion ban).    VOTE DELAYED
The House was going to vote on it on Thursday, but delayed the vote.  GOP women objected to the bill and dropped their support.  JAC led a nation-wide phone calling campaign to Capitol Hill denouncing this attack on women's reproductive rights. The GOP has promised to bring it up again and the President has promised to veto the bill.

H.R. 7 To Prohibit Taxpayers Funded Abortions. PASSED
This bill would, in essence eliminate all insurance coverage of abortion. 
Women's Health Protection Act. INTRODUCED.
The bill would protect a woman's right to safe and legal abortion by stopping restrictive regulations and laws intended to curtail reproductive health services and  would prohibit laws that impose burdensome requirements on access to reproductive health services.
January 22, 1973:
In 'Roe v. Wade,' the Supreme Court Legalizes Abortion in All Fifty States
Before the courts can change, the mores must change. A new consciousness must emerge. It may take decades, generations. It may never appear at all; on the other hand, it can come with amazing speed when time, acting through men, has done its work. Some aspects of this process are mysterious, others can be discerned without much difficulty-for instance, exchange of experience from one generation to the next.

UPDATE: While this bill was pulled this week, it will be reintroduced after a language change around the rape exception. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has confirmed he will bring it to a vote in the Senate if it passes the House.

This fight is not over.

Tell the House:
Tell them to vote NO on HR36
 (The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act).  

This bill would:

  • Contradict to Roe v Wade 
  • Limit women's reproductive choices
  • Certain fetal anomalies may not be discovered until after the 20th week
  • Some women experience serious health risks necessitating termination after 20 weeks
  • Where public funding or insurance coverage are unavailable, women may need extra time to gather funds for the procedure 
  • Many young women (12-17 years of age) do not access care until after the 20th week
  • 20 weeks is an arbitrary number decided upon by legislators and objected to by medical professionals 
  • Leading medical experts have debunked the argument the "fetal-pain" argument cited by anti-choice groups
(Not sure who your Representative is? Click here.) 

Women in Nevada need our Help

Nevada issued a first-of-its-kind examination of the scope of gun violence against women in its state. The state's weak gun laws have left Nevada women highly vulnerable to future violence by failing to require background checks for all guns sales and failing to ensure that dangerous domestic abusers and stalkers do not have easy access to guns.  Nevada has the eighth highest rate in the country of women murdered with guns, and the gun-murder rate of women in Nevada exceeds the national average by 38%.

Levels of gun violence against women in Nevada are startling. It's time to act #protectNVwomen

Tweet and share this with your friends. #protectNVwomen
Find Us Online:

Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  View our profile on LinkedIn  Visit our blog 
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 
Boehner's Bibi surprise
The invitation from Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio,) the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress appears to have been very personal, indeed - virtually no one outside the Boehner-Netanayhu circle had any idea it was coming until just before Boehner's announcement this morning. The Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman thinks it might also be ill-advised. "This looks like a political challenge to the White House and/or a campaign effort in Israel," he told JTA.
Saudi King Abdullah's death and what it means
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Adbul Aziz died early Friday, setting the stage for a transition of power at a critical moment as the key U.S. ally in the Middle East struggles with falling oil prices and rising Islamist violence. 
Read Full Article
Stabbing on Tel Aviv Bus Breaks a Fragile Calm
A Palestinian man stabbed and wounded up to a dozen Israelis on Wednesday as he rampaged through a bus in central Tel Aviv during the morning rush, the police said. He then fled on foot but was shot and wounded by security forces.

Following the stabbing attack on a Tel Aviv bus, #JeSuisCouteau  (I Am A Knife), began trending in support of the attack.

iccUS blasts ICC war crimes probe of Israel as 'tragic irony'
The United States joined Israel in condemning the International Criminal Court decision to open a preliminary probe into possible war crimes committed against Palestinians, blasting it as a "tragic irony".
Yemen coup could spell trouble for local Jewish community
A takeover of the Yemenite capital of Sanaa by Houthi rebels may put the country's Jewish community at risk given the Shi'ite group's track record.

Read Full Article 

Obama, Britain's Cameron warn Congress on Iran sanctions

President Obama warned Congress on Friday that he would veto proposed bipartisan legislation to impose additional sanctions on Iran, saying such a move would undermine talks over the nation's nuclear program and risk setting up a military confrontation.
Anti-Semitism & BDS

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power,
 U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 

samanthapower"When the human rights of Jews are repressed, the rights of other religious and ethnic groups are often not far behind"  U.S. Ambassador Power speaking at the UN this week on anti-semitism. 
 UN holds first conference on anti-Semitism
It was a meeting that never should have been called, but on Thursday morning in New York prominent European ministers and diplomats gathered for the first-ever informal discussion on the rising tide of anti-Semitism around the world. Perhaps indicative of how much the UN cares about anti-Semitism, the conference was sparsely attended by member states. The headlining speakers included French philosopher Bernard Henri L�vy, who gave an impassioned speech tracing the history of anti-Semitism to its modern roots, touching on everything from blood libels and Christ killings to the present antipathy against Israel, and how all societies could be affected by this vindictiveness.

Lawmakers Honor Charlie Hebdo Victims By Holding Up Pencils At State Of The Union 
Who Could Have Wanted Nisman Dead?
The mysterious death of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman seems ripped straight out of a crime thriller. Nisman - the indefatigable prosecutor collecting evidence of culpability in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people - was found dead in his apartment just hours before he was to present evidence to Argentina's congress that he said implicated his country's president and foreign minister in a nefarious cover-up scheme.
Reproductive Rights
anti-abortionHouse Passes Anti-Abortion Bill On Anniversary Of Roe v. Wade
On the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark abortion rights decision in Roe v. Wade, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 242-179 to pass a bill that would codify a ban on federal funding for abortions. The bill would prevent women from having their abortions covered by Medicaid; restrict a woman's ability to buy private insurance plans that include abortion coverage; and deny small businesses a tax credit, which they currently receive through the Affordable Care Act, if they include abortion care in their health insurance plans. It would also prevent the District of Columbia from using its own local funds to subsidize abortion care.

Abortion rights bill puts Dems 'on the offensive' 
More than 100 Democrats are fighting back against the rising tide of abortion restrictions flooding state legislatures after big GOP wins in recent elections. Members of the House and Senate reintroduced a bill Wednesday that would prevent state lawmakers from passing laws that make it tougher for women to get abortions, including mandatory ultrasounds or "personhood" amendments that grant legal rights to fertilized eggs. 

A Perilous Year for Abortion Rights
The start of 2015 finds no letup in the attacks on a woman's constitutionally protected right to make her own childbearing decisions. Republican lawmakers and organizations devoted to dismantling reproductive freedom have succeeded in shrinking the already inadequate number of abortion providers, making it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for women - especially young and poor women - to obtain safe and legal abortion services in large swaths Texas and other parts of the country. 
 GOP Congresswomen Revolt Over Definition Of Rape In National Abortion Ban, Leaders Cancel Vote
In what the Associated Press describes as an "embarrassing setback" for the party, House Republicans have scrapped their plan to vote on a proposed 20-week abortion ban, following opposition from several GOP congresswomen who removed their support from the legislation.
Separation of Religion & State

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg   

ginsburgJustice Ginsburg Explains Everything You Need To Know About Religious Liberty In Two Sentences

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in Holt v. Hobbs, establishing that a Muslim inmate may grow a half-inch beard "in accordance with his religious beliefs," despite a prison policy prohibiting him from doing so. This result is not particularly surprising. During oral argument the justices appeared sympathetic to the inmate, who listed as "Gregory Houston Holt AKA Abdul Maalik Muhammad." And Mr. Muhammad had strong legal arguments supporting his case.
Read Full Article

The Movement to Put a Church in Every School Is Growing 
At 10 am, the crowd files into the auditorium to hear the Gospel. Every Sunday, Apopka High School turns into Venue Church. Its motto: "Partnering with schools and communities to serve students and families to gain the privilege of sharing the love of Jesus for eternal impact."
Read Full Article  
Beyond the Core

Senate Climate Task Force   Photo Source: Reuters


climatechangeSenate votes that climate change is real - but may not be caused by humans 
On January 21, 98 U.S. senators voted to affirm that "climate change is real and not a hoax."  But the media should not misconstrue that vote as evidence that the Republican-led Senate is now seeing eye-to-eye with scientists on the issue. Moments later, 49 senators voted to deny that "human activity significantly contributes to climate change" - the position held by the vast majority of climate scientists.
Read Full Article

Obama Knocks Non-Scientist GOPers Who Dodge Climate Change Debate
President Obama called out Republican lawmakers who claim they aren't scientists when asked if they believe climate change is man-made.
At some day schools, vaccination rates decline even as disease spreads
A recent measles outbreak originating at Disneyland that has infected more than 50 people has returned the issue of declining immunization rates to the national headlines.
Read Full Article

Gun-control group moves to curb illegal Internet gun sales
The Internet has changed the way everyone shops by making goods and services far more accessible to far more people. That is often an acceptable thing, except when it comes to the hotly debated area of gun control. In its latest report, released on Wednesday, the gun-control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety found that the online market in Vermont has many buyers who would be barred from purchasing weapons at licensed gun dealers.
Political Byte



democratsHere's how Democrats win back the Senate in 2016. And it's surprisingly simple

The Senate map is Democrats' friend in the 2016 cycle. They are defending only 10 seats while Republicans have two dozen of their own seats to hold. But wait, it gets better. Seven of those 24 Republican seats are in states that President Obama won not once but twice: Florida, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Read Full Article 


Grassley using creative math to grind Obama judicial confirmations to a halt 
This is pretty ridiculous even for a Republican. The new chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has been taking stock cooking the books of the committee's accomplishments, and has just decided to commandeer some of them. 
Conservatives start new push for 'balance' in the Constitution  
Conservatives in Congress are reviving the push for a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution now that Republicans control both houses of Congress. GOP lawmakers in both chambers have filed several amendment proposals in the early days of the congressional session, breathing new life into an issue that had faded somewhat from the agenda.
Read Full Article

Republican U.S. Senator sues to stop Obamacare because it's hurting his political reputation 
It takes a lot to surprise me when it comes to Republicans these days but this story is leaving me with my head shaking. U.S. Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin is suing to stop the Affordable Care Act because, according to him, it has hurt his political reputation and his political career.
Read Full Article 

Selma March 1965 Source: JTA 


kibbutzniksFrom the Archive: In Selma, sold-out yarmulkes and Shabbat behind bars
By the last of the three Selma marches, which took place on Sunday March 21 and into the 22nd and 23rd, it became clear that numerous rabbis and other Jews were not just supporting, but actually participating in, the marches  - inspiring some African American marchers to don yarmulkes in appreciation. 
kibbutzKibbutzniks who fled Hitler welcome 100th great-grandchild 
'This is our answer to Hitler, ' says Michael Mittwoch, 92; both he and wife Marion, 90, left Germany after the rise of the Nazis, were among founders of Kibbutz Lavi in northern Israel. 

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 

better jac logo
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.