April 10, 2015  

JAC's 5th Annual Power of Women Luncheon
June 1st - Mark Your Calendars Today!

JAC members met with Rep. John Lewis (GA-5) and his co-author Andrew Aydin at Chicago Ideas Fest.
(l to r: Rep. Lewis, Marcia Balonick, Hollis Wein,
Dana Gordon, Andrew Aydin)

JAC met with Rep. Tammy Duckworth (IL-8) in Chicago.
(l to r: Jim Terman, Marcia Balonick, Rep. Duckworth,
Steve Sheffey, Hollis Wein, Orli Sheffey, Howard Swibel)

Talking Points with Rep. Mike Quigley
Highland Park, IL
10-11:30 am, Monday, April 20


5th Annual Power of Women Luncheon
International Correspondent
Amy Kellogg
Barbara Bluhm-Kaul
Leslie Bluhm & Meredith Bluhm-Wolf
Lincolnwood, IL
11 am - 1:30 pm, Monday, June 1st

For more information and to RSVP, contact the JAC office at 847-433-5999 or [email protected]

Rep. Jan Schakowsky's
14th Annual Ultimate Women's Power Lunch
Chicago, IL
Monday, May 18

Come sit at the JAC table!


For more information and to RSVP, contact the JAC office at 847-433-5999 or [email protected]

Tell the Senate
to federally mandated
Concealed Carry Laws 

Call your
Senators today

The NRA continues to push its "guns everywhere" agenda. Currently NRA supporters are calling Congress in support of the "National Right to Carry" bills, which are seeing more cosponsors than ever before.

Here are FOUR bills aimed at nationalizing concealed carry law: 
  • S 498: (Sen Jon Cornyn - R-TX) Would allow individuals with concealed carry permits from their home states to carry a concealed weapon in any state that does not prohibit concealed carry.
  • HR 923: (Rep Marlin Stutzman - R-IN) Like S 498, would allow individuals with a concealed carry permit from their home state to carry a concealed weapon in any state that does not prohibit concealed carry.
  • HR 986: (Rep. Richard Hudson - R-NC) Would allow anyone with a valid carry permit or state license to carry a concealed weapon in any other state that allows concealed carry of weapons.
  • HR 402 (Rep. Rich Nugent - R-FL) would allow any person with a valid carry permit or state license to carry a concealed firearm in any state that allows concealed carry.
Click below to sign a petition telling Congress Concealed Carry Reciprocity is a bad idea.

Then call your Senators and Representative and tell them to BLOCK the NRA from forcing every state to allow virtually anyone from carrying a loaded, concealed weapon in public.


Sign, tweet and share:

Not sure who your Senator or Representative is? Click here.


Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) 


Ben Cardin was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2007 after a serving as a Representative from the Maryland's 3rd District. Prior to that, he served in the Maryland House of Delegates for 20 years. Throughout his public service, Cardin has earned a reputation as a hardworking, passionate and thoughtful legislator. He has been a strong voice on all of JAC's issues and JAC knows we can count on his support when comes to Israel and women's reproductive freedom. He understands the importance of a strong U.S.-Israel partnership, saying: "The long-lasting and continued bonds between our two countries run deep. Israel is one of our closest partners in fighting extremism and terrorists in a very dangerous region of the world. I am proud that the United States continues to stand with the people of Israel and that we will do all that is possible to protect our shared values and joint national interests." Cardin is now the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and will play a critical role in Senate negotiations over Iran.

Religious Freedom Restoration Acts

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 is a federal law that aims at preventing laws that substantially burden a person's free exercise of their religion. Former President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law after it received unanimous support in the House and near unanimous support in the Senate.


The act's purpose is to protect religious individuals and organizations against government interference with the practice of their faith. RFRA was never meant to apply to for-profit enti�ties or to allow dis�crim�i�nation against indi�vid�u�als in the name of "reli�gious freedom." Last summer's Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision contradicted RFRA's intent when it granted for-profit companies rights like individuals, opening the door for greater discrimination in the work place.


In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional and said that it would be up to individual states to pass their own religious freedom acts. Currently, 22 states have passed their own RFRA and 15 states have legislation pending. Some states, like Illinois, passed a companion bill that would prevent RFRA from being used against the LGBT community.


As a Jewish community, we have experienced discrimination and thus value the fundamental right of religious freedom -a cornerstone of our democracy. It is of great concern when states pass their own RFRA without anti-discriminatory measures.


* Source: www.uslegal.com 

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Iran Negotiations & Framework
obamairanIran and the Obama Doctrine
President Obama invited me to the Oval Office Saturday afternoon to lay out exactly how he was trying to balance these risks and opportunities in the framework accord reached with Iran last week in Switzerland. What struck me most was what I'd call an "Obama doctrine" embedded in the president's remarks. It emerged when I asked if there was a common denominator to his decisions to break free from longstanding United States policies isolating Burma, Cuba and now Iran. Obama said his view was that "engagement," combined with meeting core strategic needs, could serve American interests vis-�-vis these three countries far better than endless sanctions and isolation.

The Fantasy of an Iran Deal  
Some are insisting on a "better deal" than the framework nuclear agreement reached with Iran on April 2. But the idea of a better deal is a chimera, an illusory option, and it should not lull us into thinking there is another agreement to be had if only we were to bear down harder. 
Read Full Article

Iran Is America's New Iraq  
The new Middle East taking shape in front of our eyes is not only a wild Middle East, it is an upside-down Middle East. 
Read Full Article 
Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran's Nuclear Program  
[T]he key parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran's nuclear program were decided in Lausanne, Switzerland. These elements for the foundation upon which the final text of the JCPOA will be written between now and June 30, and reflect the significant progress that has been made in discussions between the P5+1, the European Union, and Iran. Important implementation details are still subject to negotiation, and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. We will work to conclude the JCPOA based on these parameters over the coming months.  
Read The Complete Parameters
Israel & The Middle East 
Barack Obama has answered continuing Israeli criticism of the framework agreement over Iran's nuclear ambitions, telling the New York Times the deal is a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see whether or not we can at least take the nuclear issue off the table".
"But what I would say to [Israel] is that not only am I absolutely committed to making sure that they maintain their qualitative military edge ... but what I am willing to do is make the kinds of commitments that would give everybody in the neighborhood, including Iran, a clarity that if Israel were to be attacked by any state, that we would stand by them." -- President Barack Obama 

Delegates from Middle East, Muslim world to convene in Israel for nuclear conference  
Israel will host a prestigious, UN-sponsored international conference next week on the ban of nuclear tests. Around 100 representatives will take part in the meeting, including from Arab and Muslim states that don't have diplomatic relations with Israel. 
Read Full Article

Myths vs Facts: NGOs and the Destructive Water Campaign Against Israel   
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have increased their exploitation of the water issue in their political warfare campaigns against Israel. This includes false accusations of water "discrimination" and "stealing water"; pressure on international corporations to boycott the Israeli national water company, Mekorot; and blatant distortions of binding international agreements between Israelis and Palestinians. 
Read Full Article

Anti-Semitism & BDS
Maryland Synagogue Vandalized with Swastikas   
Jewish residents of Gaithersburg, MD, awoke to find the local Conservative synagogue defaced. Congregation Shaare Torah is situated less than an hour from Washington, D.C., and was vandalized with swastikas and anti-Semitic epithets like "KKK" and "Hitler."
Read Full Article

Anti-Semitism in US spikes after nearly a decade of decline  
Anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. spiked 21 percent last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League, unsettling many American Jews who had thought that hatred of Jews and Judaism was on the decline, at least here at home.
Read Full Article

New campaign calls on Europeans to don kipot to fight anti-Semitism 
Europeans are being asked to send videos of themselves wearing Jewish apparel such as kippot, tzitzit or Jewish stars, then walking through the streets of their town.
Read Full Article

Reproductive Rights
What Americans Think of Abortion - It's not so black and white
Abortion usually gets framed as a two-sided debate: Americans support abortion rights, or they don't. They think Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America, was a good ruling, or a terrible one. There are the pro-choice groups and the pro-life groups. But I've spent a lot of time talking to friends and family and the people I meet in my reporting about how they view the issue. Here's what I've learned: they don't live in this world of absolutes.
Read Full Article

Proof that
Proof that "pro-life" and "pro-choice" labels don't work
Purvi Patel Could Be Just the Beginning
The prosecution of Purvi Patel began in sorrow and ended in more sadness this week. Patel, a 33-year-old woman who lives in Indiana, was accused of feticide - specifically, illegally inducing her own abortion - and accused of having a baby whom she allowed to die. The facts supporting each count are murky, but a jury convicted Patel in February, and on Monday she was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Read Full Article

Kansas Limits Abortion Method, Opening a New Line of Attack
Kansas on Tuesday became the first state to sharply restrict or alter the most common technique used for second-trimester abortions, opening a new, emotionally charged line of attack by anti-abortion forces who hope to take it swiftly to other states. A similar bill appears to be nearing passage in Oklahoma, and others have been proposed in Missouri, South Carolina and South Dakota.
Read Full Article
Separation of Religion & State

Source: The Nation/AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Theocracy Versus Democracy 
How the reckless Hobby Lobby decision has excited the imagination of the right wing. 
The public wrath directed at God-fearing Republican politicians in Indiana and Arkansas is pounding on the wrong Christians. The real culprits are the five Bible-thumping conservatives on the Supreme Court. They inspired this controversy with their inflammatory decision last year in the Hobby Lobby case.
Read Full Article

How Utah's nondescrimination law is different from Indiana, Arkansas 

The balance between religious freedom and gay and transgender rights has dominated the headlines as lawmakers in Arkansas and Indiana passed bills that some said gave people of faith license to discriminate. The rancorous uproar that followed - rallies, criticisms from corporate giants Apple, Eli Lilly and Wal-Mart, along with an avalanche of scoldings from both conservatives and gay activists - left both states feeling bruised and scrambling to rewrite their legislation.It's a far cry from the scene that played out in Utah last month. 

Read Full Article

The twisted history of how religious freedom laws confused everybody 
On Tuesday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence held a press conference defending the aims of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of Indiana, a controversial measure the legislature passed and he signed into law last week. Those, at least, are the facts that everybody can agree on. Just about everything else in the discussion surrounding the laws seems to be up for debate.
Beyond the Core

NRA Holds Annual Convention in a State Where Guns Now Kill More Than Cars Do
Guns kill more people than cars do in a growing number of states, according to a new analysis of national mortality data from the Violence Policy Center. The report finds that in 2013, firearm-related deaths exceeded those caused by motor vehicles in 17 states and the District of Columbia. This means that four more states have crossed this threshold since 2012, including Louisiana, Missouri, Virginia, and Tennessee. In Nashville this Friday, the National Rifle Association opens the doors to its 144th annual convention.
Read Full Article

Obama Says He Hasn't Given Up On Gun Control

The president insists he hasn't given up on gun control, but he said he's had difficulties getting changes passed through Congress in the years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. "What we've done is to try to do as much as we could administratively to tighten up how background checks are run, to go after illegal drug runners," President Obama said. "But I will tell you that trying to get something through Congress has proven to be very difficult. And it's heart-breaking."

Read Full Article

Bill would pay gun owners to hand over assault weapons

Gun owners would receive tax breaks for voluntarily turning in high-powered assault rifles under new legislation proposed Monday. The Support Assault Firearm Elimination and Education of our (SAFER) Streets Act expected to be reintroduced next week by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) would provide gun owners with an incentive to turn in their firearms to local police departments.

Read Full Article

Tom Steyer Launches Effort To Defeat 2016 Climate Denier Candidates
Tom Steyer's climate-focused political group is already gearing up for the 2016 presidential race, announcing on Monday a new effort that will focus on putting Republican candidates on the defense when it comes to global warming. NextGen Climate's chief strategist, Chris Lehane, said in a call with reporters that the group's mission heading into 2016 is to "disqualify" candidates who deny that climate change is real or caused by human activity by proving that "they don't have what it takes to be president."
Read Full Article
Political Byte
Dems: Immigration actions are legal

Nearly every House Democrat endorsed a legal brief on Monday supporting President Obama's executive actions on immigration. A total of 181 House Democrats signed onto an amicus brief in a Texas court that argues Obama's deferred deportation programs should be allowed to move forward.

Read Full Article 


New GOP Lie: Food Stamps on Cruise Ships 
Kansas Gov. Brownback is poised to sign a bill that would, among other things, bar people on food stamps from using them on cruise ships-a fake problem.  
Read Full Article

Wisconsin Bans Public Lands Staff From Discussing Climate Change   

Wisconsin's Republican state treasurer on Tuesday successfully banned the state's Board of Commissioners of Public Lands from discussing climate change, according to Bloomberg News. State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk (pictured above), who sits on the public land board, started trying to remove references to climate change from the board's website in January, and he resurfaced the issue on Tuesday at a board meeting.

Read Full Article 

White House Seder. Photo Credit: Pete Souza


Celebrating Passover at the White House

For the seventh year in a row, President and Mrs. Obama hosted the annual White House Seder. The Seder provides an opportunity for the First Family to join in retelling the story of the Israelites' arduous journey through the desert from slavery in Egypt to liberation in the Promised Land. In recounting the story, they joined their guests in performing the Seder rituals and followed the Haggadah's command that we see ourselves as though we personally were liberated from Egypt. And they acknowledged how this story has inspired generations of Americans in the struggle for civil rights.

Read Full Article 

Stand Up for Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ice Cream! 
Ben & Jerry's prides themselves on being a socially responsible company that cares about making a difference, and recognizing the contributions women like Ginsburg have made to the world matters. If Ben & Jerry's make this flavor, they can start a national conversation about why it's important to celebrate women who have helped make our nation great. 
Read Full Article

Yad Vashem requests help in finding women from concentration camp diary

The Yad Vashem research team is requesting help from the public in tracking down information about people named in a journal and Haggada written during the Holocaust. The diary belonged to Regina Honigman who worked in a slave labor factory at Gabersdorf Camp in Czechoslovakia where she made linen thread from morning to night for years on end. In addition to accounts of her daily life, Honigman listed the names of fellow prisoners, which are listed at the end of this article, along with some of their autographs and poems.  

Read Full Article 

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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 

Click below to see JAC's most recent NewsBreak.
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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.