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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gaza militant groups agree to halt rocket attacks on Israel

Over 200 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel this year, killing one person and causing some minor injuries.  Palestinian militant groups have agreed to halt these attacks temporarily.
Militant Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip have agreed to halt rocket attacks against Israel, a senior Islamic Jihad leader said Thursday. 

"We agreed to halt one of the means of armed resistance, which is firing rockets at Israel, to avoid the Israeli threats," Dawood Shihab, a spokesman for the group, said in a statement e-mailed to journalists. 
Read more at Haaretz

Kansas to consider bill to restrict late-term abortions based on fetal-pain claim

Following the passage of the "fetal pain law" in Nebraska earlier this year which bans abortions after 20 weeks, the Kansas legislature is set to take up a similar bill. 
Kansas lawmakers plan to consider legislation modeled on a new Nebraska law that restricts late-term abortions based on the claim that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks.

“I think the issue of fetal pain is an important one, and one that is becoming more and more a part of the debate,” said Rep. Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican who has championed late-term abortion reforms for the past several years.
Read more at The Kansas City Star

Monday, December 27, 2010

Raising fish in the desert

A group of Israeli scientists have developed a process that makes farming fish much easier and more feasible anywhere on land.
"There's plenty of fish in the sea," the old saying goes - but that's not as true as it once was. In fact, says Dotan Bar-Noy, CEO of Israel's GFA (Grow Fish Anywhere) Advanced Systems, there are fewer fish in the sea with each passing year. "Overfishing is a much bigger problem than people realize, and in a few years, many species of salt water fish are simply going to disappear if something isn't done."

Bar-Noy and 30 or so others - mostly engineers, marine biologists and other technical folk - have found a solution to the diminishing numbers of fish in the sea. Based on the work of Israeli scientist Dr. Yossi Tal and Hebrew University professor Jaap van Rijn - inventor of the system - GFA has developed an on-land environment where fish can be raised, without having to exchange water or treat it chemically.
Read more at Jerusalem Post

King Co. rejects Israeli-Gaza bus ad

In light of numerous complaints, both local and national, over a proposed anti-Israel bus ad set to run in Seattle, the King County Council has decided to pull the ad.
The outcry over a proposed bus ad to protest Israeli actions in Gaza prompted King County Executive Dow Constantine on Friday to order the county's transit system not to accept it or any other new noncommercial advertising.

A group called Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign paid $2,760 to place the ad on 12 buses, starting Monday, Metro Transit spokeswoman Linda Thielke said. The placard shows children and a demolished building with the caption, "Israeli War Crimes - Your tax dollars at work."
Read more at The Seattle Times

Thursday, December 23, 2010

To go where no Israeli has gone before

Most people they meet raise an eyebrow or two after hearing their plan. But if you ask Yonatan Winetraub and Kfir Damari what they are doing these days, the answer is simple: “We are working on going to the moon.”

The two, in their 20s, are scientists: Winetraub works for Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) as a satellite engineer with a focus on nano-satellites, and Damari is a lecturer at the Israeli College of Management and is a communication-system engineer.
Read more at The Jerusalem Post

Anti-abortion group aims to influence race for RNC chairman

The anti-reproductive rights group, The Susan B. Anthony List, is working to ensure the next RNC Chairman is strongly anti-abortion.  This follows the recent appointment of Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) to the Health Subcommittee chairmanship, which they promoted.  They are also pushing for the appointment of Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) to be chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
An anti-abortion group announced Wednesday it will launch a widespread e-mail campaign to elect a like-minded Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman.

The Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List, which is co-sponsoring a Jan. 3 RNC chairman debate, said it will reach 500,000 socially conservative activists with its campaign.
Read more at The Hill

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Israel protests Gaza rockets in U.N.

In response to a recent upsurge in rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel, the Israeli government has filed a formal complaint with the UN.
Israel has filed a complaint in the United Nations over rocket attacks from Gaza.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Security Council President Susan Rice, Meron Reuben, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, called on the body to "send a clear and resolute message that these attacks are unacceptable."

The letter, dated Tuesday, was sent several hours after a rocket fired from Gaza landed several yards from a kindergarten in session in a western Negev kibbutz, wounding a 14-year-old girl on her way to school. Israel responded to the attack later in the day with an airstrike on what it called a Hamas terror center in Gaza.
Read more at JTA

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

King County councilman calls for review of proposed bus signs

In light of outcry over planned public bus advertisements set to appear in Seattle that proclaim Israel is guilty of war crimes, the King County Council is reviewing its decision to let them run.  The signs state "Israeli War Crimes, Your Tax Dollars at Work," and are currently set to start running on December 27th, the anniversary of Operation Cast Lead.
King County Councilman Peter von Reichbauer is calling for a review of proposed advertising on Metro buses that blasts Israel and the U.S., claiming U.S. tax dollars support war crimes.
Von Reichbauer says the ads could incite violence.
"I know hate when I see it," he said. "A number of people in King County see hate in this advertisement."
Read more at King5.com

Israel inside! Herzliya innovations run the Kindle

Do you have a Kindle?  Thank the high-tech center in the Herzliya Industrial Zone in Israel.
Windows; ICQ (known today as AOL Chat); anti-virus software; cell phone technology...

You name it, and Israel has had a hand in the development – if not the outright invention – of many of the most important tech components of modern life.

And Israel’s high-tech brain trust is still brimful of ideas. In fact, critical aspects of one of today’s newest, hottest, up-and-coming gadgets, Amazon’s Kindle, were developed in the heart of the high-tech center in the Herzliya Industrial Zone on the central coast.
Read more at The Jerusalem Post

Monday, December 20, 2010

House GOP Crushes Bill That Would Protect Against Child Marriage

Last week, House Republicans blocked a bill that aimed at reducing and ultimately eliminating child marriage around the world.  This bill passed with 100 votes in the Senate, yet was stymied by the House Republican leadership based on the possibility it might fund abortions.
On Thursday night, hours before passing the tax cut compromise, House Republicans thwarted a bill that aimed to protect girls around the world from being coerced into child marriage. They opposed it because, they claimed, it might fund abortions.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), was blindsided. After the Child Marriage Protection Act passed the Senate with zero objection on Dec. 1 -- a rare feat these days -- it didn't seem like there was much to worry about.
But just before the vote began, Republican leadership blasted out a "whip alert" to GOP staffers with a message: Vote no. The alert claimed the bill cost too much and that a competing bill, introduced just the day before, would be better.
 Read more at TPM Muckraker

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holbrooke’s Jewish Past Shaped His Passion for the Displaced

This week's loss of Richard Holbrooke will be felt across the world for a long time to come.  As we stop to reflect on the man and his accomplishments, information on his work on behalf of Holocaust survivors and refugees is becoming more public.
 With the tragic passing of Richard Holbrooke, the world has lost a man who devoted his life to resolving intractable conflicts; our nation has lost the premier diplomat of his era in the midst of one of his most challenging assignments as special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan; and I have lost a dear friend and longtime colleague.
It is less well known that the Jewish people have lost a great champion of justice for Holocaust survivors and for refugees the world over.
Read more at the Forward

Israeli companies outsourcing to Palestinians

Within the pastel walls of a modest suburban office, Israeli high-tech workers have accomplished a feat that still eludes their political leaders: They have created a partnership with the Palestinians.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks may be stalled, but that hasn't stopped a small but steady trickle of Israeli technology companies from seeking to work with people on the other side of the decades-old conflict.

Israeli CEOs say it's their way of bringing a little bit of peace to their troubled corner of the world. But the real reason they're hiring Palestinians, they acknowledge, is because it simply makes good business sense.
Read more at Google News

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wichita doctors to offer abortions

A Kansas City abortion clinic has been training two doctors to provide abortion services in Wichita in the wake of the shooting death of Dr. George Tiller, a clinic spokesman told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Drs. Mila Means and Greg Linhardt decided to learn how to perform abortions at their Wichita practices after Tiller was shot to death by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder in May 2009, said Aid For Women spokesman Jeff Peterson. Abortion services haven't been offered in Wichita since Tiller's death.

"The reason we are training is for George," Peterson said.
Read more at The Wichita Eagle

Monday, December 13, 2010

Push for Stricter Abortion Limits Is Expected in House

Rep. Joe Pitts of PA has been selected as the incoming Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.  Rep. Pitts is strongly opposed to reproductive rights and his opposition to abortion access is a key part of his agenda as a Representative.  He co-authored the Stupak Amendment to the Health Care Reform Act, and his appointment signals a new assault on women and reproductive rights in the new Congress.
A leading Congressional opponent of abortion rights, who is in line to take charge of an influential House panel, plans to press for much stricter limits on the procedure.

The selection of the lawmaker, Representative Joe Pitts, Republican of Pennsylvania, as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health presages a major shift on abortion and family planning, according to opponents and supporters of abortion rights.

Opponents of abortion gained about 45 seats in the midterm elections, and they count the next speaker, Representative John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, as a staunch ally, virtually guaranteeing more conflicts with the White House on the issue.
Read more at  The New York Times

Thursday, December 09, 2010

What You Can Learn by Watching 'Glee'

Amazing inventions from Israel are popping up in the most unusual places.  Israel is making progress in a number of areas from medicine to energy to electronics that have the potential to impact millions of lives around the world.
So here we are watching Glee -- I know, I know, but what can I do, my kids love it -- and, though I usually fall asleep on the couch and lose the plot, I did surmise that the dim-bulb cheerleader was hoping Santa Claus would provide her paraplegic boyfriend with the ability to walk. This is where I I dozed off again, but when I woke up, one of the teachers had secretly provided the boyfriend -- Artie -- with a device called a "ReWalk," which was described to his astonished friends as a device invented in Israel that allows paraplegics to actually walk. The ReWalk is real -- here's a link to the manufacturer, Argo Medical Technologies, of Yokneam, a town near Haifa -- and it does seem like a fantastic device. It serves as a kind of electricall exoskeleton, allowing wheelchair-bound paraplegics to rise, and, as the manufacturer says, meet the world eye-to-eye.
Read more at The Atlantic

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

300 protest plan for late-term abortions in Md.

In response to Dr. LeRoy Carhart beginning to work in a reproductive health clinic in the Washington, DC area, protests have already begun.  Dr. Carhart announced last month he would open 3 clinics that offered late-term abortion services for women who need them around the country.
Nebraska doctor LeRoy Carhart began working Monday at a Germantown abortion clinic, prompting protests and a prayer vigil - and shifting the national battle over abortion from the Midwest to Maryland by focusing attention on a controversial procedure that stirs up strong feelings among many Americans. 

One of the few doctors in the country who openly acknowledges performing abortions late in pregnancy, Carhart said last month that he chose the Washington area because Nebraska has implemented a law making it illegal to perform abortions beyond the 20th week of pregnancy. Only a handful of doctors say publicly that they perform late abortions, and Carhart has been the target of abortion protests. 

New Subject of Debate on Mideast: Hummus

Part of the ongoing BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) attacks on Israel, hummus had become a recent focus on several American college campuses. 
Forget Hezbollah and Hamas. The latest chapter in the Israeli-Arab conflict is all about hummus, the chickpea dip that is a staple of American college cafeterias.
At Princeton and DePaul Universities, Palestinian students and their supporters have challenged the sale of Sabra hummus in an effort to focus attention on accusations that Israeli military forces violated human rights.
Sabra is based in Queens and Virginia, and a spokeswoman said the company had never contributed “hummus or anything else” to the Israeli military. But one of Sabra’s joint owners is the Strauss Group, an Israeli food company that according to its Web site provides financial support to the Golani brigade, part of Israel’s military force. (The other joint owner is PepsiCo.) 
Read more at The New York Times

Monday, December 06, 2010

Israel: Haifa forest fire extinguished

An update on the forest fire near Haifa, Israel.  This article includes a map showing the affected area near Mt. Carmel.
A massive wildfire which killed 42 people in northern Israel has now been extinguished, emergency officials say.

The blaze, which broke out in forests close to the city of Haifa on Thursday, had required international firefighters and equipment to stem it.

Israel's highest ranking policewoman, Ahuva Tomer, who was caught in the fire on Thursday, has since died of her injuries, her family said.
Read more at BBC News

Friday, December 03, 2010

JAC In the News - Obama White House Hanukkah Party: Kosher sushi, latkes, "Rock of Ages" sax solo

Among the many guests in attendance for this year's White House Hanukkah Party were JAC's  President Gial Yamner, Executive Director Marcia Balonick, Research Director Joy Malkus, and former President Betsy Sheerr.
In a room heavily decorated for Christmas, President Obama and First Lady Michelle hosted a Hanukkah Party on the second night of the Jewish festival.

There was a heavy contingent of Chicagoans spotted in the East Room event, packed with about 500 people, including Rabbi Capers C. Funnye, Jr. who is Mrs. Obama's cousin. Funnye is the rabbi of Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation at 6601 S. Kedzie in Chicago.

Funnye told me this was his third White House Hanukkah party--not only last year with cousin Michelle--the Bush White House invited him in 2007.

Among the other Chicagoans at the party: Judy Gold, Marcia Balonick, state Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, Neil Bluhm, Alan Solow and Jon Medline.
 Read more at The Chicago Sun Times

Abortion-Rights Issues Surface In Bids For House Committee Chairs

As House Republicans campaign for leadership positions before the start of the 112th Congress, abortion and reproductive rights are on the table once again.
House Republicans are campaigning for leadership positions as committees reorganize before the start of the 112th Congress. Summaries of recent coverage appear below.

House Appropriations Committee: In his effort to become chair of the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) has outlined a return to strict conservative values, including antiabortion-rights policies, in a booklet, multimedia presentation and letter to colleagues, Politico reports. "We have an historic opportunity to realize a conservative, pro-defense, pro-business, pro-energy, pro-gun, pro-life and pro-fiscal restraint legislative agenda," he wrote. He added that he will "restore longstanding pro-life policies abandoned by House Democrats," including by "reinstating the Hyde Amendment banning federal funds for abortions." Lewis also pledged to block funding to implement the federal health reform bill (PL 111-148). Reps. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) also are seeking the Appropriations position (Bresnahan, Politico, 11/30).
Read more at Medical News Today

Thursday, December 02, 2010

A 63-year search for Mideast peace

On the eve of the 63rd anniversary of UN Resolution 181 (Nov. 27), which called for the partition of Palestine into two states, Israel's Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, reflected on the history of the area since then and where to go from here.
Imagine a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict: a Jewish state living alongside a Palestinian state in permanent peace, with open borders, and even economic union. Sound like fantasy? It wasn’t, 63 years ago tomorrow, when the U.N. General Assembly voted in favor of Resolution 181, dividing what was then known as Palestine into independent Jewish and Arab states. The Arab world was to welcome the Jews, after 2,000 years of exile, back to their homeland. There would have been no Arab-Israeli conflict, no Palestinian refugees, and no suicide bombers. The Middle East would have looked much different. If only.
Read more at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Israeli firms see a global market for their anti-terrorism know-how

As he inspected the Taj Mahal hotel after the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, and listened to a hotel manager bemoan the lack of adequate security preparations, Israeli export official Avi Hefetz saw a growth market in the making.

"I thought to myself, if we have the state-of-the-art technology, the defense know-how and our considerable experience gained throughout the intifadas, why not organize a platform for displaying our technologies in this field?" he said.
Read more at The LA Times

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

PA removes controversial Kotel report from website

After a paper published by the Palestinian Ministry of Information claimed the Western Wall in Jerusalem had no historical significance for the Jewish People was roundly criticized by the United States, a link to the report has been removed from the Palestinian Authority's website.
The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday removed a report claiming that Jerusalem's Western Wall is not holy to Jews from an official website, after it provoked furious reaction. The PA Ministry of Information claimed that hackers had penetrated the site and removed the post.

Palestinian officials would not comment on the report Wednesday. But its author, Al-Mutawakil Taha, a civil servant in the Information Ministry, said that he stands by his work.

The move came hours after Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch praised comments made by the US in response to the report. In a press statement, Rabinovitch had said "the foolish attempt to place an 'alternative historical narrative' to the holy site of Israel insults not only the credibility of the narrators and the esteem for history, but primarily the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East."

Read more at The Jerusalem Post 

Late-term abortion doctor to practice in Md. facility

As announced, Dr. LeRoy Carhart is beginning to offer late-term abortion services in clinics in three states.  Here is information on his work to make late-term abortions available to women in the Maryland/Washington, DC area.
One of the country's most prominent late-term abortion doctors will begin offering the procedure in Maryland beginning next week, a professional association announced Tuesday.

Dr. Leroy Carhart will begin performing both early and late-term abortions at Germantown Reproductive Health Services next week, said Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, a professional association of abortion providers, of which the Germantown facility is a member.
Read more at the Baltimore Sun

Monday, November 29, 2010

Activist Randall Terry wants to take graphic abortion ads nationwide in 2012

Randall Terry, founder of the anti-reproductive rights group Operation Rescue, has announced he is seeking to recruit candidates for the 2012 election with the express purpose of putting graphic images of aborted fetuses on the airwaves, and is possibly considering a run in the presidential election with an eye on an anti-abortion ad during the Superbowl.
Last month, Washington-area residents watched dozens of TV commercials that featured gruesome images of aborted fetuses. In two years, many more Americans might be faced with similar ads if a prominent anti-abortion activist makes good on his plans.

Randall Terry -- the fiery activist who recruited D.C. resident Missy Reilly Smith to run for congressional delegate, thus clearing access to the airwaves -- announced this week that he plans to recruit candidates to run for Congress in the nation's 25 largest media markets, expressly to air graphic TV commercials.
Read more at The Washington Post

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why Israel is a Rogue State

In case you missed it, here is the entire argument offered by Gabriel Latner, a 19-year-old student at Cambridge University who recently participated in a debate at the university's prestigious debate society.  The topic - proposed by Lauren Booth, who works for Tehran's state-run global TV station, and is ardently anti-Israel - was "Israel is a rogue state."  Mr. Latner was chosen to argue for the motion, and delightedly turned the entire argument on its ear by proclaiming Israel's "rogue" status and celebrating it.
This is a war of ideals, and the other speakers here tonight are rightfully, idealists. I'm not. I'm a realist. I'm here to win. I have a single goal this evening -- to have at least a plurality of you walk out of the “Aye” door.

I face a singular challenge -- most, if not all, of you have already made up your minds. This issue is too polarizing for the vast majority of you not to already have a set opinion. I'd be willing to bet that half of you strongly support the motion, and half of you strongly oppose it.

I want to win, and we're destined for a tie. I'm tempted to do what my fellow speakers are going to do -- simply rehash every bad thing the Israeli government has ever done in an attempt to satisfy those of you who agree with them. And perhaps they'll even guilt one of you rare undecided into voting for the proposition, or more accurately, against Israel.

It would be so easy to twist the meaning and significance of international “laws” to make Israel look like a criminal state. But that's been done to death.

It would be easier still to play to your sympathy, with personalized stories of Palestinian suffering. And they can give very eloquent speeches on those issues.

But the truth is, that treating people badly, whether they're your citizens or an occupied nation, does not make a state “rogue.” If it did, Canada, the U.S., and Australia would all be rogue states based on how they treat their indigenous populations. Britain’s treatment of the Irish would easily qualify them to wear this sobriquet. These arguments, while emotionally satisfying, lack intellectual rigor.

More importantly, I just don't think we can win with those arguments. It won't change the numbers. Half of you will agree with them, half of you won't. So I'm going to try something different, something a little unorthodox.
Read the rest at UN Watch

'Birthornot' website a fake

A recent website which sparked controversy has been confirmed as untrue.  The website asked visitors to vote on whether or not the couple should have an abortion.  The developer has confirmed that the couple never intended to have an abortion, regardless of the vote outcome - they wanted to spur debate.
A Minnesota man who put up a website asking people to help him and his wife decide whether to have an abortion admitted Tuesday they never intended to terminate the pregnancy.

Pete Arnold, who describes himself as a conservative/libertarian and has stirred controversy for his conservative posts on several websites, said he wanted to stimulate conversation about the politically charged subject.
Read more at CNN.com

Middle East with a side of hummus

In response to a proposed referendum for Princeton students that Sabra hummus not be sold on campus, this commentary looks at who owns this company and what they support and the fallacy that buying hummus is supporting human rights violations.
You are being deceived. A thin veil (of hummus) is being pulled over your eyes. You are being told that by purchasing Sabra hummus, you are propagating the violation of human rights — that by purchasing Sabra hummus, you are enabling abuses by the Israeli army’s Golani Brigade, whose soldiers are portrayed as cruel perpetrators. This is simply not true.
The truth is that 50 percent of Sabra Dipping Company is owned by PepsiCo, and 50 percent is owned by the Strauss Group, an Israeli company. The Strauss Group sponsors a range of community outreach programs, including raising money for premature infants in Serbia and providing scholarship funds to children with cancer. The Strauss Group’s list of projects also includes a “support the troops” program, for which the company provides care packages of free hummus to Israeli soldiers in the Golani Brigade. The company has not been providing weapons or ammunition; it is simply giving the 18-year-olds in uniform free hummus and a little moral support.
 Read more at The Daily Princetonian

Friday, November 19, 2010

Durbin Chairs Hearing on Ratification of Women's Rights Treaty

The first hearing on CEDAW held by the Senate since 1982 yesterday in Washington, DC.  Those who support its passage include Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Actor Geena Davis, Ambassador Melanne Verveer - Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, US State Department, and many others.
Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) chaired a hearing today on U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). CEDAW is the only international treaty to focus solely on the rights of women and it addresses issues such as violence against women, sex trafficking, the right to vote and equal access to education. Today’s hearing was the first ever Judiciary Committee hearing on whether to ratify a human rights treaty.

“CEDAW is about giving women all over the world the chance to enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities that American women have struggled long and hard to achieve,” Durbin said. “These are fundamentally American freedoms – the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – and CEDAW is a fundamentally American treaty. Women have been waiting for 30 years. It’s long past time for the U.S. to ratify this treaty and we should do so without further delay.”
Read more at eNews Park Forest

German Parliament demands Gilad Shalit’s release

Gilad Shalit has been held prisoner by Hamas since June 25, 2006, when he was captured at a border check-point during a cross-border raid.  Hamas has consistently refused requests by international governments and organizations for Shalit to be visited by the International Committee of the Red Cross, a group that routinely visits prisoners to verify humane treatment.  In 2009, the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict called for his release, to no avail.
German Jewish leaders and pro-Israel groups applauded a German parliamentary motion demanding that Hamas release captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
The motion, passed Nov. 11, calls for negotiations and "trust-building" measures leading to Shalit's release, including allowing a Red Cross to visit the soldier who was captured in a cross-border Gaza raid in March 2006. The text was presented Oct. 27 by the Christian Democratic Party and Christian Social Union, the Social Democratic Party, the Free Democratic Party and the Greens.
 Read more at JTA

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Extraordinarily Ordinary Israel

This eastern Mediterranean Jewish republic is the focal point of one of the most divisive conflicts of our time and is a source of strong emotions for many people. Although many may think of Israel as an exceptional country, I consider it as an ordinary country faced with extraordinary obstacles. Rather than focusing on the numerous obstacles facing it, I would like to focus on its normality, particularly on its ethnic and liberal democracy, economic structure, and cultural diversity.
Read more at The Harvard Crimson

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New high school biology books recommended by state

A state panel has recommended that the top education board in Louisiana adopt new high school biology textbooks that teach evolution as fact, with many who testified before the board stating they were against emphasizing evolution as a theory, or the inclusion of intelligent design.
A state panel recommended Friday that Louisiana's top education board adopt a new batch of high school biology textbooks, despite complaints that evolution is taught too matter-of-factly in the books. 

An advisory council, made up of educators and lawmakers, voted 8-4 to recommend that the new life science textbooks be approved for use in high school classrooms. The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will make a final decision on the books next month. 
"There is no major research university in this country that teaches intelligent design or anything like that. It is simply not science," said Kevin Carman, dean of the LSU College of Science. "We need our textbooks to be focused on what is scientifically accurate and not religion." 
 Read more at The Times-Picayune

Monday, November 15, 2010

Abortion opponents will target new Iowa clinic

Following the announcement last week by Dr. LeRoy Carhart that he plans to open three reproductive health clinics in the next couple of months, abortion opponents have vowed to fight the clinic scheduled to open in Council Bluffs, IA.
Iowa abortion opponents say they will work to block a Nebraska abortion provider from opening a clinic in Council Bluffs.

Dr. LeRoy Carhart has been the center of controversy for years because he performs late-term abortions. This week, he told reporters that he intends to open clinics in Council Bluffs, Indianapolis and the suburbs of Washington, D.C.
Read more at the Des Moines Register

Monday, November 08, 2010

Guilty: Anti-choicer behind "wanted" posters

Philip Benham, of Operation Save America has been found guilty of "criminal stalking with intent to cause emotional distress" and been sentenced to 2 years of probation.  He was charged following his distribution on "wanted posters" of doctors who perform abortions.  Similar posters have appeared before the deaths of reproductive health doctors, including Dr. George Tiller.
Distributing "wanted" posters of doctors who perform abortions is not free speech, a North Carolina court ruled Monday. Philip "Flip" Benham of Operation Save America (formerly Operation Rescue) was "just found guilty of two charges of criminal stalking with intent to cause emotional distress and disruption of domestic tranquility for residential picketing," reports Ms. Magazine. Benham, who papered the neighborhoods of the doctors' offices and homes with the flyers, got two years of probation and was ordered to stay away from the doctors in question.
Read more at Salon

Biden at GA: U.S.-Israel ties ‘unbreakable’

Vice President Joe Biden called the U.S.-Israel bond "unbreakable" in a speech at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.

Speaking before an audience of approximately 4,000 at the opening plenary of the annual federations conference in New Orleans, Biden said tensions that may seem to exist between the Obama administration and Israel do not imply a weakening of ties between the two countries.

“This administration represents an unbroken chain in American leaders who have understood this critical relationship,” Biden said. “It is one that we will not yield one single inch. President Obama feels exactly the same way I do. The ties between our countries are literally unbreakable.”
 Read more at JTA

Friday, November 05, 2010

Abortion's foes resort to deception: What I found when I went to a crisis pregnancy center

Further reporting on so-called "Crisis Pregnancy Centers," which advertise as pregnancy clinics but are actually run by anti-abortion activists and seek to dissuade pregnant women from pursuing abortion as an option.  Many of these clinics appear to be medical facilities, but frequently have no medically professionals on staff.  A new bill in the NY City Council aims to end that by requiring these centers to disclose to patients if they do not have medical professionals on staff.  It would also require these centers to disclose that they do not provide abortion services, contraception or referrals for those options.
A television offered the only sound in the waiting room. On the screen, graphic videos of abortions played on a loop.
Some of the young women next to me sat with their eyes glued to the floor. A few glanced at the television, their eyes wide and wet.

Like me, they were either pregnant or afraid that they were. They had come to a Brooklyn office of EMC Pregnancy Center to get help.
Read more at NY Daily News

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Colorado voters reject anti-abortion measure

The Colorado ballot initiative, known as the Personhood Amendment, has been defeated by Colorado voters for the second time. 
For the second time, Colorado voters have overwhelmingly rejected an anti-abortion proposal that would have given unborn fetuses human rights in the state constitution.
Voters defeated a similar ballot measure by a nearly 3-to-1 margin in 2008. The initiative defeated Tuesday would have granted constitutional rights at the moment of conception and would have outlawed abortions.
Read more at The Washington Post

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A Hidden Minefield at Pregnancy Centers

Continuing their coverage on Crisis Pregnancy Centers, a writer for the NY Times reviews her experience at an Expectant Mother Care Center and contrasts that with her experience at a Planned Parenthood Center in New York.  Current legislation is being considered that would prevent CPCs from advertising as abortion providers and prevent deceptive practices, namely to keep counselors from posing as neutral while pursuing a political agenda.
I had barely finished signing in at the Expectant Mother Care counseling center in Downtown Brooklyn when a staff member ushered me into a darkened room for a sonogram. As we both watched the flickering image of what looked more or less like a tadpole, she called my attention to every anatomical detail, from eyes and nose to hands and toes. Staring at the little bugger wriggling around inside me, a tear slid out of my eye.
Did that tear trigger some alarm? Suddenly, two more people crowded into that tiny, darkened room. One asked if I was considering abortion.
Read more at The New York Times

Monday, November 01, 2010

In the war on breast cancer, Israel leads

Irit Paneth, in and out of remission from breast cancer for more than a decade, was among the thousands who wound their way like a giant pink-and-white ribbon through Jerusalem's streets in the first Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Race for the Cure held in Israel.

"What's important here is to raise awareness," Paneth said during the Oct. 28 march, wearing the pink T-shirt reserved for breast cancer survivors.
Read more at JTA

Arizona abortion rules expected to take effect Monday

A new abortion law goes into effect today in Arizona.  While on the surface, it may seem reasonable, opponents state that requiring a licensed physician to be present for various aspect of the procedure, including a physical exam prior to the surgery, will make it harder for women seeking an abortion due to the limited number of physicians willing to do the procedure in Arizona.  Until now, highly trained nurse practitioners, as well as physicians, were able to perform abortions in the state.
New restrictions on abortion are expected to take effect Monday following a ruling this week by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge.

Judge Donald Daughton ruled late Wednesday that Planned Parenthood could not amend a separate lawsuit in an effort to block provisions of a 10-year-old Arizona law from taking effect.

The law requires a licensed physician to participate in various aspects of the procedure, including a physical examination of the woman before surgery.
 Read more at The Arizona Republic

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Abortion opponents want end to telemedicine

In an effort to address the shortage of doctors available to provide abortion services in Iowa, a program to dispense abortion-inducing medication remotely via video conference called telemedicine, has been developed.  Abortion opponents want it stopped.
Abortion foes pleaded with the Iowa Board of Medicine on Friday to immediately halt Planned Parenthood's use of telemedicine to dispense abortion pills to women in rural communities, but the board said it needs more time to study the issue.

The first-in-the-nation system allows a Planned Parenthood physician in Des Moines to visit with each patient by video conference, then press a computer button to open a drawer in front of the patient, who could be at a clinic many miles from the doctor. The patient reaches into the drawer and withdraws the pills, taking the first dose as the doctor watches.
 Read more at the Des Moines Register

Monday, October 25, 2010

JAC In The News -- More fear and loathing on the campaign trail

JAC in the news -- JACPAC is mentioned in this article from the Jerusalem Post highlighting the Congressional race in IL-9th district between Representative Jan Schakowsky and her challenger Joel Pollack.
Nowhere are Republican efforts to transform support for Israel from a long-standing bipartisan national consensus into a divisive partisan wedge issue more on display than in Illinois’s Ninth Congressional District race.

Since both candidates are Jewish and pro-Israel, Republican challenger Joel Pollak can’t call the incumbent, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat, an anti-Semite or an enemy of Israel, so he accuses her of cavorting with them.

Read more at the Jerusalem Post

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rachel Maddow Examines Anti-Abortion Candidates

On last night's show, Rachel Maddow reviewed the current crop of anti-abortion candidates running for office and offered a preview of the upcoming documentary on the murder of Dr. George Tiller.  From candidates who believe that abortion should never be legal, even in the case of rape, incest, or health of the mother, to a group called Personhood USA who is now equating President Obama with the Angel of Death, abortion is starting to take a much more visible role this election season.  Despite popular opinion that this election is only about the economy and jobs, culture wars are very much making a come back.

View the video at MaddowBlog

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Unifying factor in 2010 election: Never before

JAC's Director of Research is quoted in this excellent article about the upcoming mid-term elections.
Talk to veteran campaign watchers about this year’s congressional races, and within seconds they will tell you that they've never before seen elections quite like these.
“We've never seen a cycle where there's been this many races this close to an election and you don’t know how it's going to come out,” said Joy Malkus, the research director at the Chicago-based Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs, or JACPAC, a group that directs funding to candidates who are pro-Israel and moderate on social issues. “And I’ve been doing this since 1982.”
Read more at JTA

Friday, October 15, 2010

States Eye Nebraska Abortion Ban

New abortion restrictions are now in effect in Nebraska. The state law banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy took effect Friday.  The Legislature passed the ban this year.
Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns now hopes to pass a federal law, similar to the Nebraska ban.  It would require women seeking abortions after twenty weeks to be told the fetus could feel pain and allow them to request anesthesia for the fetus. 
Read more at action3news.com

First look: Inside 'The Assassination of Dr. Tiller'

On Monday night, October 18, MSNBC will air a documentary called "The Assassination of Dr. Tiller," narrated by Rachel Maddow.  The show will be aired at 9:00 EDT (8:00 pm CDT). Below is a link to the preview.  

In light of the increased rhetoric against abortion, and the passage of laws aimed at restricting or outright eliminating access to abortion and reproductive health across this country (especially since the murder of Dr. Tiller), this looks to be a very stirring, informational, and needed documentary. 

Read more at Maddow Blog

Thursday, October 14, 2010

An End to Israel’s Invisibility - by Michael Oren

Ambassador Michael Oren has written an Op-Ed in the New York Times in response to comment by Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
NEARLY 63 years after the United Nations recognized the right of the Jewish people to independence in their homeland — and more than 62 years since Israel’s creation — the Palestinians are still denying the Jewish nature of the state. “Israel can name itself whatever it wants,” said the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, while, according to the newspaper Haaretz, his chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said that the Palestinian Authority will never recognize Israel as the Jewish state. Back in 1948, opposition to the legitimacy of a Jewish state ignited a war. Today it threatens peace.
Read more at The New York Times

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ahmadinejad in Lebanon speaks of ‘Zionist enemy’

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, met by cheering crowds in Lebanon, said his country and Israel's northern neighbor "endorse a bitter struggle against Zionist aggression."

Ahmadinejad arrived in Lebanon on Wednesday and immediately met with Lebanese President Michael Suleiman at the presidential palace.

During a joint news conference, Ahmadinejad said he felt "as though I am at home, in my homeland among my brothers."
Read more at JTA

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Netanyahu offers freeze for recognition

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would reinstate a West Bank construction freeze if the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Netanyahu made the offer Monday in a wide-ranging speech at the opening of the Knesset's winter session.

"If the Palestinian leadership will say unequivocally to its people that it recognizes Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, I will be ready to convene my government and request a further suspension," Netanyahu said. "Just as the Palestinians expect us to recognize their state, we expect reciprocal treatment."

The Palestinian Authority issued a statement rejecting Netanyahu's offer immediately following the speech.

Netanyahu called the deal a "trust-building step." He said that such recognition was not a precondition to talks for Israel.
Read more at JTA

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Two ex-roommates of abortion doctor’s killer tell of grand jury appearances

Two former roommates of the man who killed Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller say they have testified before a federal grand jury investigating whether Scott Roeder acted alone.

Tiller was shot to death in the foyer of his Wichita church while serving as an usher on May 31, 2009. Roeder, of Kansas City, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced in April to life in prison with no chance of parole for 50 years.

After Tiller’s death, the Department of Justice announced that it was looking into whether anyone else played a role.
Read more at the Kansas City Star

Friday, October 08, 2010

What Israel Wants - Ambassador Michael Oren

In an interview with the Washington Post, Ambassador Michael Oren discusses what Israel looks for in the newly restarted peace talks.

View interview at The Washington Post

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Lebanon set to allow Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Israeli border

Lebanon looks set to allow the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to make a highly controversial visit to its border with Israel next week.

The US has been leading diplomatic efforts to persuade the Beirut government that Ahmadinejad's presence in strongholds of the Shia movement Hezbollah in south Lebanon will pose a security risk that could provoke serious violence. But the signs are that the trip will go ahead, diplomats said today.
Read more at The Guardian

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Westboro case poses dilemma for Jewish groups

The US Supreme Court is opening its new session hearing a case regarding free speech.  This case has the potential to have significant ramifications in the interpretation of the First Amendment.
Jewish defense organizations long -- and proudly -- have upheld a delicate principle in defending the First Amendment: Hate the speech, defend the speaker.

But a Supreme Court case whose arguments were scheduled for Wednesday have put that precept to the test: A Maryland family is suing the Westboro Baptist Church for picketing the funeral of its scion, Matthew Snyder, a soldier killed in a noncombat accident in Iraq.

Jewish organizations that routinely have defended free speech that others might find abusive are sitting this one out. The American Jewish Committee has not filed a brief; the Anti-Defamation League filed a brief arguing that the case has no merit.
Read more at JTA

Monday, October 04, 2010

Mitchell: Neither side wants to stop direct talks

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected Monday at the weekly cabinet meeting to make his first public comments on the diplomatic negotiations since the process went into a tailspin following his decision not to renew the 10-month settlement moratorium that expired last week.

Netanyahu spent the Succot holiday last week at his home in Caesarea and issued a number of statements through his office calling on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas not to quit the talks, but did not speak out publicly about the situation.
Read More at The Jerusalem Post

Proposed state legislation would restrict abortion access

Correction:  The Don White listed in in the article below is Don White, State Senator PA. 
New state legislation that would sharply restrict abortions in Pennsylvania was condemned on Friday by a statewide abortion rights group, Pennsylvanians for Choice.

A bill introduced by Sen. Don White, R-Indiana, would prohibit private health insurance plans sold in Pennsylvania's state "exchange" -- created under the new federal health care law -- from offering abortions and require rape victims to report the crime within 72 hours in order to receive an abortion.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Sen. Johanns Introduces Federal Anti-Abortion Bill

Following recent state legislation in Nebraska that bars abortion after 20 weeks based on fetal pain, Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns (R) has introduced a similar bill to the US Senate.
Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns (R) introduced a controversial piece of federal abortion legislation this week in the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act.  According to his press release, the legislation would require that if a woman seeks an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy the doctor must inform her of the pain the unborn child feels and provide the woman the opportunity to request anesthesia to the child if she goes forward with the abortion.
Read more at Care2.com

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Bill to Protect Women and Girls Around the World

Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was scheduled to mark up the IVAWA - the International Violence Against Women Act - a bill to identify and address the increasing acts of violence both domestically and as political tools around the world.  This meeting has since been canceled.  Read the article below and then read Gail's thoughts on this bill and its current status.
I never met my grandmother. She was burned alive with kerosene doused on her sari and lit on fire. Some think it was suicide, some think it was a dowry murder since her mother-in-law was not pleased with what my grandmother brought into her new husband’s family. She had four children; one of them my mother, the other my uncle, who was just a few months old when she was killed. I cannot imagine her shock, grief and pain in the moments before she died. It makes me sick to even think about it.

Regrettably, her story is not uncommon. Consider the young couple whom the Taliban stoned to death for adultery and the young Afghani woman whose nose and ears were cut off because she tried to escape an unbearably abusive husband and his family—it happens every day.

We all read those stories, cringe at the grotesque pictures and then feel that empty pit in our stomachs because we think there’s nothing we can do. But finally that could change.

Five years ago, Women Thrive Worldwide partnered with the Family Violence Prevention Fund and Amnesty International USA to find out what our country could do to meaningfully help women stop violence in their lives. We interviewed over forty women’s groups in poor developing countries and consulted more than 100 experts and organizations working in the field. The result is IVAWA, the International Violence Against Women Act (H.R. 4954/S. 2982), introduced into the Congress by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). It was introduced into the House by Representatives Bill Delahunt (D-MA) and Ted Poe (R-Texas).
Read more at Fox News

Monday, September 27, 2010

Randall Terry Planning Koran Tearing For Tea Partiers

Right Wing Watch:  Randall Terry, founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, has begun a new crusade - this time against Islam.  He has put together an instructional video aimed at Tea Party members on how to rip up passages from the Koran in protest of the proposed Park 51 Islamic center on October 6th and 7th, and says he wants to call attention to "our need to defy sharia law."
Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry is upping the ante on his as-yet widely unknown campaign against Islam by creating a video instructing Tea Party leaders how to pull their own Koran-tearing stunts and garner media attention.

"To my fellow Tea Party activists, listen to me: you're about to see instructions on how to get into real battles, not just in front of our computers, not just blogging, but to go to the public square like Samuel Adams and like other great patriots did," Terry says in the video.
Read more at Talking Points Memo

Friday, September 24, 2010

Amendment 62 Debate - Term 'Fertilized Egg' Compared To The N-Word

As the election draws nearer, both sides speak up about Amendment 62 in Colorado - the so-called "Personhood" Amendment that would grant full rights to a fertilized egg, effectively banning abortion altogether.
It’s the second time Colorado voters will see an abortion-related measure on the statewide ballot.
Opponents of Amendment 62 held a rally Thursday afternoon to speak out against a measure they feel aims to overturn Roe v. Wade. Proponents of the measure went out to make sure their voices were heard too.

Amendment 62 seeks to amend Colorado’s constitution and ban abortion and emergency contraception. It’s a measure that both sides describe very differently.
Read more at KRDO.com

Texas education board to consider rule on Islam's portrayal in textbooks

Following the previous controversy raised by the new Texas school book standards earlier this year (including amending the teaching of slavery, the Civil Rights movement, and inclusion of the "conservative resurgence of 1980s and 1990s," the Moral Majority, Phyllis Schafly, and the NRA), the Texas Board of Education is meeting next week to address what they call "Muslim propaganda" in world history books.
Just when it appeared the State Board of Education was done with the culture wars, the panel is about to wade into the issue of what students should learn about Islam.

The board will consider a resolution next week that would warn publishers not to push a pro-Islamic, anti-Christian viewpoint in world history textbooks.
Read more at Dallas Morning News

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Michael Oren's Warning to American Jews

Ambassador Michael Oren gave a short sermon that he delivered at 3 synagogues on Yom Kippur in Washington, DC.  It is a very powerful and empowering speech in-which he discusses the role of an Israeli Prime Minister, Israel's place in the world and the power of decision.  Some are calling it a warning, saying the Ambassador is alerting American Jews that a difficult patch is ahead on numerous fronts and Israel needs the full support of the American-Jewish community.  Others are saying it is to alert us of coming conflict with Iran or a failure in the peace process.  Whatever you decide after reading it, you will be glad you did.

On Yom Kippur we read the Book of Jonah, one of the Bible's most enigmatic texts. It is also one of the Bible's shortest texts, weighing in at a page and a half, which is quite an accomplishment for this holiday. And it features one of our scripture's least distinguished individuals. Jonah--a man whose name, in Hebrew, means dove--not dov, as in Hebrew for bear, but dove as, in English, pigeon.

Yet this same everyman, this Jonah, is tasked by God with a most daunting mission. He is charged with going to the great city of Nineveh and persuading its pernicious people to repent for their sins or else.

Not such an unusual task, you might think. Twenty-first century life is rife with people who warn of the catastrophes awaiting us if we fail to modify our behavior one way or the other. Today we call them pundits, commentators who, if proven correct, claim all the credit but who, if proven wrong, bear none of the responsibility.
 Read more at The Atlantic

Remarks by PM Netanyahu to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Prime Minister Netanyahu addresses the Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations on September 20, 2010.  He discussed the ongoing direct peace talks with the Palestinians, his goals, and the importance of recognition of Israel as a Jewish State.  Here are his remarks:  
A few weeks ago, we began direct negotiations on the final status issues. Now I'm eager to continue them, and eager to complete them. We've been calling for direct negotiations for 18 months. We have asked that these negotiations be conducted without preconditions, so we were very pleased when they began, and hope they'll continue without preconditions.
There are two things that I think made a great impression on me. One is the commitment of President Obama and Secretary Clinton to assist in the process in our quest for peace. And I share that commitment. We want peace. We know what peace would mean for our people. We know what it would mean for our neighbors. We know what it would mean for the region. The second thing that made an impression on me was what I said a minute ago: the fact that there was an understanding that we don't turn our disagreements into preconditions for talks. Because if we do, we'll never get anywhere. After all, we've been trying to solve this conflict and it's being going on for over 90 years, and we disagree on quite a number of things. Believe me, every day the Palestinians do things I don't like: whether it's incitement in the schools or media, or an international campaign that they back to delegitimize Israel.
 Read more at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Monday, September 20, 2010

Candidates pledge to fight abortion

During the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington DC this past weekend, candidates promised to fight against abortion if elected.
Two Republican House candidates took a break from campaigning in their states – and a hiatus from talking about jobs and the economy — to promise Saturday that they would adamantly fight abortion if elected.

Indiana state Rep. Jackie Walorski and Minnesota law professor Teresa Collett told a receptive crowd at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington that they would put their anti-abortion views into practice if elected.
Read more at Politico  

Why Israelis care about peace

Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren makes the case for why Israelis do want peace.
Imagine that you're a parent who sends her children off to school in the morning worrying whether their bus will become a target of suicide bombers. Imagine that, instead of going off to college, your children become soldiers at age 18, serve for three years and remain in the active reserves into their 40s. Imagine that you have fought in several wars, as have your parents and even your grandparents, that you've seen rockets raining down on your neighborhood and have lost close family and friends to terrorist attacks. Picture all of that and you'll begin to understand what it is to be an Israeli. And you'll know why all Israelis desperately want peace.
Read more at LA Times

Life Begins At Conception, Says New Mo. Law

A new law in Missouri now declares that life begins at conception.
It's a question that has perplexed philosophers, theologians and scientists for thousands of years.
Pythagorean Greeks, early Christian church fathers, Talmudic rabbis, Sunni and Shia scholars, Hindu Brahmin and modern bioethicists have grappled with the fundamental, ultimately unknowable, mystery: At what point in our biological development are we infused with a soul?
At what point do we become human?
Missouri lawmakers have declared their answer. By withholding both his signature and his veto, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon signaled that he agreed and recently allowed the legislative answer to become state law.
Read more at Huffington Post

Friday, September 17, 2010

CDC: One-third of sex ed omits birth control

A new study by the CDC shows that most teens have had some form of sex education, but almost 1/3 have not been taught anything about birth control methods. 
Almost all U.S. teens have had formal sex education, but only about two-thirds have been taught about birth control methods, according to a new government report released Wednesday.
Many teens apparently are not absorbing those lessons — other recent data shows that after years of steady decline, the teen birth rate rose from 2005 to 2007. It dipped again in 2008, to about 10% of all births.
Read more at USA Today

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

'Tea party's' Dick Armey: A GOP majority would take up abortion fight

Tea party advocate Dick Armey, chairman of Freedom Works, rejects the notion of a truce on social issues like abortion if Republicans take control of Congress. The former House majority leader says 'issues of the heart' will be on the GOP agenda.

Read more at CSMonitor.com

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Michael Oren, making the case for Obama

Michael Oren outlines what may be his toughest assignment: Making the case to a skeptical public for a leader who's hard to pin down.

Pitching Bibi to the Americans?

No, that's an easy one.

The real problem for the Israeli ambassador to Washington is how to make Israelis understand President Obama.

Read more at JTA

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Acceptable in Polite Society

The German word Salonfähig doesn’t have a precise English translation. The closest English can do is something along the lines of “acceptable in polite society.” Salonfähig came to mind when I got my first look at the outrageous cover of this week’s Time magazine. Against a light blue background is a Star of David composed of white daisies. “Blue and white” brought to you by Time. But in the middle of the star, in stark black letters, lies the title of this week’s cover story: “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace.”

Read more at Commentary Magazine

Friday, September 03, 2010

Report: States Pass Staggering Array of Anti-Choice Laws, Policies and Ballot Measures

A new report from the Center for Reproductive Rights reviews the losses of women's rights throughout the states in the aftermath of health reform.
Live in Tennessee, Mississippi, Arizona, Missouri or Louisiana? The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) wants you to know that, with the implementation of health care reform in 2014, you will not have access to abortion coverage in your state's health exchanges. These states have enacted insurance bans on abortion coverage. Five other states considered the bans and the CRR expects more to do so in 2011. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. The 2010 state legislative session has seen legislation forcing women to undergo "biased counseling" (and compelling health care providers to provide said counseling) which may contain medically inaccurate and misleading information, as well as mandatory ultrasound requirements. Some states have pushed anti-provider bills which seek to bar physicians who provide abortion care from a state's malpractice compensation fund, and bills which force women to return at least twice to a provider before being deemed acceptable to have a legal abortion. States have sought to define zygotes and fertilized eggs as people; and punish women by barring any insurance coverage for abortion - even if the woman became pregnant as a result of rape.

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) recently released its summary on the "major trends in anti-abortion legislation that emerged this year and of the onerous abortion restrictions enacted," according to a statement from the organization.  "A First Look Back at the 2010 State Legislative Session," (PDF) details alarming trends among the states to severely restrict access to legal abortion care.
 Read more at Daily KOS

Colorado Abortion Amendment Campaign Gets Going

Colorado has decided that the "personhood" amendment will be on the ballot this November, banning abortions in all circumstances as well as emergency contraception.  Voters defeated the measure 2 years ago, but anti-abortion legislators and organizations are back for another try with modified language.
 A ballot measure that would bar abortions in every circumstance and even ban emergency contraception is back before Colorado voters this fall — but the campaigns for and against it are toned down from two years ago.
That's because Colorado voters roundly rejected the measure to give citizenship rights to fertilized embryos in 2008, defeating the so-called "personhood" amendment by a 3-to-1 margin. This year, abortion opponents petitioned the idea onto ballots again in a slightly different form, and abortion-rights supporters are launching a scaled-back attack on the measure.
Read more at CBS 4 Denver

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

JAC Welcomes Direct Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks, US Involvement

September 1, 2010 -- As a pro-Israel organization that has long supported a US role in facilitating peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians, JAC welcomes the resumption of direct peace negotiations, with the United States hosting the talks.  There will be many obstacles to achieving peace like the terrorist attack on Tuesday. In a horrific act meant to block progress, Hamas launched a terrorist attack that killed four Israelis. The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack.

We applaud President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and Special Middle East Envoy George Mitchell for their tireless efforts in bringing the parties together. Because of JAC's longstanding relationships with these leaders, we have confidence in the potential for a solution that will allow Israel to live in peace and security with her neighbors.

When JAC was founded in 1981, this dialogue could not have been imagined.  No one even mentioned the phrase "two-state solution" and the thought of engagement with any Palestinian was unthinkable from a pro-Israel perspective. That was the year JAC met George Mitchell and began working on his first election campaign. It was also the year JAC began its long relationship with Senator Dick Durbin who challenged Rep. Paul Findley and won election to the House, after Findley brought Yasser Arafat to the House dining room.

 JAC supports this peace process like others before it, but takes no position on internal Israeli politics or policies. In thirty years of relationships and dialogue with members of the US Congress, JAC has delivered a consistent message of support for the special relationship between the United States and Israel, a relationship built on shared values and strategic interests.

Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC) is a bipartisan national organization  committed to the special relationship between the US and Israel and a social agenda that includes reproductive choice and separation of religion and state. JAC provides financial support for US Senate and House candidates who uphold this agenda; JAC maintains ongoing dialogue with those it helps elect;  JAC serves as a political resource for the Jewish community, furnishing information about candidates, elections and issues.