March 6, 2015  

aroundtownThank you to everyone who came out to Talking Points Palm Beach this week!

A great turnout for Talking Points Palm Beach with guest speaker Mona Reis, president of the Presidential Women's Center, a women's clinic in Palm Beach.
(l to r: Barbara Koch,
Joyce Fentin, Janna Berk, Merle Styer, Mona Reis, Carol Feldman, Karyn Lutz, Jane Kornblutt) 

Thank you to our hosts, Merle & Jim Styer, for a lovely event. (l to r: Keith Berk, Jim Styer, Merle Styer, Janna Berk)

JAC met with Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) in Chicago.
(l to r: Marcia Balonick, Dana Gordon, Sen. Kaine,
and Linda Rae Sher)

Sound Byte

obamaPresident  Barack Obama
"I think it's important for members of Congress on a bipartisan basis to be unified in pushing back against terrorism in the region and the destabilizing efforts that Iran may have engaged with, with our partners. Those are all things on which this administration and Israel agree."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
"I know that no matter on which side of the aisle you sit, you stand with Israel.The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics...Israel is grateful for the support of American -- of America's people and of America's presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama."
Susan Rice, National Security Advisor
"The relationship between the United States and the State of Israel is not a partnership between individual leaders, or political parties.  It's an alliance between two nations, rooted in the unbreakable friendship between our two peoples.  It is not negotiable.  And it never will be."
Read Full Transcript

Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to UN
"For Israel, too often the right to be treated equally - and at times, even the right to exist at all - has been challenged. Israel's history, in part, is the story of perpetually overcoming these challenges... And throughout this shared history, the United States has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our partner, through thick and thin."
 Read Full Transcript

Know someone in the Palm Springs area? Let them know about this special event.
Palm Springs, CA 
Talking Points with
Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA)
Thursday, March 12
4 - 5:30 pm
Please be our guest at our first Talking Points in Palm Springs. RSVP today!

Highland Park, IL
Talking Points with Rep. Mike Quigley
Monday, April 20
Details to come

Lincolnwood, IL
5th Annual Power of Women Luncheon
International Correspondent
Amy Kellogg

Barbara Bluhm-Kaul
Leslie Bluhm & Meredith Bluhm-Wolf
Monday, June 1st

Want to host a JAC event in your area?
Contact the JAC office.
847.433.5999 or [email protected]

Tell Congress to PASS
The Bipartisan  King-Thompson Background Check Bill  

 Photo by Max Whittaker/Reuters

This bill expands the existing background check system to cover all commercial firearm sales, including those at gun shows, over the internet or in classified ads.
  • Background checks work; 2.4 million gun purchases were blocked last year (358 a day)
  • States with expanded background checks saw 46% fewer women killed by an intimate partner
  • Felons account for more than 1 million of attempted purchases
  • 40% of guns purchased are NOT subject to background checks *
Keep Our Communities Safe
Pass Expanded Background Checks

Not sure who your Representative is?

Click here.

Lunch with Rep. Mike Quigley (IL-5)
Chicago, IL
March 20th

Call the JAC office for more details or to RSVP
847.433.5999 or [email protected]

The Week in Legislation

The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2015- INTRODUCED in the House.  This bi-partisan bill would expand the current Brady background checks to cover ALL commercial transactions including gun shows and the internet.

The 21st Century Women's Health Act - INTRODUCED in the Senate. The bill will ensure that women would have access to maternity care, birth control and support for rape and sexual assault.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) is the longest serving woman to serve in the U.S. Senate.  She was also the first woman elected in her own right. This week she announced that she will not seek another term.  JAC has supported her throughout her career and has always counted on her to stand up for our issues. A pro-choice champion, she said, "I believe we should be debating health care, not abortions. This should be about women's health, healthy pregnancies, healthy babies and healthy families."

Mikulski is the Dean of the Women - serving as a mentor to other women Senators when they first take office. Over the years she has used her position as Dean to build coalitions - proving that the Senate women are not solo acts, but work together to get things done. She is a powerful member of the Senate and will be missed, but her legacy will continue. 

JAC's 5th Annual Power of Women Luncheon
June 1st - Mark Your Calendars Today!
This week's issue highlights these key developments here
 and in the Middle East... and some others that you may have missed.
For the latest news, visit us at or
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Israel & The Middle East 
speechNetanyahu's Speech Didn't Surprise. Its Consequences Might. 
Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint meeting of Congress on the dangers preentated by a nuclear Iran, in a much-awaited event that had been the source of great controversy. Nearly 60 Democratic lawmakers boycotted the speech, in protest of what they characterized as a politicized attempt by Republican Speaker John Boehner to undermine President Obama's foreign policy with Netanyahu's assistance.

Poll: One-fifth of Israeli voters still undecided
Less than three weeks before the March 17 general election, some 21 percent of the nation's voters are still unsure how they will vote. Most of these voters will make up their minds in the last week before the election, though some will only decide en route to the ballot box.
Read Full Article

How do Americans View Israel?
Fifty0one percent of Americans call Israel an ally of the United States, up ten points from 2011. Another 28 percent describe Israel as friendly, and few Americans think the country is unfriendly or an enemy of the United States.
Read Full Article

EU seeks to bolster Middle East peace Quartet via Arab involvement
High-level discussions are under way to more closely involve Arab states in the work of the Middle East Quartet and reinvigorate the four-member group that has been seeking to mediate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 2002. Rather than formally expanding the Quartet's membership, the idea is to have more frequent top-level meetings with at least Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt to ensure the region is better engaged at a time of tumultuous change, according to senior diplomats based in the Middle East and Europe.
Ann Curry Interviews Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif
Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, spoke with NBC News' Ann Curry Wednesday.
The Complete Interview
Anti-Semitism & BDS

uclaWhat Happened After This UCLA Sophomore Was Rejected From Student Council For Being Jewish?
It seemed like routine business for the student council at the University of California, Los Angeles: confirming the nomination of Rachel Beyda, a second-year economics major who wants to be a lawyer someday, to the council's Judicial Board.
Read Full Article

Kerry defends Israel against U.N. 'bias' amid strains over Iran nuclear talks
Secretary of State John F. Kerry came to Israel's defense Monday amid growing political tensions between the allies, saying that anti-Israeli bias by the United Nations' top rights panel is undermining its mission.
Read Full Article
Reproductive Rights

doctorsAdmitting Privileges Case Could be Heard by Supreme Court
Mississippi asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a law aimed at closing the last remaining abortion clinic in the state. This politically-motivated and medically unnecessary law would force a physician providing abortion care to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, and has been blocked by the Fifth Circuit Appeals Court because it would place an undue burden on women in Mississippi.
The Latest Anti-Choice Strategy: Less Planned Parenthood Bashing, More Insurance Bans
Abortion issues were mostly treated as an afterthought on the main stage of this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). But in breakout panels, anti-choice groups had in-depth discussions with supporters about strategies to continue rolling back access to reproductive health care.
Read Full Article
Female Senators Introduce Pro-Choice Bill To 'Fight Back Against Those Who Miss The Mad Men Era'
On Thursday, a trio of female senators announced the introduction of an ambitious piece of pro-choice legislation to safeguard access to women's health services as some members of Congress attempt to turn back the clock. The new "21st Century Women's Health Act" - sponsored by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) - seeks to build on the recent progress under the Affordable Care Act by ensuring that all women have the maternity coverage, family planning services, and rape crisis tools they need..
Read Full Article
Separation of Religion & State
fathersFounding Fathers: We Are Not a Christian Nation
Our founding fathers understood well the extraordinary danger of mixing religion and politics; we forget that lesson at our great peril. If we forget, just glance over to the Middle East.
Faith Groups Are Trying To Block Emergency Contraception For Raped Migrant Children
Estimates suggest that anywhere between 60 and 80 percent of migrant women and girls are raped on their journey as they travel across the southern United States border. But many of the organizations that provide medical care to these migrants are refusing to provide emergency contraception or make pregnancy-related referrals to girls who have been raped. What's more, the religious organizations that operate these groups are opposing a move by the Obama administration to address epidemic rape of young unaccompanied migrants by requiring contraceptive care.
Read Full Article
Beyond the Core
Former Rep. Gabby Giffords at press conference announcing bill to expand background checks. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

gabbyThe latest Gabby Giffords push for modest gun controls is new. The outlook isn't.
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was grievously wounded by a gunman in a 2011 attack, returned to Capitol Hill Wednesday to help relaunch legislation aimed at closing loopholes in background checks for gun buyers. The bill would expand the current federal law mandating background checks to include weapons sold at gun shows and sold over the Internet, leaving exceptions for transfers between family members.
Read Full Article

Republican proposes abolishing the ATF amid bullet ban controversy 
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has reintroduced legislation to do away with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The ATF has drawn the ire of Republican lawmakers for its proposed ban on an armor-piercing bullet used in AR-15 rifles.  
Read Full Article

Homeland Security bill includes $13 million for religious and other nonprofit groups 
Funding for the Department of Homeland Security passed by Congress Tuesday includes $13 million for security at religious and other nonprofit institutions. The Orthodox Union, Jewish Federations of North America and Agudath Israel of America applauded the passage of the funding bill, which still needs to be signed into law by President Barack Obama. The three organizations had spearheaded efforts to get the funding for religious and nonprofit institutions approved. 
Read Full Article

voting50 Years After Selma, The Fight for Voting Rights Continues 
Fifty years later, leaders from across the country are returning to Selma to mark one of the major milestones in our nation's civil rights movement. Yet the sad reality is that -- despite the considerable progress made in the last five decades -- we are still fighting to ensure voting rights for every American. 
Read Full Article 
Political Byte
barbaraWho Will Be the Next Dean of the Senate Women?
For more than two decades, Barbara Mikulski has reigned as the dean of the Senate women-an unofficial, self-appointed post that she created and defined. The Maryland Democrat, who announced this week that she would not seek re-election in 2016, earned this position in part through her advocacy for women's issues, in part because she has been a champion for the small group of women senators.
Read Full Article

This is the best explanation of gerrymandering you will ever see
Gerrymandering -- drawing political boundaries to give your party a numeric advantage over an opposing party -- is a difficult process to explain. If you find the notion confusing, check out the chart above --  adapted from one posted to Reddit this weekend -- and wonder no more.
Read Full Article

Can Democrats Retake the Senate in 2016?
It's still too early to predict the Senate's makeup in 2016, but it's not too early to start thinking about who could land on the list of endangered senators. And in the 2016 cycle, it's more likely to be a Republican than a Democrat.
Read Full Article
Remembering Leonard Nimoy's Wise Jewish Soul
The international outpouring of love and appreciation for Leonard Nimoy has been nothing short of astonishing-from the tsunami of tweeting fans to the poignant "I loved Spock" from the Oval Office. Frankly, I had forgotten who Leonard was to the world. To me, he was not Spock (I confess to never having seen an episode of Star Trek); he was SuperMensch, a great but humble man, a dear friend with a wise old Jewish soul. 
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.