JACPAC News & Opinion Digest

January 30, 2015  

President Obama, World Leaders Commemorate  
70th Anniversary of Liberation of Auschwitz

US President Barack Obama
"Honoring the victims and survivors begins with our renewed recognition of the value and dignity of each person. It demands from us the courage to protect the persecuted and speak out against bigotry and hatred."
Read Full Statement

Secretary of State John Kerry
"Today, none of us can be satisfied that the lessons of the Holocaust have been adequately learned. Anti-Semitism is again on the rise, and hate is still the dominant force in too many hearts. Too many people still suffer not because of anything they have done, but simply because of who they are."
Read Full Statement

Germany's president Joachim Gauck
"For as long as I live, the fact that the German nation, despite its admirable culture, was capable of the most horrific crimes against humanity will cause me suffering...There also exists within us a deep and abiding certainty that remembrance bestows a mission on us."

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC
"70 years ago we said 'never forget'. Europe has not forgotten. Anti-Semitism has no place in the EU."

David Cameron
"As Prime Minister, I will ensure we keep Britain's promise to remember."

Queen Elizabeth
"We remember all those affected: those who die .. and the rescuers and liberators who took great risks to assist and save their fellow human beings."

Pope Francis
"Auschwitz cries out with the pain of immense suffering and pleads for a future of respect, peace and encounter among peoples."
aroundtownThis week in Palm Beach JAC members welcomed Gidi Grinstein, Founder and President of The Reut Institute of Israel, and special guest Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL) for a high-level briefing on Israel and the Middle East. Special thanks to Lisa Lickstein for hosting this tremendous event.

Our speaker Gidi Grinstein with Barbara Kay and Sandy Baklor

Arlene Kaufman, Sandy Baklor and Barbara Kay

l to r: Janna Berk, Gidi Grinstein, Lisa Lickstein,
Rep. Patrick Murphy, Barbara Kay, Sandy Baklor,
and Arlene Kaufman.

Gidi Grinstein with Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL)


Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)

Sen. Blumenthal was first elected in 2000 after having served as Connecticut's Attorney General.  He has made common sense gun laws a personal mission.  As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he worked hard to get the Committee to approve the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, which would prohibit the sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. He is a leading proponent for requiring background checks on all firearm sales, cracking down on gun trafficking, and improving school security. But the Senate has refused to pass these important measures.  

He recently introduced the Women's Health Protection Act. 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


 Rep. Elizabeth Esty  (D-CT)

Esty is one of the only Members of Congress, who as an attorney, defended woman's access to health care before the Supreme Court. She has always earned a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America.  Esty has said: "I will stand in strong defense of these rights. Simply put, a woman's medical decisions should always be made between her, her family, and her doctor--not politicians." She co-authored the Protect Women's Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014, legislation responding to the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision.

Her district includes Newtown and shortly after she won her first Congressional race in 2012, the Sandy Hook school shootings occurred.  She wasn't even sworn in when she was thrust into the national and local media spotlight to deal with this horrific act.  Since her arrival in Congress, she has made common sense gun laws a priority.  She serves on the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. JAC can count on Esty to support its issues in Congress.



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

S.1 - Keystone XL Pipelne Act. PASSED by a 62-36 vote.  It now goes to the House for approval.

HR 224
- To require the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service to submit to Congress an annual report on the effects of gun violence on public health. INTRODUCED.

H.R.492 - Ultrasound Informed Consent Act. INTRODUCED.
This bill would compel women to "receive an ultrasound and the opportunity to review the ultrasound before giving informed consent to receive an abortion."


Tell them to vote NO on HR 492 
  (The Ultrasound Informed
 Consent Act)  
Women should not be FORCED to  have an ultrasound before they chose to have an abortion. 

Politicians have no place telling a woman she has to have a procedure she does not want and her doctor does not recommend.


(Not sure who your Representative is? Click here.) 

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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 
sanctionsIran sanctions bill passes Senate panel
Members of the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday passed a bill that would impose sanctions on Iran if a comprehensive agreement to roll back its nuclear program is not reached by June 30. 
Read Full Article

Indirectly, Hezbollah asks Israel to avoid escalation
Hezbollah has sent a message to Israel requesting that the sides avoid an escalation of tensions on the Israel-Lebanon border.
The message, sent overnight via the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon, came after Hezbollah killed two Israeli soldiers and injured seven in a strike Wednesday on an Israeli army border patrol.
Read Full Article

WH chief of staff: Relationship with Israel 'deep and abiding'
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on Sunday called the U.S. relationship with Israel the "most important" one in the world.

Israeli goods being imported to Gaza.

Gaza to end official 5-year boycott of Israeli goods
Many factories and processing facilities, which normally provide Gaza residents with food and other goods, were destroyed in this summer's conflict between Israel and Hamas, and rebuilding has been slow. Additionally, Israel and Egypt have destroyed many of the tunnels that Hamas uses to illegally import goods into the Gaza Strip, and Egypt has set up a buffer zone to further limit Hamas's smuggling efforts.
Read Full Article

The Netanyahu's potential miscalculation
Benjamin Netanyahu believes he has just one job, and that is to stop Iran from getting hold of nuclear weapons.
Anti-Semitism & BDS

Swedish Journlist Petter Ljunggren

swedishJournalist Documents Anti-Semitism In A Swedish City
Journalist Petter Ljunggren wore a Jewish skullcap and Star of David pendant to covertly film the anti-Semitism he experienced in the Swedish city of Malmo. NPR's Robert Siegel speaks with Ljunggren.

Anti-Semitism, Old and New
This past week, I had the privilege of participating in the first-ever UN General Assembly forum on global anti-Semitism, which, as it happened, took place at a critical historical moment: the eve of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the most brutal extermination camp of the 20th century - and site of horrors too terrible to be believed, but not too terrible to have happened.
International panel calls for new EU law banning antisemitism
A document on "tolerance", which includes making antisemitism a criminal offence across all 28 countries of the European Union, is being backed by the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR).  The new pan-European legislation, which is supported by Jewish leaders and former EU heads of state, has been drafted by four international experts on constitutional law following a three-year consultation. The panel was chaired by war crimes expert Yoram Dinstein, the former president of Tel Aviv university.
 Read Full Article
Reproductive Rights
Source: Guttmacher Institute

 gopHouse Republicans Want Forced Ultrasounds Before Abortions, Because One Anti-Abortion Bill Wasn't Enough
After replacing a harsh 20-week abortion restriction with an all-encompassing ban on federal funding for abortion, House Republicans introduced yet another anti-abortion bill on Thursday, because the legislating of women's bodies won't stop, can't stop. Republican Congress members now want to mandate ultrasounds before abortions, despite the fact that some federal courts have ruled forced ultrasounds unconstitutional.
Read Full Article

'Legitimate Rape' and the March for Life
"Carrying a child for nine months is no great scourge," a March for Life attendee who identified himself only as Larry told RH Reality Check. "I have a daughter. If she were raped, I would tell her to have the child." It was a blunt expression of a remarkably common viewpoint at this year's March for Life in Washington, D.C., the country's largest anti-choice protest march.
Read Full Article

Too Often, Military Sexual Assault Survivors Must Fight for Disability Benefits
One in five servicewomen is raped, sometimes multiple times, during her military career. One in 100 men also experiences rape during military service. And, for some survivors, it results in a constellation of mental health symptoms including depression, anxiety, and stress, characterizing what the Veterans Administration refers to as Military Sexual Trauma (MST).
Stop blaming U-Va. sorority sisters and other women for the campus rape problem
You hear that sound? Is that Perry Como on the radio? Because I'm getting a pretty strong 1953 vibe here. On the University of Virginia campus, where students are still reeling from a Rolling Stone article about an alleged gang rape that probably didn't happen, the backlash was strong this week. And, predictably, it was aimed at women on campus.
Read Full Article
Separation of Religion & State
liberty2015 is shaping up to be a significant year for religion at the Supreme Court
Often, the U.S. Supreme Court considers only one religion-related case each year. But 2015 could shape up to be a particularly active and influential year when it comes to religious liberties issues. Last week, the Supreme Court handed down an important decision expanding the religious liberty rights of prisoners. But it's just the first of three religion-related cases that the justices could weigh in on before the term ends this summer.
Read Full Article
Beyond the Core
Polar bears in the Arctic National Reserve
keySenate passes Keystone despite veto threat
NEW ERA IN THE SENATE: Or so Republicans said over and over on Thursday after successfully pushing through legislation to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. 
Read Full Article 

Obama administration to propose new wilderness protections in Arctic refuge - Alaska Republicans declare war

The Obama administration will propose designating 1.4 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, managing the area under the highest level of federal protection and prohibiting energy extraction such as oil and gas drilling.
Read Full Article 


robinRep. Robin Kelly introduces H.R. 224 and the NRA doesn't like it one bit 
The National Rifle Association (NRA) and its monopoly on the "final word" on guns and the Second Amendment, is coming to an end thanks to Rep. Robin Kelly's emergence on the national stage as an articulate national spokesperson for "common sense" gun reform. The NRA has taken notice and don't like what they see.
Read Full Article 
Political Byte
kochKoch-backed network aims to spend nearly $1 billion on 2016 elections
A network of conservative advocacy groups backed by Charles and David Koch aims to spend a staggering $889 million in advance of the next White House election, part of an expansive strategy to build on its 2014 victories that may involve jumping into the Republican primaries.

Meet the 'Retread Caucus'
No, it's not another formal congressional coalition. It's a disparate group of House Republicans and Democrats who have one thing in common: they've won a purplish seat in Congress, turned it over to the other party the next cycle and then won it back again.Read
 Read Full Article
Auschwitz 70: Drone shows Nazi concentration camp (LONG VERSION)
Auschwitz 70: Drone shows Nazi concentration camp (LONG VERSION)
Aerial video of Auschwitz-Birkenau as it appears today

The Voices of Auschwitz 
There are fewer and fewer of those who still remember. The Soviet army entered Auschwitz - the network of extermination camps operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland - on Jan. 27, 1945, liberating the most notorious site of the Holocaust. In the decades since, groups of survivors have gathered to honor that day - including an annual remembrance at Auschwitz itself. This year, they mark the 70th anniversary of liberation on Tuesday - a day that, for a significant portion of remaining survivors, may be the last major remembrance of their lifetimes. A decade ago, 1,500 survivors traveled to Auschwitz in southern Poland to mark the 60th anniversary. This year, organizers are expecting 300 or so.
Read Full Article 
Just for Fun
spinWhat Jewish ethics tell us about Deflategate 
Deflategate, the controversy surrounding the New England Patriots that has made national news, made its way to a Houston business conference led by Rabbi Yossi Grossman, dean of the Jewish Ethics Institute. He transformed the football prattle into a high-minded look at ethics on the playing field in his bimonthly talk before some city businesspeople.
Read Full Article  

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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.