JACblog! is moving. We will be housed on the new JAC website at www.jacpac.org and we hope you will follow us there.

We will continue to have this blogspot location up, but new postings will be seen on the new site. Please join us there.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Their own worst enemies: Hamas-ruled Gaza suffers while West Bank thrives

One year ago Sunday, Israel finally responded to a multiyear barrage of rocket attacks on schools, homes and synagogues, peaking with more than 3,200 in 2008, with a targeted military campaign in Gaza.

In the anti-Israel "world community," that restrained act of self-defense has been repaid with howls that a sovereign nation protecting itself from terrorists committed war crimes. That much, though sickening, was perfectly predictable.

The picture of what's happened to the Palestinian people on the ground - in Gaza on the one hand and in the West Bank on the other - is far more surprising, and powerfully educational.

The kibbutz that is saving American soldiers' lives

Twenty years ago, Kibbutz Sasa was eking out a living with plastics-maker Plasan. Today, the firm is a world leader in armor for vehicles, helped no small amount by America's involvement in Iraq. Has being in the war business made the community any less peaceful?

Monday, December 21, 2009

My abortion anguish - Why should women who need them have to leave the state and pay thousands of dollars?

This past July, I was happily pregnant and eagerly expecting the arrival of our second child. For nearly eight months, I had been loving my baby in utero and explaining to our 2 1/2 -year old son that he was going to become a big brother. Never in my worst nightmare did I imagine I would need to have an abortion - and certainly not late term.

At my 28-week sonogram, the ventricles in our baby's brain measured a little elevated, and I was sent for further testing. Two weeks later, I had an MRI, and my worst nightmare was realized - we learned the baby was missing a main piece of its brain. The part that connects the right and left hemispheres literally wasn't there. Additionally, the surface of the brain was malformed and severely underdeveloped. Despite all my prenatal care and testing, this was not detected until I was 7 1/2 months along. And no amount of surgery or physical therapy could change this horrific diagnosis.

Friday, December 18, 2009

'A second Hanukkah miracle' for Israel

Sixty years ago this month, a converted World War II Victory ship carrying 888 pregnant Holsteins steamed across the Atlantic Ocean. It would be seen as confirming the Lord's promise in Joshua 5:6 to make Israel a "land of milk and honey."

That 200 cows gave birth at sea and only six died was "a second Hanukkah miracle," said Morris Levy, the only veterinarian aboard.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Military Abortion Ban: Female Soldiers Not Protected by Constitution They Defend

Unable to get an abortion during a tour of duty in Iraq, a soldier is left with no option but to do it herself—a humiliating but not uncommon dilemma. Women in the military are forced to obtain a leave to get the care they need; but if they’re honest about why, they put their military career in jeopardy. If they’re not, they put their military career in jeopardy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Livni arrest warrant 'UK's biggest mistake' says Peres

Issuing a warrant for the arrest of an Israeli politician is one of the "biggest political mistakes the UK has ever made", Israel's president says.

President Shimon Peres said it was "high time" the British government changed a law allowing courts to grant such warrants.
The arrest warrant for Israeli former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has caused huge embarrassment in London.
British ministers have said they will look "urgently" at reforming the law.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Crisis Spurs Migration to Israel

Immigration into Israel and the Palestinian West Bank is surging after the financial crisis and economic downturn evaporated jobs elsewhere.

After years of a brain drain from the region, and despite the lack of a peace settlement, by the end of this month about 4,000 North American Jews will have immigrated to Israel this year, an increase of 33% over 2008 and the most in one year since 1973, according to Nefesh B'Nefesh, an organization that oversees and assists with immigration to Israel from North America.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

UN Ambassador calls Palestinian Solidarity Day 'one-sided narrative'

Israel's top official at the United Nations charged the General Assembly on Tuesday with undermining efforts toward a two-state solution by embracing a one-sided condemnation of Israel during the UN's "Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People."
In response to bruising speeches against Israel at the United Nations during the two-day event on Monday and Tuesday, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev recalled the 1947 vote that paved the way for the creation of two states.
"Thirty-three for. Thirteen against. Ten abstentions. The resolution was approved," she said.
While the Jewish population in the region accepted the resolution, the Arab side rejected UN Resolution 181, launching a war against Israel and setting the stage for the current conflict.

From bombing center to strawberry capital of W. Bank

There was a time when Kalkilya was the focus of bomb making and terrorism but a new program is aiming to turn this Palestinian city into the strawberry capital of the West Bank

The first crop of the ruby red fruit in this pilot program is halfway to harvest. The Palestinians hope to be able to cash in on the lucrative Christmas markets in Europe and possibly sell strawberries to a major international ice cream producer.

"I grow strawberries here, and this is where it starts," said Ahmed Zed, 31, a Palestinian carrot farmer who decided to take up the risky endeavor and grow strawberries.

...For the past few months, Israeli agriculture advisers have been training Palestinian farmers in growing these delicious, but highly sensitive fruit. Sponsored by the Flemish Foreign Ministry and facilitated by the Peres Center for Peace, Israeli experts have been supplying Palestinian farmers with irrigation equipment, nylon, pesticides and training that will help them raise the high-quality strawberries required for export.

The Abortion Distortion - Just how pro-choice is America, really?

Most New Yorkers hadn’t heard of Bart Stupak before he attached his devastating anti-abortion amendment to the House’s health-care-reform bill three weeks ago. We know a lot more about him now, of course: that he lives in a Christian rooming house on C Street; that he’s a former state trooper. He has become a symbol of legislative zealotry, living proof that the fight over the right to choose will always attract a more impassioned opposition than defense. (As Harrison Hickman, a former pollster for NARAL, put it to me: “If you believe that choosing the wrong side of the issue means spending eternal life in Hades, of course you’re going to be more focused on it.”) Just a week after the vote, when I reached the Michigan Democrat as he was driving across his district, he seemed dumbfounded that anyone found his brinkmanship surprising. “I said to anyone who’d listen: ‘Do you want health care, or do you want to fight out abortion?’ ” says Stupak. He points out that he’d nearly managed to bring down a rule about abortion funding earlier in the summer, this time in a bill about spending in the District of Columbia. “I said, ‘Look, that was a shot across your bow,’ ” he recalls. “ ‘I was being polite to you. That was a warning.’ And the leadership just blew us off.”

Groups fighting abortion restriction in health reform bill

JAC members and leadership will be in Washington, DC this week to participate in the National Day of Action and Rally, as well as lobby Senators about the dangers of eliminating abortion coverage and restricting women's rights.

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Several Jewish groups are fighting a controversial measure in health reform legislation that would have the effect of eliminating insurance coverage for abortion for millions of women.

At issue is the Stupak Amendment, a measure included at the last minute in the health care bill passed Nov. 7 by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Several organizations -- including the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the National Council of Jewish Women, the American Jewish Congress and the Chicago-based Joint Action Committee -- have spoken out or are lobbying to make sure the amendment does not end up either in the Senate version of health care legislation or the final bill that emerges from a conference committee.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Banished at Turtle Bay - A U.N. critic has her credentials stripped.

As part of our public-service reports on the workings of your favorite world body, allow us to introduce you to Anne Bayefsky. The Toronto native is an expert on human-rights law and an accredited United Nations observer. She is also a friend of Israel, which makes her persona non grata as far as the folks at Turtle Bay are concerned.

Ms. Bayefsky's sin was a two-minute talk she delivered at the U.N. earlier this month after the General Assembly had issued a resolution endorsing the Goldstone Report, which levels war crimes charges at Israel for defending itself in the face of Hamas's rockets. "The resolution doesn't mention the word Hamas," she said. "This is a resolution that purports to be even-handed; it is anything but."

Abortion ban must be stricken from health care bill: Connie Schultz

Language matters, so let's be clear: Women's reproductive health is not a "social issue."

Deciding whether to carry the red purse or the black bag to dinner Saturday night? That's a social issue. Wondering why your child wasn't invited to her classmate's birthday party? That, too, is a social issue.

Attempting to limit women's access to legal and safe abortions? Not even remotely a social issue. So let's stop calling it that as we debate the Stupak-Pitts amendment, which is the latest effort in Congress to prohibit insurance coverage for abortion. The sooner we reject this dismissive casting of a woman's essential right, the sooner elected officials will understand it's not theirs for the tinkering.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

U.S. House backs resolution to condemn Goldstone Gaza report

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday condemned a UN report that accuses Israeli forces and Palestinian militants of committing war crimes in Gaza early this year as irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.

With a 344-36 vote, the House passed a nonbinding resolution that urged President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to oppose unequivocally any endorsement of the report. Twenty-two representatives voted present.

The report, commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council, accuses both I
srael and the Palestinian Hamas group of war crimes but presents Israel's actions as much more serious.

The report "paints a distorted picture," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. It "epitomizes the practice of singling Israel out from all other nations for condemnation."

Activists Gear Up for Fight

Lately, Donna Crane hasn’t been making it home early. The policy director of NARAL Pro-Choice America has been lobbying nonstop to ensure that the House does not slip anti-abortion language into its health care legislation, which the chamber is expected to vote on this weekend.

“We’re working a lot of late nights,” Crane said.

Lobbyists on both sides of the emotionally divisive issue have been feverishly rallying their grass-roots supporters this week to chime in on the debate on how restrictive the House bill should be regarding abortion.

The House bill says private health insurance plans may neither be required nor prohibited from covering abortion services. The proposed public health insurance option would be required to cover abortions that are covered by the Hyde amendment, such as in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment. The secretary of Health and Human Services would have discretion over whether elective abortions are offered under the public option. However, all plans including the government plan would have to use private money from insurance premiums to pay for the abortions.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why Palestinian Incitement Matters So Much

Ever wonder where the report featured that Israeli soldiers kidnap and kill Palestinians in order to harvest their vital organs for transplants originated. Palestinian Media Watch provides the answer.

Daniel Bostrom, the intrepid reporter for Sweden's largest circulation paper Aftonblandet who plagiaraized this fabrication, has said of hi handiwork, "Whether it's true or not, I have no idea. I have no clue." Given his indifference to truth of this journalistic offerings, what further "scoops" can we anticipate from Bostrum? Again, Palestinian Media Watch provides the answer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Goldstone Backs Away from Report: The Two Faces of an International Poseur

With so much (though not all) of the civilized world justly condemning (or ignoring) the Goldstone report for its distortion of the facts and its one-sided condemnation of Israel, Richard Goldstone himself now seems to be backing away from the report’s conclusions—at least when he speaks to his Jewish audiences.

In an interview with Jewish Forward, Goldstone denied that his group had conducted “an investigation.” Instead, it was what he called a “fact-finding mission” based largely on the limited “material we had.” Since this “material” was cherry-picked by Hamas guides and spokesmen, Goldstone acknowledged that “if this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.” He emphasized to the Forward that the report was no more than “a road map” for real investigators and that it contained no actual “evidence,” of wrongdoing by Israel.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rep. Rosa DeLauro: Obama Can Find Common Ground on Abortion

Democratic Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro represents Connecticut's Third Congressional District. She and Rep. Tim Ryan recently reintroduced the Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act.

Among the questions Dan asked me to consider for this post was the following: Can President Obama find common ground on—and reduce the need for—abortion? Well, yes, I believe he can. And I believe that, after many years of hard work by, and open dialogue with, advocates on all sides of the abortion issue, we in the House of Representatives have given the administration a template for this common, concerted action with the Ryan-DeLauro bill.

For too long, there has been too much heat and not enough light shed on the question of reducing abortion in this country. And for too long, we have allowed our differences to divide us on this contentious issue.

Now, I have been and will always be a strong and unyielding believer in a woman's fundamental right to choose. This is a belief I share with a majority of the American people, who continue to support Roe v. Wade and who oppose making it harder for women to get an abortion.

Many of my colleagues, including the bill's cosponsor, Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio, have been equally passionate and committed to the opposing view. For all of us, on both sides of the abortion issue, this is not a decision taken lightly but a morally complex matter of conscience that goes to our most basic and fundamental principles.

That is why our bill takes a different approach to the abortion question from what we have seen in the past.

Put some peace in your tank

A joint Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian biofuel project will alleviate thousands of tons of organic waste and produce one million barrels of biofuel, powering peace in the Middle East.

It's the kind of project that should bring a smile to the face of every leader in the Middle East: A true regional partnership, brokered by three peace foundations - that is about to reduce biomass pollution for Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians.

Even better, it will transform biomass waste into biofuel, so that farmers and industrialists can turn a profit while simultaneously creating much-needed jobs in the region.

Abortion Law Backers Vow Oklahoma Appeal

A day after a judge struck down an Oklahoma law requiring women seeking an abortion to see an ultrasound of the fetus and listen to a description of its attributes, the state said it would appeal the ruling, and Republican lawmakers vowed to pass the law again in a different form.

While advocates of abortion rights celebrated the victory in court, they acknowledged the fight against one of the most sweeping anti-abortion laws in the country was likely to continue for months in the Legislature and before the State Supreme Court.

“It is one battle in the war, but the war shall continue,” said Martha Hardwick, a Tulsa lawyer with the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Op-Ed: Health care reforms are the antithesis of Nazi practice

With the health care debate seeming to degenerate into well-publicized spates of name calling and scare tactics, the following article clearly articulates the fallacy of comparing the proposed "public option" with the Nazi party's policies in Germany.

It is the nuclear bomb of epithets, a shorthand way of tarnishing any opponent. In recent weeks, Rush Limbaugh and others repeatedly have compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler and his health care policies to Nazi tactics. More than one activist showed up at a town hall meeting brandishing a swastika sign and Obama's name.

"They were for abortion and euthanasia of the undesirables," Limbaugh said of the Nazis on his radio program. "As we all know, they were for cradle-to-grave nationalized health care."

Reviewing what the Nazis actually did, and why, shows that such inapt comparisons reveal more about the attackers than the current proposals by the president or Congress.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

An Abortion Battle, Fought to the Death

This is an insightful and detailed expose on Dr. George Tiller and his fight to provide health care to women in need.

WICHITA, Kan. — It did not take long for anti-abortion leaders to realize that George R. Tiller was more formidable than other doctors they had tried to shut down.

Shrewd and resourceful, Dr. Tiller made himself the nation’s pre-eminent abortion practitioner, advertising widely and drawing women to Wichita from all over with his willingness to perform late-term abortions, hundreds each year. As anti-abortion activists discovered, he gave as good as he got, wearing their contempt as a badge of honor. A “warrior,” they called him with grudging respect.

Abayudaya Jews deliver relief to famine-plagued Ugandans

ACEGEREKINEI VILLAGE, Uganda (JTA) -- After four hours of driving on ever tinier roads this morning, our food truck becomes stuck in the sand and we have to push it out. We are following the packed pickup in Rabbi Gershom Sizomu's SUV -- four members of his Abayudaya Jewish congregation, two Ugandan TV reporters and me, a semi-retired Canadian journalist volunteering with the Abayudaya.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A guide to Israeli settlements - How and when did they start, why are they spreading, what are the concerns and should anything be done about them?

In Cairo this month, President Obama urged Israel to stop settlement construction in the occupied territories. "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," he said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his own policy speech soon after, ardently defended the communities and the people who live in them. "The settlers are neither the enemies of the people nor the enemies of peace. Rather, they are an integral part of our people."

So what's all the fuss? We present a guide for the perplexed.

Friday, June 26, 2009

George Tiller: Healthcare Provider

Rare in the news coverage of the murder of Dr. George Tiller were the voices of physicians who referred patients to him. That's because, in the media, abortion features as an "issue," a battlefront in the culture wars, and only secondarily, if at all, as a medical procedure. The letter below, written by a physician in response to my comment in The Nation on the murder, is a rare exception, shedding light on Dr. Tiller's role as a healthcare provider. Many thanks to Dr. Laurence Burd, its author, for writing it.

The Sounds of Silence on Iran

Do you hear the silence from the Arab world over events in Iran?

Let's start with Arab leaders, who are experts at vote rigging -- if they hold elections at all. What could they possibly say about the Iranian election, or the allegations of vote fraud, without sounding hypocritical? Nor would they rush to congratulate longtime nemesis Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the leader of a regional rival with nuclear ambitions.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Islam Today

This is a very interesting article from the point of view of an Israeli Arab on the status of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, and the lives of Arab Israelis. It is the second of a six-part series called "Tolerance and Intolerance in the Islamic World," held during the Durban Review Conference.

Today I would like to focus more on current political affairs, rather than on the threats of radical Islam. I will talk specifically about the Israeli-Arab conflict and the status of Israel's Arab citizens.

Before that I would like to tell you a bit about my background. I have been working as a journalist for the past 27 years in the Palestinian areas. My career as a journalist started by working for a PLO newspaper in Jerusalem. For the past 20 years or so I have been serving as a consultant, advisor and facilitator for most of the foreign journalists who come over there and want to go to Ramallah and Gaza and talk to Fatah and Hamas. And for the past eight years I have been also writing for the Israeli media and specifically The Jerusalem Post, reporting on Palestinian issues.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Seven Existential Threats

Rarely in modern history have nations faced genuine existential threats. Wars are waged to change regimes, alter borders, acquire resources, and impose ideologies, but almost never to eliminate another state and its people. This was certainly the case during World War II, in which the Allies sought to achieve the unconditional surrender of Germany and Japan and to oust their odious leaders, but never to destroy the German and Japanese states or to annihilate their populations. In the infrequent cases in which modern states were threatened with their survival, the experience proved to be traumatic in the extreme. Military coups, popular uprisings, and civil strife are typical by-products of a state’s encounter with even a single existential threat.

FDR pushed to get Jews to safety in 1930s

Newly uncovered documents reveal that President Franklin D. Roosevelt worked quietly in the late 1930s to find havens for European Jews, contradicting the view that he ignored their plight in the years leading up to the Holocaust.

Friday, April 17, 2009

JAC Joins Senator Boxer in Global Effort to Eliminate Abuse of Women

All over the world, women are being discriminated against, abused and violated in the most egregious ways. Girls have acid thrown at their faces for committing the crime of seeking an education. Women are gang raped, while their government turns a blind eye. Girls are sold into sexual slavery by families that consider them expendable. Men kill family members who are rape victims as a way to restore "honor" to their families. Girls are subjected to sexual mutilation in order to make them acceptable for marriage. Women are stoned for sexual crimes for which men receive no punishment. Women receive less money than men for doing the same work. They are denied birth control and proper medical care. And the examples go on and on...

Line of text in abortion bill draws political line in the sand

Topeka — It’s just one line in a 16-page bill, but abortion rights advocates say it represents a callous overreach by anti-abortionists.

Under Senate Bill 218, a woman seeking an abortion must be informed at least 24 hours before the procedure that, “The abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”

Israel and “the A Word?” You Must Be Joking.

For many outside of Israel, their perception of the country has been framed by the international media. They have allowed their opinions to be shaped by a constant stream of pictures and articles with one main idea: between Arabs and Jews there can be only hatred and violence. With this mindset, the delegates traveled to Haifa, Israel, one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, a place where beauty is about more than geography.

Muhammad al-Dura: Theater of the Absurd?

When ARD documentary filmmaker Esther Schapira viewed the now iconic images of Muhammad al-Dura and his father Jamal back in 2000 she felt there was more of a story to tell. So she set out to produce a film called How Soldiers Live with the Knowledge of Killing a Young Child. But during her research it emerged that this wasn’t simply the story of a Palestinian boy killed by Israeli soldiers. “It wasn’t clear who killed him,” Schapira said. “But ultimately it appeared highly unlikely that he was killed by Israel.”